Such a decadent dessert, served hot right out of the oven, with a gooey 'eruption' of caramel sauce.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Thoroughly butter 4 – 6 oz custard cups and coat inside with cocoa powder, tap out excess. Place on a baking sheet. Make caramel and allow to cool. Place a heaping tablespoon of cold/cool caramel to the bottom of each ramekin.
To make the Salted Caramel Topping, place sugar and water in a 4 quart saucepan, heat over medium heat - swirling pan gently just enough to even out sugar in bottom. Cook until sugar turns a deep amber color. Stir in butter pieces, whisking until melted. Whisk in cream until mixture is smooth. Add a pinch of salt. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.
To make the lava cakes, melt chocolate and butter over a double broiler until almost melted, (can be done in the microwave as well) - remove from heat, stir in brown sugar, flour and cocoa powder until smooth. Stir in eggs - one at a time, add vanilla. Divide the mixture between the ramekins. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes or so.
In a mixer, beat egg yolks, egg and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and a pinch of salt, beat a bit more. Add flour and beat until blended. Fold in chocolate mixture with a spatula.
To serve - Invert a plate over each ramekin and carefully turn over and remove the cup. Dust with powdered sugar or add another small spoon full of caramel and a pinch of flaky salt - or a scoop of ice cream would be decadent too. You can also serve these lava cakes in the ramekins and top with your desired topping. Serve immediately.