Peanut Butter Chocolate Lava Cakes
The ultimate dessert decadence!
Let’s discuss the elephant in the room.
Why is there not a peanut butter lava cake recipe on my blog yet? Rich, moist, fudgy, gooey, and warm chocolate cake exploding with melty peanut butter that literally pools out from the center at first bite. And then topped with cold vanilla ice cream that melts down the sides. What is wrong with me that I’ve never made this masterpiece at home and WORSE that I’ve never shared such decadence on this so-called “peanut butter loving” blog? I mean, just watch:
This blog hasn’t even lived until this peanut butter chocolate lava cake day. Welcome to the best dessert on earth. The great news is that this recipe makes 4 individually sized peanut butter chocolate lava cakes and the bad news is that this recipe makes 4 individually sized peanut butter chocolate lava cakes. Let’s be honest here. Self control fades fast when you have 4 chocolate lava cakes in the house.
I’ve talked about it a few times before, but I worked at Chili’s back in college. The good ol’ days throwing sizzle sauce onto those hot fajita skillets, pouring margaritas on the rocks, serving with a smile, spilling BBQ sauce onto a woman’s beautifully crisp white blazer… wait, what? Yes. That happened on my first day. I am haunted every time I see a woman sporting a white blazer.
So I’ve had a few Chili’s molten lava cakes in my day. While the molten cakes came to the restaurant frozen, a quick zap in the microwave made that chocolate completely ooze out with the first bite. Molten cakes are obviously a crowd favorite, but believe me when I say this: they’re 78,479x better made at home. When they’re hot from the oven, made fresh with pure chocolate and lots of butter.
First thing’s first. They may look all fancy and complicated but peanut butter chocolate lava cakes are super easy and I’m not just saying that to sell you on ’em! You make a quick batter, you stuff peanut butter inside, and you bake them for just over 10 minutes. All the work is done in your oven, where a high oven heat cooks the outside of the mini cakes but leaves the center slightly gooey.
Let’s quickly walk through the recipe with pictures so you know what you’re doing when you make these. Which needs to be very soon because (1) Valentine’s Day and (2) peanut butter + chocolate + lava cake.
↑ Can I dive in?
The base of these chocolate lava cakes is made from butter melted down with pure chocolate. I’m going to repeat this as much as possible: use QUALITY chocolate. Absolutely no cheap stuff and definitely no chocolate chips. You will be dreadfully disappointed if you use lower quality chocolate. I prefer Ghirardelli or Lindt. The quality of butter doesn’t matter as much; I use store-brand all the time. Just make sure you use unsalted butter, like most of my recipes. (Why? Because it gives you full control over the salt content.)
While high-quality chocolate and butter make up the base of these peanut butter chocolate lava cakes, the most important ingredient is egg. There are 2 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks in this recipe (so 2 egg whites and 4 egg yolks)– an entire egg yolk in each cake. The egg yolks are what provide unique moisture and richness to each cake and the egg whites help give structure, combining all the ingredients into one smooth batter and 4 sturdy cakes.
There are no chemical leaveners in these peanut butter chocolate lava cakes. There is only a little flour, because we don’t want to dry out the cakes. For the sugar, I don’t use much of it. Ok, there’s some for taste– but don’t expect a super sweet chocolate cake. I adapted this lava cake recipe from Food and Wine, who use granulated sugar to sweeten. However, in my recipe testing, I prefer to use confectioners’ sugar over granulated sugar. I found the cakes to taste grainy with granulated.
You’ll need ramekins. I use the same size for these lava cakes as I use for last year’s chocolate fudge cakes recipe (–> that recipe only makes 2 cakes. I love it for our occasional husband/wife ditch-the-technology date night!) Here are the 6-ounce ramekins I use and suggest you pick up as well. Perfect size for these lava cakes. You’ll want to grease each ramekin with a little non-stick spray and a dusting of cocoa powder. This preparation helps seamlessly release the baked lava cake from the ramekin onto the plate for serving.
Spoon creamy peanut butter inside! A couple heaping teaspoons per cake. Do not use natural style peanut butter, do not use crunchy peanut butter, do not use any other nut butter. The best, in my peanut butter lava cake experience, are commercial brands like creamy Jif or Skippy. Trust me on this.
Take a moment to stare at this:
This is actual melty peanut butter from inside the inverted lava cake. And I’m actually fainting as I re-live this moment.
It’s a peanut butter chocolate lava phenomenon.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Lava Cakes
- 6 ounces (170g) high quality semi-sweet chocolate, such as Ghirardelli or Lindt
- 1/2 cup (115g; 1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup (31g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (60g) confectioners' sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 8 teaspoons (42g) creamy peanut butter (about 2 teaspoons per cake)1
- optional for serving: ice cream, melted peanut butter and/or chocolate syrup for drizzling
- Spray each ramekin with nonstick cooking spray and dust with cocoa powder. This ensures the cakes will seamlessly come out of the ramekins when inverted onto a plate in step 6.
- Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C).
- Coarsely chop the chocolate. Place butter into a medium heat-proof bowl, then add chopped chocolate on top. Microwave on high in 10 second increments, stirring after each until completely smooth. Set aside.
- Whisk the flour, confectioners' sugar, and salt together in a small bowl. Whisk the eggs and egg yolks together until combined in another small bowl. Pour the flour mixture and eggs into the bowl of chocolate. Slowly stir everything together using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. If there are any lumps, gently use your whisk to rid them. The batter will be slightly thick.
- Spoon chocolate batter evenly into each prepared ramekin. Top with peanut butter and use a spoon to slightly press it down into the batter. Some may still be exposed-- see photo above for a visual.
- Place ramekins onto a baking sheet and bake for 12-13 minutes until the sides appear solid and firm. The top may still look slightly soft. Allow to cool for 1 minute, then cover each with an inverted plate and turn over. Use an oven mitt because those ramekins are hot! The cakes should release easily from the ramekin. Top with ice cream and melted peanut butter and/or chocolate syrup for serving, if desired. Serve immediately.
Make ahead tip: This batter can be prepared through step 4 ahead of time. Cover tightly and keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. Allow to come to room temperature before continuing with step 5.
- Do not use natural style peanut butter, do not use crunchy peanut butter, do not use any other nut butter like almond butter. The best for this recipe is commercial brand peanut butter like creamy Jif or Skippy. I use Jif creamy.
- I'm unsure about the bake time for ramekins any other size than 6 ounces. I highly suggest just buying the specified size if you do not own them already. The good news: this standard size is typical for other dessert recipes like custards, soufflés, creme brûlées, chocolate fudge cakes, and mousse.
I've gotten some questions about making these plain, without peanut butter. Yes, it's possible! No changes necessary, just don’t add the peanut butter and bake for only about 12-13 minutes.
Adapted from Food and Wine
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