These rich, delicious Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes are sort of like a cross between a soufflé and a flourless chocolate cake, except much easier. They have a deep chocolate flavor with a molten, liquid inside that oozes out once you cut into each individually plated cake.
You will love this Lava Cake Recipe
When it comes to decadent, rich desserts, I don't think anything quite fits the bill like these chocolatey, warm chocolate molten lava cakes.
The outside edges of the cake cook into a perfectly tender chocolate cake while the inside stays gooey soft and starts to ooze out once you cut into each cake. This happens because you cook the cakes in a very hot oven (much hotter than the temperature you normally use for cakes or cupcakes) so the outside cooks faster than the inside, creating that amazing lava effect.
No need to worry about the insides being undercooked: by baking these in a 425 degree oven the eggs in the batter will definitely be over 160 degrees, even in the gooey center, which is safe to eat.
Our good friends, Jason & Ginny, introduced us to these cakes years ago when both our families were living in San Jose, California and just starting out careers before the kids came along and we used to get together and have epic game & dessert nights together at their house or ours.
Since these were our pre-kiddo days and and this recipe makes 4 individual cakes, it was perfect for us.
They take hardly any time at all to whip up and then they bake really fast in the hot oven. It's practically instant chocolate gratification.
We have all moved away and had kids and grown up (maybe a little) since those days, but we still get together with the Millers whenever we can even though we live a few hours apart. And I think of Ginny whenever I make these chocolate molten lava cakes.
It's perfect for sharing with friends or you can actually even halve the recipe really easily and make just two cakes for you and your sweetie if you are looking for a special dessert for Valentine's Day or an anniversary or other celebration. Or just a date night in once the kids are in bed!
I mean, I'm all for a huge pan of Mississippi Mud Brownies when I need a chocolate fix but sometimes it's just a lot more special to do something a little fancier or romantic, you know?
I actually made this particular batch of chocolate molten lava cakes in the morning last Friday for the sole purpose of taking pictures of them in decent lighting and I totally texted my friend Maggie to see if she wanted to come over and make really terrible life choices with me by eating chocolate cake at 10:00 a.m. on a school day while our oldest kids were in school.
We both rationalized that since we had already had healthy breakfasts and it was Friday we were okay to have cake. Sometimes adulting is pretty awesome like that.
Chocolate Lava Cake ingredients
- High quality semisweet chocolate - high quality chocolate will melt better than just regular chocolate chips
- Salted butter - gives the cake a rich depth of flavor.
- Flour - helps give the cake some structure.
- Powdered sugar - adds sweetness to the cake.
- Eggs - the egg helps with leavening of the cake.
- Egg yolks- The yolk will add to the richness and create a nice smooth texture.
Lava Cake Recipe substitutions and additions
- Try using different types of chocolate like milk chocolate or dark chocolate.
- Add half of the batter to each ramekin, then add a dollop of peanut butter before topping with the rest of the batter for a chocolate peanut butter lava cake.
- Try adding some extract like mint extract for a mint chocolate lava cake.
How to make Lava Cake
- Prep - Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. You will want to prepare your ramekins with cooking spray and then dust a little bit of cocoa powder in the ramekins so your lava cakes will not stick. The cocoa powder works better than flour because you cannot see it.
- Melt chocolate - Chop your chocolate and then place the chopped chocolate and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Melt on high in the microwave in 10 second intervals. You will want to take this slow and do increments because you do not want to burn the chocolate or have it seize up. When that happens, the chocolate looks dry, stiff, and grainy. Continue melting the chocolate and stirring with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon between each increment. You will want to keep doing this until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. With my microwave it takes about 70 - 90 seconds to completely melt, but make sure you are breaking up the cooking time in increments and stirring between each increment.
- Mix batter - In a separate bowl whisk the flour and powdered sugar together and dump into the melted chocolate. Whisk the eggs and egg yolks together in the same bowl you used for the flour (no need to dirty another bowl!) and add that to the chocolate as well, then gently stir all of the ingredients together with your rubber spatula or wooden spoon. If your batter is lumpy, use the whisk to gently get rid of any lumps, but you don’t want to go crazy whisking the batter if you can help it. Overmixing can cause it to be more dense and less airy, light, and fluffy.
- Bake - Divide the batter evenly between the prepared ramekins. I usually use 6 oz ramekins for this recipe but you can also use 4 oz ramekins as well. Place the filled ramekins on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes until the sides appear to be set. Remember you want a melty middle so don’t overbake. It may not look done and the top of the cake may still look soft but it will be ok. The top of the cakes don't have to look completely set before you remove these from the oven. The very centers should still look a little soft actually. When you remove from the oven, it will continue baking for a minute or so.
- Plate the lava cakes - Remove the cakes from oven and let sit for a minute or so. While they rest you can wash some raspberries or chop some strawberries to serve alongside the cake. Carefully invert each ramekin over a serving plate. Be sure to use oven mitts because the ramekins will still be very hot. If the cakes don’t release after a moment or two, try running a sharp knife around the inside edge of each cake and invert again. If you sprayed with cooking spray and dusted with cocoa powder, they should come right out.
- Serve - Serve immediately with your chopped strawberries or raspberries and vanilla ice cream or even a little chocolate syrup on top. Enjoy!
