Chocolate Molten Lava Cake

4.83 from 40 votes
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Impress that special someone with a classic chocolate lava cake recipe. Just six simple ingredients create a tender cake with oozy chocolate filling.

Chocolate molten lava cake oozing out chocolate filling.

Do you want to show that special someone in your life that you love them? No need to spend an entire paycheck on a fancy gift. All you need to make their heart skip a beat is a warm, chocolate molten lava cake. Whether it’s a Valentine’s Day celebration or just a cozy night in, this recipe is guaranteed to bring smiles.

Nothing sets the romantic mood like Marvin Gaye and the smell of a fresh chocolate cake baking in the oven. Just wait until you wow them as they take their first scoop of this indulgent dessert. The delicate cocoa cake shell cracks open to reveal just the right amount of delicious oozy chocolate inside.

Chocolate lava cake with raspberries and powdered sugar on top.

This cake might seem complicated, but it’s the most straightforward dessert you’ll ever bake. That first bite is a little crisp on the outside, with tender cake around the edges and silky chocolate pudding in the center. How you can get three different textures in a tiny dish blows my mind. May I have another taste, please?

Make the cake batter

Making chocolate sauce for a classic chocolate molten lava cake.

The molten lava cake recipe is just six ingredients; bittersweet chocolate, butter, eggs, sugar, flour, and salt. Thats it! It starts with melting chopped chocolate and butter together over a double boiler. They will meld into one gorgeous chocolate sauce. I used a Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet baking chocolate bar. The dark chocolate gives an intense flavor without the need to add extra cocoa powder.

To create a light and airy cake structure without chemical leavening agents, whip the whole eggs and egg yolks together with the granulated sugar. You can use a hand mixer or a stand mixer. The air is incorporated when the mixture turns thick and pale. It’s the perfect foam for a light and tender cake. Fold the chocolate into the egg mixture, then a small amount of all-purpose flour for structure. Gluten-free flour can be easily substituted. The batter will be pourable and fudgy.

Chocolate mixture sitting inside 8-ounce ramekins, ready to bake for 10 minutes.

Prepare the ramekins

Pour the luscious chocolate cake into 8-ounce ramekins. Brush them with melted butter and dust the insides with flour. This makes the cakes easy to remove. If you want smaller portions, use 6-ounce ramekins. This will also make a few more cakes. Place them on a baking sheet to make removing them from the oven easier.

Bake immediately, or you can cover and refrigerate them up to a day in advance. This is great for making ahead, to save you time—no extra messes to clean up during your romantic celebration. Just pop them in the oven straight from the refrigerator when you’re ready to serve dessert.

Molten lava cake cut open with chocolate sauce oozing out of the center.

Cake bake time

Each minute in the oven is crucial to achieving the iconic molten center. Leave it in too long, and you’ll lose the gooey center. Because each oven differs. If you can, it’s a good idea to test a cake before you serve them. Use visual cues to help with knowing when to remove it from the oven.

The edges should be set, the top crackled, and the center still slightly jiggly to indicate it’s still lava in the middle. Room-temperature cakes will cook faster than refrigerated batter. Here’s what I observed when testing different cooking times:

No refrigeration before baking

  • 9 minutes: The perfect bake time; about 50% cake to 50% molten lava center
  • 8 minutes: More lava (about 75%)
  • 10 minutes: More cake texture (25% lava)
  • 12 minutes: A moist and tender cake, but no lava

Refrigerated before baking

  • 10 minutes: About 60% lava center
  • 11 minutes: About 40% lava

Bake time depends on if you want more cake vs. lava center. Both room temperature and refrigerated cake batter are delicious. I noticed that the refrigerated cake had a more decadent chocolate ganache-like center. However, they need about 1 to 2 more minutes of baking to account for getting the cake and ramekin to get up to temperature.

Lava cake on a plate with raspberries and chocolate sauce coming out of the center.

Topping suggestions

How could you make this cake even more spectacular? A light dusting of powdered sugar is all that is needed. How about some fresh berries like raspberries, strawberries, or blueberries? Drizzle with salted caramel, whipped cream, or a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Garnish with mint for a pop of green color and a pleasant aroma.

I would love to hear how your chocolate molten lava cake turns out. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. I want to help ensure you have success on your special day!

