Chocolate Lava Cakes

Chocolate Lava Cakes are decadently rich but wonderfully easy with only 5 ingredients!

Chocolate Lava Cakes look impressive but are super easy to make!  They take less than 10 minutes to whip up and only require one bowl and a whisk to prepare!   You can prep the batter ahead of time and refrigerate then bake your Molten Lava Cakes for stress free entertaining!  These Chocolate Lava Cakes emerges perfectly every time with a beautiful stream of silky chocolate you will want to lick from the plate!

Chocolate lava cake cut open oozing chocolate

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Molten Lava Cake

These Molten Lava Cakes are dangerously delicious.  So much that I may or may not have eaten 3 out of the 4 Chocolate Lava Cakes I made for this post……all in the same day.  I blame the fever I was having so nothing else sounded good to eat that day, but deep down I know the truth – the warm, oozing, liquid chocolate truth.

So what do Lava Cakes taste like?  Soft warm chocolate cake outside giving way to a creamy, smooth stream of warm liquid chocolate inside, ensuring every forkful is bathed in velvety chocolate.  It will be love at first bite.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SOUFFLE AND A MOLTEN LAVA CAKE?

Before we dive into this lava cake recipe, what exactly is a chocolate lava cake?  What is the difference between a soufflé and a lava cake?

  • Soufflés and molten lava cakes are similar in appearance, share many of the same ingredients and are even served with similar toppings, all of which leads many to believe that they are the same dessert.  The differences lie in the texture of the desserts as well as the presentation.
  • A soufflé is fully cooked, whereas a lava cake maintains a runny, chocolatey liquid center.
  • This does not mean that soufflés are the same consistency as say, cake. A soufflé is definitely moist in the center, much more so than a slice of regular cake would be.
  • The soufflé has a merengue appearance on top and a light texture. It comes in a variety of flavors like chocolate, lemon or even cheese.
  • Molten lava cake features one flavor- chocolate! It is denser than a soufflé and, as previously mentioned, boasts a river of chocolate lava that oozes from its center once cut into.
  • While soufflé is typically served in its cooking container, molten lava cakes are often scooped out of their ramekins and served atop a plate where all of that gooey goodness can flow freely.  Aren’t you just dying to dive into a chocolate molten lava cake right now?

WHEN WAS CHOCOLATE LAVA CAKE INVENTED?

A chef in New York City, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, is credited with inventing chocolate molten lava cake in 1987.  Vongerichten removed a sponge cake from the oven too early and realized that while the center was still runny, the outside of the cake had a texture and taste that were desirable.

Fun Food Fact: Vongerichten is the man behind the famous Jean-Georges restaurant located in New York’s Trump International Hotel and Tower.  Stay with me, there’s a food war brewing.   Jacques Torres, a French chef and chocolatier who also happens to be a judge and co-host of the popular food show Nailed It!, says that the lava cake already existed in France before Vongerichten claimed to have invented it.

Wherever the truth lies, our lives are blessed from the creation of the Chocolate Lava Cake!

a fork slicing into a lava cake recipe oozing chocolate

Lava Cake Recipe

I wanted to post these individual Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes of delight in time for Mother’s Day, because like the Blackberry Hoisin Ginger Pork Tenderloin I’ll be serving, they look and tastes royally gourmet but are actually super simple to make!

I always had assumed Chocolate Lava Cakes must be difficult to make or master because they taste absolutely heavenly, and it takes effort to get to heaven.

I was so pleasantly surprised to discover that a Lava Cake Recipe only require 5 ingredients (chocolate, butter, sugar, eggs, flour) and less than 10 minutes to whip up!  You don’t even have to get out a single pot or electric mixer!  just a good old fashioned bowl and whisk will do the trick.

