Chocoholic Paradise: Chocolate Lava Cakes

Hi, my name is Lara and I'm a chocoholic. I was born with a sweet tooth and an innate love for all things chocolate, and rarely a day goes by that I don't have a small bite of something chocolate. If there was a 12-step program for chocolate addicts, I'd probably need 13 steps. It's that serious.

With that said, chocolate lava cake is one of my hands-down absolute favorite chocolate desserts. Whenever I see it on a dessert menu, I HAVE to order it, but I never dreamed of attempting to make it at home because it seemed so complicated. Well, now that I've made it myself I know firsthand that it's probably one of the easiest and most impressive desserts ever.

 Chocolate Lava Cake: Ooey-gooey goodness

Chocolate Lava Cake: Ooey-gooey goodness

Here's the recipe I used, which apparently is the same one from Roy's, a fantastic Hawaiian-fusion restaurant that I first ate at almost 10 years ago. I distinctly recall ordering the molten lava cake on their menu and it was absolutely heavenly, so I'm thrilled to have successfully recreated it at home!

Roy's Chocolate Souffle (Molten Lava Cake)

Recipe adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Makes 4 servings

Equipment

  • Parchment paper
  • 4 ramekins (3 inches in diameter x 2 inches tall)

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. good quality semi-sweet dark chocolate
  • 12 Tablespoons butter, plus additional butter for greasing
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 whole eggs plus 4 egg yolks

Instructions

  1. To make the soufflé batter, combine sugar and cornstarch in a medium mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and yolks. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add chocolate and mix until smooth. Add the chocolate mixture to the sugar and cornstarch. Mix until combined. Add eggs slowly and mix at low speed until mixture is smooth and sugar dissolved. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°. Grease each ramekin thoroughly with butter and line with parchment paper on the bottom. 
  3. Fill each ramekin with soufflé batter ¾ of the way full. Bake on top oven rack for 26-28 minutes. You just want to make sure the tops are set but the middle is still gooey. Remove baking sheet from oven. Carefully invert the ramekins onto serving plates and remove the parchment paper. The cakes should slide out easily because of the butter, but if not then run a knife around the edges of the ramekin to loosen it from the sides. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve alongside fresh fruit if desired. Serve immediately. Left over batter can be refrigerated for up to 10 days.
 Greased ramekin with parchment paper on the bottom

Greased ramekin with parchment paper on the bottom

 Ready to go in the oven!

Ready to go in the oven!

 Fresh outta the oven... can't wait to crack it open :)

Fresh outta the oven... can't wait to crack it open :)

 Inverted. Almost time to eat...

Inverted. Almost time to eat...

 Ready to serve!

Ready to serve!

Superbowl Eats: Beef Tacos, Guacamole, and Salsa

It probably wouldn't come as a huge shock to anyone that I care more about what I eat during the Superbowl than actually watching the game. Usually I prepare an entire feast and invite a few friends over, but this year it was just the two of us. I made slow-cooked shredded beef tacos, loaded guacamole, corn salsa, and salsa verde.

I've been wanting to learn how to use a DSLR, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity. It's a lot harder than I thought because I've forgotten everything I used to know about shooting manually, so I'm still getting the hang of it. Here are some shots from today:

superbowl-taco-beef-1
superbowl-taco-beef-2

Slow-cooked Shredded Beef Tacos

Adapted from Gimme Some Oven

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 pounds boneless chuck roast
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • Tortillas
  1. Whisk together the chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika in a small bowl. Rub the spice mix into the beef, covering each side evenly.

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the beef on each side until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the beef from the skillet and place in the bottom of a slow cooker or a large pot.

  3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and diced onion to the skillet. Saute for an additional 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the beef and chicken stock and stir the pan to deglaze it, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add tomato paste and whisk into the pan sauce until combined. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for a 3-5 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly. Pour the pan sauce down over the beef in the pot/slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours, until the beef shreds easily.

  4. Shred the beef with two forks, and toss to coat with any of the remaining juices. Serve the beef in the tortillas, topped with your favorite taco toppings.

 Loaded Guacamole with corn

Loaded Guacamole with corn

Loaded Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 2 avocados
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1/4 cup corn
  • 1/4 cup tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup jalapeño, minced (remove the seeds for less heat)
  • 1/2 cup red onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • salt to taste
  1. Mash avocados in a medium bowl with the garlic clove and lime juice.
  2. Fold in corn, tomato, jalapeño, red onion, and cilantro. Salt to taste.
  3. Store in the refrigerator, sealed with saran wrap to prevent browning.

Corn Salsa

Ingredients

  • 1 can of corn
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup jalapeño, minced (remove the seeds for less heat)
  • salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Salsa Verde

Adapted from Serious Eats

Ingredients

  • 1 large poblano chile, seeded and roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 jalapeños, roughly chopped (seeded for a hot salsa, not seeded for extra-hot)
  • 1 large tomatillo, quartered
  • 6 sprigs cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Kosher salt to taste
  1. Place chopped chiles, tomatillo, cilantro, garlic, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, and cook until chiles and tomatillo are softened, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

  2. Transfer mixture to food processor or blender and puree until completely smooth. Transfer to bowl, stir in sour cream and lime juice. Season with salt to taste and serve immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to a week.

