Easy, speedy molten fudge cakes for two

I think I've mentioned before that, being the extreme chocolate lover that I am, molten chocolate cake is quite possibly my favorite dessert if I had to choose one.  I don't care if it's no longer "in", I just love it for that intense chocolate experience.  For me, the warm, liquidy chocolate sensation just can't be beat.  So when I saw an easy recipe from one of America's Test Kitchen's cookbooks for something very similar - individual fudge cakes with a molten center - I wanted to try it out.
This recipe makes two portions, perfect for date night.  The main draw here is the ease of preparation.  It's genuinely quick and easy - you start by melting chocolate and milk right in the microwave.  Then, you whisk the rest of the ingredients in before scraping the batter into ramekins to bake for a quick dessert.  The trick to the molten center in this recipe is a square of dark chocolate tucked into the batter before baking.  That ensures the molten center and was definitely my favorite part of this dessert!
These molten fudge cakes have a bit more flour, and so were a tad more on the cakey side (around the edges anyway since the center is nice and soft with the melted chocolate piece) than standard molten chocolate cakes that we tend to think of when we see these chocolate ramekins. I'm definitely on the side of the less flour, the better, when it comes to any type of molten cakes so I want to make sure to point that out.  And since this recipe uses vegetable oil instead of butter, the flavor of the cake (again, the sides as opposed to the chocolaty center) is milder.

When it comes to classic molten chocolate cake, I've been using this recipe for many years and it has served me well.  My family and I are big fans of it and I make it when the craving comes on, which is fairly often!  That recipe requires a little more work so if you're pressed for time and want to whip something up that's quite similar, these easy, speedy molten fudge cakes are a great option.  Served with some vanilla ice-cream, I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone complaining about having this for dessert!

As you can see from the recipe outlined below, the batter for these fudge cakes can be made easily with just the microwave and a whisk.  For the star of the show - the dark chocolate - I used Ghirardelli 60% and I think that works especially well in this recipe.  For one, it's easy to break off the 3 ounces you need from the 4 ounce bar.  Second, you don't even need to chop it.  Simply break up the chocolate you need to melt with your hands.  Third, you need exactly one square (or 1/2 ounce a piece) for each ramekin, which you press into and cover with the batter to ensure that rich, liquid, dark-chocolate center.  

Aside from all that convenience, I really like baking with Ghirardelli and I have for years.  I think the fruitiness of the Ghirardelli chocolate translates really well in baking.
And incidentally, America's Test Kitchen actually recommends Ghirardelli 60% dark chocolate or Callebaut's 60% dark chocolate.  I agree on both counts (though there are several others that I like); I'm also a big fan of Callebaut and keep a good stock of it at home.  It's relatively inexpensive and very tasty in a neutral kind of way.  Since Callebaut chocolate typically comes in blocks when you buy it at the supermarket, you very likely need to chop it.  I also like to buy Callebaut callets (similar to chips but melt better) - they not only melt smoothly and easily but I can weigh what I need without chopping!


Recipe:

Easy Molten Chocolate Fudge Cakes (for two)
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen's recipe for "Individual Chocolate Fudge Cakes" in Cooking for Two (2013)

- For 2 servings -

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 2 ounces chopped and 1 ounce broken into two (1/2-ounce) squares
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional; I like to add some espresso powder when baking with chocolate)
1/4 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lightly beaten egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vanilla ice cream, for serving ("optional"...but not really, in my opinion)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position an oven rack to the center of the oven.  Lightly spray two 6-ounce ramekins with baking spray (or grease and flour them) and set them on top of a baking sheet.  Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl and set aside.

Place the 2 ounces of chopped chocolate, milk, and espresso powder (if using) together in a medium bowl.  Microwave, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth (I do this on 20-30 second increments, and on medium power as the chocolate starts to melt, stirring in between).  Stir in sugar until dissolved.  Let cool slightly.  Then, whisk in oil, egg, and vanilla until combined.  Gently whisk in the flour mixture until just incorporated.

Divide batter between the two ramekins and gently tap them on the counter to release any air bubbles.  Gently press 1 square of chocolate into each ramekin to submerge about halfway under the batter.  Bake until puffed, tops are just firm to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out gooey, about 15 minutes (check early to avoid over-baking).  

Let cool 2-3 minutes before serving with vanilla ice cream. 







64 comments:

  1. Loving how easy and fudgy these are! I'll take 2.. to eat both of them! :)

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    1. I can tell you're my kind of girl, Pamela!

