Rich Chocolate Caramel Cakes with a Molten Center.
Ok. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I made these decadent, gooey, molten chocolate caramel cakes about a gazillion times before finally getting it right.
Well. Maybe not a gazillion. But, a lot. First, I wanted to bake individual molten chocolate cakes, so I tried to bake them in muffin tins. Good in theory, perhaps…. but, terrible in exicution. Have you ever tried to get warm, soft, tender cake with a gooey molten center out of a muffin tin? I’ll save you the trouble. YOU CAN’T. Not even if you butter the tin. Not even if you butter and flour the tin. Not even if you brush melted butter all over the tin, put it in the refrigerator to firm the butter up and then sprinkle each cup with cocoa powder and powdered sugar. Not even then.
Then, I thought these would be great with a salted caramel sauce, because…
isn’t everything good with salted caramel sauce?
The answer to that question, as it turns out, is no. I am as surprised as you are. Here’s the thing: These are gorgeously rich cakes with a dark gooey chocolate center. The sauce is kinda “built-in”. Adding an additional sauce was just too much.
But, still I wanted caramel. So, I made a caramel “sauce” that was the consistency of soft caramel candy and covered each cake with a top layer of that awesomeness. And they looked so pretty…. but, were so difficult to eat. Cutting through the caramel on the top just demolished the soft, molten cake underneath. We all ended up with a fork full of caramel candy and a plate full of mashed chocolate cake.
Then, I thought these would be divine flavored with rum. But, the flavor of the rum was completely lost in the rich chocolate and just left us with a bitter aftertaste.
But, finally – FINALLY! – I got it right. And, I’ll tell you right now, the end result was so worth it. Instead of baking them in a muffin tin, I used these mini panettone paper molds. I love these things. They are sturdy enough to not need any additional support – just place them on a baking sheet, fill with batter, and pop directly into the oven.
Then, I exchanged the rum for espresso, which is the perfect accent for the chocolate, giving them an almost smoky flavor.
And, finally, instead of topping the cakes with caramel, I chopped caramel candies into pea-size pieces and just mixed them into the batter.
The end result is a chocolate lover’s wet dream.
Yes. I just said that.
- 11 oz bag soft caramel candies (I used Kraft Vanilla Caramels)
- 15 oz bittersweet chocolate chips (at least 60% cocoa)
- ⅔ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. espresso powder
- 2 tsp. salt
- 8 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup dark brown sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place 12 mini panettone paper molds on a baking sheet. Or, line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.
- Chop the caramels into pea size pieces. Set aside.
- Melt chocolate chips over very low heat, or a half-power in the microwave. Let cool to room temperature.
- In a small bowl, mix flour, espresso powder and salt with a wire whisk to combine.
- Fit a standing mixer with the wire whisk attachment and beat the butter with both sugars for about 2 minutes, until light a fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing for about 60 seconds at medium high speed after each addition.
- Add the flour mixer to the eggs/ butter/ sugar mixture and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, until combined. Add vanilla and melted chocolate and mix for another 30 seconds on low speed, until combined. Stir in chopped caramels.
- Spoon batter evenly into prepared paper molds or lined muffin pan.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, until cakes do not jiggle in the middle when lightly tapped.
- Let cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before serving. Cakes are best served warm, but can be stored at room temperature, in a covered container, for up to 2 days. Reheat for 15-20 seconds in the microwave if you like.