so hot right now: mini churro lava cakes
Churros are probably in my Top 5 favorite things (proof here). And I have a lot of favorite things. But I'm intimidated by frying things at home (I immediately close the tab when I see "preheat oil to 350°F" because my accident-prone self + hot oil = no thanks), and Singapore doesn't have Costco or Disneyland.
I was looking for a quick dessert to make for a BBQ this past weekend, something people could just grab and eat in a couple of bites, and something relatively easy to make. And I now have access to a kitchen (more on this later), but for some reason, I still never feel as comfortable with complex recipes as when I'm baking in my San Diego kitchen. I am very, very spoiled with my mom's 10-speed KitchenAid mixer, Madagascan bourbon vanilla from Williams-Sonoma, and every kind of cake pan and extract imaginable, and therefore accustomed to a certain standard of baking environment; college involved a lot of improvising—I once made a sponge cake in a colander using a whisk gaffe-taped to a drill.
But I stumbled upon this lovely recipe from the Café Delites blog, and these beauties (MINI. CHURRO. CAKES.) are the perfect mix of fluffy, crunchy, and cinnamon-sugary. And are also filled with chocolate. And you can make them in a plain old muffin tin. And they're arguably healthier than normal churros, because they're baked and not fried. God, these things are like gifts that just keep on giving. They're like all of my obsessions (mini things, churros, easy recipes) rolled into one.
I still don't really like chocolate and I would have preferred them without (or maybe with some kind of jam or whipped cream instead), but anything with "lava" in the name is intrinsically appealing to me, so enjoy the food porn:
MINI CHURRO LAVA CAKES
Yields: 12 mini cakes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
4 oz bittersweet chocolate
¼ cup light coconut milk or heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp unsalted butter (melted) or oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Okay, so full disclosure: I messed up a lot in this recipe. It's amazing that they turned out as well as they did, because I made a lot of stupid mistakes. But this is a fairly easy recipe, so if you follow it, unlike me, you should be fine.
Combine the chocolate and coconut milk in a microwave safe bowl (MISTAKE #1: I don't even know how I misread this so terribly, but I put in a full cup of coconut milk instead of 1/4 cup, which made the "ganache" very liquidy and difficult to contain when I baked them; long story short, do not do that). Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir and heat again for another 30 seconds, until the chocolate is melted. Stir well, until evenly mixed. Once ganache is glossy and creamy, stir in the vanilla extract. Cover and place in the refrigerator until set (around an hour).
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a muffin tin and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk all of the dry ingredients together. Make a well in the center and add the butter or oil, egg, vanilla, and milk (MISTAKE #2: I did not melt the butter, which forced me to overcompensate with extra milk, so the proportions were all wrong). Whisk batter until smooth.
Spread half a spoonful of batter into each muffin slot (what are those even called?). Drop a tablespoon of the ganache in, and cover with more batter.
Bake for 20 minutes or until they are golden in color and a toothpick inserted into the top comes out clean.
(MISTAKE #3: I did not take a picture of the final product. This post is a mess. I don't know what I'm doing anymore.)
Allow them to cool for five minutes. Loosen the edges of the cakes with a butter knife, and transfer them to a baking tray. Brush each cake with a light layer of melted butter.
Combine the sugar and cinnamon together in a shallow bowl, and gently roll each cake in the cinnamon sugar mix until evenly coated.
Sidenote: I've had a very long history of wanting a career in food styling, and honestly, one of the best things about food blogging is arranging the food all fancy to make it look like a professional cookbook. Yes, these are the kinds of things a really hip 22-year-old does on Sunday afternoons.
And that's all, folks! Yet another recipe to file under "looks-really-impressive-but-takes-minimal-effort" desserts (it seems as though I can make no other kind). You're welcome.