When norcalgirl21 put in a request for a Lava Cake recipe, the first thing I thought of was Nigella Lawson's Choco-Hoto-Pots, although I like to refer to them simply as chocolate pots. This is a classic Nigella recipe: simple, quick and outrageously decadent. Warm, gooey, chocolatey heaven! I have yet to serve these and not have the conversation come to a halt, leaving only the sound of spoons scraping against porcelain and the occasional sigh of pleasure.
Nigella's chocolate pots are delicious, truly greater than the sum of their parts which consist of basic pantry staples: chocolate chips, butter, eggs, sugar and flour. That's it! They take literary five minutes to put together and can even be prepped in advance and baked off at the last minute to be served warm.
I love this clip from an old cooking show where Nigella is in classic form while making the chocolate pots. She refers to the chocolate mixture as 'ravishing, mesmeric' and the egg and sugar mixture as a 'lovely golden ointment.' And finally, when she goes to crack the top with her spoon, she refers to it as a 'lovely carapace.' Ah, Nigella!
I do one step differently than Nigella. Instead of melting the chocolate and butter together over a double boiler, I simply melt the butter, remove it from the heat and add the chocolate chips. Within a minute, the chips will be melted and the mixture just needs a quick stir to achieve its ravishing and mesmeric qualities.
The best part about eating the chocolate pots is the crisp, crackled top which you break with your spoon and reach in to scoop up the gooey center. They are delicious served just as they are, warm or room temperature. Or you can pass a pitcher of cold heavy cream or dollop a scoop of ice cream on top. Salted caramel would be great but a decent plain vanilla would do, too. You can even serve them cold from the refrigerator for a different experience. The center firms up into a delightful, silky, pudding-like texture.
Another hint: Let the chocolate pots cool slightly before serving them so the center has a chance to firm up just a little. Lava, to me, refers to a melty but not too runny interior and these pots will need just a bit of cooling to achieve that.
There are numerous recipes on the web for Choco-Hoto-Pots. The one linked below is from the Food Network. I like this recipe because it gives the chocolate in ounces, allowing me to use other chocolate besides chocolate chips, which aren't always the best quality. Which brings me to another hint: the darker the chocolate the better. Sometimes I find semi-sweet a little too sweet in the final product and so usually go for bittersweet or darker if I'm using chocolate bars. Whatever you do, use good chocolate here as the chocolate is the primary ingredient, although I must confess I love them no matter what!