Recipes

chocolate puddle cakes

From their big debut in the 1990s from chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten to their ever-presence on dessert menus since, chocolate molten lava cakes are easily one of the most trodden tropes of the restaurant world. There are enough riffs on it out there to fill two internets; does anyone need another? The Smitten Kitchen has been lava cake-free since its 2006 inception mostly because I’m not terribly into warm, oozy desserts (I KNOW). But it’s not just about me anymore, is it? Last Valentines I had a moment of glowy domestic benevolence and decided to make them for the family and blew each and every one of their minds, most especially my husband, who demanded to know if I had known how to make them all along, why had I waited so long? Fair enough.


melt butter and chocolate
whisk in sugar, salt, an egg and yolk
lush chocolate batter

So here goes nothing. If tiny sunglasses, overalls (much to my delight), combat boots (ditto), flannels, slip dresses, small backpacks, choker necklaces, crop tops, and other 1990s treasures can have their moment again, why not these? At least, perhaps, for the duration of a single date night. Or, even better, an I-don’t-need-a-date-to-make-awesome-cake night.

ready to bake
7 minutes later
1 minute after that

This recipe tweaks the classic in just minor ways, because it wasn’t broken. I’ve found I can swap the flour with a little cocoa (in the cake and also to “flour” the baking dishes) and it works perfectly, plus is now gluten-free. I drop the sugar back a little. It makes only two cakes, because I think that’s exactly the right number (for a weeknight luxury, we split them, and add a spoonful of ice cream or barely sweetened whipped cream). And while I don’t do it here, I want you to make sure you know that you can put a spoonful of almost anything in the middle (Nutella, cold butterscotch or caramel sauce or these caramel squares, raspberry sauce, not to mention all of the ways you can flavor chocolate, such as with espresso powder, mint extract, citrus zest, and more) and it will become one with the molten center upon baking and everyone will think you are even more of a magician. You’re not going to tell them, right? That this cake has 6 ingredients, basically pantry staples? That it takes 5 minutes to assemble in a single bowl, and 7 to bake? Because if you did, you might have to make it nightly for now on. And that would be terrible.

molten chocolate cakes

Previously

One year ago: Slow-Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Korean-Braised Short Ribs
Two years ago: Small-Batch Tiramisu
Three years ago: Miso Black Sesame Caramel Corn and Hot and Sour Soup
Four years ago: Oven-Braised Beef with Tomatoes and Garlic and Pecan Sticky Buns
Five years ago: Chocolate Hazelnut Linzer Hearts and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake
Six years ago: Italian Stuffed Cabbage
Seven years ago: Lasagna Bolognese
Eight years ago: Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake
Nine years ago: Best Cocoa Brownies and Chana Masala
Ten years ago: Chocolate Whiskey and Beer Cupcakes and Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Slaw
Eleven years ago: Seven-Yolk Pasta Dough and Best Chocolate Pudding
Twelve years ago: For Beaming, Bewitching Breads

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Foccaccia Sandwiches for a Crowd
1.5 Years Ago: Fried Rice with Zucchini, Tomatoes, and Parmesan
2.5 Years Ago: Summer Squash Pizza
3.5 Years Ago: Raspberry Crushed Ice
4.5 Years Ago: Three-Ingredient Summertime Salsa

Chocolate Puddle Cakes

  • Servings: 2
  • Source: Smitten Kitchen
  • Print

As I mentioned above, you can put a spoonful of almost anything inside that you wish to merge with the molten center. Simply spoon in half the batter, add your filling in centered dollop, spoon the remaining batter on top. The sugar is a bit variable here. With a solidly bittersweet chocolate bar (70 to 72%), I like 1 tablespoon sugar, although 2 tablespoons is closer to the standard amount. With less bittersweet/more semisweet chocolate (60%), I often skip it. If you’re using salted butter, you can skip the additional salt, or just add a pinch of flakes for crunch. I bake these in two 6-ounce ramekins (I’ve had these forever, but there are many more options out there) but I bet two to three cups of a standard muffin/cupcake pan would work as well, or you could merge it all into a 10-ounce or about 5 inches across.

  • 4 tablespoons (55 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, plus more for dishes
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
  • 3 ounces (85 grams) bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt or a couple pinches of flaky salt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons (13 to 25 grams) granulated sugar (see Note)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk

Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Butter two 6-ounce ramekins or baking cups, making sure not to miss any spots. Spoon a little cocoa powder in each and pat it around so it coats the bottom and sides, then knock the excess out.

Place 4 tablespoons butter and chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl and — either in the microwave or set over a pot of gently simmering water — melt the butter and chocolate about two-thirds of the way, then whisk until it finishes melting. (This ensures it’s not too hot to add other ingredients.) Whisk in sugar and salt. Whisk in egg and yolk and beat a good 20 to 30 extra times, to ensure mixture is smooth, glossy, and a bit lightened.* Add 2 teaspoons cocoa powder and whisk until combined.

