This decadent chocolate lava cake is possibly the perfect dessert for a special occasion. It looks impressive and tastes amazing, but it is extremely quick and simple to make! In this post I'll provide simple step-by-step instructions and tips to help you make the perfect lava cake!
What is Lava Cake?
Renowned New York City chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is credited with popularizing the dessert after underbaking chocolate sponge cake in his restaurant in 1987. These individual sized cakes, with a warm, gooey chocolate center, have become a staple of dessert menus at restaurants around the country since then. They only take a few simple ingredients and about 20 minutes to make from start to finish.
- Chocolate - You don’t need much, so get the good stuff here! You’ll need one 4-ounce bar for this recipe. I like the semi-sweet flavor best, but you can go with bittersweet if you like a darker chocolate flavor. Make sure to use bar chocolate and not chocolate chips to get the proper texture.
- Butter - You will need 1 stick of unsalted butter. Again, get a high-quality butter like the European brands. There are only a few ingredients in this dish, so use high-quality for the best results.
- Powdered Sugar - The original recipe uses granulated sugar whipped with eggs, then folded into the chocolate mixture. This recipe uses powdered sugar to simplify the process.
- Eggs - You will need 2 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks.
- Flour - Just 6 tablespoons of all-purpose flour is all you need here.
- Salt - A pinch of salt to help boost the flavor.
- Cocoa Powder - I add a tablespoon of cocoa powder into the mix for a deeper chocolate flavor. You’ll also need a little extra for prepping the ramekins for baking.
- Ramekins - You'll need 4, 6 ounce ramekins for this recipe. You can use smaller or larger, but you will need to adjust the cooking time a bit based on the size. If you don't have ramekins, a muffin tin will work too. Standard muffins are 4 ounces, so adjust the cooking time down by a minute or two.
- Preheat your oven to 425ºF, then prepare the ramekins or muffin tin. Spray them with cooking spray, then dust them with cocoa powder.
- Next, melt the butter and chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until the butter is melted, around 1 minute. Then, stir until smooth and set aside.
- Next add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, flour, and salt to a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
- In another bowl whisk together the eggs and egg yolks.
- Combine the chocolate mixture with the dry ingredients, then mix in the eggs and stir until smooth, but do not overmix.
Baking Chocolate Lava Cakes
- Spoon the batter evenly into your prepared ramekins. As you can see in the pictures above, they don't rise a whole lot, about a half inch from the top should be good.
- You'll bake them for approximately 9 minutes until the top is set but still soft. Watch them closely after 7 minutes or so. Remember, you want to keep the center unbaked, so it's better to underbake than overbake them. The cakes will continue to cook a bit while cooling too. If you do happen to overbake them, they're still delicious, you just won't get the effect of the liquid chocolate center.
- After baking let them cool for about 1 to 2 minutes in the ramekins. Run a knife around the edge of the cakes to help them release. Then, holding the ramekin with a towel or oven mitt, flip them onto a plate upside down. They should release easily.
How to Serve Lava Cake
Lava cakes are really rich and decadent, but if you want to take it up a notch here are a few suggestions.
- Dusting with powdered sugar and fresh berries looks beautiful.
- A scoop of cold ice cream is awesome with the warm, gooey chocolate center.
- A drizzle of caramel sauce or hot chocolate sauce (or both!) is another great choice!
- Chopped nuts such as walnuts are a great addition, too, for a texture contrast.
- Of course, you can mix and match from all of the above, too!
Make Ahead Directions
If you want to prepare the cakes more than a few hours ahead, cut circles of parchment paper to line the bottom to help avoid sticking. Then spoon in the batter and refrigerate.
Alternatively, you can just cover and refrigerate the mixed batter. Then, when you're ready you can proceed with preparing the dish and baking.
You may need an additional minute or so if making ahead since the batter will be cold or you can let the batter sit out for 20 minutes or so before baking to allow it to come up to room temperature.
You can freeze the baked cakes as well. To freeze, allow the cakes to cool completely, then wrap them individually in plastic wrap and put them into a freezer bag for up to 2 months. To serve, allow them to thaw in the refrigerator, then microwave for around 45 seconds before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Chocolate lava cake is intentionally underbaked so that the batter in the center remains warm and gooey and the exterior is fully baked.
Overmixing can cause larger air bubbles in the batter which causes the cake batter to rise too quickly, then collapse.
More Dessert Recipes
Chocolate Lava Cake Recipe
- 4 oz semi sweet chocolate bar, chopped
- ¼ cup butter, 1 stick
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder, plus additional for coating dish
- 6 tbsp flour
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 2 whole eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- Preheat oven to 425°F
- Spray ramekins with cooking spray then dust with cocoa powder.
- Add chopped chocolate and butter to a microwave safe dish and melt in 30 second intervals, then stir until smooth and set aside.
- Add powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and flour to a bowl and whisk to combine.
- Whisk together eggs and egg yolks.
- Combine chocolate mixture, dry mixture, and eggs in a large bowl and stir until smooth. Do not over mix.
- Spoon batter into ramekins, then bake for 8 to 10 minutes until set but still soft in the middle.
- Remove from oven and let cool for about 2 minutes before topping and serving.
* All nutrition information we provide are estimates based on third party calculators. We encourage you to calculate these on your own for accurate results.