CHOCOLATE LAVA CAKE INGREDIENTS:

These Chocolate Lava Cakes are fabulous because you can make them with pantry ingredients!  All you need are:

  • Semi-sweet chocolate:  you will need 4 oz. of your favorite baking chocolate bar NOT chocolate chips.  Chocolate chips won’t produce the same “lava” center we’re looking for.  Use quality chocolate like Ghirardelli, Nestle or Lindt for best results.  If you LOVE dark chocolate, you can also use that instead of semi-sweet.  Semi-sweet chocolate is technically dark chocolate but not as dark as some.
  • Butter:  use unsalted butter so we can control the salt.
  • Powdered sugar:  use powdered sugar and NOT granulated sugar.
  • Eggs:  we will use both 2 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks so you will need a total of 4 eggs.
  • Salt: just an ⅛ teaspoon will do to enhance the chocolate flavor.
  • Flour: I use all-purpose flour but I’m sure a gluten free 1 to 1 baking flour would also work great.
showing how to make chocolate lava cakes by placing batter in ramekins

What Supplies do I need to Make Chocolate Lava Cakes?

  • Ramekins:  which are also called soufflé cups.  The size of the ramekins matters because it affects the depth and width of the lava cake which will affect the cooking time.  For this recipe, I used four 6 oz. ramekins.  If you have smaller or larger ramekins, you can use them, but you will need to adjust the baking time accordingly. 
  • Muffin pan:  If you don’t have any ramekins – never fear, our muffin pan is here!  The muffin cups in standard muffin pan/cupcake pan are 4 oz., smaller than our 6 oz. ramekins, so you will want to divide the batter between 6 muffin cups instead of 4 and bake for 8-10 minutes.

  • Cooking spray: Use cooking spray WITH flour and not just cooking spray (it will say on the front label if it has flour in it.  This ensures your chocolate lava cakes slip out easily.

HOW TO MAKE A MOLTEN LAVA CAKE

This Chocolate Lava Cake Recipe is SO easy to make!  Here is a breakdown of the steps for perfect lava cakes every time:

  1. Preheat oven.  We are going to bake our Chocolate Lava Cakes at 425 degrees F.  The high heat ensures the outside bakes fully while leaving our center molten.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate. Add butter and baking chocolate to a large microwave-safe bowl.  Use a bowl large enough to incorporate all of your lava cake ingredients because this is going tot become our mixing bowl.  Microwave butter and chocolate for 1 minute, then stir until the chocolate is completely smooth. 
  3. Whisk in sugar. Next whisk in the sugar until completely smooth.  This tempers the warm chocolate mixture before adding the eggs.
  4. Whisk in eggs.  Add eggs and egg yolks then then beat for 1 minute.
  5. Add flour.  Add flour then stir until just combined.  As in all cakes, you never want to over-mix or the gluten in the flour will make the cake dense and tough. 
  6. Spoon batter into ramekins.  I like to use a measuring cup to make sure the batter gets evenly divided.  If your batter isn’t evenly portioned, the Chocolate Lava Cakes will bake unevenly.
  7. Bake.  Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 12-13 minutes, or until the sides are firm but the centers are still soft.
  8. Invert.  Let Molten Lava Cakes cool for 2 minutes – NO LONGER – you may want to set your timer.  If the lava cakes are left in the ramekins any longer you risk a nonexistent lava center.  Gently loosen cakes from ramekins by sliding a knife around the edges of each cake; then invert cakes onto serving plates.
  9. Serve immediately.  Dust Chocolate Lava  Cakes with powdered sugar (optional) or any of my toppings listed below.  Serve immediately because the lava cakes will continue to cook in the center as they sit
showing how to make chocolate lava cakes in ramekins by baking until lava cakes are set

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN CHOCOLATE MOLTEN LAVA CAKE IS DONE?

Taking your Chocolate Lava Cakes out of the oven at the correct time is crucial for lava success.  You will know your chocolate molten lava cake is done when the edges are cooked all around and the center has risen but is not too puffy and is set up but still slightly soft, yet not jiggly.

You can double check the doneness by inserting a toothpick into the sides of the cake- it should come out with a few moist crumbs and then the center – it should still be wet.

