Chocolate Lava Cakes

Chocolate lava cakes are rich and decadent but only require six ingredients. Make this recipe for a date night dessert or to impress your dinner guests!

Chocolate lava cake on a white plate with a fork and raspberries.

Welcome to the May Bake-Along!

This month, I wanted to embrace the simplest of desserts – easy, flourless chocolate cakes that can be scaled up or down to serve however many you need. They can be prepped up to an entire day in advance, but if you want an immediate chocolate fix, you’ll have one in less than 30 minutes if you head to the kitchen right now!

For all of my fellow chocoholics out there, let’s do this!

What is lava cake?

Simply put, it’s a chocolate cake with a gooey, molten center. They’re baked long enough for the outer layer to set, while the center remains soft.

Because chocolate lava cakes combine a flourless chocolate cake with a soufflé, they can feel complicated and intimidating. The good news is – they’re not!

Here’s some proof of how easy these are to make:

  • Simple ingredients – you should have most, if not all, of what you need already
  • No special tools – mix the batter by hand and pour directly into your ramekins
  • Easy baking – set the timer and remove when done
  • No cooling or frosting – serve as soon as you remove them from the oven

An overhead photo of prepped ingredients with text labels.

Is it safe to eat lava cake?

Yes! It may seem concerning to eat a cake that isn’t cooked all the way through, but it’s not the same as eating raw batter.

The temperature while baking cooks the eggs enough to make the molten center perfectly safe to eat.

How to make chocolate lava cakes

Step by step instructions

Prepare the ramekins

You’ll need four ramekins for this lava cake recipe. Coat the inside well with butter so you can easily remove the cakes.

I also like to add a layer of sugar over the butter to carmelize the outside of the cakes. It gives it some extra texture and a pretty gloss to the outside.

Melt the chocolate

Add about an inch of water to a saucepan and bring to a light simmer. Don’t let it come to a full boil, or the chocolate will overheat and not melt properly.

Place a heatproof bowl over the top, then place the chopped chocolate and butter in the bowl.

Melt them together, stirring frequently. It’s best to remove the bowl just before the chocolate is completely liquid, then continue stirring until it’s melted all the way.

Side by side photos of mixing batter for chocolate lava cakes.

NOTE: It’s extremely important not to get any water or condensation into the bowl during the process. Any contact with water causes the chocolate to seize, which basically means it becomes hard and lumpy. If this happens, you will need to start over with new chocolate and butter.

Mix the batter

In a large bowl, combine the sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in the melted chocolate and butter, then add the remaining ingredients. Continue whisking until well combined.

Mixing lava cake batter together and batter in ramekins on a baking sheet.

Bake and serve

Pour the batter into ramekins so they are evenly filled. Bake on a rimmed baking sheet – this makes it easier to get them in and out of the oven, as well as keeps them level to avoid spills.

When they’re done, the tops should be set but the cake will still be a little jiggly.

Cool for a couple of minutes, then place a plate upside down over each ramekin and flip to remove the cake. You make need to run a small knife around the edges first to loosen things.

Serve immediately as is, or add some fresh whipped cream and berries.

A baking sheet with four ramekins of baked chocolate lava cakes.

Recipe Notes

  • Chocolate: You can substitute semisweet chocolate if you prefer a sweeter dessert. However, DO NOT substitute chocolate chips for the chopped chocolate; chocolate chips have an emulsifier in them that helps them keep their shape, which inhibits their ability to totally melt into that “lava” or “molten” consistency.
  • Using a Muffin Tin: If you don’t have ramekins, you can divide the batter between 6 cups in a muffin tin. The bake time will be slightly shorter, so begin checking sooner. To remove them, carefully use a fork to lift them up, then invert onto plates.
  • Adding Liqueur: Feel free to add 1 teaspoon of liquor for an extra punch of flavor in place of the vanilla. Some ideas include Grand Marnier, brandy, or rum would be delicious.
  • Serving Suggestions: These cakes are fabulous on their own, or you can top them with fresh fruit, whipped cream, or ice cream (vanilla or coffee ice cream is awesome!).
  • Make-Ahead Instructions: The lava cakes can be prepared and the batter placed into the ramekins, then covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Remove the plastic wrap and bake as directed.
  • Freezing Instructions: Prepare as directed in the make-ahead instructions above. Cover with plastic wrap, then with foil, and freeze for up to 1 month. The cakes do not need to thaw; bake as directed from frozen, adding a minute or two to the baking time.

