About four years ago I was in Key West and visited Michael’s Restaurant. According to Zagat’s, it’s the #3 restaurant in all of Florida and the #1 in all the Florida Keys. It was a charming place on a side street, very gourmet. I rode my bicycle there, which is the best mode of transportation around the island. When ordering dinner, the waiter asked if I wanted dessert (Chocolate Lava Cake), as it would take a half hour to prepare it and I needed to decide right then. I said yes, please, since it’s their signature dessert my friends highly recommended it.
Till then I’d never even heard of Chocolate Lava Cake, Volcano Cake, Molten Chocolate Cake or any of the names it’s known as these days as it grows in popularity. It was the best desert I’ve ever eaten and when I arrived home I went on a quest to find a recipe for it that would replicate the taste and quality of the one from Key West.
After many failed attempts, I finally did find a recipe from a restaurant in Aspen, Colorado. The place is Jimmy’s and if their dessert is representative of the rest of their menu, then I suggest anyone living out west scurry over and check it out. Clink this LINK for that recipe and others. They call it Volcano Cake.
I made Volcano Cake again tonight for this blog to walk you through some of the steps. There are only a few ingredients in the recipe but the preparation is very important.
Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees and leave a cookie sheet warming in there for at least 15 minutes.
- 12 tsp unsalted butter (a stick and a half)
- 6 oz Bittersweet or Semisweet Chocolate (I used 1 and 1/2 four oz bars of Ghiradelli 60% cocoa)
- 3 large egg yolks, and 3 eggs
- 1/2 sugar
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter together over simmer water.
Set the chocolate aside once melted. Meanwhile, in a bowl combine all the eggs and sugar. Beat on medium high speed for 5 minutes until it’s light and thick and resembles pancake batter.
On low speed, add in the flour and chocolate mixture until blended.
Set out six ramekins and thoroughly grease them. Don’t use cooking spray and don’t skimp on the butter. It needs to be slathered on or else the cakes will stick. “Flour” the ramekins with unsweetened cocoa powder. I used Hershey’s but any good cocoa will do. Fill them 7/8th of the way and place them on the preheated cookie sheet (back in the 350 degree oven) for 15-18 minutes.
This next step is VERY IMPORTANT. If you over or undercook the cakes even by a minute, they won’t come out right so practice and know exactly how long your oven needs before you decide to make these for guests. Tonight, mine cooked for 16 1/2 minutes and they were perfect. They should just begin to pull away from the sides but not all the way.
Unlike some Lava Cake recipes which place a chocolate treat in the middle this one relies solely on the center being cooked less than the outside to give it the drippy center.
Once you remove them from the oven, place them on a cool surface for 3-5 minutes. Next, use a knife to loosen the edge and flip the cake onto a plate. When you cut it open, it should look like this.
Top with vanilla ice cream and serve warm. As an alternative, I added rum extract (for the whole batch about 1/2 tsp) and it tasted very good. The same amount of peppermint extract would likely taste good too. Try this recipe and let me know how it comes out. If you’re ever in Key West, make sure to check out Michael’s restaurant and thanks to Jimmy’s of Aspen, CO for the amazing recipe.
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