A couple of days ago, a friend of mine was over for dinner, and he asked if I could teach his daughter how to make manicotti.
"Of course, I would love to teach Grace how to make manicotti," I told Gautam.
Teaching people how to make their favorite dishes is one of my favorite things to do.
The finished mini chocolate lava cake is drizzled with caramel.
Stirring the ingredients for the cakes
So, we planned a date to make this happen. I pulled up my old recipe for manicotti from The Journal's (of New Ulm) website and discovered that I wrote that article exactly one year ago.
The article is all about my daughter Ella's visit from England and how I wanted to make her a special vegetarian meal. She and Daphne are both vegetarians. I also wrote that it was, "less than a week before Ella returns to England."
Now, once again, it is less than a week before Ella flies back to England.
Mini Chocolate Lava Cakes
2/3 cups butter
4 oz. dark chocolate chips
2/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup flour
Butter and line six ramekins with a disk of parchment paper. In a double boiler, gently melt the butter and chocolate over a water bath. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar. Beat in the flour. Next, mix in the chocolate mixture. Pour batter into the ramekins. Place the ramekins onto a baking sheet. Place into the refrigerator until you are ready to bake them.
Once you are ready, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the ramekins for 12-14 minutes, until the tops set. Let them set for five minutes and try to unmold them. If not, serve in the ramekins. Pour over the caramel sauce.
- cup sugar
- cup heavy cream
lemon juice to taste
In a sauce pan, pour the sugar and a spoonful of water. Cook over medium high heat for about five minutes. You want it to turn a nice caramel color. Don't let it go too dark. Just shift it around with the handle of the pan. Shake the sugar around gently. You don't need to mix it with a spoon. Add the butter and melt it. Add the cream and mix it in. Pour over the chocolate cakes.
How I wish I could keep her forever living under my roof.
Instead, I have to savor every second I get with her, no matter how brief. This summer, Ella brought along a friend for the first time. This person is not just any friend. He is a boyfriend. We were all a little nervous about the arrival of Ella's boyfriend. Would he be fun?
Would Ella act differently around him? Would he fit in?
I am happy to say that Jacob has been such an amazing addition to our family this summer.
He fit right in to this crazy group of Monros and we have had the best time with him.
Of course, I asked him straight away to tell me his absolute favorite dish.
He said steak with onion rings.
So, last weekend, grilled steak and homemade onions rings were made in honor of Jacob.
There was one stipulation. First, Jacob had to be a part of our family photo shoot.
We hired Cat Manchack to come to our home to take our pictures. Most people would have felt a little awkward taking family pictures with a family he barely knows. Jacob was an amazing sport.
He even posed jokingly on Claud's lap for one picture. He is so funny! It was also nice that Cat was so easy to work with and helped to make the photo shoot easy and fun.
I figured Jacob deserved to eat his favorite meal once we were done taking those pictures.
As we toasted to Jacob and thanked him for visiting us, Ella complained that we usually make a special meal for her instead. I was happy that she wanted me to make her something special too. I had to put some thought into what I could make that would be appropriate and nice for her too. After careful consideration, I decided to make her something chocolate. Ella has quite the sweet tooth.
Jacob doesn't like chocolate. Doesn't like chocolate? What? Is that possible? I don't like sweets very much; but, I wouldn't claim to not like chocolate.
In fact, hot chocolate lava cake is something I cannot resist.
So, chocolate cake would definitely be something special and just for Ella.
Chocolate lava cake was what I would attempt to make. I say attempt because sweets and baking them are not my forte.
I was really excited to have another use for my ramekins.
Luckily, my sister Jessica came over last Saturday and I was able to use her expertise to assist me in making these little yummy cakes.
She and Claud helped me whip up the batter and place the full ramekins into the refrigerator to wait until we were finished with dinner to go into the oven.
After dinner when the cakes were baked, I hoped to flip the mini cakes out of the ramekins onto the plate and to top them with hot caramel.
However, since everything I bake doesn't turn out as planned, I ended up leaving them in the ramekins and drizzling the caramel sauce on top. When I tried to get the cakes out, they didn't look too pretty. So, I stopped doing that. They did, however, taste delicious. The lava in the middle was decadent.
The caramel sauce added just the right complement to the gooey chocolate. I was very pleased. I didn't expect it to turn out pretty anyway.
I am pleased to announce that the cakes were a huge success with everyone: the Grothems, my sister and her family, and, of course...Ella.
Ella loved the batter, the cake, and the caramel sauce. Hopefully, she will keep the memory of all of that chocolate in her mind until we are together again, and I can come up with something new to feed her.