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Chocolate Lava Cake

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Make your own molten lava cake at home. It is a show-stopping, Pinterest-perfect fancy dessert for any occasion.

side view of chocolate lava cake with the molten middle spilling out

This can be a challenging recipe, but I’m here to guide you through it! I know you can make the perfect lava cakes.

Following my mixing technique, bake temperature and bake time play a crucial role in producing the correct consistency.

The gooey lava is created by having a slightly undercooked cake, so timing is important.

You’ll see that the eggs leaven the cake. It’s important to whip the eggs with enough air prior to adding any other ingredients.


Why this recipe works

  • My precise instructions for mixing, bake temperature and bake time make a challenging recipe doable.
  • This recipe’s chemistry makes it the perfect cross between a souffle and cake with a custard center.
  • Whipping the eggs provides leavening to the batter.

Chocolate lava cake is a fun, tasty treat. Impress your family and friends with this challenging, but fancy dessert.

side view of individual molten lava cake with scoop of ice cream on top

What you need

The chemistry of the lava cake recipe makes the final product have the right amount of lava flow. Let’s discuss just a few of the key ingredients:

Ingredients

This is a short overview of the ingredients I used and why I chose them. The full recipe can be found at the bottom of the post!

  • Chocolate: I recommend bittersweet or semisweet chocolate. Don’t use chocolate chips or unsweetened chocolate.
  • Butter: This ingredient adds richness and flavor.
  • Sugar: This adds the right amount of sweetness to the recipe.
  • Eggs: The eggs need to be at room temperature before being whipped. You need them to be extra airy to leaven the cake.
  • Flavoring: Vanilla extract adds a woody, sweet flavor, while the espresso powder enhances the chocolate flavor.
  • Flour: All-purpose flour provides the structure for this recipe. Make sure to sift it before adding it in.

Equipment

This is a list of tools I used to make the lava cake recipe.

  • Mixer: You’ll need a mixer to properly whip the eggs. A simple handheld electric mixer is perfect for this.
  • Ramekins: These 6-ounce ramekins are the perfect-sized containers for baking your chocolate lava cakes.
overhead of three individual molten lava cakes with ice cream on one and strawberries, along with a glass of milk

How to make chocolate lava cake

1. Whip the eggs

Use a mixer to whip the eggs to a frothy consistency.

hand mixer with whisk attachment whipping eggs in glass bowl
  1. Beat the eggs and yolks with an electric mixer on medium speed until frothy, pale in color, or about 2 minutes. They should appear to double in volume.
  2. With the mixer running, slowly add sugar. Then, add vanilla, salt and espresso powder.

2. Combine with melted chocolate

Melt the chocolate and combine with eggs and other ingredients to form the lava cake batter.

melted chocolate in glass bowl with aqua colored spatula next to lava cake batter in glass bowl
  1. Combine chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Heat in 15-second intervals, stirring after each one, until chocolate is fully melted and smooth.
  3. Pour the melted chocolate into this egg mixture. Fold with a spatula until well combined.
  4. Add the flour and gently fold until no clumps of dry flour are visible.

3. Bake

Pour lava cake batter into prepared ramekins and bake with extra care.

lava cakes baked in white ramekins on baking sheet
ramekin inverted onto small round plate next to single molten cake on small round plate
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Grease or butter four 6-ounce ramekins. Then, lightly dust with cocoa powder.
  3. Divide the batter evenly among the ramekins.
  4. Bake 10-11 minutes, until the edges are set and puffed. However, the centers should appear soft and jiggly.
  5. Let the cakes cool for 1 minute. Then, run a knife or offset spatula around the edges to loosen from the ramekin.
  6. Invert the ramekins onto serving plates. Let sit until the cakes release or about 1 minute.
  7. Lift up on the ramekin. Top the lava cakes with your choice of toppings.
  8. Serve immediately.

Frequently asked questions

What if I only have 4oz ramekins?

You can still make these cakes in 4oz ramekins. The bake time will be shorter. Start checking around 7-9 minutes.

Can I freeze baked lava cakes?

I don’t recommend freezing the cakes after they’ve baked. But you can mix and freeze the batter until ready to bake. See the recipe notes for instructions on how to do this.

Can I double the chocolate cake batter?

Yes, this recipe works well with doubling. Bake in 8 ramekins instead of four.

Can I use cocoa powder instead of chocolate?

