Impress that special someone with a classic chocolate lava cake recipe. Just six simple ingredients create a tender cake with oozy chocolate filling.
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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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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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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.
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Chocolate Molten Lava Cake
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
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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