These molten lava cakes are the perfect dessert for chocolate lovers or special occasions. Each decadent chocolate cake has a rich molten chocolate center that’s just like a fancy restaurant, except they are ready in just 30 minutes. Top with a drizzle of chocolate sauce and a scoop of ice cream for the ultimate sweet treat!
Molten chocolate cakes are kind of our specialty around here for Valentine’s Day. When garnished with raspberries, they fit the holiday perfectly. I love that you only need basic ingredients and they are the perfect size for single servings. Not to mention you won’t have to drag out the double boiler because we are melting our chocolate in the microwave!
Last year we also made chocolate dipped strawberries and hot chocolate bombs for the kids. If you are looking for something more colorful, go with these pink and red fudge or heart shaped sugar cookies!
What do I Need for this Recipe?
- bittersweet chocolate – this type of chocolate has around 70% cacao, so it’s not as sweet as semi-sweet chocolate, which is 60%. It’s also not as bitter as dark chocolate.
- butter – we prefer to use unsalted butter.
- large eggs – allow time for them to come to room temperature. This gets the best volume from the egg whites.
- granulated sugar – adds sweetness and helps to make the meringue.
- vanilla extract – rounds out all of the flavors.
- unsweetened cocoa powder – we are using the Dutch-processed.
To make these even more of a crowd favorite, garnish or serve with fresh berries, chocolate ganache, caramel sauce, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- 8-ounce ramekins – this molten lava cake recipe makes 4, 1 cup ramekins.
- Baking sheet – we are going to place the ramekins on the sheet pan. It’s easier to manage the cakes and catches the mess if they were to bubble over.
- Mixer or hand beaters – to whip the egg whites.
Variations and Substitutions:
- Standard muffin tins or muffin cups – you can make lava cakes in a muffin pan if you don’t have 8 oz ramekins. Since they will be a tad smaller, you will probably end up with 6 or 8. While they are baking, check around the 10-12 minute mark to make sure they do not overcook. Once they are finished, use a spoon to scoop them out upside down onto dessert plates.
- Gluten-free – as long as the chocolate you are using does not contain gluten, you are good to go!
- Decorating – place additional melted chocolate in a piping bag and drizzle over the tops, add sprinkles or use white chocolate instead.
- Make truffles at the same time – if you wanted to make truffles and chocolate molten lava cake at the same time go with this muffin recipe.
- Chocolate chips – if you can’t find baking chocolate bars, use high-quality chocolate chips such as Ghirardelli.
PREP: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and chop the chocolate.
Step 1: Place the chocolate pieces and butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30-second increments stirring between each interval until the chocolate is smooth. Set aside to cool.
Step 2: In a glass bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy, then add 4 tablespoons of sugar and continue mixing until stiff peaks form.
Step 3: Whisk together the egg yolks, the remaining sugar, vanilla, and cocoa powder in a separate large bowl until the egg mixture is thick and smooth.
Step 4: Fold the melted chocolate in using a rubber spatula or a whisk.
Pro Tip: Be sure there are no egg yolks in the whites, or else they will not whip properly.
Step 5: Fold or whisk in the egg whites, half at a time.
Step 6: Add nonstick cooking spray to the ramekins, then spoon batter into each one.
Step 7: Place ramekins on a sheet pan and bake for 15 minutes. The cakes should be dry and puffed on top but still jiggly.
Step 8: Cool slightly, then turn the warm cakes upside down on a serving plate. Tap on the bottom of the ramekins and lift slowly so they slide out.
SERVE: Dust with powdered sugar and serve with fresh raspberries.
- This recipe can be halved to make 2 lava cakes instead of 4.
- Our ramekins have a 1-cup capacity, so we did not fill them to the top because they do puff slightly.
- They hold their shape during the baking time because of the egg whites since we are not using flour.
Molten lava cakes started as a high-end restaurant trend in the US in the late 1980s by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
These are best when they are fresh out of the oven. As they cool, the molten center will set, but when rewarmed will soften up.
No! The molten center is due to the ratio of wet and dry ingredients. This recipe is also flourless.
You can eat it cold, however, it will not have a melty, gooey center. As it cools down the chocolate center sets so it would need to be heated to be more like “lava”.
Molten Lava Cake
- 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate chopped
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 large eggs separated and room temperature
- 8 tablespoons granulated sugar divided
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Place chopped chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring between each interval, until chocolate is fully melted. Set aside to cool briefly.
- In a large bowl, use hand beaters or the whisk attachment on a standing mixer to beat 4 egg whites until frothy. Add 4 tablespoons of sugar and continue beating until egg whites form stiff peaks.
- In another bowl, whisk together egg yolks, remaining 4 tablespoons of sugar, vanilla extract, and cocoa powder. Whisk for 1-2 minutes until mixture is thick and smooth.
- Stir in the melted chocolate until combined.
- Whisk or fold in the egg whites, half at a time, until fully combined.
- Transfer batter to four ramekins that have been sprayed well with non-stick baking spray.
- Bake for 15 minutes, until the cakes are puffed and dry on the top, but still jiggly.
- Cool for several minutes and then invert each cake onto a dessert dish. Tap slightly on the ramekin and lift slowly to allow the cake to slip out.
- Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm with fresh raspberries.