Friday, February 20, 2015

Chocolate Lava Muffins

Back in the day, I was a big fan of Alton Brown's Good Eats, and watched it religiously regularly. And then I got tired of the schtick. I know! I'm probably angering a whole bunch of people by saying that, but hey - I get bored. (Yet I still watch CSI after umpty-nine years.) In any case, Mr Brown's legacy left me with at least two good recipes: his method for baby-back ribs has become my go-to; and I love his lava muffins.

Molten chocolate cake on a restaurant menu is often a sign there's no pastry chef in house. That, along with cheesecake, creme brulee, and key lime pie--they're all no brainers that even the most savory of chefs can throw together. And there's nothing wrong with any of them, of course, if they're made well. And all of them can be made fairly easily at home. The molten chocolate cake doesn't even take much time to make, and it uses ingredients that are probably already in every pantry: sugar, chocolate chips, eggs, and butter. And the portion controlled size makes for just the right hit of after-dinner chocolate.

Chocolate Lava Muffins (adapted from a recipe by Alton Brown)

4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
Butter, to coat muffin tin
Cocoa powder

Place chocolate chips and butter in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 30 seconds, remove from microwave and stir. If chocolate isn't sufficiently melted, heat it again for 15 seconds. Repeat if necessary until chocolate and butter and completely melted. Stir in the vanilla.

Combine sugar, flour, and salt. Blend into chocolate mixture. Add eggs one at a time, beating each until fully incorporated. Beat batter until creamy and light in color, about four minutes. Chill until ready to bake.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Butter six wells in a muffin tin. Dust with cocoa and shake out excess. Divide batter evenly among the wells. Bake for 10-11 minutes. The centers should still be quite moist.

Allow muffins to cool for a minute or two before unmolding. Loosen each with the blade of a knife run around the edges of the cake. Ease a tablespoon under each cake and gently lift out.

Serve with fresh berries and whipped cream.

Serves 6.

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