This just may be the yummiest and easiest dessert ever! You can cook this impressive, fancy dessert in just 1 minute in the microwave. Make these individual cakes in custard cups or mason jars. You can mix the batter in advance, hold it in the fridge, and enjoy one of these treats any time. Make a single cake or several at once. Learn my tricks for getting perfect results every time.
Lately I've been blogging a lot about healthy recipes. It's time for a splurge. Everyone needs a splurge every now and then. So today I'm going all out, full throttle, throw-calorie-caution-to-the-wind with a gooey chocolate dessert that is most definitely splurge worthy.
I've always thought lava cakes with melted chocolate streaming out from the center were so decadent. They look hard to make, and frankly, they can be. Traditional lava cake recipes call for making a special batter, pouring it into ramekins, and biting your nails as they bake in hopes that you will cook them exactly the right amount of time to have that gooey center without the cake being raw. There's uncertainty every time. Most of us leave fancy restaurants to this task--a treat to have when we go out.
So, I set out to try to figure out an easier way to make lava cakes at home. I have 2 tricks to share that make this recipe fool proof.
I cooked the individual cakes in the microwave. (I know you're already doubting me, but please read on.)
I poked chunks of chocolate in the center of each cake to form the chocolate lava. No messing with cooking the batter just right. The chocolate in the center melts, and melted lava is born. (Are you doubting me still? It works. Read on.)
I never intended for this to be a microwave recipe. But after several tries in the oven with inconsistent results, I decided to try to cook a lava cake in the microwave just for kicks. Hold onto your hats. You may find this hard to believe, but the microwave lava cakes yielded 100% consistent results, better cake texture, a completely cooked cake, with an ooey gooey chocolate center. And the best part? They cook in 1 minute! Seriously.
To simplify things even further, I used a brownie mix. I don't often cook from a box, but brownies mixes are one thing that rival the everything-from-scratch method. I must confess that I often use them when I need a quick, yummy dessert. With a little jazzing up, they can be the base for a fabulous dessert. Like this one.
Calorie count: 370 calories per cake--not bad for such a decadent treat!
Step-by-step photos for making Microwave Brownie Lava Cake
A brownie mix. Below are 3 that I tried. They all worked well, but I preferred the Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge Family Size mix a bit over the others. One mix will make 8 lava cakes. You can choose a smaller mix, if you prefer to make a smaller batch.
Vegetable oil and eggs--the ingredients called for on the brownie box for mixing the batter.
1 extra egg--no matter which mix you're making, add 1 egg to what the box instructions call for. This results in a more cake-like texture.
Dove Dark Chocolate Promises -- I tried several kinds of chocolate, and this one worked the best for producing melted lava in the center of the cakes. You can experiment with other brands, but this is the brand I recommend. (Hershey Nuggets melted and tasted just fine, but they don't get runny enough--no "lava flow"). Dove Promises are available at grocery stores, Walmart, Target, and on Amazon, click here.
6 to 8 oz. custard cups or ramekins. I prefer clear custard cups, because I can see what's going on while they're cooking. It's easier to tell when the cakes are done and their rounded bottom helps the cake release more easily when they are flipped over. (Ramekins have a flat bottom.) I used 6 oz. custard cups. They're available at some Walmarts and on Amazon, click here.
The Pillsbury brownie mix calls for adding water, vegetable oil and 2 eggs. I added one more egg for a total of 3 eggs. It takes 2 of the Dove promise chocolates for each lava cake.
Step 2. Pour the brownie mix into a large bowl and whisk out the bigger lumps.
Step 3. To prevent sticking and ease removal of the cooked cake, spray each of the custard cups with cooking spray, spoon in a little of the dry brownie mix and twirl the bowl until it is completely coated. (This is better than using white flour. A floured bowl would leave white powder on the surface of the cooked cake when it is inverted onto a plate. The brownie mix will cook in and be invisible.)
Step 4. Add the water, oil, and eggs to a separate bowl and whisk until combined.
Step 5. Pour the liquid mixture into the brownie mix and stir until well combined.
Step 6. Spoon 1/2 cup batter into each custard cup. A large scoop is a handy, tidy tool for distributing the batter. (Scoops available on Amazon, click here.)
Step 7. Stack two Dove chocolates and press them into the center of the batter. Use a knife to spread batter over the top of the chocolate candy so the surface isn't exposed.
