Individual Molten Lava Cakes

The Molten Lava Cake has become ubiquitous – they’ve been around for years and seem to have a huge staying power, especially in restaurants. Why? Because they’re so darn good, pretty cheap to make and impressive when done right. I tend to think they’re so passe until I take a bite…

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

I posted not too long ago about Individual Chocolate Souffles, which to my mind are a different animal than the Molten Lava Cake. With much discussion, I learned that while split second timing can leave a souffle with with an oozy, flowing center, this Molten Lava Cake simply oozes a gorgeous ganache of pure chocolate flavor without any fuss or bother.

And when I say oozes, I mean oozes. A rich, pure chocolate river of ganache flows beautifully out of the dessert. Yum. The secret? Tuck a little ball of chocolate ganache in the center before baking.

The ganache cools quickly in small, shallow container

The ganache cools quickly in small, shallow container

I was hesitant to post two such similar desserts, especially when I am always itching to move on to the next best thing or post a favorite family recipe! There was an outcry, here, of a poor put upon family member who wasn’t present for the Souffles. While I can’t make everyone happy, it’s possible I can brighten up the day of a few!

Below, Jon Favreau “schools” Oliver Pratt on the nuances of the Chocolate Lava cake in “Chef.” Before you watch, I’m giving you a bad language warning!

When Molten Lava Cakes first came on my radar, I tried a number of different recipes. There were a couple of Cook’s Illustrated among them, but my favorite by far, was one posted on a Ghiradelli advertisement in nearly every food magazine I leafed through for nearly a decade. See how it pays to not be a “foodie” or a “food snob?!” You’ll love it, I promise!

I use the Ghiradelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips; they deliver a great, over the top flavor. Feel free to use your own favorite chocolate in these, or a mix of chocolates, if you prefer a less dark chocolate. Although I didn’t show it here, these are best with vanilla ice-cream or a whipped cream. Hazelnut whipped cream, perhaps, with a touch of Frangelica?

Watch for specials on baking goods around any Holiday, especially Thanksgiving through Easter, and don’t forget the day after Valentine’s when you’re likely to find bags of good chocolate 1/2 price. When you see great sales and coupons available, stock up when the pricing is low.

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

Individual Molten Lava Cakes

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 ounces Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate baking bar, broken or an equivalent amount of Ghiradelli chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream


  • 4 ounces Ghiradelli 60% Bittersweet Chocolate baking bar, broken into chunks or an equivalent amount of Ghiradelli chocolate chips
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • Garnish as desired: raspberries, raspberry sauce, caramel sauce, Creme Anglaise, whipped cream or ice cream.

To make centers, in a microwave bowl add chocolate and butter. Microwave 1 minute. Stop, stir. If not completely melted, microwave for 10 to 20 seconds longer, Whisk gently to blend.

Refrigerate for about 2 hours or until firm; this cools faster if poured into another bowl, a very small casserole works well. Once firm, divide into six portions and quickly roll into balls. Refrigerate until ready to use. May be frozen.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray or grease six 4 ounce ramekins or custard cups.

Melt the chocolate designated for the cakes with the butter in the microwave for 1 minutes. Stop and stir, place back into the microwave if needed for very short periods, about 10 seconds each, then stir again until smooth. Set aside to cool.

Using an electric or stand mixer, whisk the eggs, yolks, sugar and vanilla on high speed for about five minutes until thick and lightened in color. Mixture should form thick ribbons when allowed to fall from beaters. By hand, fold in flour and melted chocolate. Spoon into ramekins.

Place a chocolate ball in the center of each cake. If the ramekins are a bit wider than tall, the chocolate ball may be gently flattened a bit. Some of the cake mixture may need to be nudged over the top of the chocolate ball.

Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the cake is firm to the touch in the center. Remove and allow to sit for about five minutes.

To unmold, run a knife around the edges of the ramekins, place an inverted plate on the top of the ramekin and turn over. Cake should fall out onto the plate. Serve immediately.

Garnish as desired.


  • If using a wider ramekin or a larger than 4 ounce, the results may not be quite as spectacular; the center may fall if these sit for a while and there may not be enough batter to envelope the ball. Slightly compressing the ball helps. The taste will still be spectacular.
  • The cakes may be made ahead two days, refrigerated and brought to room temperature for about 30 minutes before baking. Add the balls before baking.
  • These reheat well in the microwave on a low power for about 10 seconds.

from the kitchen of

Put Your own Spin on it:

  • Try using a different chocolate or a combination of Semi and Bittersweet.
  • Add your favorite liqueur to the filling and serve with a coordinating sauce.
  • Make this in muffin tins if you don’t have ramekins. Use a cookie sheet under the muffin tins to add a little insulation so the bottom won’t be too melty.
  • If you’d like to make these often, increase the truffle center recipe, roll into balls, place them, spaced apart, on parchment or wax paper and freeze. Once frozen, roll in the waxed paper and place in a Ziploc. With the Ganache balls on hand, you can make these at a moment’s notice.

34 thoughts on “Individual Molten Lava Cakes

  1. My favourite bit of this post the last few lines about having frozen ganache balls on hand to make these puds at a moments notice – SOLD!!! Wonderful post and fabulous recipe – thanks so much for sharing this at Fiesta Friday!

    • Thanks, Conor! I have always had trouble with that one! It requires split second timing, I think. 🙂 These are incredibly popular here, I think almost every restaurant i’ve been to in the past few years has some version on their menu…

      • I’ve never made the fussy version with the ganache … unlike Jon Favreau in Chef’s mine IS the underbaked one. Of course, if my timing is wrong, the cake makes a great brownie to enjoy with a scoop of ice cream too.

        • Remember my Chocolate Souffle! Did you see “Chef?” I liked it – fun movie. Philosophical rant: I think the true measure of a person is how you treat others when things are at their worst, this movie shows Jon following a passion, and when he does he magically becomes happy, gets a restaurant, gets the girl, get his son…and becomes a happy person.

          • I commented on that post which I noticed wasn’t the type of ‘souffle’ I was familiar with, but a molten/lava cake.

            I actually HAVE a copy of “Chef” and really enjoyed watching it. I’m a fan of movies that have to do with cooking. The first one I ever bought was “Tampopo”. More recently I acquired “Chef” and “The Hundred-Foot Journey”. I also like “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman”. “Babette’s Feast” was a little too serious for me so, though I’ve seen it, I never acquired it for rewatching.

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