I’ve never been much of a chocolate fan.  The most I enjoy chocolate is if it is used to cover strawberries or squeezed into milkshakes… and that’s about it.  I’m not the type of girl that gets heartbroken if I don’t have a red Valentine’s Day heart filled with chocolate ‘delights’… In fact, I’m the girl that kisses my fiance all the more, realizing he knows me so well and passed this present by.  Yep, I’ll skip on nibbling the Easter Bunny’s ear… and I’ll pass every year chocolate cake is served for birthdays.  I’m just not that kinda girl… which is why a moan of not-so-happy realization escaped my lips when I read “Episode 13, Season 1: The Art of Darkness I”… ‘darkness’ of couuurse being my enemy.

So it’s “Chocolate Lava Muffins” time.  I admit, if I could be any more un-excited about this application, the ‘lava’ part definitely challenged that.  All I pictured was ewy-gooey chocolate in the middle of, well, more chocolate.  Gross.  And again, lucky for me, that is what I was to get.  Ever so fortunately though, James loves chocolate.  …Thinking about it now, I would probably be a better fiancée if I bought him a Valentine’s chocolate box (mental note to self).  But being serious, I was happy James likes chocolate because that meant someone would enjoy the muffins…  Someone would actually eat them.  Still, I didn’t want him downing 12 muffins alone, so we packed up Alton and our ingredients and went to my parents’ house.

First step — getting my double boiler ready… then grabbing the double boiler ingredients — chocolate and butter…

Bittersweet chocolate chips and unsalted butter

…and tossing them into the double boiler.  This is when I put my muscley fiance to work!  (Love you, baby!)

Mixing butter and chocolate in our double boiler
Almost melted

After that’s complete, we added a small amount of vanilla extract to the mixture, then removed the bowl from the heat.  Now, it was time for our hand mixer (which PS-Alton calls for a stand mixer, but I just don’t have the money right now.  Getting married is quickly absorbing all cooking-utensil needs so, for now, this will have to do!).  As I increased the mixer’s sped, James added one egg at a time… until all four were in the shiny darkness.

A rare picture of James and I cooking together… thanks to my photographer, my mama!

After the eggs were added, it was time to incorporate our dry ingredients:

Sifted flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt

…while I get the muffin tins ready!  Alton says the cups need to be coated with butter, then dusted with more cocoa powder… all before the dark goodness gets spooned inside!

Ready for the oven

After putting the muffins in the oven, it was time to make the “sauce.”  I admit, another reason I wasn’t excited about these muffins are because the sauce calls for adding espresso powder to melted, heated vanilla ice cream.  My sole thought: Why ruin perfectly good ice cream?!  If there’s one thing I cannot stand more than chocolate, it is coffee.  I loathe the taste of coffee, even the smell of coffee makes me feel nauseous.  I think it stems back to when I was little — My mom had a cup sitting out that, I thought, was filled with Coca-Cola… so I took a huge slurp… and was overly disturbed when the warm, pungent taste of coffee spilt down my throat.  Since then, I’ve considered coffee my great sneaky nemesis.

Now, I did consider just going without the espresso, but I wanted to stay true to Alton and prepare his meal the way he requests.  If I don’t like it, I can always alter it next time.  That’s the joy of cooking.

Before: Melting the ice cream
After: Warm, espresso vanilla sauce

Once our sauce was complete, it was time to take the muffins out of the oven.  Two sadly didn’t make it.  They were too gooey with lava and fell apart in the muffin tin.  I wanted to look more professional than I really am… so I took a picture of the remaining seven, but I feel bad fooling you.  (PPS-Alton says this application yields 12 muffins; I added the batter in a disher the size he suggested, and I only got nine.  Oh well.  Less chocolate muffins to worry with!)

Before: Our “Chocolate Lava Muffins”

If you’re looking closely at my muffins, you may notice some… deformities.  Here was one problem I encountered (and by the way, if you actually follow Alton’s instructions, you’ll be fine): I left my scale at my house so I couldn’t weigh the chocolate, butter, flour, and sugar.  “Not a big deal,” you may think, but think again!  Alton heavily preaches weighing ingredients — mainly baking, which must be precise… so I dropped the ball.  I think that’s why my muffins turned out a little… well, lopsided.  If I had properly weighed the ingredients, my muffins would probably have been perfectly formed.  At the time, I promised myself I would re-make them with my scale… but once I tasted them, I changed my mind.  I’ll explain why later…

Lastly, we dished our espresso vanilla sauce over the muffins and let it slip into the cracks to get buddy-buddy with the chocolate lava inside.

After: Espresso-covered muffins, ready for the munchin’!

What did I think of the muffins?  Eh; they were okay.  It’s not that they were horrible…  They just weren’t for me.  If I make this next time, I will definitely stray from the espresso and probably not make the sauce at all.  I think instead I’ll sit my pretty, perfectly measured-ingredient muffins in a bowl and slide a whopping scoop of vanilla or strawberry or cherry ice cream beside it.

Saying that though, everyone else’s reaction was better… other than my fiance (who agreed with me).  My dad though thought they were tasty.  He, too, is a chocolate fiend.

My dad’s first reaction of “Mmmm!”

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