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  2. My craving for dessert always hits late at night and it's always too late to whip up something that doesn't take a life time. I like how quick these are and they'll do in a pinch! I can take the cakey edges and subtle favours! Sometimes, speed is what matters :)

    Nazneen

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    1. Hi Nazneen - I'm glad you caught my description of what they're like. Given more time, I'd definitely go for my usual molten cakes but this is easy and really doesn't require any advance planning. You are so right - sometimes speed matters. Thanks for the comment! : )

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  3. Those molten centers look fantastic!

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    1. The center is definitely where it's at! ; )

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  4. Yes agree with you that this is an easy made recipe. Look to me yummy and delish. Like to make and eat. Many thanks for sharing.

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  5. Oh Monica, these molten cakes look heavenly! I don't mind the cakey sides since the warm oozy center is my favorite part and yours looks irresistible and is calling my name! Ghiradelli and Callebaut are my faves too - my hubby would go crazy over these since he's the big chocolate lover. I love how easy this is to whip up so I can't wait to try this! Thanks for sharing Monica and hope you have a great week :)

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    1. Your husband has great taste and clearly deserves a sweet wife like you, Kelly! Thank you! xo

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  6. love tiny molten cakes! I've never tried this version, but Gordon Ramsay has a version very similar to this (technically different, but similar outcome) in his "Gordon Ramsay Makes it Easy" cookbook that i LIVE for. i'm sorry to say i haven't made them in awhile...too long. i miss them now. :)

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    1. The molten cake recipe I usually use starts with creaming butter...I know many are done in more of a souffle format. I want to try that but as long as I get to a warm molten center and plenty of chocolate flavor, I'm happy! I make molten cakes a lot...

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  7. These would be the perfect dessert for my husband and I! Nothing worse than making a huge dessert just for 2 people and we end up up scarfing the entire thing down :)

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    1. I hear you...the other recipe I use makes 4 and you can store what you don't use right away in the fridge for a few days...it's so convenient since we always want more!

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  8. Hi Monica. My name is Tricia and I'm an extreme chocolate lover too. You have posted one of my most favorite dishes in the whole world - warm, creamy, sweet chocolate - wonderful!

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    1. haha - you cracked me up, Tricia. I think these molten cakes have a special place in any chocoholic's heart. : )

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  9. I really like that this recipe is for two! Sometimes I want dessert but don't want a lot leftover or extras sitting around the house... this would be perfect! Especially since it's so simple. And I definitely agree - the vanilla ice cream is totally not optional : )

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    1. My son and I had dinner at a casual restaurant recently and the dessert was a similar one like this and you had to pay extra for the ice cream! I thought they should have just built the price into the dessert and made it with ice cream as a given because vanilla ice cream is just a must in my book with this! : )

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  10. Did you say speedy and chocolate, I am in. Monica, this is such a staple when you have kids who are chocolate lovers. thanks for sharing a great recipe.

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    1. My son loves this! The ice cream helps but I think some of us are natural chocolate lovers. : )

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  11. This looks dangerously easy and amazing! I've enver had one of these, but I'm dying to try both of your versions ;)

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    1. I hope you make it happen and try one of these one day, Consuelo! It became popular here and was on almost every restaurant menu beginning in the 90's. It's not so "hip: anymore but it is one of my favorites for all that chocolate flavor.

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  12. OMG!
    This is heaven! Will be dreaming of this till I make it and actually eat it.

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    1. haha - I know how you feel, Asmita. I hope you make it soon because I find lava cakes are one of those things you just have to eat when you start thinking about it. : )

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  13. These recipe has my name written on it. I love easy and simple recipes on top this is a chocolate recipe. Can't wait to try this!

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    1. Thank you - I hope you try it. Your chocolate-loving daughter should enjoy it!

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  14. I think good chocolate makes a big difference in a recipe like this. Thank you for your personal favorites...I'll be buying my chocolate differently now! These look just perfect. Can't wait to make them for Ryan and me!

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  15. I love that gooey chocolate center Monica! I want to come over to your house and have dinner there. You make the best desserts! :) hee hee... Have a wonderful week!

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    1. haha - I have a feeling I would very much enjoy having dinner with you, Anne...

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  16. I love desserts for two. Somehow, I don't mind a little mixing and baking for a cute little dessert after dinner as compared to a big cake or something of a bigger proportion. I have already bookmarked he clafoutis...now this one! And yes, a molten chocolate cake can never go out of fashion for me either.