Molten Lave Cake tips
A couple of things to keep in mind when making chocolate molten lava cakes:
1. Spray your ramekins with cooking spray and dust with cocoa powder
It's so sad when you go to invert these cakes and they stick to the ramekins.
I have found that the best way to avoid this is by both spraying each ramekin with cooking spray and then dusting them with a little cocoa powder, shaking it around the bottom and side and then tapping out any excess over the sink.
This dusting of cocoa powder both prevents the cake from sticking and also blends in with the cake itself, whereas just using flour to dust the ramekins would be visible on the finished cakes.
2. Use high quality chocolate
Get a couple of bars of Ghiradelli or Baker's or Lindt or Nestle semisweet chocolate and chop them up for this recipe. They are in the baking aisle and they are totally necessary for the best lava effect and chocolate flavor.
I have tried using chocolate chips instead and the cakes never turn out as well. It's because chocolate chips are designed not to melt (even though you CAN melt them down) and when you use them in these cakes they don't create that lava effect that you are going for.
I mean, you would still end up with a chocolatey cake, but it would have way, way less lava and the overall texture of the cake itself wouldn't be as tender.
3. Don't overcook your chocolate molten lava cakes
The top of the cakes don't have to look completely set before you remove these from the oven. The very centers should still look a little soft actually.
Just keep telling yourself that this is a MOLTEN LAVA cake and it is supposed to look that way. If it helps, bear in mind that the ramekin itself gets really hot and will continue cooking the cake for another minute or two once you remove the cakes from the oven before you flip them onto the serving plates.
It's always disappointing to cut into a lava cake that doesn't have much lava inside because it was cooked too long.
Since we never, ever go out on Valentine's Day (seriously, getting reservations, let alone babysitters, is impossible for the actual holiday itself) I always try to just make something special at home and these little babies fit the bill perfectly when it comes to a romantic but easy and quick dessert.
How to serve Chocolate Molten Lava Cake
These warm, melty, chocolatey lava cakes are excellent with a big scoop of ice cream or whip cream. You can also serve with some fresh chopped strawberries or raspberries. To enhance it even more, a drizzle of chocolate sauce on top makes it fabulous. You could even drizzle with a berry sauce or a caramel sauce or a peanut butter sauce to switch it up.
How to store this Chocolate Lava Cake Recipe
If you do have leftovers (how could that happen?!), you can store in airtight containers for three days. Just reheat in the microwave until warmed through.
Molten Lave Cake Recipe FAQs
It is just a gooey, chocolate middle. The outside of the cake sets quicker than the middle because of the higher oven temperatures. But it is still completely safe to eat and is not raw cake batter in the middle.
Of course eat it hot! Nothing beats that gooey chocolate center oozing out onto your plate running into your freshly scooped ice cream.
I know they may sound similar and use a lot of the same ingredients, but they are actually quite different. Molten lava cake is exactly how it sounds. It has a runny, liquid chocolate center. A soufflé has egg whites in it which makes it puff up and creates a more pillowy cake-like texture throughout. No melty, oozy center.
The inside of the lava cake is not undercooked cake. It actually reaches a safe temperature of 160 degrees. It is just a gooey, chocolate middle. The outside of the cake sets quicker than the middle because of the higher oven temperatures.
More Chocolate Dessert Recipes For Chocolate Lovers
- Raspberry Chocolate Tart
- Best Fudgy Chewy Chocolate Brownie Cookies
- Chocolate Covered Strawberries
- Devil's Food Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- Burnt Almond Fudge Ice Cream
- Chocolate Cream Pie
- One-Bowl Chocolate Cake Recipe
- Double Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
- Easy Homemade Chocolate Crepes
- Southern Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Chocolate Molten Lava Cake
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate coarsely chopped
- ½ cup salted butter, cut into chunks 1 stick
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 4 ramekins with cooking spray and dust them with a little bit of cocoa powder so your cakes won't stick. Flour would work as well, but you might see it when the cakes are inverted and it will mar the effect of a perfect chocolate molten lava cake.
- Place the chopped chocolate and butter into a large microwave-safe bowl and melt on high in the microwave in 10 second increments, stirring with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon between each increment, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. On my microwave, that is almost always between 70 and 90 seconds, but make sure you break up that cooking time with the increments so as not to burn the chocolate or have it seize during the melting process.
- Whisk the flour and powdered sugar together and dump into the melted chocolate. Whisk the eggs and egg yolks together in the same bowl you used for the flour (why dirty a third bowl?) and add that to the chocolate as well, then gently stir all of the ingredients together with your rubber spatula or wooden spoon. If your batter is lumpy, use the whisk to gently get rid of them, but you don't want to go crazy whisking the batter if you can help it.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared ramekins, then place them on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes until the sides appear to be set even if the top center of each cake still looks soft.
- Remove from oven and let the cakes sit in the ramekins for 1 minute before carefully inverting each ramekin over a serving plate. Be sure to use oven mitts because the ramekins will be super hot. If the cakes don't release after a moment or two, try running a sharp paring knife around the inside edge of each cake and inverting again, but if you remembered to dust the ramekins with cocoa powder, they should just slide out.
- Serve immediately with strawberries or raspberries, vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup.