Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Molten Chocolate Cake

     We went on a cruise for our honeymoon back in August.  It was both of our first times on a cruise and of course we discovered what every cruise passenger discovers - it's all about the food.  Well anyway, my husband also discovered MOLTEN CHOCOLATE CAKE.  Also known as LAVA CAKE, named for the delicious syrupy chocolate that is hiding in the middle of the outside cake layer.  He LOVED LOVED LOVED it.  Case and point: 

On our last night there I think he had 3 servings because he knew he wouldn't get it again after that.  Well, turns out his wife loves him and took it upon herself to figure out how to make it for this past Valentine's Day as a surprise.  I just googled for recipes and instructions and watched a few videos that walk you through the process.  It looked a lot simpler than I thought it would be.  I chose my favorite, bought the ingredients, including the custard cups, and waited for the day to arrive.  The original link I used is found here.  They have a handy 9 minute video of the first half of the process but I never could find part 2.  I'm going to copy and paste directly since I didn't change a thing and just add in the pictures I took of the process.  Ready for some melt-in-your-mouth-sinful-deliciousness?  

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finally chopped
3 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract (use pure if you have it! I didn't, but it still tasted great)
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
1 Tablespoon granulated white sugar 

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Generously butter four - 6 to 8 ounce (180-240 ml) molds, ramekins, or custard cups and dust the insides with granulated white sugar. ( the tutorial video shows you how to do this.  But, basically you rub your cups with butter until coated and then you put in about 1/2 T to 1 T of sugar and swirl it around the cup until the bottom and sides are covered.  Add more or less after your first one once you see how much you need.  Dump out the excess in each bowl and reuse it for the next one. ) Place the prepared molds on a baking sheet and set aside while you make the cake batter.

2.  In a heatproof bowl, placed over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate. Remove from heat and set aside while you beat the egg yolks. (I used a pyrex glass bowl because I knew it could stand the heat.  This was the coolest trick I learned from making this!  The chocolate melts in no time and there's no sticking to the bottom of a pot, just smooth succulent melted chocolate and butter in your easy to scrape glass bowl!) 

3.  In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar until thick, pale, and fluffy. (When you slowly raise the beaters the batter will fall back into the bowl in slow ribbons.)  Beat in the vanilla extract and then fold into the melted chocolate mixture. 

4.  In another clean bowl whip the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to whip until soft peaks form. Gradually add the 1 tablespoon of granulated white sugar and whip just until stiff peaks form. 

5.  With a rubber spatula or wire whisk gently fold the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture, just until incorporated. Do not over mix or the batter will deflate. 

6.  Divide the batter between the prepared molds. 

7.  Bake for 6 to 12 minutesor until the outside edges of the cakes are set but the middle still looks a little wet and wobbly. You may have cracks on the top surface of the cakes.  (  The baking time greatly depends on your oven and even one minute makes a huge difference.  So after about 5 minutes, keep a close eye on your cakes.  I checked mine the first time at 6 minutes and they weren't quite ready but by 8 minutes they were a little more done than I would have liked.  Your lava disappears in the middle if you bake for too long so keep that toothpick handy and check!) 

8.  Immediately remove from oven and let them rest for a minute or two. You can serve the cakes in their molds or you can run a palette or sharp knife around the edge of each cake and then invert onto the center of each serving plate. Carefully remove the mold. Sprinkle the top of each cake with confectioners sugar and place a dollop of softly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on top of each warm cake. ( be sure to let them cool!  I tried removing the first one too soon and it fell out in a blob.  I would even wait more like 3 or 4 minutes to be sure they are cooled enough to come out in one piece if you are removing them from the mold. )

Note: You can prepare the chocolate mixture several hours ahead of time. Simply make the recipe, pour into the prepared molds, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.  Bake just before serving. When the batter is cold the cakes may take a minute or two longer to bake.

Makes four Molten Chocolate Cakes.

And that's it!  It''s really quite simple, I was surprised at the small number of ingredients, the absence of flour, and the ease of assembling these.  Just follow the directions in order and you shouldn't have any problems.  I also recommend serving with raspberries or strawberries [ isn't my picture pretty?  :) ].  It really adds great color to the presentation, not to mention it tastes FABULOUS with the chocolate and vanilla! 


  1. WOW! you did such a good job!I assume the top picture is one of the ones you made?

  2. Thanks! Yep, the top one is mine. :) I was really proud of the way it turned out, even though there wasn't quite as much lava as I wanted in the middle. It still made me happy for my first try.