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Recipe Science

How baking time affects the molten center

These chocolate lava cakes are baked at very high temperatures, heating the oven to 450ºF (230ºC) to ensure a gooey molten center. The high heat helps the edges set quickly without cooking the center. Each minute changes the amount of cake-to-lava ratio. So make sure to set a timer and promptly remove it from the oven at the indicated time, and only let the ramekin sit for 1 minute before unmolding. The hot ramekin will cause carryover cooking if the cake is left inside too long.

Chocolate Molten Lava Cake

Impress that special someone with a classic chocolate molten lava cake recipe. Just 6 simple ingredients create a tender cake with oozy chocolate filling.
4.83 from 40 votes
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings 4 cakes
Course Dessert
Cuisine French

Ingredients 
 

  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, baking bars, chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting ramekins
  • powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions 

  • Preheat the Oven – Set the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C).
  • Prepare the Ramekins – Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a microwave-safe dish, for about 30 seconds. Brush it on the inside of four 8-ounce ramekins. Lightly coat with flour and tap out the excess. Set the ramekins on a baking sheet.
  • Melt the Chocolate – In a double boiler, over simmering water, melt 8 tablespoons of butter with the chocolate. Whisk to combine until smooth, then remove from heat.
  • Combine the Ingredients – Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or hand-held mixer, beat the eggs and egg yolks, sugar, and salt at high speed until thickened and pale, about 3 minutes. Quickly fold the chocolate into the mixture. Fold in the flour until just combined.
  • Bake – Evenly divide the batter into the prepared ramekins. Bake on the baking sheet for 9 minutes, or until the sides are set, the tops slightly cracked, and the centers are slightly jiggly.
  • To Serve – Let the cakes cool in the ramekins for 1 minute. Run a knife or small spatula along the sides a few times to release.
    Cover each ramekin with an inverted dessert plate. Wear an oven mitt and carefully turn each one over, and let stand for 10 seconds. Use a spatula or knife to lift the corner of the ramekin and a gloved hand to lift and unmold the cake. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately.

Recipe Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Do Not Over-Bake: I find that each additional minute will result in a noticeably less molten chocolate cake filling.
  • Make Ahead: Portion the batter in ramekins and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for several hours before baking or up to 24 hours in advance. Bake straight from the refrigerator for 10 to 11 minutes.
  • Butter Substitute: Substitute coconut oil for the butter.
  • Make it Gluten-Free: Substitute all-purpose flour with gluten-free flour.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 cakes
Calories 430kcal (22%)Carbohydrates 26g (9%)Protein 6g (12%)Fat 36g (55%)Saturated Fat 21g (105%)Polyunsaturated Fat 1gMonounsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 253mg (84%)Sodium 37mg (2%)Potassium 10mgFiber 2g (8%)Sugar 22g (24%)Vitamin A 1100IU (22%)Calcium 30mg (3%)Iron 2.2mg (12%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Recipe Rating




24 Comments Leave a comment or review

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You can make the cake a bit taller if evenly dividing the batter, but give at least 1/2-inch from the rim. Keep the bake tie the same. If you use less batter in the 6-ounce ramekin, cook for 7 to 8 minutes.

  1. Emilee says

    Hi Jessica!

    I recently made your Molten Lava Cake recipe and it was delicious. I made the first one by itself to see if I had my time correct. When I pulled the cake out of oven it looked perfect and released from my ramekin with no problem. The middle was perfectly molten however my husband posed a good question that I could not answer. What temperature does the molten center need to reach to make it “safe” to eat? I hadn’t thought of this especially considering there is a decent amount of egg in the recipe. I don’t want to give anyone I prepare food for food poisoning.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Great question! Even light cooking helps to destroy salmonella bacteria. Typically whole eggs set between 144 and 158°F. To completely destroy the bacteria the eggs should be cooked to 160ºF. A typical cake sets around and an internal temperature of 200 to 210ºF, which is why for the molten cake it’s still gooey in the center because you don’t cook it completely (plus there is less flour). To address your concern, you can use an instant-read thermometer to check the center temperature of the cake before stoping the baking process. It may not be as runny in the center but shoot for 160ºF. You can also use pasteurized whole eggs or pasteurized egg products to reduce the bacteria levels even before baking.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I would try baking for 5 minutes and then bake for 1-minute intervals (if needed) until the sides are set, tops crack, but centers are jiggly. You’ll really have to keep an eye on it and look for visual cues of it being done. Let me know what times ends up working the best!

