Make Caramel Lava Cakes With Two Trader Joe’s Products

Nigella Lawson’s Molten Chocolate Chip Cookies got me going. In fact, it would be a bit of an exaggeration to say that her book How to Become a Household Goddess made me the food writer I am today. Nigella’s writing has always been warm and sensual enough—in a world of didactic, “optimized” food recipes, her work is engaging and inspiring, and it was this atmosphere that made me fall in love with cooking.

Making lava cakes for my then-boyfriend made me feel competent in the kitchen and a little grown up. It was one of the first “successful” desserts I ever baked, and since then I’ve had a soft spot for cakes with runny fillings.

Since then, my attitude towards baking has changed (I don’t like it), but not towards dessert. I still crave sticky sweet, warm, gooey dessert from time to time, and lava pies have a certain mid-90s charm that I find very appealing (like a slice of lettuce, a dirty martini, or something sun-dried tomato).

Trying to satisfy that craving without any “real” baking resulted in the little cake you see above: a cake with caramel liquid in the center, made with two of Trader Joe’s products (their Blondie Bar baking mix and caramel coated in dark chocolate).

All you have to do is prepare the mixture as directed on the package, grease the molds with butter and line the bottom with a little parchment paper. Squeeze a quarter cup of heaping blondie dough into a mold and press the caramel into the center. Bake for half an hour, then let cool for a couple of minutes before inverting onto a plate (or eating straight from the mold). It’s ridiculously easy.

The resulting cake has a distinctive cookie vibe, with a chewy outside and runny caramel core. It’s incredibly filling, so make sure you have a large glass of milk with you.

One box of mix will make about six baby muffins, but the batter can also be kept in the fridge for a few days if you don’t want to eat or serve all six at once.

Caramel Center Lava Cakes


  • 1 box Trader Joe’s Blondie Bar Baking Mix
  • 1 Apply melted butter, plus some unmelted butter for greasing
  • 1 egg
  • 6. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Caramel

Preheat oven to 350℉. Lightly butter up to six molds, depending on how many cakes you’ll be baking. Trace the bottom of one of the molds onto a sheet of parchment, then cut out a circle and press it against the bottom of the mold. Repeat up to six times, depending on how many cakes you are making.

Whisk the butter and egg into the mixture (oil first if hot). Pour 1/4 cup of the batter into each mold, then squeeze the caramel into the center of the batter. Bake for half an hour, then let cool for a few minutes before running a sharp, thin knife around the mold and inverting it onto a plate. Alternatively, just leave it in the molds and eat from there. Either option works.


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