I like to serve these individual chocolate cakes for dessert at the end of long dinner parties (everyone loves chocolate). But more often than not, I just end up baking one ramekin off for myself when I'm alone, then stashing the rest, covered, in the fridge to enjoy throughout the week. (Just add five minutes if you're baking from fridge-cold.) We spend so much time talking about meal prep, but dessert prep can get you a long way in these colder, darker days.
This recipe is easily divisible by half if you wish to only make two ramekins, which I often do when I have a date coming over for dinner. (That means 3 tablespoons of olive oil, by the way.) However many of these you decide to make, I've found that a contrast in temperature and flavor—in the form of cool, soft vanilla ice cream—is wonderful relief against the dark, hot lava cake.
Sans ice cream, though, these do happen to be dairy- and gluten-free, which comes in handy when you're cooking for others. —Eric Kim
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease four 6-ounce ramekins and place them on a sheet pan.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave and set aside to cool slightly. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla, clementine zest, and olive oil until light and fluffy (you don't have to go overboard here; just incorporate all of the ingredients—though, if you have the wherewithal in you, a little air in the eggs now will result in a deliciously chewy-edged lava cake later). Fold in the chocolate.
Pour batter into the ramekins and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until just cooked. (The tops should be slightly cracked, the insides hot and gooey.) Dust with powdered sugar before serving, or top with vanilla ice cream.
Eric Kim is the Table for One columnist at Food52. Formerly the managing editor at Food Network and a PhD candidate in literature at Columbia University, he covers food, travel, and culture and lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho.