hot cocoa cakes

valentine's day is coming up, so i thought i'd share with you a trio of chocolate desserts in the next couple of days- pick your favorite to make and share with your valentine- or your friends, or yourself. it's not a valentine's day without chocolate- even if you eat it by yourself with a good book.

i first made these for a dinner party a couple of weeks ago, and was worried about them being a little dry. turns out i was right, but we quickly solved that by drizzling a little chocolate sauce in the still warm center. at the time, i used hershey's, but i recommend you go all out here and make your own. i'm including a recipe for my standard no-fail homemade chocolate sauce just to wow your valentine or to make yourself an even more indulgent treat.

hot cocoa cakes (adapted from real simple)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup sugar
10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
4 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini marshmallows
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

preheat oven to 375F. butter, flour and sugar eight 6 ounce ramekins (you can also use a 10 inch pan or pie plate). wipe the rims clean. place the 8 tablespoons of butter and the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water and melt, stirring once or twice until smooth. let cool for 5 mins. meanwhile, beat eggs, yolk, vanilla, salt and sugar at the highest speed until the volume doubles and it becomes foamy, about 5 mins. stir in the flour into the chocolate and then gradually add to the egg mixture, beating on low until just incorporated. ladle into ramekins and bake until cakes puff and begin to crack- about 15 mins. remove from oven and sprinkle with mini marshmallows. return to oven for 2-4 mins. let cool slightly and serve with a sprinkling of cocoa on the top and a generous serving of homemade chocolate sauce.

no-fail hot chocolate sauce
(adapted from virginia hospitality)

this makes a TON of chocolate sauce, but you can keep some of it in the fridge and freeze the rest- it will keep forever.

2 2/3 cups heavy cream
1/1/3 cups water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 3/4 lb. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped fine
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut
pinch salt

in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine cream, water, corn syrup until hot, but don't let it boil. turn heat to medium low and whisk in chocolate until it melts and the sauce is smooth- about 5 mins. take pan off heat and whisk in butter and salt, until smooth and glossy. let cool slightly before serving.

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