These lava cakes are rich and decadent, with cakey outsides and irresistibly gooey chocolate centers. They’re like a warm mug of hot chocolate in romantic dessert form.
These molten chocolate lava cakes look and taste impressive, but they’re pretty quick and easy to make. You don’t need any special equipment—no mixer, just a couple of bowls and a whisk. Unlike most lava cakes, you don’t even need ramekins to make this recipe. I scaled it down to fit perfectly in your muffin tin!
Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten popularized the lava cake in the 1990s, so this recipe concept has been around for a while. I’m excited to report that the ingredients are simple (you probably have them already) and the muffin tin technique works like a charm.
This recipe yields two small lava cakes, perfect for two individual servings. They’re rich enough that you could also serve four people who are willing to share. I never manage to polish one off on my own.
You’ll find step-by-step photos and a detailed recipe below. Let’s make some lava cakes!
Molten Chocolate Lava Cake Ingredients
Here’s what you’ll need to make lava cakes:
- Unsalted butter: For greasing the muffin tins, plus several tablespoons for melting.
- Quality chocolate or chocolate chips: Use bittersweet chocolate for more intense dark chocolate flavor, or semi-sweet chocolate for rich but somewhat more mild flavor. If using a chocolate bar, finely chop the chocolate before using (you’ll need a slightly heaping 1/3 cup). I’ve successfully used Guittard’s extra-dark chocolate chips (63 percent cacao content). Low-quality chocolate chips with additives may not work as well.
- Eggs: We’ll use one egg yolk and one full egg.
- Sugar: Two tablespoons of sugar is extremely low for a dessert and works beautifully. I tried making this recipe with natural sweeteners and it just doesn’t work as well.
- Vanilla Extract: Just a dash yields more complex flavor
- Flour: One teaspoon, can you believe it? You can use whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour or a gluten-free flour blend.
Watch How to Make Mini Lava Cakes
Lava Cake Serving Suggestions
For serving, I think these cakes are pretty with a light sprinkling of powdered sugar. For presentation bonus points, add a dollop of strawberry or vanilla ice cream and/or fresh berries.
For a special meal to accompany your lava cakes, check out my date night recipe roundup.
Chocolate Lava Cake FAQ
Can I make this recipe ahead of time? You can prepare the recipe through step 6 up to one day in advance. Refrigerate the tin in the meantime but let it warm to room temperature before baking.
Can I use ramekins instead? While this recipe was developed for a standard muffin tin, I believe you could bake the lava cakes in small, four-ounce ramekins (about three inches in diameter). I wouldn’t recommend using ramekins any larger than that.
Can I double or triple the recipe? Yes. A couple commenters reported success, but mentioned that their cakes needed an extra minute or two in the oven. Try to divide the batter as evenly as possible between the muffin cups. You won’t be able to flip individual servings onto their serving plates as you would if you were just making two. Perhaps try flipping them onto a cutting board or pan, and then carefully transferring them to serving plates with a metal spatula once they have cooled for a few more minutes.
What about the “uncooked” egg in the center of the cakes? Is it safe to eat? To my understanding, the interior of the lava cake reaches over 165 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a high enough temperature to eliminate any risks with the egg. You can verify with a thermometer if you wish.
What if my lava cakes don’t look done after 5 minutes? In my tests with my well-calibrated oven, five minutes was just right. If your oven runs cool, your cakes might need a little more time. Pay close attention to the visual cues provided within the recipe (bake until the cakes have risen from their cups but still jiggle in the center just a bit) and check out my step-by-step photos if you have any doubts.
Craving more chocolate treats?
- Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Fudge
- Coffee Chocolate Chip Blondies
- Dark Chocolate-Dipped Macaroons
- Favorite Hot Chocolate
Please let me know how your lava cakes turn out in the comments! I’m so eager to hear how this technique works for you.
Mini Lava Cakes for Two
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 2 lava cakes 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Gluten Free
Make chocolate lava cakes for two with this simple recipe! This decadent small-scale dessert is such a treat. No special equipment required, just a muffin tin. Recipe yields 2 small lava cakes, perfect for 2 people (or 4 people if you’re willing to share).
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the tin
- Cocoa powder or additional flour, for dusting the tin
- ⅓ cup quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips or 2 ounces chocolate, chopped into small pieces
- 2 large eggs (we’ll use 1 yolk and 1 full egg)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon flour (whole wheat, all purpose or gluten-free flour blend)
- Suggested garnishes: Powdered sugar, strawberry or vanilla ice cream, fresh sliced strawberries or whole raspberries
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, assuming you will be baking these lava cakes right away (see notes for make-ahead option).
- Prepare your muffin tin by heavily buttering only two of the cups (one on the center outside edge, the other on the opposite). See photos for reference and be sure to coat them well. Then sprinkle some cocoa powder into the buttered cups. Turn and tap the tin over the sink to lightly coat the insides of the cups with the powder. Set the tin aside.
- Place the butter in a medium heat-safe mixing bowl and melt it in the microwave (alternately, gently melt it over low heat on the stove and then remove it from the heat). Add the chocolate to the bowl and stir until melted (if the chocolate won’t melt on its own, gently warm the mixture in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, or over very low heat on the stovetop). Set aside.
- Crack one egg and pour the egg white into a bowl for later use* or discard it. Pour the yolk into another medium-to-large mixing bowl. Crack the second egg into the yolk bowl (both the white and the yolk). Add the sugar, vanilla and salt. Beat the mixture with a whisk until foamy and pale, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Pour the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture. Add the flour. Whisk until the mixture is fully combined.
- Divide the mixture between the two prepared muffin cups. You can fill them all the way to the top (you should have just enough mixture to fill them, but if you have extra, discard it).
- Bake for 5 minutes, until the cakes have risen from their cups but still jiggle in the center just a bit. Place the muffin tin on a heat-safe surface and let the cakes cool for 1 minute.
- In the meantime, find two dessert plates or appetizer plates with raised rims. Here’s the slightly tricky part—place the plates upside down over each of the cakes. While wearing oven mitts, securely grab both plates and the tin itself with both hands. Flip the whole thing and place the plate sides down on the counter. Gently lift up the tin and the lava cakes should release without trouble.
- Garnish as desired (if using powdered sugar, place a small spoonful in a fine-mesh sieve and sprinkle the sieve over the plates). Serve at once! Leftover cakes will keep in the refrigerator, covered, for a few days (the texture will change, but should still be delightful).
Recipe adapted from Georges Vongerichten’s Molten Chocolate Cake recipe, via Mark Bittman in The New York Times, with reference to Yossy Arefi’s Chocolate Lava Cake for Two.
Make it ahead: You can prepare the recipe through step 6 up to one day in advance. Refrigerate the tin in the meantime but let it warm to room temperature before baking.
Make it gluten free: Simply use a gluten-free flour blend. I successfully used Bob’s Red Mill.
Baking time note: If you are using whole wheat or all-purpose flour (not gluten-free) and prefer an even gooier cake, you could likely get by with 4 minutes 30 seconds baking time. The cakes will be a little more delicate, though, so I’d suggest trying this only after successfully baking with the 5-minute method.
Special diet note: I don’t believe this recipe can be made vegan or egg-free, as the eggs provide the structure to this soufflé-like dessert. You could possibly make the recipe dairy-free by using dairy-free butter, such as Miyoko’s Creamery, and dairy-free chips, such as Enjoy Life, but I haven’t verified.