This recipe requires baking chocolate. Cocoa powder will not give you the same results.

Jen’s Best tips

  • Swap ramekins for a 12-cup muffin tin. Prepare 6 cups by greasing them and dusting with cocoa powder. Bake at 450°F for 7-9 minutes.
  • It’s easy to bring eggs to room temperature for this recipe. Place them in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes prior to use.
  • Sift the flour to remove any clumps because it will make it easier to mix the batter without deflating it.
  • Timing is crucial! A minute too long or too short will leave you with subpar results. Know your oven and how it bakes – and keep an eye on the cakes so you can remove them at the optimal time.
angled view of lava cake topped with ice cream and a spoon taking a bite out

Storing & Freezing

To store: I recommend using them immediately after baking for the best quality.

However, unbaked cakes can be refrigerated for up to 8 hours before baking.

When you are ready to bake them, let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.

To Freeze: You can also store unbaked batter in ramekins in the freezer. Thaw them at room temperature for an hour before baking.

Watch them closely as they may need an additional minute or two of bake time.


Toppings for lava cake

There are so many ways to dress up your lava cakes. These are some of my favorite add-ons:


Watch how to make it

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side view of chocolate lava cake with the molten middle spilling out

Chocolate Lava Cake

Yield: 4 individual cakes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 11 minutes
Total Time: 26 minutes

Chocolate lava cake with a gooey molten center. These individual cakes are baked just long enough for the outer layer to set while the centers remain soft.

Ingredients

  • 6-ounces (169 g) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • ⅓ cup (75 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • ⅓ cup (66 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon espresso powder, optional
  • ¼ cup (30 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • fresh berries, powdered sugar, whipped cream, ice cream, chocolate ganache, and/or caramel sauce for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Generously grease or butter four 6-ounce ramekins then lightly dust them with cocoa powder. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and set aside.
  2. Add chocolate and butter to a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl and heat in 15-second intervals, stirring after each one, until chocolate is fully melted and smooth. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and yolks with an electric mixer on medium speed until frothy, pale in color, and almost doubled in volume, about 2 minutes.
  4. With the mixer running, gradually add the sugar, followed by the vanilla, salt, and espresso powder.
  5. Pour the melted chocolate into the egg mixture and fold with a silicone spatula until well combined.
  6. Add the flour and gently fold until no clumps of dry flour are visible.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between the 4 ramekins and bake for 10-11 minutes, until the edges are set and puffed but the centers are soft and jiggly.
  8. Allow the cakes to cool for 1 minute then run a knife or offset spatula around the edges to loosen from the pan. Invert the ramekins onto individual serving plates and let sit until the cakes release, about 1 minute.
  9. Lift the ramekin off and top with your choice of toppings. Serve immediately.

Notes

Chocolate: You can use bittersweet or semisweet chocolate. Unsweetened chocolate will require more sugar but this can throw off the chemistry of the recipe. Avoid using chocolate chips. They don't melt as smoothly and can give you different results than desired.

Eggs: The eggs must be at room temperature. Place them in a bowl of warm water for about 5 minutes to quickly bring them to room temperature. Use the 2 leftover egg whites to make macarons, mousse, or macaroons.

Espresso powder: There isn't enough in the recipe to make it taste like espresso/coffee. It only enhances the chocolate flavor and it's completely optional. Leave it out if you don't wish to use it.

Flour: Be sure to sift the flour to remove any clumps. This will make it easier to mix into the batter without deflating it.

Undercooked centers: Lava cake is more than just undercooked cake. The unique chemistry makes it more of a cross between souffle and cake with a custard center. The runny center should reach 160°F during baking which makes it safe to eat. You can use an instant-read digital thermometer to check the internal temperature.

No ramekins? No problem! Prepare 6 cups of a 12-cup muffin pan by greasing them and dusting with cocoa powder. Bake at 450°F for 7-9 minutes.

Make ahead tip

  1. Lava cakes are best immediately after they are baked.
  2. Unbaked cakes can be refrigerated for up to 8 hours before baking. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.
  3. Unbaked batter can also be frozen in the ramekins to bake later. Thaw them at room temperature for about an hour then bake as instructed. You may need to add an additional minute or two to the bake time so watch them closely.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 cake
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 519Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 272mgSodium: 212mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 3gSugar: 40gProtein: 10g

* Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy by an online nutrition calculator and is not guaranteed to be accurate. Always seek advice from a nutritionist or medical professional.

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