  2. Megan says

    These cakes are truly amazing. So so so yummy. They do deliver the three different textures in one small cake. They present beautifully. They can be made the day before and cooked when required – which is a bonus. I served mine with fresh fruit (strawberries, raspberries) and toasted coconut.
    Great for a dinner party WOW or a cosy Valentines Day dessert.

  3. Ranu says

    Hi Jessica,

    Can I replace an egg with flax seed?

    here is the ratio I wanted to use:
    one tablespoon of flax seeds and three tablespoons of water to replace one egg.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Ranu- It’s definitely worth a shot! The ratio you have is perfect, make sure to let it sit and thicken for 10 minutes before adding to the batter.

  4. Fiona says

    This recipe was a HUGE hit. I made mine in disposable aluminum muffin baking cups, which are smaller than the recipe’s suggestion so I baked (from fridge) for 8 minutes. Served with raspberries and softly whipped cream, which helped cut the richness of the dessert. It was delicious. Total keeper and perfect for entertaining because you can do ahead and then just pop in the oven!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you Evie! Yes, I think coconut oil can be substituted for butter. If you use unrefined oil it will have more of a coconut flavor vs. refined. Please let me know how it turns out!

      • Shirley says

        Hi Jessica, the recipe asks for 9 tablespoons of butter. But the instructions only used 5 tablespoons. Did you mean to melt 8 tablespoons of butter in step 5?

        • Jessica Gavin says

          Hi There! I use 1 tablespoon to grease the cups, then 4 ounces (or 8 tablespoons) to melt with the chocolate. Sorry if that was confusing!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Evie- I just made the lava cakes for my family on Valentine’s Day with the coconut oil and it turned out great! Just wanted to let you know because I was very curious!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Great question Fely! I think you could make this in a muffin tin, but they will be smaller cakes. The ramekins I use are 8 ounce and muffin tins hold about 4 ounces, so you could make about 8 cakes instead of 4. Make sure to follow all of the instructions, like spraying and flouring the muffin pan, then equally divide the cakes into 8 portions. Bake for about 7 to 9 minutes, until the sides are set but the centers are still jiggly. Allow the cakes to cool for 1 minute, run a knife around the edges, place a sheet tray on top and then carefully invert. Be careful when you transfer the cakes to another plate. Please let me know how it goes!

  5. yuvia says

    Hi Jessica i’m really looking forward to using your recipe. i’ve noticed that you’ve made it perfectly clear that every minutes counts..so i’m wondering what about the size of the ramekins. i could only find 9 oz cups….would the baking time stay the same?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi yuvia! How many inches in diameter is your ramekin? Would you say it’s a taller cup or wider than 4 inches? If it’s the same than keep it at 9 minutes baking time. If it’s wider than try a tester 8 minutes, you can always add more time if needed. The more surface area the faster it will bake 🙂 let me know how it goes!

  6. Sana says

    Hi Jessica,im going to try this recipe but can I make the cake one day ahead as I’m going to serve this tomorrow after dinner.i will b so occupied with work so wanna make it ready one day before.can I jst microwave it for 30 sec or put it in the oven for one or two mins before serving.any tips will be appreciated.
    Thank you dear

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Sana! I totally understand that you are super busy and would like a way to prep before the big day. My first suggestion would be to make the batter tonight, fill the ramekins, cover and refrigerate. When you’re ready to bake the day of dinner, just preheat oven and then bake them straight from the refrigerator for 10-11 minutes. I think that will give you the best results. I haven’t tried the pre-baking and then reheating. If you do bake the day before I would say bake the cakes, remove them from the cups onto a parchment paper lines sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap and them refrigerate. Don’t move them once you unmold because they may be soft with the molten center. You can then try reheating in the oven (place sheet tray in oven until just warm for a few minutes, place on plates with a spatula) or place individual cakes in the microwave on a plate and reheat for 30 seconds as you mentioned before. I can’t guarantee that the filling will still be molten, but you will have a tasty chocolate cake! I would then sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with ice cream 🙂 Let me know how it goes!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Barbara- Absolutely! Any gluten free flour would work, I use Cup4Cup brand. However whatever is most convenient and available try that brand for the cake. Keep an eye on time. It may take more or less time since the flour is different. I would try a few tester cakes if possible. Check a minute earlier than the indicated time and see if you think it needs more baking.