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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

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.

“I made this for a dinner party, and it turned out perfectly…All my guests raved about it, and it is a wonderful stress-free dessert because it can be made ahead of time.”

Barbara

What you’ll need to make Molten Chocolate Cakes

molten chocolate cake ingredients

Find the printable recipe with specific measurements below.

  • Butter: Gives the cakes a rich flavor and smooth texture, plus more for buttering the ramekins.
  • Bittersweet Chocolate: Bittersweet chocolate offers a deep, rich chocolate taste. The quality of chocolate significantly impacts the flavor of the cakes, so use a high-quality brand.
  • Eggs + Egg Yolks: Provide structure and richness to the cakes. The additional yolks make the cakes extra rich.
  • Light Brown Sugar: Adds sweetness and a hint of molasses flavor, which complements the chocolate.
  • Vanilla Extract: Complements the chocolate flavor.
  • Salt: A small amount helps balance the sweetness and intensify the chocolate flavor.
  • All-Purpose Flour: Gives the cakes structure, but only a small amount is used to keep them moist and fudgy.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can molten chocolate cakes be made in advance?

Yes, 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.

What type of chocolate should I use?

Use the a good-quality bittersweet chocolate, such as Ghirardelli or Guittard. It makes a difference!

How do I get the perfect molten center?

Achieving the perfect molten center in a chocolate cake can be a challenge, mainly because every oven is different and, unlike other cakes, you can’t tell by looking at them. The typical baking is about 10 minutes, but it’s a good idea to start checking a couple of minutes before the suggested time, as even a minute too long in the oven can result in an overcooked center.

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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

  • Love this recipe, Jenn! They feel so elegant, and no one has to know these can be whipped up in 30 minutes. Such a beautiful base for an unlimited number of toppings/accompaniments.

  • wow this is great! This is a really good recipe, but I have recipe a little better than this but other than that this recipe is really good!

    • — The golden girl NE
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    My ramekins are 4oz., how long do you think I should bake them?

    Thank you,
    Karen

    • Hi Karen, Another reader commented that she used 4 oz. ramekins and baked them for 8 minutes. Hope that helps and that you enjoy!

    • This is my daughter’s most requested birthday dessert each year. So easy and delicious. I love it that I can make ahead and freeze them!

  • Just made this for my family for valentine’s day. My husband gobbled up two perfectly molten cakes….so good!! I followed the instructions exactly other than I took it out 1 minute earlier and baked it at 435 instead of 450 based on past experience of another similar recipe. Another winner and it was very easy to make! Thanks Jenn!

    [ I only had 2 6oz ramekins so for the remaining I used a metal cupcake pan which was 6 oz per cupcake. Of course I didn’t think about the difference between the glass ramekin and the metal cupcake pan in terms of baking time. My bad! The glass ramekins made wonderful chocolate molten; the metal cupcake tin produced no chocolate “lava” but the cake was still wonderfully squiggy and tasted yummy. I am going to buy more ramekins literally just so I can make this again without using the cupcake pan.]

    • — Chithra Baylis
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    This is the second time I made this. Last New Year’s Eve and also last night for Valentines. This is so good and very easy to make, I would like this to be handy that I could just grab it and bake. Do you think I can prepare this ahead put in ramekins and freeze, and bake the time I need? Because these are good when they just come out of the oven. I would like to make this a lot and just freeze it. And whenever I need it, it’s handy and ready. Or any suggestions?
    Thank you for sharing the recipe 😍
    Rose G.🌹

    • So glad you like them, Rose! Yes, you can freeze them raw and put them in the oven frozen; they’ll just take a few more minutes to cook.

  • Another great recipe Jenn. Followed this exactly and cakes came out perfect. Hardest part was maneuvering the cakes out of the ramekins – the tea towel tip works perfectly. Sprinkled with icing sugar and served with fresh whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, strawberries and a sprig of mint. My kids and hubby gobbled these up and said the dessert looked like it was from a fancy restaurant. This is another keeper from Jenn – thank you ❤️

  • I made these last night, for small dinner party with our daughter and future son-in-law. I had no idea it was his favorite dessert. I served it with raspberries and vanilla ice cream. There were none left. Excellent recipe and easy to make – thank you!

