Just like the word “cool,” a slang word from the 1960s that’s shown incredible staying power and become part of our lexicon, so has this particular under-cooked chocolate cake that’s also going the way of cool.
Known by myriad names: fallen chocolate cake, chocolate volcano, molten chocolate cake, chocolate lava, pudding cake, etc., to me they’re just lava cakes. I like these little things because they don’t require a brain to bake up plus the batter can be made ahead of time, refrigerated, and then baked at the last minute. Straight from the oven, it’s a thrill to stab one with a spoon and watch gleefully as the soft – dare I say it? – molten! center seeps out like sludge.
Heeding the siren call of making something warm and chocolate-y and peanut buttery, I’m trying out a recipe from a food magazine that I read occasionally. My mind is on what I’m doing but also on trying to keep up a conversation with my Bin who himself is tinkering with the toys in his toolbox. And of course the radio is blasting as it always is when I’m in the kitchen.
Here I am greasing the ramekins, cutting up chocolate, and weighing out the ingredients on my digital scale. “What’re you making, Mom?” I suddenly hear Boo’s voice behind me. “Oh, just some lava cakes, hon,” I reply absent-mindedly. How many grams are in an ounce again? The question echoes in my head. “Chocolate?” Boo asks again, after surveying the ingredients laid out on the counter. Oh right, 28, I remember. “Mm-hmm,” I answer her distractedly.
I hear Boo skipping to where her dad is, and then she shouts, “Mama’s making larva cakes!” My head jerks up, disbelieving what I hear, and then a chuckle escapes from my lips. “Boo Boo, it’s lava cakes not larva!” I yell. “Yeah, larva,” my daughter replies, already busy with a toy. Aw heck, who am I to tell my 6-year-old that there’s a difference between lava and larva?
Later at the table, Boo’s eyes widen in wonder as she watches me run a knife around the edges of the little cakes and then flipping them over onto dessert plates. I hand her a teaspoon and, following her dad’s lead, she pokes the cake. Seeing the resultant khaki-colored ooze she’s rewarded with, she giggles. It’s terrific, this melding of hot pudding and cold ice cream, chocolate and peanut butter, lava and larva (!) …
… and delighting in my daughter’s renaming of a favorite dessert. Now that’s cool.