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Pork? Sauerkraut? Black-eyed peas and greens? Cornbread? Pickled herring? What is your New Year’s Day guarantee of good luck?

For me growing up, it was a nice pork roast, cooked over and under a bed of sauerkraut. Lots of buttery mashed potatoes, and probably carrots, but the pork and sauerkraut were the biggies.

Lately, we have been having the pork and mashed potatoes, but as often as not, the sauerkraut is replaced with braised red cabbage, and the carrots with collard greens. Maybe some cornbread to sop up the nummy juices.

That’s what we’ll be having tomorrow, only no greens. Probably a tossed salad with lettuce and spinach will supply the green quotient for the meal.

I’d like to fix a dessert of some kind but am without inspiration as of 7:00 New Year’s Eve. So whatever it may be it will have to be made of something I have on hand, which gives it a lot of latitude, actually. I have a well stocked pantry. I should be able to come up with a dandy dessert.

Maybe we’ll have those trendy chocolate lava cakes. You know what I  mean, little cakes made of deep, dark chocolate and, when upended on a plate and you dig your spoon into them, the molten center of rich chocolate rolls out. Heaven.

I assume the cakes were initially a failure. Someone made these small individual servings of chocolate cake and the centers didn’t get quite done. The decision was made to serve them anyway. The name “Cakes with the not-quite-all-cooked-middles” didn’t sound right and the name “Lava Cakes” came to mind and it stuck.

Anyway, they are good, quite easy to prepare, and they can be started ahead of time, left in the frig and baked just before you want to serve them. Perfect.

MOLTEN LAVA CAKES

[You can prepare these ahead unbaked if necessary. Keep them covered 2-4 hours in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before baking.]

Serves 4.

4 T. butter, room temperature, plus 1 T. to butter the muffin tins

3 eggs

1/3 c. flour

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely, and melted in bowl over pan of simmering water

1/4 t. salt, if using unsalted butter

1/2c. sugar, plus some for dusting pan

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously butter 4 cups in a muffin tin. (I use a non-stick tin.) Dust with a little sugar.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.

3. On low speed, beat in flour and salt just until combined. Don’t overmix.

4. Beat in chocolate.

5. Divide among cups. 

6. Bake on a baking sheet 8-10 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes.

7. To serve, turn out cakes and place on serving plates. Dust with confectioner’s sugar if desired or serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

To save leftovers, store covered in refrigerator. Reheat in microwave oven, 2 cakes for 1 minute at 60% power.

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