Molten Chocolate Cakes


Molten chocolate cakes — also known as chocolate lava cakes — are rich individual chocolate cakes with oozing molten centers. The original recipe was created by master chef  Jean-Georges Vongerichten fortuitously, when he pulled a chocolate cake out of the oven before it was done and discovered the center to be wonderfully warm and pudding-like. Surprisingly, they’re easy enough for even the novice baker to make at home. What’s more, they can be prepared ahead of time, stored in the fridge and then baked at the last minute.

You’ll need six oven-proof 6-ounce ramekins for the recipe, which you can find at any kitchen store. Begin by buttering them liberally to ensure the cakes release easily.

Next, chop up your chocolate.

Melt one stick of butter and add the chopped chocolate to the bowl.

Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Next, combine the eggs, egg yolks, brown sugar, salt and vanilla extract in a bowl.

Beat until pale and thick, about 4 minutes.

Add the flour and melted chocolate.

And gently fold to combine.

It will deflate a bit — that’s okay.

Pour the batter into the prepared ramekins and bake for 10 minutes. (If you’re not ready to bake the cakes right away, you can cover the ramekins with plastic wrap and store them in the fridge; just bring them to room temperature before baking.)

They’ll puff up just over the edge of the ramekins. Be sure not to overcook them, or the centers won’t be molten.

Let the cakes sit in the ramekins for a minute, then invert them onto plates.

Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve with vanilla ice cream and berries, if desired.


Molten Chocolate Cakes

Print Recipe
Servings: 6
Total Time: 30 Minutes


  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, plus more for buttering ramekins
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped, best quality such as Ghirardelli
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Generously butter six 6-ounce ramekins (really be generous, and do not substitute non-stick cooking spray). Set the ramekins on a baking sheet.
  2. Melt the butter in a medium bowl in the microwave. Immediately add the chopped chocolate and stir until the chocolate is completely smooth and melted. If a few chunks remain, place the bowl back in the microwave for 20 seconds, then stir again. Repeat if necessary. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, egg yolks, brown sugar, vanilla and salt at high speed until thickened and pale, about 4 minutes using a hand mixer. Add the melted chocolate mixture and flour to the egg mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until just combined (the chocolate sinks to the bottom so be sure to scrape it up into the batter).
  4. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared ramekins and bake for 10 minutes, until the cakes are set and puffed over the edges of the ramekins. Let the cakes cool in the ramekins for 1-2 minutes, then, holding the hot ramekins with a dish towel, carefully invert the cakes onto dessert plates. They should pop right out, but you can run a thin-bladed knife around the edges if necessary. Serve immediately with vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream. (Make-ahead note: The batter can be spooned into the ramekins, covered and refrigerated for several hours before baking. Just be sure to take them out of the fridge about 30 minutes before baking so they come to room temperature.)
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  • Bake at 450 degrees? That seems hot!

    • Jenn

      Yep, 450. It is hot, but they’re only in there for 10 min.

  • Tamyla Abraham

    Oh yea, this looks simple and yummy. The best part, just in time for a sweetheart dinner/dessert.

  • Robin

    If these are made ahead stored in the fridge, do they need to come to room temp before baking and does refrigerating the batter first change the cooking time? Also, to make ahead is it okay to refrigerate in the ramekins or should I leave the batter in the mixing bowl? Sorry for all the questions ; )

    • Jenn

      Hi Robin, You can pour the batter into the ramekins and cover them with plastic wrap, then definitely bring them to room temperature before baking. There are instructions for this in the recipe, but I should definitely include it in the post as well…updating it right now. Thank you!

      • Robin

        Thank you, Jenn! I have only made this recipe when we were going to have it right away….sooooo glad I can make it ahead and still know the “lava” part won’t change. My boys will be thrilled to have this tomorrow night! Thank you!!!

  • MickMil

    Those look glorious!! I’m sure they taste the same. Beautiful pics!

  • I made something like this during a cooking class last year…always wanted to try them at home! Yummy!

  • Tess

    I can’t wait to try these! Have you tested these to a gluten free recipe? I was wondering if a flour substitute could be used.

    • Jenn

      I haven’t, Tess, but I imagine a flour substitute would work.

  • Elizabeth

    Made this tonight for a small dinner party. It was delicious! Easy to follow recipe. I will definitely make again. Thanks!

