The Magic In The Ramekin

 

Ramekin's with chocolate lava cake.  It doesn't get any better.

 

I’ve wanted a set of ramekins for ages. Now, if you didn’t know, ramekins are small round glazed ceramic bowls that are usually fluted on the exterior and built for high temp cooking, which makes them great in an oven. They come in all different sizes and colors and are often used for making delicious comfort foods like crème brulee, soufflés and of course my favorite, molten chocolate lava cake.

 

Having just polished off some lava cake, I don’t know why I kept putting off a purchase for so long.  I suppose there’s a myriad of reasons like:  (1) I didn’t really need another set of cooking dishes.  After all, how often do you need a ramekin to cook chicken?  (2) I was sure hubby would either roll his eyes or expect me to toss something else out to make room for them.  (3) There were an admittedly frivolous expense and I abhor spending on a whim.  (4) My biggest worry was my cooking.  I have a tough time sticking to a recipe so I wasn’t sure my skills were up to the task of making something truly scrumptious.

 

The Earth Moved

 

I don’t know what it was, but something changed this last winter.  Maybe there was a solar flare or some tectonic shift in the earth.  Perhaps having some incredibly yummy lava cake at a local restaurant combined with seeing several recipes in my favorite magazines tipped the scales.   Whatever it was, something prompted me to overcome my resistance and actually commit to getting a set of these cute little baking cups. I started watching for the best deal, figuring that if I was going to buy a set of ramekins at least I better not pay an arm and leg for them.

 

Naughty or Nice?

 

Ramekins come in all colors and sizes.

I ended up with 2 sizes and colors.

Luckily while out shopping at one of my favorite places (Cost Plus World Market), I saw a whole display shelf of full of them.  They had all different sizes and lots of great colors.  I was in ramekin heaven—and to top it off the prices were great, too. I decided right then that was what I wanted Santa to bring me, and as fate would have it, Santa said I was on his good list.

 

In Business

 

Fast forwarding through holiday gift opening, not to mention any number of post holiday attempts to put the house back in order, I finally found the right time to try out my new ramekins.  Combining a couple recipes I discovered for Chocolate Lava Cake, I took the the utmost care, buttered up the ramekins, mixed up and filled them with my carefully measured out chocolate concoction, popped them in the oven, and then waited patiently for my timer to go off.  When it did, I removed four  lava cake creations that looked and smelled terrific.

 

Flipping over my chocolate lava cake.

I flipped my hot lava cake over by putting a plate on top and then turning.

The cakes were picture perfect in the cups, and after tipping them carefully onto a plate they looked even better.  Best of all, there was even chocolate lava in the middle. I felt like a real chef, and since then I’ve repeated my success so now I’m sure  it wasn’t a fluke.

 

Mix It Up

 

The recipe I listed below is easy and is fairly common as far as ingredients go for Molten Lava Cake recipes.  It was spiced for the holidays.  This recipe is pretty close to another one I found at McCormickGourmet.com, though that one calls for cloves.  As a well-known spice company, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that the main difference in their recipe is they recommend using their products.  Since I usually buy whatever brand of spice happens to be on sale, I just used what I had.

 

Get ready to eat a super tasty treat.

If your lava cake sticks, run a knife around the edge or your ramekin.

On my second attempt I omitted the cinnamon and ginger for a purer chocolate experience and substituted Bailey’s Irish Cream for the wine.  See, I told you I have a hard time following recipes!

 

Fortunately, both of my attempts were good and it was nice to see that a little experimentation didn’t hurt anything.  As for the secret of the molten lava, it turns out the confectioner’s sugar is the catalyst. For some reason, while it bakes it combines with the other ingredients, settles to the center of the cake and doesn’t turn solid—at least not while it is hot in/from the oven. I actually can’t tell you if it ever firms up—so far, there hasn’t been one standing around long enough to know what what happens when it cools.

 

Here are a couple other variation’s that may be worth checking out:  The first one uses a touch of orange liqueur and comes from TheFoodNetwork.com, and the second one which uses a pinch of cayenne comes from The Neely’s also at TheFoodNetwork.com.  You can see the main ingredients are pretty much the same and it’s that pinch or extra spice or two that seems to set them apart.

 

Spiced Chocolate Lava Cake

Ingredients:

4 oz. Semi-sweet baking chocolate

6 Tbsp flour

1 cup confectioners’ sugar (i.e. powdered sugar)

½ cup of butter (1 stick)

2 eggs

1 extra egg yolk

1 tsp. Vanilla (I like the real stuff)

1 Tbsp red wine

¼ tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. ground ginger

 

Directions:

 

Preheat Oven to 425 degrees. Butter the insides of four 6-oz ramekins (You can use custard cups in a pinch).

Microwave the chocolate and butter in a large microwavable bowl for 1 minute or until butter is melted. Use a wire whisk and stir until chocolate is completely melted.

Stir in the wine, vanilla and sugar; mix until well blended.

Stir in the eggs and extra yolk.

Stir in the flour and spices.

Divide the batter evenly between the four ramekins and place them on a baking sheet.

Bake for 13-15 minutes or until the sides are firm but centers are still soft.

Remove from oven and let set for 1 minute.

A dollop of ice cream is the perfect addition.

Serve hot with ice cream. Yum.

Carefully loosen the edges with a knife and invert onto serving plates.  The easiest way to invert it is to place a plate on top of the ramekin and then tip the whole thing over, but be sure to use an oven mitt that allows for easy maneuvering when doing this.  Finally, serve with ice cream or whipped cream and enjoy!

 

Life Tastes Better With Chocolate

 

Sometimes it’s the simple things like cooking something chocolate and delicious that makes life seem a little bit better.  Need a pick-me-up?  I suggest discovering “The Magic In The Ramekin”.

 

 

One Response to The Magic In The Ramekin

  • connie says:

    YUMMY! I must try that recipe!
    Ramekins are perfect for the final stage of French Onion soup, when the baguette diagonal slice is placed atop the soup, a slice of cheese atop that , and the ramekins with contents are placed under the broiler until cheese melts.

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