Chocolate Lava Cakes

This past weekend was so fantastic! We left for Utah on Thursday night and were back by late Monday night, so it was a whirlwind of a trip, but it was wonderful to be able to see so many friends and family and to see Shyla and Jason get married. The entire time we were there we were so busy that I forgot to take my camera with me every single day (um…fail!), but I’ll be sure to post pictures sometime later this month when I can steal a few from my mother-in-law. The wedding was so beautiful (and so was the bride!) that I wish I could post pictures right now, but I guess it will just have to wait.

Anyway, now that I’m back and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, I wanted to post a yummy dessert recipe that is the perfect end to a romantic dinner at home. Brinton and I rarely go out for Valentine’s Day, but eating in doesn’t mean that dinner and dessert have to be boring or less special! Chocolate lava cakes look so fancy and complicated, but they are really so simple to make. Also, did I mention they are amazingly delicious? Because they are. Oh my goodness, yum!

Chocolate Lava Cake Header 2

Don’t these look fantastic?! Okay, let’s get to the recipe.

What You Need:
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup salted butter
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
cooking spray
4 ramekins, 6 to 8 oz each

The How To:
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
1. In a microwaveable bowl or double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate together. If using a microwave, melt the chocolate in only 30 second intervals, stirring after each time in order to make sure the chocolate isn’t burning and the mixture is nice and smooth.
2. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla until well blended.
3. Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and blend.
4. Add the flour and mix until well incorporated and there are no lumps.

Chocolate Lava Cakes Step by Step
5. Spray your ramekins with cooking spray (I used coconut oil spray) and divide the batter equally into four ramekins (they should be between 2/3 and 3/4 of the way full).
6. Put the ramekins in the oven for 10 minutes. Do not overcook! If necessary, watch the cakes in the oven for the last few minutes. If you overcook these, the insides will just be cake instead of yummy lava. It’s better to undercook them and have to pop them back in the oven for a minute or so than to overcook them and end up with regular old cakes. The center of the cakes should jiggle slightly when you take them out of the oven.

Chocolate Lava Cakes After Baking
7. Once out of the oven, allow the cakes to rest for just a few minutes. Gently run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the ramekin. Place a dish over the top, and flip it upside down. If you greased the ramekin enough, the cake should easily slip onto the plate.
8. Garnish with powdered sugar and serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Fresh fruit tastes yummy on top too!

Chocolate Lava Cake

These cakes really are fantastic. You can even prepare the batter ahead of time and store the ramekins in the fridge until ready to bake to make this a quick dessert!

Let me know if you make these yummy cakes and how they turn out for you! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Linking up with Linking up with Tuesday’s Table and Lou Lou Girls!

Nine Alternatives to Birthday Cake

My 26th birthday is this week, and it has gotten me thinking about how I want to celebrate! I always love the idea of cake, but I’m actually not that big of a fan of eating it. I do get a good cake craving every now and then, but in general it usually isn’t my first pick. I’ve also been trying to make healthier choices this year, so I thought it might be fun to brainstorm some birthday cake alternatives and share them with you all! Don’t get me wrong…not all of these choices are going to be healthier options…but some are!

Most of these pictures are from Pinterest or Instagram, and I’ll link to the website that they came from if they are not my own. I would have loved to make everything myself and take my own pictures but I didn’t have the time to do that (plus if I made and subsequently ate all of these things, it definitely wouldn’t be healthier than birthday cake!)

Fruit Pizza

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

via me, Maria Simply Smiling (recipe coming soon!)

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Angel Food Cake with Fruit and Fresh Whipped Cream

Pudding Cups

Mini Pies, Cheesecakes, or Crumbles

via me, Maria Simply Smiling (recipes here and here)

via me, Maria Simply Smiling (recipes here and here)

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Ice Cream in a Cookie Bowl

Cinnamon Rolls

via me, Maria Simply Smiling (recipe coming soon!)

via me, Maria Simply Smiling (recipe coming soon!)

I hope this gives you all a few new ideas for ways to celebrate your birthday other than with cake! Do you have anything to add to the list? I haven’t decided what I’m going to celebrate my birthday with yet, so let me know in the comments!