What to Serve with Chocolate Lava Cake:

Chocolate Lava Cakes are fabulous in their own decadence, but even more delicious with some toppings.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Powdered sugar: a light dusting of powdered sugar not only looks beautiful but enhances the sweetness.
  • Chocolate Sauce:  chocolate, on chocolate, on chocolate.  My dreams come true.  I like to use my 5 minute Chocolate Ganache recipe  – it is SO easy and lusciously creamy.
  • Caramel:  I LOVE drizzling my Molten Lava Cakes with my 5 minute Caramel Sauce.  I don’t think it gets any better than this.
  • Coconut:  If you love coconut, try topping with my Coconut Caramel Sauce, toasted coconut and even pineapple and/or bananas!
  • Sea salt:  you got to love the sweet and salty combo!
  • Ice cream:  vanilla ice cream is always a win with chocolate.  It’s sweet, creamy and refreshing.  You can also pair Molten Lava Cakes with strawberry ice cream, raspberry ice cream, pistachio ice cream, etc.
  • Whipped cream:  an easy win and it looks beautiful, especially with berries.
  • Berries: Raspberries, strawberries, or blackberries or a combination of all three!
  • Nuts:  just think of your favorite brownies and how pecans add a fabulous nutty dimension!
top view of molten lava cake with powdered sugar on a red plate

HOW DO YOU STORE LEFTOVER MOLTEN LAVA CAKE?

Chocolate Lava Cake is best eaten immediately.  We don’t want you to miss out on the warm melted chocolate lava in the center of the cake!   The longer the cake sits once removed from the oven, the more time it has to continue cooking. We want that gooey chocolate lava river to stay runny, so it’s ideal to consume it shortly after it comes out of the oven.

You can refrigerate your baked molten lava cake, although I don’t recommend it.  As you cook, store and reheat it, you may lose the liquid or lava texture in the center.

However, if you want to refrigerate your cooked cakes, wrap them individually and securely in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to three days.  Just be aware that your lava cake will now just be a chocolate cake minus the molten center when ready to eat.

CAN I PREPARE MOLTEN LAVA CAKE AHEAD OF TIME? 

YES!  I love that Molten Lava Cakes are prep ahead friendly!  This eliminates the need to bake your lava cakes ahead of time, because you can have them all ready to pop in the oven.

If you have guests coming, you can refrigerate your chocolate molten lava cakes uncooked in your ramekins for up to one day.  IF you are planning on doing this, make sure you place parchment paper on the bottom of your ramekins, cut to size, before spraying with non-stick spray. This will ensure that your cakes don’t stick to the bottom of the ramekins after sitting for a longer period of time prior to cooking.  Cover the ramekin with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Another method to refrigerate your uncooked molten lava cake is to keep the prepared batter in its mixing bowl, seal it with plastic wrap and store it for up to two days in the refrigerator.

a fork slicing into chocolate lava cake

HOW DO I BAKE MY PREPPED LAVA CAKES FROM THE REFRIGERATOR?

Before baking your Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes from the refrigerator, place them (or your mixing bowl with batter) on your kitchen counter and allow to come to room temperature. Check the temperature often. You do not want the batter to sit out longer than needed because it does have dairy and egg in it.

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • If batter is still in mixing bowl, fill greased ramekins.
  • Place room-temperature ramekins on baking sheet and bake for 12-13 minutes.
  • Remove from oven when edges are firm while center is soft but not jiggly.
  • Enjoy!

CAN I FREEZE CHOCOLATE LAVA CAKE?

You can freeze cooked chocolate molten lava cake, although I don’t recommend it. I think you will get the best experience from this dessert if you eat your cakes soon after baking them in the oven.

To freeze:

  • Allow cakes to come to room temperature.
  • Remove from ramekins and let cool completely.
  • Wrap your cakes individually and securely in plastic wrap.
  • Place your cakes in heavy-duty zip bags, removing air, or in an airtight container
  • Label and store for up to three months.

up close of a chocolate molten lava cake with chocolate lava streaming from the center

HOW DO I REHEAT COOKED LAVA CAKE?

Remember when you reheat your baked Chocolate Lava Cakes, you are solidifying the center and they will likely loose their lava.  Still, you will have a delicious chocolate cake!

To reheat cooked molten lava cake from the freezer:

  • Thaw lava cake overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Place lava cake on a microwave-safe plate and cover with a damp paper towel
  • Heat on medium power for about 40 seconds, or until the center is soft
  • Enjoy!

To reheat cooked molten lava cake from the refrigerator:

  • Unwrap cake.
  • Place on microwave-safe dish.
  • Cover with damp paper towel.
  • Heat on medium power for about 40 seconds, or until the center is soft.
  • Enjoy!

