Friday, February 17, 2012

Bittersweet: Molten Lava Cakes with Pistachios & Sea Salt

My every intention was to write this post for Valentine's Day - all smooshy and nauseatingly sappified.  I'd met a fella, see?  It was early days, but he was thoughtful and kind, with an easy smile and chocolate brown eyes.  There was the slow-release of skeletons tip-toeing out of the closet (you don't get to be dating dudes in my age group without some sort of baggage life history), and I was mentally checking off the list of things I want and don't want in someone who'll potentially share my life.  All was well.  And yet.  And yet some baggage is just too heavy.

After the red flags were furiously fluttering and declarations of maybe we'll still be friends, I retreated back to Clan Singleton, for those are my people.  My life was full and rich beyond belief before this person stepped briefly into it, and there's no reason why I should be left feeling lonely or sad after his departure.  People come and go from our lives for a reason - I truly believe that.  Lesson learned; move the hell on.  Being bitter only tastes good when it's mixed with the sweetness of chocolate.

But you didn't come here to read about the dating woes of yours truly.  You want to know more about these lava cakes, and why they don't look so lava-y.  Let me tell you about my first time out in lava-cake-land:  the batter is pure joy of butter, chocolate, eggs, sugar and just a smidge of flour.

Baking takes anywhere from 6-8 minutes...

If I'd taken them out earlier, there would have been way more of an ooze factor happening.

But I held back, thinking that they just didn't look quite done.  Like a lot of things this week, I was totally guessing the outcome.  But you know what?  I totally didn't miss the ooze so much.  The cake was still incredibly molten in the middle - like melting-on-contact-with-your-tongue molten.  It's good stuff.  The pistachios add a lovely crunch in contrasting texture fun and the sprinkle of coarse sea salt only enhances the flavour bomb of bittersweet chocolate goodness.  These lava babies only take a few minutes to prepare, and just over 5 to bake.  They'll be kept in my repertoire, that is an absolute certainty; saved for someone who is most worthy.

In the end I did not share these lava cakes with the fella.  Nor did I eat them alone.  A friendly face, with a matching obsession affinity for chocolate, helped me in the taste-testing, and didn't bat an eyelash when I started to coo over the dreamy chocolate molten magic on our plates. While my heart took a bit of bruising this week, it's by no means defeated. 

Molten Lava Cakes with Pistachios and Sea Salt

1/2 cup butter, unsalted, cut into cubes
6 oz (180grams) bittersweet chocolate, cut into pieces (use at lease 70% cocoa)
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup natural cane sugar, or granulated white
1 tbsp all purpose flour
handful of pistachios, roughly chopped
coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 450*F
Butter and flour 4 ramekins and set aside (mine are the 1 cup, 250ml size).
Boil water in a medium size pot.  Place a glass bowl over it, reduce heat so water is just simmering.  Add butter and chocolate to glass bowl and stir frequently until all is melted.  In another bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolks and sugar until light.  Once the chocolate is melted, remove from heat and fold in the egg mixture slowly, then beat in the flour quickly until just combined.  Pour the batter into your prepared ramekins and bake for 6-8 minutes.  6 will get you soft, 8 will get you a firmer centre.  When done, remove from oven, and let stand for 5 minutes.  Invert onto plate and sprinkle with pistachios and salt.  Serve warm. Serves 4.  Adapted from The Year in Food, via The New York Times

*May make batter ahead and divide into ramekins ahead of time.  Just be sure to leave them at room temp for 30 minutes before baking.* 


  1. I think the ooze factor in lava cakes is totally a matter of personal choice. Your cakes look delicious and I just love the pistachios and sea salt sprinkling on top. I agree with you, people come and go throughout our lives for a variety of reasons and we can learn from each relationship, both good and bad ones.

  2. Your cakes look divine- nothing better than chocolate to soothe the heart. Your fellow is missing out and I'm sure one day he will wake up and realize what he's missing. You're right to move on. Plenty of fish in the sea, yada, yada.

  3. I love reading your posts. Thank you for "keeping it real". These look scrumptious. Once again, I love when a savory element is added to dessert. Your food styling/photography is beautiful. all means... please wait for someone deserving of you and your talents.

  4. Oh Renee, you are fantastic and what happened this week is such a bummer. The lava cakes look delish.


  6. i like how you're so positive - yes, def no reason why you should feel lonely/sad...esp when you have great friends to share this delicious molten lava cakes with too! ;) but yeah, i hope you are feeling alright and will be ready to move on soon :D
    the pistachio and seasalt on top of the cake looks amazing...and im sure the centre is lava-y! ive made it before and while the choc didnt exactly ooze out, was still so soft in centre and DELICIOUS!

  7. Thank you everyone for your kind words, I'm so touched by your thoughtfullness. I'm feeling much better - ducked out for the weekend to visit my oldest and bestest for a good girly weekend. Life goes on, and chocolate helps!

  8. great job staying so positive! that guy sure is missing out. this looks amazing!! i love the pistachios on top, and in all the photos.

  9. Amazing everything! Presentation, your wood table, the pistachios combined with chocolate and pro-photos. Just love it! :)

  10. Yum! What a good idea to pair chocolate with pistachio. And gorgeous photos to boot!

  11. This looks absolutely delicious. Would love for you to share this with us over at

  12. These are beautiful. wow! :) And they look delicious. Love the addition of sea salt.

  13. This lava cake may be a bit different, but I am sure smitten by the chocolatey color and the pistachios on top...Thanks for the post!

  14. Sorry to hear that your Valentine's Day wasn't quite the storybook affair, but I think there just might be another fella out there who would love to share these lava cakes with you soon :) They look stunning!

  15. I'd take your chocolate brown molten lava cakes over someone's chocolate brown eyes :-). Great recipe and attitude!

  16. You guys are all so sweet. Thank you for your kind words - it means so much!

  17. So beautiful. Chocolate. Salt. All good things come from that. Sending lots of good thoughts your way. You're a serious catch.

  18. Aren't these just the best? I had two leftover, and reheated them in the oven, so they also lost their molten interior, but were still so delicious. This might be my favorite homemade dessert. And oh, the folly of romance. His loss!


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