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    1. Same here, thank you. So glad you found some inspiration for dessert - that's a big part of what this is all about, I think. And I'm so glad you don't think molten chocolate cakes can go out of style! : )

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  17. Monica, I totally agree with you...If i had to choose one dessert, I would choose molten lava cake as my favorite..... These pictures really make a drool and hungry!!! Loved it!
    and yes, the vanilla ice cream should not be optional :) :)

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    1. We might be kindred spirits then! ; )

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  18. MMmmm i love these as a dessert. Yours look fab x

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    1. Just looking at those melty centers of these types of cakes makes me happy. : )

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  19. Molton chocolate cake is the dessert I ALWAYS order if I see it on the menu :) I'm with you about preferring less flour to more, but this still looks pretty incredible. I'll have to check out your fave recipe too! If you want something a little different, I posted a recipe on my blog a LONG time ago that my mom recommended for a Winter Spice Molten Choco Cake from Bon Appetit. It's great for something slightly different at the holidays. I think you'd love it, Monica ;)

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    1. Same here, Amy! Gooey is definitely better but I really liked how easy this recipe was. I checked out your recipe - thanks for pointing it out to me. For some reason, I can't see the pics (will try again) and I really want to! I am usually a traditionalist but come holiday time, I really do crave those spices and I think I would enjoy those spice molten cakes. mmm...I'm hungry!

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    2. Hmmm, there's something wrong with the post- it's converted over from back when I didn't self-host and I think the pictures got screwed up :( Sorry! If you click on the link to the original recipe source though, they should have some pics.

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    3. Thanks, Amy...no worries. I only have a vague idea what "self-hosting" even entails but I know I have old posts that are all misaligned and whatnot after just switching browsers and I'm not even going to touch them for fear of more problems! I did look at the original recipe pics...looks incredibly decadent - just the way they should be! yum!

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  20. Molten chocolate isn't ini?! Never. I love everything about this...that it's just a recipe for 2, that it's easy, and it looks ridiciously delicious. I'm a chocoholic and this looks so dreamy. :)

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    1. haha - I know...I always hear people saying molten cakes are so '90's and "over-done"...to me, it only matters if it tastes good! Glad you are a fellow chocoholic!

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  21. Love how easy these are for when I have a choco craving!

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    1. Great to whip up when the craving hits, I agree.

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  22. Yum these look great! I can eat those Callebaut callets by the handful :)

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    1. Same here - I need to keep it well hidden away!

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  23. Molten Chocolate Cakes are every chocoholics favorite! Something about that melty, gooey center makes them special.Both my husband and my son adore it. Maybe because I am not a chocoholic, I am not a chocolate connoisseur. I know there are real taste differences between the brands of chocolate, but I just don't taste it. Cocoa percentage I can taste, but the nuances are lost on me. I mostly bake with Ghirardelli, so its good to know you like it! :) I have all of the ingredients in the house for these fudge cakes and happen to have a couple of chocolate lovers who will love them. :)

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    1. Yes, there's even some "science" behind it - something to do with how flavor is so much stronger delivered to our tongues in liquid form (or something like that!) and ATK was talking about how when you smell chocolate in the air, it is losing flavor so that's why you want to underbake your brownies a bit and why molten cakes are so full of flavor. I'm no 'connoisseur' though I always have an opinion as to whether I like something or not when it comes to chocolate. I'm not sure I can detect notes of honey, coffee, etc. in chocolate but I know what I like. And some kinds just work better in certain recipes. I'm glad you have some live-in chocolate lovers who will be happy to give you their opinions. : )

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  24. Molten chocolate cakes are beautiful things. I am saving this recipe for my next anniversary with the.boy. Or his birthday. Or just a random Saturday night that we happen to be home. Love it.

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    1. The.boy is one lucky fella, that's what I know!

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  25. I love chocolate .... This looks stunning :) looks moist and gooey... love it :)

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    1. Thank you, Sowmya! That gooey center makes me feel all gooey inside every time. haha

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  26. Whoa I love this recipe, Monica! America's Test Kitchen has some of the best recipes out there, and I like that this recipe makes molten fudge cakes for 2. I'll have to try this out sometime! (: Hope you're having a great day!

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    1. They certainly know their stuff! It's a good recipe for when that chocolate molten cake craving comes on, which, for me, is often! You have a great one, too!

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  27. Boy you've got me craving one of these now! And it's right before bedtime after I've worked out! These look so delicious, and this is the first time I've seen the ATK recipe. ATK is the best!

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    1. Oops...sounds like bad timing on my part there. : ) My eyes always zoom to any chocolate recipes and I couldn't ignore this one.

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  28. I developed a bit of an addiction to those microwave mug cakes where the center is still a bit liquidy last winter. We made them A LOT. And then we moved, and now we have no microwave. Soooo I guess I should try out the real deal, huh? Sounds like a dangerous path to go down :)

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    1. Hi Emma - Definitely make the real deal...you'll never look back! : )

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  29. Deliciously intense, warm chocolate...what is not to like here? Gorgeous. Love the 'cakey' edge to give some contrast :-)

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    1. Thanks, Jo...and good point about the contrast in textures.

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