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Molten Chocolate Cakes

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Molten chocolate cakes, also known as lava cakes, are rich individual chocolate cakes with oozing molten centers.

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 enticingly warm and pudding-like. Surprisingly, molten chocolate cakes are 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. The key is to serve them right out of the oven; if they sit too long after baking, the molten centers will cook through.

What you’ll need to make Molten Chocolate Cakes

molten chocolate cake ingredients

Because chocolate takes center stage in this recipe, make sure to use a high-quality chocolate like Ghiradelli or Guittard.

How to make Molten Chocolate Cakes

You’ll need six oven-proof 6-ounce ramekins for the recipe, which you can find at any kitchen store. If you have ramekins that are slightly larger, the recipe is still doable, but you’ll likely need to add a minute or two from the baking time (and this will also impact the number of servings you get from the batter).

Begin by buttering the ramekins liberally to ensure the cakes release easily.

buttered ramekins

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

melted butter and chocolate in bowl

Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. If a few chunks of chocolate remain, place the bowl back in the microwave for 20 seconds, then stir again.

melted chocolate and butter mixture

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

eggs, vanilla, and brown sugar in a mixing bowl

Beat until pale and thick, about 4 minutes.

beaten egg mixture

Add the flour and melted chocolate mixture (the chocolate mixture sinks to the bottom).

adding the flour and melted chocolate mixture to the egg mixture

Gently fold to combine.

folding the chocolate and egg mixtures

It will deflate a bit — that’s okay.

molten chocolate cake batter

Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared ramekins.

molten chocolate cakes ready to bake

Bake for 10 minutes in a 450°F oven. (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.)

baked molten chocolate cakes

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 carefully invert them onto plates.

inverting the cakes onto plates

Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve with vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream and berries.

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Molten Chocolate Cakes

Molten chocolate cakes, also known as lava cakes, are rich individual chocolate cakes with oozing molten centers.

Servings: 6
Total Time: 30 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, plus more for buttering the ramekins
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped, best quality such as Ghirardelli
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour

For Serving (optional)

  • Confectioners sugar, vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream, and berries

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. 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 the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle or beaters, beat the eggs, egg yolks, brown sugar, vanilla and salt at high speed until thickened and pale, about 4 minutes. 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 to 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. (It's important not to let the cakes sit after baking, as the centers will continue to cook.)
  5. Make-Ahead Instructions: The batter can be spooned into the ramekins, covered and refrigerated for several hours before baking. Take them out of the fridge about 30 minutes before baking so they come to room temperature.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 416
  • Fat: 31 g
  • Saturated fat: 18 g
  • Carbohydrates: 35 g
  • Sugar: 29 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 5 g
  • Sodium: 85 mg
  • Cholesterol: 174 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • Chilling made the batter a thick paste. Bringing to room temp batte like a soft ganache. Baked up as a pudding, did not puff up or even get cakey at the edges. So I don’t suggest chilling the batter. I’ve made lava cakes before but never chilled the batter. Will not do that again or one will get baked pudding!

    • — Joan on August 28, 2022
    • Reply
    • Exact same thing happened to me with this recipe last night. 🫤 Still tasty, but was basically a dense brownie rather than a lava cake. When I saw that they weren’t rising at all, I decided to leave them in for a couple more minutes to bake them through… with the dense texture it was going to be weird to have the thick, undone center. Guests were happy with their dessert, but I was disappointed!

      • — Alison on September 26, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn

    I only have 5-ounce ramekins. How long is the baking time?
    Thanks

    • — Sindy Ang on July 22, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Sindy, I’m guessing 8 to 9 min. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 22, 2022
      • Reply
  • Thank you for this wonderful recipe!
    They turned out just perfect! My whole family enjoyed them!

    • — Reena on May 16, 2022
    • Reply
  • Can l make this in a cupcake pan and pipe the lava into a whole l make snd then close it. Trying not to use so much of the lava. It will be way to sweet. Want to make this for an adult birthday party.

    • — Rose on March 24, 2022
    • Reply
    • Unfortunately, I don’t think that would work, Rose — sorry!