  • Hello, the Molten Chocolate Cake was a disaster for me! I followed the directions to a ‘T’. There was no ‘molten’ when cooked! Not sure how you ‘add the melted chocolate mixture and flour to the egg mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until just combined’ and expect it to come out ‘molten’ when cooked. They were yummy but no ‘molten’! (it was blended in the mixture!) Please advise.

    • — janice whitney
    • Reply
    • Hi Janice, sorry you had a problem with these! If they weren’t molteny at all it sounds like they were overbaked. I’d take them out of the oven a bit earlier if you try them again.

  • I have 70% chocolate bars. Should I add more sugar? Also, my ramekins are bigger. Will it work to double the recipe?

    • I don’t think you’ll need to add more sugar and, yes, you could get away with doubling it. Please LMK how they turn out!

  • I don’t have ramekins. Could I use mini bunt pans? Or do you have any other ides?

    • Hi Kimberly, that should work or you could use a muffin tin. Please LMK how they turn out!

  • Hi Jenn,
    I have a silicone tray with 6 hearts (similar size to cupcake pan). Do you think I could use this? Also bake them a day early & put in fridge or freezer, then warm up in microwave the next day? I want to deliver them to my grandchildren.
    Thank you!

    • Hi Cyndi, These really can’t be baked in advance, but you can do all of the prep ahead of time and store them in the fridge so they’re ready to pop in the oven right before serving. Also, the silicone tray may work, but keep in mind that the bake time may be slightly different, so keep a close eye on them.

      • wondering if i can substitute gluten free flour and make for a dinner party. If yes…. do you have brand preference on the gluten free flour?

  • Hoping to make this for my Valentine’s Day dessert. I know you state it can be prepared a few hours in advance but would a day in advance still produce good results? Never made a recipe of yours I didn’t love! Thank you.

    • Sure, Ann, that should work. Just be sure to take them out of the fridge about 30 minutes before baking so they come to room temperature.

  • This is an unrelated recipe question, but I was wondering if I could find out what is the brand or store that the flour jar that is in the photo with the ingredients. I’ve been looking for one with a wide opening like this one and would love to know where this one is from.
    Thank you so much!

    • — Janet McCartin
    • Reply
    • Hi Janet, I got those at The Container Store. 🙂

  • Jenny’s molten lava cakes have become a favorite at our house! So easy to make ahead and pop in the oven toward the end of dinner. Have served as birthday desserts several times. Could not find bars of chocolate before Christmas and used bittersweet chips. Worked just fine. Do serve with ice cream or whipped cream to balance the intensity of the chocolate.

  • I made this recipe yesterday, and my family really enjoyed them. The only cautionary note I would add is that I did the batter early in the morning, and put it in a jar in fridge thinking I would pour it out later.(not enough space for the ramekins). Of course, it was rockhard when I went to take the chocolate mixture out, so eventually I managed to get it into the ramekins, and baked it perhaps a minute too long.
    The bottom line is, follow the recipe with all the details exactly as Jen has written it, and you will have five star chocolate lava volcano cakes!

  • At all times I have one of Jenn’s recipes up in my web browser. I get daily inspiration, ideas and recipes. I’ve come to trust Jenn because I’ve cooked/baked many of them and had success. This last week was the Chocolate Lava cakes to bring over for my neighbor’s anniversary. The cakes received many oohs and aahs. For serving I first dusted some pretty plates almost totally with powdered sugar. I was going to put a scoop of Moose Tracks Ice cream on top of the cake, however opted for a good sized scoop off to the side. I topped both cake and ice cream with some leftover ganache (Jenn’s flourless Almond cake) I melted a bit in the microwave, whipped cream and chocolate curls. Wish I’d taken a picture to share.

  • These are my go to lava cakes. So delicious, and honestly, I love them cold. They are super decadent like a brownie almost. I use a mixture of chocolates as I am not a huge dark chocolate fan. Also I would err on the side of undercooked or you won’t get the oozing of the chocolate, but will still have a delicious cake!

  • Cannot say enough good things about this recipe! I made the batter and poured into ramekins about 6 hours before baking. I chilled in the fridge, transported to dinner and then let sit at room temperature before putting in the oven. Easy to follow, decadent, and a true crowd pleaser!

    I added raspberries, a few sprinkles and Jenn’s whipped cream recipe as toppings. Not a crumb was left!

  • They had a great fudge taste, but they didn’t puff up over the edge, and they were not molten inside. I’m going to make again and bake for a couple of minutes shorter. Any suggestions on what else I can do differently?