Looking for more Chocolate Dessert Recipes?

a bite of easy chocolate lava cake on a fork

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Chocolate Lava Cakes

Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes are decadently rich but wonderfully easy with only 5 ingredients! Molten Lava Cakes look impressive but are super easy to make!  They take less than 10 minutes to whip up and only require one bowl and a whisk to prepare! 
Servings: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 6-8 oz. custard cups/ramekins
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Generously spray 4 small ramekins/custard cups with nonstick baking spray WITH flour or grease and dust your cups with cocoa powder. Place cups on a baking sheet.***
  • Add butter and baking chocolate to a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 1 minute, or until butter is melted, then stir until butter and chocolate are completely smooth. Stir in sugar until smooth. Add eggs and egg yolks then then beat for 1 minute. Add flour and salt then stir until just combined.
  • Evenly spoon batter into prepared cups. Bake for 12-13 minutes, or until the sides are firm but the centers are still soft (but not jiggly). Let cool for 2 minutes, then gently loosen cakes from custard cups by sliding a knife around the edges of each cake; then invert cakes onto serving plates. Dust with powdered sugar (optional) and serve immediately (because the cakes will continue to cook in the center).
  • Enjoy!

Notes

**I haven’t had to do this, but if want NO FAIL lava cakes, then you can place parchment paper in the bottom of each custard cup (cut to fit) and then spray with nonstick cooking spray.

PREP AHEAD:  

  • You can refrigerate your chocolate molten lava cakes uncooked in ramekins for up to one day.  If you are planning on doing this, make sure you place parchment paper on the bottom of your ramekins, cut to size, before spraying with non-stick spray. This will ensure that your cakes don’t stick to the bottom of the ramekins after sitting for a longer period of time prior to cooking.  Cover the ramekin with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  • Another method to refrigerate your uncooked molten lava cake is to keep the prepared batter in its mixing bowl, seal it with plastic wrap and store it for up to two days in the refrigerator.

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75 Comments

  1. Susan Slear says

    I would like to make these for a company dinner later this week. Could I put the batter in ramekins ahead of time so I don’t have to prep with company waiting?
    I’d like to have them all ready to go and bake them after dinner? Do you think that would work or do they need to be mixed and baked immediately?

    • Jen says

      Hi Susan, these will be so fun for company! I think it should be just fine to make the batter ahead of time and put it in the ramekins but I would suggest lining the bottom of the ramekins with greased parchment paper so the cake doesn’t stick, just because the batter will be sitting in there longer. Have fun and enjoy!

  2. Barb says

    Dear Jen,

    I had the best molten lava cake of my life while visiting my daughter in St. Louis, France, as few years ago. I’ve never been able to match the recipe, but this recipe will do perfectly fine. I’ve tried three different recipes in preparation for the gourmet club dinner that I will be hosting in December, and my search is over – thank you! Your recipe worked perfectly for me, was delicious and is sure to impress my guests. I can’t thank you enough for sharing.
    Hugs to you,
    Barb (From Ohio)

    • Jen says

      Hi Barb! Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment – I am SO HAPPY your search is over and that you love this lava cake! What a fun dessert it will be to serve your dinner guests! I hope you have a wonderful time and enjoy lots of rich, melting chocolate for years to come 🙂 Hugs to you! Jen

  3. Eden says

    Hi Jen! Do you think these could be held overnight or hours before already baked? How long do you think they’d store when cooled? I want to bake them in advanced because I wont have time to bake the night of. THANK YOU!

    • Jen says

      Hi Eden! Yes, you can prepare the batter overnight or hours before baking in the refrigerator, just bring the batter to room temperature before baking. After baked, they should be served right away or the inside will still continue to cook and they won’t be “lava” anymore – still delicious just not the same effect. Hope that helps. Enjoy!

  4. Ashley says

    Hi, love your lava cake recipe! i was wondering if i could replace the 2 egg yolks with a whole egg instead? thanks 🙂

    • Jen says

      Hi Ashley! So happy you love the recipe! I wouldn’t recommend replacing the egg yolks with a whole egg as the egg yolk adds moisture and acts as an emulsifier and with just whole egg the cake would by drier and possibly even rubbery. Hope that helps!

  5. Jo-Anne says

    Hi, I don’t usually comment on recipes but this cake was just TOO easy and TOO good to not stop by and say WOW. Amazing cake and really easy to bake.

