Emergency chocolate dessert

When life hands you lemons, hand them right back and make these warm, fudgy little chocolate cakes instead.


I call this my emergency chocolate dessert for two reasons.

Firstly, it can be made very easily from pantry staples at a moment’s notice, so it’s perfect when you didn’t think you’d be making a dessert and you need to. This happens in my life more often that I care to admit, so I sleep a little bit better knowing that I have it covered.

It’s also a very useful for those times when life throws you for a loop and you need some serious centring – and yoga just ain’t gonna cut it. Making and eating a warm, oozingly fudgy little chocolate cake can restore your sanity faster than all the therapy and beta-blockers in the world.

In this spirit, I have to insist that you take a relaxed attitude and use what you have to hand. I keep a jar of dark, slightly bitter chocolate buttons in the cupboard, so that’s my go-to here. Chop up a chocolate bar from the convenience store or have a full-bore fancy Swiss or Belgian chocolate blowout. Whatever you need.

I use light muscavado sugar only because I’ve learned that it complements the chocolate I use perfectly, and its deep, melting texture lends something special to the finished cake. If your chocolate is already sweet, you can skip the sugar altogether, or use white, brown, raw, caster. It’s up to you.

The reason this cake has a soft interior is that it’s purposefully undercooked, which means your timings can be loose, to say the least. The cakes will be finished, for our purposes, when the tops are just beginning to crack. Give them 5 minutes out of the oven to let them set a little more and they’ll be ready to eat.

You can make them in ramekins, if you like. I tend to make them in a couple of ovenproof little rice bowls, however, because I like turning these cakes out and the bowls give them a lovely, gently rounded shape.

Emergency over. Happiness guaranteed.

Emergency chocolate dessert


Serves 2.

100g (4 oz) dark (semisweet) chocolate
50g (2 oz) unsalted butter, plus some for preparing the dishes
2 eggs
2 tablespoons light muscovado sugar
2 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Set your oven to 200°C (400°F). Grease 2 small ovenproof dishes or ramekins with butter and place them on a baking tray.

Chop the chocolate if necessary and place in a microwaveable dish. Add the butter and microwave in 30-second bursts until melted. In my microwave, it takes 2 minutes on medium power. Remove, stir together and allow to cool a little (to avoid making chocolate scrambled eggs).

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together with the salt and vanilla until very well combined. You could use a handheld mixer, though I prefer to do it by hand with a balloon whisk because it’s quieter and more pleasant.

Stir in the slightly cooled chocolate, then mix in the flour until just combined. Don’t over-beat.

Divide the mixture between the dishes and cook for 12 minutes. Check that the top is just beginning to crack and remove from the oven. Let them sit for 5 minutes before serving, turning them out onto a plate if you want to.

While these are perfectly delicious just the way they are, you could serve them with cream, vanilla ice cream or a dusting of icing sugar to suit your mood.