    • Hi Vee, in order to make them more molteny inside, I’d remove them from the oven a bit earlier. Did you use 6-ounce ramekins?

      • Is it possible to leave these in the ramekins and serve them from there instead of flipping them out onto a plate? Would that work ok?

        • Yep- that’s perfectly fine. Enjoy!

  • These were absolutely delicious! Made them for Christmas Eve dinner and while they didnt come out of the ramikins in one piece (thought I buttered them up plenty enough, but guess I didnt) they were to die for. The best lava cake recipe I have found! Served with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream….delicious combo. And I got my Christmas wish and was gifted your cookbook, so thanks, Jenn! Am reading through it and love it already!

    • — Patricia Walter
    • Reply
  • Delish! I love this rich and chocolate-y dessert.

    I made it exactly as in the recipe and even have the same ramekins shown in the photos. I filled each ramekin 2/3 full and ended up with only 4 in total!

    Did I overfill? They did puff up to just a bit above the top edge of each ramekin. Not sure what I could have done to get 6 cakes.

    I will make again though!

  • Happy Xmas Eve! I just made my molten batter and measured to your exact metric system. So weird, I only got 5 ramekins filled using the small ones. This is fine but did I put too much batter in? I have so much desserts any way (which I did not bake) lol. All good but wanted feedback

    • — Cynthia Taffet
    • Reply
    • Hi Cynthia, Could your ramekins be a bit smaller than mine?

      • Do you mean larger? Lol. I thought that and it may be

        • Ha…yes!

  • Hi Jen! I have 7oz ramekins. Would I still be able to get 4 servings out of this recipe?

    • Yes, I think so.

  • Hi,
    I see that you used a hand mixer. Is it ok to use the Kitchaid Stand Mixer?
    Thank you 🙂

    • Sure, Gina — that’s fine.

  • happy holidays, Jen –

    Can I prepare this the night before and then bake on Christmas day for a dessert?

    thank you Cindy

    • — Cynthia Taffet
    • Reply
    • Happy holidays! Yes, just be sure to take them out of the fridge about 30 minutes before baking so they come to room temperature. Enjoy!

      • Thx you Jen
        And yes I will, I’ll be in touch

  • WOW! Another huge hit and so easy to make! These were delicious (used choc chips!) My kids and husband raved about them for taste and of course the impressive “lava”. Jenn, your recipes are now staples in our kitchen. Your website is my absolute go to for chef quality and fool proof recipes. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and skills. I love the photos of the ingredients needed and the clear instructions. Your outstanding Caesar dressing and insane key lime pie are also some of the many favorites. Thank you!!

    • Hi Carolina, The Caesar dressing and the Keylime pie are my absolute favorites as well☺️ And the cheesecakes.

  • Airy and light and fairly easy to make!

  • Just simply amazing! Your key lime pie and now the lava cakes – my friends and family were so impressed! I just ordered your cookbook! I know where to go when I want to entertain with a foolproof recipe. Thank you!

    • 🙂 Thanks for your support with the cookbook!

  • The recipe came out great but there was only enough batter for three. Also when i was mixing the eggs, egg yolks, brown sugar, salt, and vanilla the batter didn’t thicken up and was still light brown but it worked anyway

    • Did you beat till it got fluffy? Could also beat the two egg whites for the folding process.

  • Hi Jennifer

    Could I make these ahead and freeze them. If so, what is the best way of doing so?

    Thanks
    Karen

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

  • Hi! Would it be possible to bake this in a bigger pan like a 6” or 8”? Thanks!

    • Hi Leilani, I think you’d need to make a few adjustments. If you email directly (jennifer@onceuponachef.com), I will send you a recipe that will work.

  • Loved this recipe and turned out great in just cupcake pans. This time I’d like to half the recipe to make 2 cakes in 10oz ramekins since that’s all I have – would that work? And how long would you suggest baking them?

    • Glad you liked them! I’d recommend baking them for about 13 to 15 minutes, but keep a close eye on them. Hope you enjoy!

  • Thank you yet again for another amazing recipe! This dessert was fabulous and we all loved it. It was also easy to make. This type of molten lava cake usually intimidates me, but they came out perfectly the first time! Thank you again!

  • What an appetizing dessert. I’m 14 years old and it was my first time baking something from scratch. Thanks to you, my family loved it! I didn’t have unsalted butter so I used salted butter and then I didn’t add any salt to the batter.I added baking powder as it became more fluffy. I also reduced the time to 6 minutes. They were full of lava.😋🤤

  • Excellent! Excellent! Excellent!