    • Jen says

      That’s awesome Jo-Anne! So happy they were so easy and “comment stopping” good :)! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment!

  6. Avni says

    Do you know what the bake time might be for 2 10 oz ramekins?

    • Jen says

      Hi Avni, I have never made 10 oz. lava cakes so I’m sorry I can’t tell you an exact time. I would go by appearance, baking until the edges are firm and the center is just barely baked (still slightly soft but not jiggly). You might need to do a practice run. Sorry I can’t be more helpful!

      • Avni says

        Also, is there any way to bake these and then stop them from cooking so I could eat them at a later time? Like could I maybe put it in the fridge and stick it back in the oven when I’m ready to eat it?

        • Jen says

          Hi Avni, sorry, there isn’t a way to prepare these ahead of time without the center cooking. The center cooks as it cools and if you put it in the fridge and reheated it, it would still cook as it cooled and cook more in the oven. My best suggestion is to prepare the batter ahead of time and pour into your ramekins and refrigerate for up to 1 day. When ready to bake, bring the batter to room temperature. Good luck!

  7. Cristina says

    Hi!

    I want to make these lava cakes, but I’m confused about the chocolate quantity necessary. Is it the whole 4 oz package or just 4 of the 1/4 oz squares?

    • Jen says

      Hi Cristina, I am sorry for the confusion – I will edit the recipe to clarify. You use one 4 oz. package – just disregard the 4 square reference. Hope this helps – enjoy!

  8. Lana says

    They turned out perfectly! This was the second time I made molten lava cakes, and I was so happy to see that piece of chocolaty heaven leak out like a stream of chocolate. I baked them for exactly 12 minutes, and also added a bit of rum aroma. Thank you for the recipe!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Lana! I am so happy these turned out perfectly, and I love your description of “chocolaty heaven leak out like a stream” – holy yum! can I use that?! 🙂

  9. Jane says

    Just made these for my book club and they were amazing! 5 star! Can’t figure out a way to rate this officially. I tripled the recipe, and put batter in ramekins as directed, covered with saran and refrigerated for several hours. I took them out to come to room temp about a half hour before baking. They took longer – maybe 15-20 min because they must have been cold. Came our perfect!! Thank you for an amazing recipe.

    • Jen says

      What an amazing dessert for Book Club! I’m thrilled you were able to prep them ahead of time and that they turned out wonderfully! Thank you so much Jane!

  10. MasterRusk says

    There is nothing better than a really good lava cake, and it looks as though this one hits the mark! Can’t resist that melted chocolate.

    • Jen says

      Agreed! Lava cakes are the perfect dessert every time!

  11. Carly says

    I made these for Christmas last year and they were a hit! My family has requested them for birthdays since, and now again for Christmas this year. I’ve tried multiple lava cake recipes before in the past and this one is by far the best—and it’s also so simple. Thanks a million <3

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Carly! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and let me know what a hit these have been all year – I love that! Merry Christmas!

  12. Lisa Kelly says

    Your instructions are foolproof! Thank you! Delicious ending to Easter dinner

    • Jen says

      YAY! I’m so happy they were a hit, Happy Easter!

  13. Brooke says

    Hi Jen, I came across this recipe because I want to make it for my mom’s birthday – she LOVES chocolate lava cake. She is gluten free though, and I was wondering if I am able to use almond flour instead of regular flour? Will my cake set properly? Thanks so much in advance!

    • Jen says

      Hi Brooke, unfortunately I have not experimented with other flours other than AP. The best bet would be to go with Rob Mills 1 to 1 gluten free baking flour. Happy birthday to your Mom!

  14. Zunaira says

    HI
    I just wanna ask that can we use semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet chocolate.

    • Jen says

      Hi Zunaira, you can use chocolate chips if they are a quality brand like Ghirardelli or Guittard otherwise the chips have too much filler and won’t melt well. I hope this helps!

  15. brooke says

    can i use dark chocolate like lindt

    • Jen says

      Hi Brooke, you can absolutely use your favorite chocolate, enjoy!

  16. Tina says

    This recipe sounds delish and seems so easy. What would you recommend if i do not have ramekins on hand? Thanks!

    • Jen says

      Hi Tina, if you have any small oven proof container like glass bowls than you can use those. You can also try using a muffin tin but the baking time will be less.

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