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.
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Molten Chocolate Cakes
- 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
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Generously butter six 6-ounce ramekins (really be generous, and do not substitute non-stick cooking spray). Set the ramekins on a baking sheet.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.)