Nigella Lawson’s Molten Chocolate Babycakes set me down the path. In fact, it’s only slightly hyperbolic to say her book, How to Be a Domestic Goddess, made me the food writer I am today. Nigella’s writing is and has always been warm and just sensual enough — in a world of didactic, “optimised” food writing and recipes, her work is inviting and encouraging, and that’s the vibe that got me interested in cooking.
Making the lava cakes for my then-boyfriend made me feel competent in the kitchen and just a little bit adult. They were one of the first “successful” desserts I ever baked, and I have had a soft spot for liquid-centre cakes ever since.
My relationship with baking has changed since then (I do not like it), but my relationship with dessert has not. I still crave a sticky sweet, warm, and gooey dessert from time to time, and lava cakes have a certain mid-90s charm that I find very appealing (like a wedge salad, dirty martini, or sundried-tomato anything).
Trying to satisfy this craving without doing any “real” baking is what led to the little cake you see above: a caramel liquid centre cake made with just two products (a blondie brownie baking mix and dark chocolate caramels).
All you have to do is make the mix as instructed on the package, grease a ramekin with butter, and line the bottom with a little parchment. Press a heaping quarter cup of blondie batter into the ramekin, and push a caramel down into the centre. Bake for half an hour, then let cool for a couple of minutes before inverting onto a plate (or eating directly out of the ramekin). It is laughably easy.
The resulting cake has a major cookie vibe, with chewy outsides and a liquid caramel core. It is incredibly rich, so make sure you have a big glass of milk nearby.
One box of mix will make around six babycakes, but the batter will also keep in the fridge for a few days if you don’t want to eat or serve all six at once.
Caramel Centre Lava Cakes
- 1 box blondie brownie baking mix
- 1 Stick melted butter, plus extra unmelted butter for greasing
- 1 egg
- 6 dark chocolate-covered caramels
Heat your oven to 175°C. Grease up to six ramekins liberally with butter, depending on how many cakes you are making. Trace the bottom of one of the ramekins on a piece of parchment, then cut out the circle and press it down into the bottom of the ramekin. Repeat up to six times, depending on how many cakes you are making.
Mix the butter and egg with the mix (butter first if it is hot). Press a heaping 1/4 cup of batter into each ramekin, then press a caramel into the centre of the batter. Bake for half an hour, then let cool for a couple of minutes before running a sharp, thin knife around the ramekin and inverting it over a plate. Alternatively, just leave it in the ramekin and eat it out of there. Either option works.