There's something extra-special about a personal, individually-sized dessert ... especially when it's a molten chocolate cake served warm out of the oven.
Technique tip: You can prepare these rich cakes up to a day ahead and refrigerate them, then just pop them in the oven as you sit down to dinner. They'll be done by the time you're ready for dessert. Plus, they reheat easily, so you can have two one night and two the next.
- 4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt Ice cream, for serving (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place four 6- to 8-ounce ovenproof bowls on a rimmed baking sheet.
2. Place chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of gently simmering water. Stir occasionally just until melted, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat then mix in 2 tablespoons sugar, then egg yolks and vanilla.
3. In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. With mixer running, gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar; beat until mixture is stiff and glossy.
4. Using a flexible spatula, fold about a third of egg-white mixture into chocolate mixture. Gently fold in the remaining egg-white mixture until just combined. Divide among bowls (puddings can be prepared in advance up to this point; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 1 day).
5. Bake until tops are puffed and cracked but insides are still quite soft (a toothpick inserted in center will come out gooey), 20 to 25 minutes (or 25 to 30 minutes if refrigerated). Note that the puddings will sink slightly as they cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. Top with ice cream, if desired.