Paleo Pancakes: A+ for Effort

Happy Snow Day! Because I'm on a paleo diet this week, I thought a snowy day home from work would be the perfect opportunity to try some paleo pancakes. 

I found a recipe that called for mashed banana and almond flour, both of which I had on hand. I noticed the batter was much darker in color than regular pancakes, and because of the absence of flour they cooked differently. They weren't the light and fluffy pancakes I'm used to, but ended up being pretty dry, dense and mealy. Oh, and they completely burnt on the griddle. The batter was still raw on the top when it was burnt on the bottom, which made the pancakes really hard to flip.

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Happy Holidays: Homemade Chocolate Biscotti

Whoa, it's been a crazy busy few weeks! I haven't had any time to blog and I'm really regretting that now. The holidays always end up stressing me out a lot more than they should, and I lose a lot of sleep fretting over anything and everything. This year I had the added bonus of getting sick with food poisoning, followed almost immediately by something I will call the "Almost Flu." But the great news is that I survived, so yay!

Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year, which is probably why I make every attempt to be extra festive. The last few years I've challenged myself with creating a batch of homemade gifts to give out. I've previously done homemade mulling spices, cranberry oatmeal chocolate chip cookie mix, and also homemade vanilla extract. This year I decided to give homemade chocolate biscotti a try, and I'm pretty happy with the outcome. I'm probably the only person in the world who doesn't drink coffee, but I do know that biscotti goes great with it, and who can say no to chocolate?? 

Here's a peek at my biscotti, and also some of my homemade gifts from Christmases past:  

 2014: Chocolate Biscotti dipped in dark chocolate and walnuts

2014: Chocolate Biscotti dipped in dark chocolate and walnuts

 Giftwrapping 2013

Giftwrapping 2013

 Vanilla Extract 2013

Vanilla Extract 2013

 2012: Cranberry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Mix

2012: Cranberry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Mix

 2012: Packaging for mulling spice

2012: Packaging for mulling spice

 2012: Homemade mulling spices

2012: Homemade mulling spices

Waste Not, Want Not: Homemade Stock

If you've never made your own stock before, you're missing out on something really delicious that's also really easy. After reading Food52's post on how to make vegetable stock without a recipe, I was inspired to give it a try and now it's something I do regularly. I make my own stock from leftover vegetables about once a month, and I either freeze the stock for soup or I use it for cooking during the next few weeks. It's so flavorful, and I feel great knowing that I've found a use for food that would normally be discarded. Plus, I love that it's homemade and I'm that much closer to becoming Martha Stewart. (!!!!)

If you cook a few times per week, you probably have tons of ingredients you can use in your stock. I keep a gallon-size ziploc bag in my freezer and every time I trim carrots, celery, onions and the like, I throw the ends in my freezer. When the bag is full, I know it's time to make some stock. Sometimes I have some chicken bones on hand that I put in the pot with my veggies, which I personally think adds another depth of flavor and makes it taste even more delicious. 

All you need to do is put all your frozen veggies in a large pot with salted water and let it simmer for the next 4+ hours. Take a nap, catch up on your DVR, clean your apartment. You'll know when it's ready because the vegetables will look like mush, but the broth will be bursting with flavor. At this point, you can strain and discard the mushy veggies, and then you'll be left with a pot full of homemade stock that you can use as you please. Trust me, it's worth the time!

 Thanksgiving 2014 Stock: turkey breast bones, garlic, onions, celery, carrots, parsley, scallions, thyme, green pepper

Thanksgiving 2014 Stock: turkey breast bones, garlic, onions, celery, carrots, parsley, scallions, thyme, green pepper

 Nov 2014 Stock: tomatoes, carrots, onions, celery, parsley, string beans, scallions, chicken bones, thyme, broccoli, asparagus.

Nov 2014 Stock: tomatoes, carrots, onions, celery, parsley, string beans, scallions, chicken bones, thyme, broccoli, asparagus.

 June 2014 Stock: Kale, tomatoes, onion, parsley, thyme, chicken bones.

June 2014 Stock: Kale, tomatoes, onion, parsley, thyme, chicken bones.

Some tips:

  • Make sure to use a healthy amount of salt. I always forget that I need an extra tablespoon or two of salt to make the broth extra tasty, or else it ends up being something more like vegetable water. 
  • In addition to my frozen vegetable trimmings, I also make sure to include a handful of garlic cloves, whatever fresh herbs I have on hand, an extra onion, and any vegetables I have in my fridge that I don't think I'll be able to cook before they go bad. 
  • According to Food52, you can use almost any combination of vegetables in your stock, but they recommend staying away from potatoes (they will turn your broth cloudy), beets (they will turn your broth pink), and rosemary (it adds a slightly bitter flavor). Everything else is fair game.

Hope this has inspired you to think twice about the food you're throwing away. Waste not, want not!