When it comes to indulgence, it’s hard to beat a molten-center chocolate cake. Also known as a chocolate lava cake, these individually sized desserts typically have a liquid chocolate center that oozes out of the warm cake like hot fudge when you dig into one with a fork.
These Chocolate Cherry Lava Cakes were inspired by those cherry cordial chocolates that used to be so common in chocolate assortments. I used to love those for the burst of cherry that you would get when you bit into one and the experience is similar here – although I have to say that these are much more delicious than most of those cherry candies were!
Some molten-center chocolate cakes call for underbaking your cake batter to create a soft center. In my version of Molten Center Chocolate Cakes, I make a small ball of chocolate ganache and place it in the center of the unbaked cake. As the cake bakes, that ganache center liquifies and you end up with a completely baked cake with a soft, fudgy center. For this cherry variation, I added a splash of Kirsch (cherry brandy) to the cake batter and added some cherry preserves to the centers of the cake on top of those balls of ganache. The result is a warm cake with a slight cherry aroma and a burst of chocolate and cherry inside. Choose good quality preserves (I used Bonne Maman) that have chunks of fruit in them for the best results.
The finished cakes have a light cherry scent and a burst of chocolate and cherry inside. The Kirsch contributes to the cherry aroma, but you can easily omit it from the recipe without making any other changes if you prefer not to use it (or don’t have it). You can also make variations on this using different types of preserves, so long as you choose a fruit that goes well with chocolate!
Chocolate Cherry Lava Cakes
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped and divided
1 tbsp heavy cream
3 tbsp unsalted butter, very soft
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp Kirsch (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp all purpose flour
approx 1/3 cup cherry preserves (with pieces of fruit)
Preheat oven to 400F. Butter a 6-cup muffin tin and dust each well with cocoa powder.
In a small bowl, melt together 2-oz. chocolate and 1 tbsp cream, either in the microwave in very small intervals or over a small double boiler. Chill for about 20 minutes once it is smooth. (This step can be done in advance and the ganache softened before using.)
In another small bowl, melt together the remaining 4-oz chocolate and the butter. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes at room temperature.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, Kirsch, vanilla and salt. Beat with an electric mixer until the mixture triples in volume and is very thick (about 5-7 minutes). Sift flour over egg mixture and fold in. Add in cooled chocolate/butter mixture and fold in until batter is uniform.
Place a generous spoonful of batter into each prepared muffin cup.
Form ganache into 6 teaspoon-sized balls. Place one in each muffin cup.
Top ganache ball with approx 1 1/2 teaspoons of cherry preserves.
Divide remaining batter evenly between muffin cups, making sure that the preserves and chocolate ganache balls are covered.
Bake at 400F for 9-11 minutes, until the tops are set. Let cakes cool in pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack and serving on individual plates.
Serve while still warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.