Linking up with Linking up with Tuesday’s Table and Lou Lou Girls!

No Bake Cheesecake

No bake desserts are some of my favorites to make–and eat! Here in Hawaii in the summer my apartment is usually outrageously hot, so anything I can make that doesn’t require me to turn on the oven is a winner in my book. Plus, this comes together fairly quickly (if you don’t count the chill time) and is perfect for group get-togethers. A few weeks ago we had a special dinner event for our young women at church, so I doubled the recipe and made 18 mini cheesecakes and one large regular sized cheesecake. It was a hit!

No bake cheesecake header

This cheesecake is creamy, dreamy, and delicious. Trust me, you’ll be in love from the first bite!

Mini cheesecake side closeup

Seriously…it looks dreamy, doesn’t it? Mmm…

When I was looking for a recipe, I ended up scouring Pinterest and asking some friends for recipes they had. I ended up combining a few different recipes based on the ingredients I had on hand, and came up with this! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

What You Need:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups fresh whipped cream*
18 mini graham cracker crusts, or 1 regular graham cracker crust

*See notes at bottom of post

The How To:
1. Beat the cream cheese until smooth, and then gradually add in the sugar. Beat until well blended.
2. Mix in the sour cream and vanilla.
3. Gently fold in the whipped cream. It is important to fold it in–do not mix it in! If you mix it in it will lose all of its fluffy goodness, and that would be a sad, sad day.
4. Once everything is incorporated, pour the mixture into the graham cracker crust. If using mini crusts, spoon a few tablespoons of the mixture into each crust. I find spooning it into the minis to be much easier than pouring.
5. Refrigerate for 4+ hours or chill in the freezer for about 2 hours.

Once it has set, you can serve with your favorite fruit topping**! Enjoy!

Mini cheesecake closeup 2

Notes:
* To make fresh whipped cream, you’ll need 1.5 cups of heavy whipping cream and 3 tablespoons of sugar. You can use granulated or powdered sugar, but I usually use powdered because I find it to be smoother and easier to blend. Beat the heavy cream using an electric stand or hand mixer until it begins to look slightly thickened, and then add the powdered sugar one tablespoon at a time. Beat just until stiff peaks form.
** To make fruit topping, follow the instructions for this fruit filling. Feel free to use whatever fruit/berries you prefer.

Linking up with Delicious Dish Tuesday and Tuesday’s Table!

Blueberry Crumble for Two

I don’t know what it is, but for the last few days my sweet tooth has been completely controlling me. Ever since having gestational diabetes I have been a lot more aware of what kinds of foods I’m consuming and I’ve been trying to eat more balanced meals, but sometimes I don’t really do so well.

This was one of those times. Carbs are just so delicious, you know?!Blueberry crumble header

Okay, so it isn’t exactly a diabetes friendly recipe…but it is delicious. And since I don’t have diabetes anymore, I don’t mind splurging a bit. I mean I know having had gestational diabetes raises my risk factor for getting diabetes later…but sometimes you just have to “live on the wild side.”

Anyway, this post isn’t about diabetes. It’s about blueberries. And crumb topping. And whipped cream. Oh so yummy! The nice thing about this recipe is that it only makes two servings, so you can’t go too overboard! The recipe is also easily multiplied if you need to make a larger number of servings.

What You’ll Need:
For the filling:
1 cup of blueberries
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

For the crumb:
1/4 cup flour
1/8 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter

The How To:
Add the blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice to a small saucepan over medium to medium high heat. Stir so that everything is mixed well. As the blueberries heat up, keep stirring so the juices don’t burn, and bring to a boil. Allow the blueberries to boil for about a minute, and then spoon the mixture into two ramekins (or an oven-safe dish, depending on what you prefer).

Blueberries before and after

In a small bowl, cube the butter into the flour and sugar, and work it with your hands until the texture is crumbly. Sprinkle the crumb mixture on top of the blueberries. I prefer quite a bit of crumb topping which turns out to be slightly doughy but crisp on top. If you want more crunch, sprinkle a thinner layer on the surface.