Step 8. Place a filled custard cup on a small plate and put it in the microwave. Cook at full power for 1 minute--that's how long it took in my 1100 watt microwave. The cake will rise while it cooks and then fall slightly when the cooking stops. (NOTE: Microwaves can vary, so you may need to experiment with the exact cooking time. Once you have figured out the correct time for your microwave, you can continue cooking the remaining cakes.) You may cook up to 4 cakes at one time, adding 30 seconds to the cooking time for each additional cake. Cook 1 cake for 1 minute, 2 cakes for 1-1/2 minutes, 3 cakes for 2 minutes, 4 cakes for 2-1/2 minutes.
Step 9. Remove the cooked cake from the microwave and gently run a thin knife around the edge. Place another plate on top of the cake, and flip both plates over (with the cake sandwiched between them. Carefully lift the bowl off of the cake.
Don't freak out if there's a little cake and lava left behind in the bowl. That happened to me a few times. The cake still looked fine. I spooned the chocolate lava off the bottom of the bowl and added it to the lava on the top of the cake. The bowl gives it the shape of a little volcano. Isn't it cute?
And here's the money shot. Cut into the middle and watch the chocolate lava flow. How awesome is that? A perfectly melted center every time. The brownie cake is completely and evenly cooked; and it has a moist, light texture.
Add a little whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and you've got yourself one amazing, impressive dessert.
You can also eat it right out of the bowl jar, if you'd rather not hassle with greasing and flouring the bowls and flipping them over. It's fun to cook them in mason jars, top them with whipped cream, and dig in! You can enjoy the same gooey goodness in every bite. Just like the custard cups, these each take just 1 minute in the microwave.
Make ahead in mason jars. Mason jars are great for these, because you can cook and serve from the same bowl. Also, you can prepare them ahead and then cook them later. Cook them all, or a few at a time, or just grab one to cook for a single treat. Spoon in the batter, add the Dove chocolates, put on a lid, put them in the fridge, and pull them out when it's time to cook dessert. One recipe fills 8 of these mason jars. I used:
half-pint, wide mouth mason jars, available at some Walmart's and on Amazon, click here.
wide-mouth plastic lids for mason jars (long-lasting, and easy to screw on and off), available at some Walmarts and on Amazon, click here.
These jars of batter will keep for up to a week in the fridge! Remove them from the fridge about a half hour before you cook them so they can warm to room temperature. Then a minute in the microwave and dessert is served! The cooked cakes reheat well, too.
I still have a hard time believing you can cook a dessert this fabulous in 1 minute.
But, it's true. This is the most delicious chocolate dessert I've ever made AND the easiest! Seriously, how could it be easier?
Make it a yummy day!
Microwave Brownie Lava Cake
Servings: 8 servings
1 brownie mix (family size for 9x13 pan) plus ingredients needed according to brownie mix instructions (normally oil, water, and eggs)
1 large egg (in addition to the eggs called for in the brownie mix instructions)
16 Dove Dark Chocolate Promise candy pieces (each piece weighs .3 oz), or similar
whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, optional
raspberries or strawberries for garnish, optional
Empty brownie mix into large bowl. Whisk to remove large lumps. Coat 8 (6 oz) custard cups with cooking spray. Add a small amount of dry brownie mix to each cup and rotate cups until completely coated. Set aside. In separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients called for in brownie mix instructions (oil, water, eggs), plus 1 additional egg. Add wet ingredients to brownie mix and stir until well combined. Add 1/2 cup batter to each custard cup. Stack two Dove candies and press them down into the center of the batter; spoon batter over candy so it is completely covered. Place in microwave and cook at full power for 1 minute for 1 cake (microwave power and times may vary). May cook up to 4 cakes at one time, adding 1/2 minute to cooking time for each additional cake.
To remove cake from bowl: Run a thin knife around the edge of the cooked cake. Place a small plate on top of the cake cup. Flip the plate and bowl over, so the cake is inverted on top of the plate. Gently lift the bowl, leaving the inverted cake on the plate. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream; garnish with berries.
Cakes may also be eaten directly from the custard cup they are cooked in (without inverting them on a plate). May also be cooked and served in half-pint mason jars. (If eating cakes directly from bowl or jar, it isn't necessary to spray or coat them before adding batter and cooking.)
MAKE AHEAD: Batter may be mixed and added with chocolate pieces to custard cups or jars in advance. Cover and refrigerate up to a week. Remove from refrigerator and warm to room temperature 30 minutes before cooking.
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