  • Aloha Jenn,
    Thank you for all your amazing recipes! I am getting ready to make these chocolate molten cakes for my grandchildren tonite. I only have dark brown sugar. Can the light brown sugar be replaced with dark? If so do the measurements change?

    Many thanks
    Patricia from Maui

    • Hi Patricia, Yes they are interchangeable here – no changes necessary. Hope your grandkids enjoy! 🙂

      • Thank you, Jenn, for your very quick response ! Oh yes, my grandchildren will LOVE❤️ I have tried other recipes before and can’t wait to try yours! Looks and sounds amazing. I will let you know.

        Many thanks
        Patricia

  • I was not able to bake the cake and the mixture has been refrigerated for 5 days. Is it still usable or should I throw it out?

    • I’d probably toss it at this point, Marilyn. Sorry!

  • Hi Jenn,

    First if all, thanks for sharing your wonderful recipes! Everything I’ve made so far has turned out delicious!!!
    I was wondetring, could I freeze this mix? and if I can for how long could I do it?

    Thanks again!!!

    • Glad you like the recipes! Yes, you can freeze these (unbaked) for up to 3 months. 🙂

  • question, I mistakenly bought semi sweet chocolate, should I reduce brown sugar or leave as is?

    • You could reduce it a tiny bit, but it’s really not necessary. Hope you enjoy!

  • Dear Jen, Planning to make this for Valentine’s Day. Can I use Turbinado sugar instead of light brown sugar?

    • — Madhuri Krothapalli
    • Reply
    • If you don’t have light brown sugar, I’d actually replace it with granulated sugar. Hope you enjoy!

  • Would 6 oz pyrex glass bowls work instead of the ceramic ramekins?

    • Hi Nancy, while I suspect it would work, the high oven temp makes me a little nervous (that the bowls would crack) so I’d reduce the oven temperature to 425° and just keep them in the oven for an extra minute or 2. Please LMK how they turn out!

  • Can you re-heat the cakes after it is already baked? If so how is the best way?

    • Sure, Amber – you could warm them briefly in a low oven or in the microwave, but you’ll likely lose the molten center.

  • Absolutely fabulous! I made these for my son’s birthday. They were a huge hit, and the best part, very easy to make.

  • Love this recipe! I’ve made it twice now – following the instructions precisely – and they come out perfectly! It’s like magic. Ten minutes at 450 degrees and they are baked with a gooey center. Beautiful, delicious, and impressive for company.

    • I followed the recipe to the letter, but I only got enough for four 6oz ramequins (with a little bit left over). Did anyone have the same problem?

  • What’s the recipe if I only want to make two?

    • — Gordhan Rajani
    • Reply
    • Hi Gordhan, You’d need to cut all the ingredients by two thirds. If you want to make it easier on yourself math-wise, you could cut the recipe in half and freeze one of the cakes (unbaked). They freeze nicely and can go straight from the freezer to the oven.

  • I made this recipe for my girlfriend’s birthday. She has always enjoyed a good lava/molten chocolate cake in a restaurant. It turned out terrific and was super easy.
    I used white sugar instead of brown sugar because thats all I had in the kitchen. I also used only 1/4 cup of white sugar rather than 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp as the recipe calls for. We prefer desserts that are less sweet rather than too sweet.

    What can I say, it was a hit!

    • — CHRISTOPHER SHARP
    • Reply
  • I’ve made this recipe several times and it always comes out perfectly. I haven’t been able to actually taste it though because my grandkids devour the cakes all the while telling me how delicious they are. Thank you for all of your great recipes Jenn.

  • Can I use chocolate chips instead of chocolate bar? Thank you.

    • Hi Kristine, 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 you enjoy if you make them!

  • I made this for a dinner party, and it turned out perfectly. I followed the make-ahead directions and refrigerated it the morning of my dinner. It took exactly 10 minutes to bake, with molten chocolate centers and a delicious crust on the outside. All my guests raved about it, and it is a wonderful stress-free dessert because it can be made ahead of time. I will definitely be adding it to my repertoire!

  • I cant buy Ghiraradelli chocolate and wondered if Lindt 85% would substitute

    • Hi HL, I think that should work but the finished cakes may be a bit sweeter. Please LMK how they turn out!

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