Perfect centre of attraction

Bake the cakes for no more than 20 minutes and immediately take out from the oven, then remove from muffin tin as soon as your fingers can handle it.

CHOCOLATE lava cake was immensely popular in the US in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, when chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten claimed that he accidentally underbaked chocolate sponge cake.

Although runny, he found that it had good taste and texture.

However, French chocolatier Jacques Torres claimed that the dish had already existed in France.

Regardless of who had invented this dessert, it has become a regular feature in many high-end restaurants all over the world.

There are several versions of this dish, with slight differences in the recipe to achieve the liquid centre.

The most obvious variation is molten chocolate cake, which requires a separate piece of chocolate ganache to be inserted into the batter before baking.

Another similar confection is chocolate fondant, which is almost like a baked chocolate ganache that melts on the palate and not on the plate.

To make sure that the cakes do not puff up and then collapse when they leave the oven, do not overbeat the batter.

An oven that is too hot will also result in a collapsed centre. Also, take care not to overbake the cake or it will harden all the way.

This recipe uses brown sugar instead of white and because I usually make it with bittersweet chocolate, it is less sweet than most desserts.

As the cake is not very sweet, I like to pair it with good quality vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of warm rum for a touch of decadence.

You can keep the cakes overnight in an airtight container and reheat them in the microwave for 15 seconds before serving to get the centres warm and runny again.

I’ve also used white chocolate in this recipe, but I found that I need to reduce the butter to 200g or the cake will not set. Although white chocolate lava cake is less common, many have remarked that they

prefer its unique buttery flavour.Ingredients300g semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate

300g unsalted butter

5 large eggs

115g brown sugar

115g all-purpose flour

½ tsp baking powderMethodIn a bain marie, melt chocolate over low heat.

When completely melted, turn off the heat and add butter, stirring until completely incorporated. Keep warm until needed.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar by hand with a wire whisk until frothy.

Do not use an electric mixer.

Sift flour and baking powder into the batter and fold in until combined.

Gently pour in melted chocolate and stir cake batter until combined.

Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners and fill each cup with cake batter, making sure that every cup has about the same amount of batter.

Bake at 160°C for no more than 20 minutes and immediately remove from the oven. Then remove cakes from muffin tin to prevent further cooking. The centre should still jiggle.

Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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