This easy chocolate lava cake is based on the French moelleux au chocolat, and is the perfect dessert for two! Plus, check out my secret for an extra chocolatey center!
Years ago, long before I met the husband, I went to Europe with my best friend.
Over the course of three sleep-deprived and fabulous weeks, we shopped in Paris, talked one another into buying ridiculous shoes, and got lost in Dublin. And of course, we ate so much food!
Most of the mouth-watering delicacies we ate did NOT, in fact, come from the French restaurants that our tiny budgets couldn’t afford, but instead from the very sweet and generous couple we stayed with in Paris.
On our last night in Paris, our host Celine whipped out miniature lava cakes, or moelleux au chocolat.
This recipe is Celine’s, with small adaptations that the husband and I have made over the years as we’ve baked this sweet and decadent treat for two.
Want more French recipes? Try making classic French crêpes, French crème brûlée and salted French hot chocolate.
How to Melt Chocolate + Butter Easily
There are a few different methods you can use.
I prefer to use a “fake” double boiler. I simply fill a saucepan with a little water, and top the saucepan with a heatproof bowl.
Bring the water to a simmer on the stovetop, and continue simmering it until the chocolate melts.
My husband prefers to microwave the chocolate and butter.
Either method works, and directions for both methods are in the recipe card.
How to Make the Cake Batter
After melting the chocolate and butter, whisk together two eggs, a little flour and some vanilla extract.
Next, whisk the chocolate into the eggs.
It’s best to let the chocolate cool a little bit before adding it to the eggs, because you can accidentally scramble the eggs if the chocolate is too hot.
But if you get a little bit of egg scrambling, it’s okay. It won’t affect the final bake.
How to Make Chocolate Lava Cake with Extra “Lava”
Over the years, I’ve compared this cake recipe to other lava cake recipes, and it’s a little different.
Typically, you simply remove the cake from the oven before the center of the cake sets.
This recipe is different– you actually add extra chocolate to the middle of your cake batter! It melts into a thick, lava-like center with a light, fluffy cake on the outside!
How Can I Tell When Lava Cake is Done Baking?
For this lava cake, here’s what to look for.
The edges should appear cooked through, but the middle will still appear soft.
That said, I recommend cooking the cakes the full 12 minutes, because the cakes will look “almost done” for the last several minutes of baking.
If you remove the cakes too early, they won’t slide out of the ramekins easily.
What If I Over-Cooked The Cakes?
There’s no doubt about it, lava cakes are time sensitive.
If you accidentally cook them too long and there isn’t much “lava” left in the middle, you can still fix it.
Cut open each cake just slightly. Cut a chocolate truffle in half and press it into the middle of the cakes, and then press the cakes closed again.
The truffle will melt quickly and add more “lava” to the lava cakes. If you want, you can cover up the opening with a few berries.
Can I Make These Cakes Gluten-Free?
I’ve been testing this recipe with gluten-free flours and so far haven’t been happy with any of the results.
But don’t worry, I haven’t given up. I’ll update this post when I have a gluten-free version that I’m happy with!
Can I Use One Larger Baking Dish Instead of Ramekins?
I have not personally tested this recipe with a single larger baking dish, but readers have reported that making one larger lava cake did not work.
Can I Use A Different Size Ramekin?
These lava cakes have been tested with 6-ounce ramekins.
I’ve also successfully made these with 4-ounce ramekins, but be aware that the cook time may be slightly different than what’s stated in the recipe.
I do not recommend using ramekins larger than 6-ounces.
Can I Make This Chocolate Lava Cake Ahead of Time?
If you’re serving these cakes for date night or a dinner party, go ahead and mix up your batter and put everything in the ramekins before dinner.
These only take about 12 minutes to cook, and should be served hot, so you’ll want to pop them in the oven shortly before it’s time to serve dessert.
Once they’re finished baking, take them out of the ramekins (or serve them in the ramekins–it’s up to you!), and add a little fruit or a scoop of ice cream.
Cut the cake open, and watch the lava flow!
Chocolate Lava Cake
- Two 6-ounce ramekins
- ⅓ cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 chocolate truffles (I use Lindt dark chocolate) Or use additional ¼ cup chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons butter OR coconut oil, plus more butter, oil or oil-spray to brush ramekins
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Toppings: berries, whipped cream, ice cream, and/or powdered sugar
- Preheat oven: 450ºF.Spray or brush oil into two 6oz ramekins. Coat them really well to ensure that they'll pop out later. Alternatively, coat ramekins with melted butter.