Crumble

Bake at 400ºF for 15 to 20 minutes depending on how browned you like the top! I Baked mine for 15 minutes and then broiled the top for just a few minutes to really get it golden brown.

Ramekins

Be careful when you’re removing them from the oven–the ramekins will be very hot! Allow them to cool for a few minutes, and top with your favorite whipped topping.

Bite by bite

Enjoy!

Linking up with Delicious Dish Tuesday, Let it Shine, and Tuesday’s Table!

Minion Cake

Today is my co-worker’s birthday. Happy Birthday Wilson! It has been a running joke at work for a while now that Wilson looks like one of the minions from Despicable Me (haha sorry friend!), so we decided to make him a minion cake to celebrate the occasion. It was my first time working with fondant, but I think the finished product came out pretty good for a newbie!

Minion Cake 1

Wilson minion collageInside of minion cakeI unfortunately had to leave work before they cut into the cake, and when I went into work yesterday morning this piece is all that was left! Sadly I don’t have a nice pretty picture of the cake freshly sliced, but at least everyone loved it enough that it didn’t last!

I usually bake my cakes from scratch, but for this one I ended up using a cake mix because I knew I wanted to spend the majority of my time working on the decorating. I chose a very basic milk chocolate cake to help balance out the super-sweet flavor of the fondant, and it did help quite a bit. I frosted and filled the cake with a white chocolate ganache (which was so delicious that I ate the leftovers with a spoon) and then I rolled out the fondant and decorated it.

To make the ganache I used 3 parts chocolate to 1 part heavy whipping cream. In this instance I got my scale out and used 900g of chocolate and 300g of heavy cream. This made more than enough for me to fill the cake and frost it, though if I hadn’t been covering it with fondant I’m guessing that it would have been just enough to get a nice thick, even layer around the whole cake.

To make the ganache, I brought the heavy cream up to a simmer until there were small bubbles around the edge, and then I poured that over my chocolate. I rotated the bowl back and forth a few times to make sure that all of the chocolate was covered, and then I let it sit on my counter for about a minute and a half to allow it to start to melt. I then mixed it with a spatula until it was nicely blended. I found that it was still slightly lumpy, so I heated it in my microwave for about 15 seconds on high, which was just long enough to smooth it out completely. I read on a few sites that you can leave it out at room temperature for several hours until it becomes peanut butter consistency, or you can even make it the day before. I didn’t have the luxury of time on my side, so after it cooled to room temperature I put it in the fridge, which helped it set to the right consistency in about an hour. I don’t really know if you are supposed to do that or not…but I did and it seemed to work just fine!

For tips on how to apply the ganache smoothly, I watched this YouTube video by Three Little Blackbirds. Their website is amazing and the cakes they make look beyond delicious. Though the video is super long, I found it to be very helpful.

I made the fondant from scratch following this recipe here from The Baking Beauties, and then followed these tips from Sugar Coated Chronicle to learn how to have a smooth application. I did add significantly more powdered sugar than they recommended when I was rolling it out, but it is so ridiculously humid here that I really didn’t have a choice or it would have just stuck to the counter. Plus, we don’t have air conditioning (seriously what’s up with that, Hawaii???) so between the heat and humidity it was quite sticky. Luckily it worked out well though. The internet really is an amazing place that I could have all of this help at my fingertips!

The cake ended up being delicious, and I am definitely looking forward to working on my cake decorating skills. I’d love to try to make a whole cake with just the chocolate ganache frosting. The fondant always looks nice, but I personally don’t really like to eat it. Granted, this recipe that I used was much better tasting than normal fondant, but I still don’t prefer it. I have three months before I need to make Evan’s first birthday cake…hopefully I learn a little more before then!

Linking up again for Delicious Dish Tuesday! I feel so special because Alesha from Full Time Mama picked my Zesty Chicken Mini-Tacos from last week’s link up as her featured recipe this week. Thanks, Alesha!

PS- None of these links nor the content of this post is sponsored in any way. I just wanted to share with you the websites that were helpful to me as I tried to figure out how to put this cake together!