Two ramekins with chocolate lava cakes on a white plate with raspberries.

JOIN THE BEB BAKE-ALONG!

To tackle chocolate lava cakes and bake along with me this month, simply do the following:

  • Make the chocolate lava cakes! I would love to hear what you plan to top them with, share in the comments below!
  • Snap a picture and either share it on social media (#BEBbakealong on Instagram or Twitter), upload it to the BEB Facebook group, or email it to me.
  • Check-in on Instagram and Facebook throughout the month to see everyone’s chocolate cakes and cheer each other on!

An overhead photo of chocolate lava cakes on white plates with a bowl of berries.

If you make the chocolate lava cakes and love them, please take a moment to stop back and leave a review below; they help out fellow readers so much! Thank you! xo

Chocolate Lava Cakes

Servings 4 cakes
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Total 30 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Michelle

Chocolate lava cakes are rich and decadent but only require six ingredients. Make this recipe for a date night dessert or to impress your dinner guests!

Ingredients:

  • ½
    cup
    granulated sugar
  • 1
    tablespoon
    cornstarch
  • 6
    ounces
    bittersweet chocolate
    (finely chopped)
  • ½
    cup
    unsalted butter
  • 2
    eggs
  • 2
    egg yolks
  • 1
    teaspoon
    vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and adjust the oven rack to the upper-middle position. Grease four 4-ounce ramekins with butter, then coat with granulated sugar, tapping out the excess.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch.

  3. In a medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate together.

  4. Add the chocolate mixture to the sugar mixture and whisk to combine. Add the eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla extract, and whisk until thoroughly combined.

  5. Divide the batter between the prepared ramekins, place them on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until the tops are set and look shiny on top, 13 to 16 minutes.

  6. Remove from the oven, cool for 2 minutes, then run a paring knife around the edges of the ramekins. Carefully invert each cake onto a plate and serve immediately.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes:

  • Chocolate: You can substitute semisweet chocolate if you prefer a sweeter dessert. However, DO NOT substitute chocolate chips for the chopped chocolate; chocolate chips have an emulsifier in them that helps them keep their shape, which inhibits their ability to totally melt into that “lava” or “molten” consistency.
  • Using a Muffin Tin: If you don’t have ramekins, you can divide the batter between 6 cups in a muffin tin. The bake time will be slightly shorter, so begin checking sooner. To remove them, carefully use a fork to lift them up, then invert onto plates.
  • Adding Liqueur: Feel free to add 1 teaspoon of liquor for an extra punch of flavor in place of the vanilla. Some ideas include Grand Marnier, brandy, or rum would be delicious.
  • Serving Suggestions: These cakes are fabulous on their own, or you can top them with fresh fruit, whipped cream, or ice cream (vanilla or coffee ice cream is awesome!).
  • Make-Ahead Instructions: The lava cakes can be prepared and the batter placed into the ramekins, then covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Remove the plastic wrap and bake as directed.
  • Freezing Instructions: Prepare as directed in the make-ahead instructions above. Cover with plastic wrap, then with foil, and freeze for up to 1 month. The cakes do not need to thaw; bake as directed from frozen, adding a minute or two to the baking time.

Nutrition:

Calories: 617kcal
Fat: 44g
Saturated fat: 25g
Cholesterol: 243mg
Sodium: 43mg
Potassium: 281mg
Carbohydrates: 50g
Fiber: 3g
Sugar: 41g
Protein: 7g
Vitamin A: 979%
Calcium: 57%
Iron: 3%

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

[Photography by Dee of One Sarcastic Baker]