      • — Jenn on March 24, 2022
      • Reply
  • I just made these with my grandson helping, and the only substitution we made was to use light brown sugar as my dark brown sugar was hard as a rock. I was very disappointed in the outcome and think the 450 degree temperature was too high. They were dry and the molten centers were not especially molten. Has anyone else had the same problem?

    • — Marge on March 14, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Marge, I’m sorry these came out dry for you! I haven’t heard that about this recipe before did you use 6-ounce ramekins? If so, you may want to double-check your oven temperature to see if it’s accurate here are some tips for how to go about that.

      • — Jenn on March 14, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jennifer I’m really looking forward to making this molten lava cake for Valentines. Except I can’t find Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate in our stores. Now I can get Lindt brand. But none of them say bittersweet. Is bittersweet like a high percentage of cacao like 70% or more? Can I use a semi sweet chocolate maybe? Hopefully you see this message before Valentine’s Day lol so I can figure it out. Thanks!

    • — Judy Dempsey on February 10, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Judy, Semi-sweet and bittersweet are generally interchangeable, so semi-sweet will work well here. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 10, 2022
      • Reply
      • Thank you for the tip Jennifer. I prepared the ingredients and put them in the fridge in order to cook them tomorrow. I followed your recipe measurements exactly and of course as expected I have more cake mix than I do containers. I didn’t have the heart to throw out the extra so I’m wondering if I just leave the remainder in the fridge in a plastic container and then when we’re done our dinner tomorrow and I have cleaned the used ramekins, I can cook them in those afterwards. Will the cake mix keep OK for a day and a half in the fridge? I obviously can’t put them in a muffin tin to freeze because it’s metal and that’s why I’m asking.The only other thing I thought of is if I cook them in the muffin tins with cupcake liners then I can take them out of the muffin tins and put them with the cupcake liners in the freezer. But I don’t know if cupcake liners will burn at a temperature of 450°?? Hope you don’t mind me asking but I don’t like wasting food and I’m really looking forward to this treat tomorrow. Thanks!

        • — Judy Dempsey on February 13, 2022
        • Reply
        • Hi Judy, A day and a half in the fridge should be fine. 🙂

          • — Jenn on February 15, 2022
          • Reply
  • Jenn. In your pictures, the ramekins you show buttered are straight-sided but your baked ones look as if they were in a dome-shaped mold. I am confused. I have 6 oz anchor hocking custard cups that can handle a 450 oven and picked up some straight-sided things at Home Goods that I think are about 6 oz. Can’t tell they are in a box, which will unmold better? I think that I like the looks of your domed ones better.

    • — Carol Winkelman on January 27, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Carol, I understand how it could look like the cakes came from a dome-shaped mold, but they came from the ones that you see buttered. I think the little lip inside the ramekins creates the illusion that the sides of the ramekins aren’t straight. Hope that clarifies!

      • — Jenn on January 28, 2022
      • Reply
      • Scharfenberger 62% chocolate, almost effortless for a beautiful presentation and a dramatic finale to my dinner…only two of us, so just made half a recipe. My guest swooned over this desert. I realize that I ate this many many years ago at Jean Georges in New York. Have never made it, don’t know why, but believe me, this will be my go to recipe whenever I want to knock the socks off my guests. Thanks Jenn for another winner

        • — Carol Winkelman on January 30, 2022
        • Reply
        • So glad they came out well!

          • — Jenn on January 31, 2022
          • Reply
  • I plan on making these but don’t have ramekins. I do have two muffin trays (6 muffins each). What adjustment, if any, should I make in baking time?

    • — Linda on December 23, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Linda, The cook time should be the same. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 23, 2021
      • Reply
  • I’ve made these several times and have always used Ghirardelli chocolate bars and chopped them up. But I am wondering if I can just use bittersweet chocolate chips instead? Will the outcome be the same?

    • — Seema on December 6, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Seema, Because chocolate chips have stabilizers that help them maintain their shape (like for chocolate chip cookies), I prefer chocolate using chocolate bars for this recipe. That said, a number of readers have commented that they’ve used chocolate chips with success. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on December 6, 2021
      • Reply

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