  • gorgeous pics. my husband has been asking me to make molten lava cakes… need to do this very soon. :-)

  • Judy

    This was so good I could have made them every day but… they are perfect for that special dinner with friends or family. My husband was very impressed with my skill. Thanks for making me look good!

  • Sondy

    What an easy recipe, it’s so fast to make and cooks up so quick. One of our favorite desserts. Thank you Jennifer !!

  • Renee Evans

    I made these on valentines day for my husband! Huge hit.

  • Caitlin

    I made these for dinner a few times and they are amazing. The first time I made them I forgot the flour and they still turned out delicious, just a little flat. That way, if you have glutton free people these are easy to transform.

  • I was looking for a good molten cake recipe for a little while, and this one came up on the first page of the Once Upon a Chef newsletter a few weeks ago. It looked so decadent I decided that this was going to be the one I was going to try. I am glad I did! I followed the recipe as is, and it turned out perfect: moist, rich and delicious!!! Being a cook myself, it gave me inspiration to develop a dulce de leche molten cake recipe, which I am planning on making in a few weeks (we just need a small break in between two molten cakes :) Thanks for sharing such a great recipe again!!!

  • Jennifer Smith

    I made this for Valentine’s Day. It was easy to make and turned out very well. I didn’t make any changes to the recipe other than cooking it a little longer than it called for. Unfortunately, I over-baked it slightly, but it still was a winner recipe. I served it with a little bit of vanilla ice cream, which definitely was needed.

  • Meredith Loveless

    I had not made these in years and your recipe was just right! 10 minutes was perfect timing! I did not have bittersweet chocolate so used semi-sweet chips which worked quite well.

  • Jill

    These are wonderful!! They turned out perfectly! I substituted the flour with my Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Mix that I make and it turned out perfectly. They really are to die for! My hubby is a chocolate lover and he was smitten.

  • Nicole

    just made this for my daughter’s birthday dinner, huge success!!!!
    everyone loved!!!!

  • Alicia

    What if I have 4 oz ramekins? Would that work with a smaller amount in each?

    • Jenn

      Yes that’s fine…baking time will be slightly shorter too.

  • Naomi

    I don’t have ramekins. Is there any way I could make this recipe in muffin tins or something else?

    • Jenn

      Hi Naomi, Yes, it should work in muffin tins.

  • Alexandra

    Hi. I’m 12 years old and I want to become a baker. How can I start a website for tasty treats like yours?

    • Jenn

      Hi Alexandra, It’s easy to start a blog. Look into or google’s and maybe ask a parent to help you set it up. You can also look for videos that take you through the process. If you have questions along the way, you can email me at Good luck!

  • Esther

    OK, i love chocolate….no, really, i LOVE chocolate. These molten chocolate cakes are wonderful! They are chocolatey, gooey, and wonderful! I have made them for guests before also – made the batter earlier in the day & covered ramekins like she suggests, took them out of refrigerator & let sit out for 30 min & they were perfect! Easy, yummy, and everyone loved them! I’ve also made them just for my husband & I (no, we didn’t eat all 6 at one time) – another great recipe! Try them!

  • Jen

    A really easy recipe with delicious results! If you want to impress but want something easy to prepare, this is a fantastic recipe!

  • Kelly

    WOW!!! These we’re AMAZING! And I’m so glad they were not overly sweet, since we added a scoop of vanilla ice cream and fresh strawberries on top. And it was so quick and easy to make, too. Thanks Jenn, for another perfect recipe!

  • Jessica

    Hi- How many days can the batter stay in the fridge covered?
    Thank you-

    • Jenn

      Hi Jessica, I’d say 1-2 days. Hope you enjoy!

  • Christina

    These look great! If I freeze them should I bake them first or freeze the batter? Also – once I take them out of the freezer do they need to come to room temperature before I bake them?


    • Jenn

      Hi Christina, You can freeze them raw and put them in the oven frozen; they’ll take a few more minutes to cook.

  • Bryony Connor

    Would it be possible to have metric equivalents of the amounts? I looked at an online conversion, but I really want to make these and I’m nervous about trusting the online conversions because the amounts look weird.

    • Jenn

      Bryony, Unfortunately, I don’t use metric measurements — and trust me, you don’t want me doing the math :) But this is a good conversion chart:link to

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