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Molten Mocha Cakes (for Love)


Valentine’s Day – A Timeline


I was born a week before Valentine’s Day. I was in the hospital for a bit. My grandfather visited me and brought me a tiny doll with curly brown hair and a beanbag tummy. His wee shirt said, “I love you.” I named him Love. I slept with Love through high school (so what) then accidentally left my itty bitty doll in a hotel room. I cried. I hope Love is bringing another child loads of love right this very minute. So I guess my first Valentine was my sweet grandpa. He had big hands and floppy earlobes. I would sit in his lap, and he’d give me M&Ms and a crisp one dollar bill. Every time I saw him. And he gave me Love.

5th Grade

Everyone brought valentines to school for classmates. We each had a box on our desk awaiting love notes and were bursting with excitement to pass out our pink and red cards with candies. We scurried around the classroom dropping personalized notes in boxes and finally settled back into our seats to read our treasures. I glanced up at a sweet, smart boy who looked sad. His box only had a few cards. I remember in that moment questioning this thing called Valentine’s Day and feeling overwhelmingly sad and confused as to why other classmates chose not to share love with him.

6th Grade

I was stretched out on my parents’ bed with a huge, heart-shaped box of chocolates. On the phone was one of my best friends, Wynne. One by one, we ate chocolates, describing the flavors to each other. “Ooh I got a caramel one!” “Eek this one has weird white stuff in it.” Two young girls carelessly eating chocolates without a care in the world. No thought of calories or fat – just pure chocolate happiness with a friend.

Junior High

Our school had something called Candy Grams – little notes and candy that you could purchase and have delivered to your crush during the last class of the day. Some people would send them anonymously. Ooh lah lah. What sticks out in my memory, though, is being more excited to get a Candy Gram from my best friend than from whatever silly, nervous boy I was flirting with…

High School

Valentine’s Day 2000 – I bought my boyfriend a dog. A huge dog. Without asking his parents first. This family already had 2 huge dogs, 1 small dog and 1 cat. Great gift.


I’d have my nose in a Biochemistry or Microbiology book. Probably hadn’t slept in days. Doorbell. Bright, gorgeous, happy flowers…from my amazing parents. They sent me flowers and a sweet note every year. Maybe I’d get some from a boyfriend, but they were never as lovely or as appreciated as the ones I got from Mom and Dad.


I still love Valentine’s Day. But I’ve always seen this day as a chance to spread love…not exclude people from it. A flower or a sweet card can bring a smile to me always whether it’s from my boyfriend, my neighbor or my dentist. It’s just love. And everyone needs that.

One kind word can warm three winter months.
Japanese Proverb

Cakes – these tiny, molten cakes are ridiculous!! Simple and decadent. And they can be made ahead and baked whenever. They’re like gooey, fudgy brownies with a hot fudge center. I will be making them for pretty much everyone I know.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Molten Mocha Cakes

Serves 2 (Recipe can be doubled or tripled – just add 3 minutes or so to baking time)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces (1/4 cup) semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/3 cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon espresso powder
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spray two 6-ounce ramekins with nonstick spray. Place butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high in 20-second intervals, stirring after each, until melted. Let cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together egg, egg yolk, sugar, espresso powder and salt. Add chocolate mixture and whisk to combine. Add flour and whisk just until combined (do not over mix).
  3. Pour batter into prepared ramekins – recipe can be made ahead to this point.
  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted 1/2 inch from edge of ramekins comes out clean, and a toothpick inserted in center comes out wet, 10 to 11 minutes (do not over bake). Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack.
  5. Carefully run a knife around inside rim of ramekins to loosen. Invert cakes onto serving plates. Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately. I cut a heart out of paper and dusted around heart for decoration.

Adapted from Martha Stewart

More → Desserts , Holidays

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