ed. note: Since our entire team has fallen in love with the decadent, beautiful, and perfectly-named blog Butterlust, we invited its creator, Katie, to pop by the site once a month in an all new series called “The Sweeter Side.” She’ll be sharing at-home recipes for ending the meal (or starting the day) on a sweet note, and I couldn’t be drooling anymore over this first installment. Take it away, Katie!
Hello, CS readers – I’m super excited to share my sweet tooth with y’all! Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and while you may not have switched your focus from New Year’s resolutions to romance yet, I say it’s never to early to start planning a special evening for you and your sweetie – especially when it’s planning for a holiday where chocolate takes center stage! This year, my boyfriend and I have decided to keep Valentine’s Day small and intimate; no stuffy, over-priced prix fixe menu, no meticulously planned evening on the town, and definitely no fuzzy, frilly red and pink anything. Instead, we’re going to open up one (maybe two) nice bottles of wine that we’ve had stashed away for a special occasion, and spend the evening in the kitchen, crafting a meal together, and relishing in the unique closeness that is brought out through our shared love of cooking. While it may sound cliché, food is sexy. The sights, the smells, the tastes – the process of preparing and indulging in a home-cooked meal engages the senses, heightens our mood and has the rare ability to create the perfect setting for a memorable evening with that special someone.
While I love to cook, I love it even more when he cooks for me, so in true sweets-obsessed fashion, I’m letting him handle the main course while I focus on dessert. On the menu this year: Nutella Molten Cakes with No-Churn Cherry Cheesecake Ice Cream. Fear not, molten cakes are one of those desserts that seem infinitely fancy and intimidating, however are surprisingly simple to make at home. They require few ingredients, all of which you likely already have in your pantry, and come together in twenty minutes or less. To further add to the simplicity – and allow more time for the two of you – the ice cream requires zero special equipment and is meant to be made the night before, though you could scrap the cheesecake part all together and just as easily top the cakes with the cherry sauce alone.
These individual serving molten chocolate cakes are served warm from the oven and have a gooey, liquid Nutella center that oozes out onto the plate and mingles with swirls of melting ice cream, resulting in the ultimate contrast of flavors and textures — hot and cold, sweet and tart, nutty and fruity. They’re rich, indulgently messy and, well, just about as sexy as a dessert can get. Enjoy!
For the No-Churn Cherry Cheesecake Ice Cream:
1 cup fresh or frozen cherries, loosely chopped
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
5 oz. cream cheese, softened
7 oz. (half a can) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 tablespoon bourbon
For the Nutella Molten Cakes:
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons Nutella or other chocolate-hazelnut spread
2 tablespoons roasted hazelnuts, chopped for garnish (optional)
- To prepare the ice cream: In a medium saucepan combine the cherries, brown sugar, water, and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and cook for 10-15 minutes until the cherries are cooked down and the mixture has thickened. Set aside to cool. Note: If you're going to skip the ice cream and just use the cherry sauce for topping, stir in a tablespoon or two of your favorite liqueur for an indulgent bite.
- In a mixer fitted with whisk attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Slowly add the condensed milk and vanilla, and continue to beat until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps. Mix in the bourbon until well combined. Add the heavy cream and beat until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Note: Don't skip the bourbon. It keeps the ice cream a little soft and easy to scoop.
- Transfer the mixture to a loaf pan or other serving dish, cover and freeze for at least 6 hours.
- To prepare the molten cakes: Preheat the oven to 425F and liberally grease two 6 oz. ramekins with butter.
- Combine the bittersweet chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals to melt, stirring between each.
- In a medium bowl, beat the egg, egg yolk and sugar until thick and pale. Add the melted chocolate and butter mixture, vanilla and salt, and mix until well combined. Fold in the flour.
- Fill each ramekin half way, the drop 1 tablespoon of Nutella into the center of each. Top off the ramekins with the remaining batter and tap them lightly against the counter to remove any air bubbles.
- Place the ramekins on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-11 minutes or until the edges look set but the center still jiggles. Do not overbake.
- Gently run a knife around the edge of each ramekin and turn out the cakes onto dessert plates. Top each with a scoop of Cherry Cheesecake Ice Cream, garnish with chopped hazelnuts if desired, and serve immediately while the cakes are still warm.