- Melt ⅓ cup chocolate chips and butter using one of the following methods.Double boiler method: Place chocolate and butter in the bowl of a double boiler, fill the bottom section with 1-2 inches of water, and heat on the stovetop over medium heat until chocolate and butter are melted.Homemade double boiler method: Fill a small saucepan with 1-2 inches of water. Top the saucepan with a heatproof bowl and add the chocolate and butter to the boil. Heat on the stovetop over medium heat until the chocolate and butter melt.Microwave method: Add the chocolate chips and butter to a heatproof bowl or measuring cup. Microwave in 20-second bursts until the butter melts and the chocolate is beginning to melt, and then stir until the chocolate melts. (Do not attempt to microwave until the chocolate is completely melted.)
- Set chocolate aside to cool.Add eggs, vanilla, and flour to a medium mixing bowl. Whisk until smooth. Whisking constantly, stir in the chocolate and butter mixture. Whisk quickly to keep the eggs from scrambling.Note: If some of your eggs scramble slightly, it's totally fine and won't be noticeable after baking.
- Divide the batter between the two ramekins. Set one chocolate truffle in the middle of each ramekin (or add more chocolate chips to the center).If using chocolate chips instead of truffles, make sure to push the chips completely under the batter.
- Bake about 12 minutes, until the outer edges are cool but the center is still soft. Let rest 1-2 minutes, and then run a butter knife along the edges of the cakes.Turn cakes upside down onto plates, let rest 10 seconds, and remove the ramekin. (It should slide right off.) Serve immediately along with ice cream or berries.
- Note that this recipe has only been tested with 6-ounce ramekins.
- It has not been tested using a single larger pan, and readers have reported that this recipe does not work when baked in one larger dish (instead of two ramekins).
So amazingly awesome!! Had a major chocolate craving tonight and remembered this recipe…and 20 minutes later I was eating a deliciously rich treat. Would definitely make again, super easy and was the perfect amount of sweetness!
yay!! I’m so glad you liked it! (It’s embarrassing how often I eat this haha)
I cannot wait to make this. You make it sound so easy and simple! At restaurants this is always the default dessert so I’m excited to make it at home. Though TBH I think there will be about 5 seconds where I will hold my breath waiting for the lava to ooze out 🙂
It really is easy!!! It’s my favorite date night dessert- I actually just made it for the hubs and myself last night!!
Liz @ Ready To Yumble
Wow, I’ve made lava cakes before, but never with that extra chocolate in the center! Sounds totally indulgent – and therefore just right ????
Meg | Meg is Well
I’ve never made a lava cake and always wondered if the cake just wasn’t baked all the way through or if there was actually chocolate in the middle. I think I would definitely like a center of molten chocolate the best! And that sounds like an amazing trip. I would love to stay with a host family rather than in hotels and hostels.
Yup it can be made either way- but I prefer my way with extra chocolate 😀 And yessss it was an amazing trip!!
Mmmmm, so good. I love to watch as they rise right out of the ramekin.
Yay! I’m so glad you liked them!
So I made this last night, but my chocolate chips didn’t melt into a lava 🙁 should I melt them down a bit beforehand? They sunk to the bottom and just didn’t work. What type of chocolate chips do you use?
Update (1/31/21): Other readers have reported the same problem, and the issue seems to be happening when they use one larger pan instead of the ramekins. Make sure you’re using two 6 ounce ramekins not a larger pan.
(original response below)
Oh no! I’m so sorry that happened!
Without being in your kitchen, it’s hard to know for sure, but my best guesses would be:
1. Your oven temperature might be off. If the temperature was too hot, it would cook the outside too fast, and the inside wouldn’t cook correctly. Oven thermometers are pretty inexpensive, so if you wanted to check, I’d recommend that.
2. If moisture got into the chocolate chips at some point, they might seize up instead of melting. (Usually the chips would have a white tint if that’s happened.) In that case, I’d replace the chips.
3. High-end chocolate with a higher percentage of cacao can be harder to melt. So if you’re using an especially nice chocolate, this might not be the place to use it!
Let me know if I can help more!!
The chocolate lava was sooo easy to make and really good. I increased the recipe in order to make 3 cakes, which may have affected the consistency a little; it was more like a custard than a cake. But seriously good and ridiculously easy. I’ve always loved lava cake as dessert in a restaurant but have been too nervous to try on my own. I will definitely make this again… and again and again😁
Yay!!! I’m so glad you loved it 😀
I made both versions of this (one with a truffle center and one with a chocolate chip center). It’s super fast and easy, ready to go in the oven in just a couple of minutes. I liked the taste of the chocolate chip center a little better because I think the bittersweet chocolate chips balanced out the flavor (it’s very rich!). But the truffle center was probably a little more effective at creating “lava”. So both were great!
Yay! I’m so glad you enjoyed 😀 And thanks for trying it both ways to compare- more chocolate for everyone!