Divide between two baking dishes. Bake 7 to 9 minutes (7 will be the most molten in the center, 9 the least but still gooey) and transfer to a cooling rack for 1 minute. Wearing pot holders, place a small dessert plate over your first ramekin. Flip it onto the plate, count to ten, then lift the cup off. Repeat with second cake. Dust with cocoa powder or powdered sugar. Serve with barely sweetened whipped cream, a little ice cream, berries, or absolutely nothing at all. Eat immediately.

*Updated to note: This is really important! Don’t skip the extra 20 to 30 whisks around the bowl. For reference, this is how it looks when it’s not whisked enough (yes, been there, done that) and this (glossy and smooth) is how it looks when it is.

Do ahead: You can make the batter and fill the prepared cups, then refrigerate until you want to bake them. They can go into the oven directly from the fridge, but will need to bake 1 to 2 minutes longer.

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234 comments on chocolate puddle cakes

  1. Kate

    I dream of making these for Passover but we’re a meat Seder family (sigh). Do you think a non-dairy margarine would work in place of the butter or is that just getting too weird?

      1. Krystal

        Deb… I can’t stop making these. They’re too easy and quick to make and absolutely dangerously delicious. *Why* did you do this to me?

    1. Megan

      I have a dairy allergy, and we swapped in Earth Balance sticks (important to note, the sticks are a different formula from the tubs), and it works in place of butter in everything I’ve ever tried. We made these last night with it. 😊

  2. My reaction: Oh cool, my dairy seder just got a fancy dessert. Thanks!
    Things I miss from the 90s: My overalls, nose ring and green Doc Martens. All captured in my college ID I dug out when I hit 40 last April.

  3. Kat S

    The joys of the single life: I’ll have to measure out my ramekins, prep this tonight, and have it for two desserts this week! Thanks for sharing the “do ahead” directions so I didn’t have to ask.

    1. deb

      Forgot to add that if you’re not the hugest fan of hot molten desserts (I know I’m weird), I absolutely adore these cold where the center becomes a perfectly-set truffle that I’m definitely not enjoying right now, nope.

        1. Meredith

          Can I make these in little metal tins? Or will that impact the bake? I have some copper ones from my grandmother’s house that are the right size.

      1. Elaine

        Oh, wow! I’m not a molten dessert fan either, but a cooled truffle center sounds fantastic. I have all the ingredients to make this tonight.

  4. Sow

    Love this! Next up, mug cakes that don’t suck.. would love to see a version that matches your standards.

    I also want to tell you my daughter and I made goldfish crackers this weekend (probably for the 100th time, we started 3 years ago, when she was 3) and used the heart and flower cutters instead. I love how that recipe has been one of our few constants since she was a wee toddler.

    1. Catherine

      I halve NIgella Lawson’s Chochotopot recipe, stick it in a large mug, and bake it… like molten chocolate cake as well. Have been doing this on and off for years. That being said, I’m sure this recipe could also translate to the mug format.

    2. Kathy

      My son made these for dessert on Sunday night and said they were pretty easy. They were delicious and rich – I couldn’t finish mine. Pleasantly surprised at how good the left-over cake still was tonight (Tuesday) right out of the fridge. Dark and fudgy, dolloped with a little extra whipped cream – yum!

  5. RES

    It is my birthday today, and I have been trying to think of a little sweet something to make for dessert tonight that is small enough to be gone in one sitting but still decadent enough to feel celebratory. It’s like you just sent me a birthday present with this recipe. Thank you!!

  6. JP

    So happy to see someone looking back instead of always trying to do something ever stranger than before recipe wise. I spent my evening last night, reading a cookbook from someone who has written this one to be a “simple version” of his regular cookbooks and although many of the recipes are supposed to be “pantry led” I do not have many of the ingredients he suggests, ever, period. So nice to know I can go down to the kitchen and whip these babies up whenever I choose. Because chocolate and butter are always in my pantry! Thank you!

      1. JP

        I’m looking at the gigli (likely won’t be using that sort though),with chickpeas and za’atar because I still have chard in this CA garden and someone gave me a little jar of za’atar. But, yes that soup and those fritters (meatballs?) look yummy. Still, so much black garlic, preserved lemon and also chiles in everything! I do like to try something new and we have lots of seasonings and so forth from all over the world, but again, it is so nice to see a recipe where I will not have ingredients hanging around forever that may or may not ever be used. Chocolate always seems to get used up somehow ;)

    1. tariqata

      It’s a bit of a low-key recipe compared to some of the others, but don’t discount the Swiss chard with chickpeas and carrots from that book either! :)

  7. caduceus

    Ok, so neurotic may be my moniker, but how is a molten cake with eggs safe to eat? Can we be sure that the egg is not raw? It looks so yummy.

    1. Anna

      You can get pasteurized eggs at most grocery stores if you’re concerned, especially if you’re feeding anyone who is immunocompromised. But if you’re willing to eat a runny yolked egg this shouldn’t be a problem.

    2. Tiffany

      My husband is a health inspector and he says the risk of food poisoning from raw eggs is tiny. He’s the one who said my Caesar dressing with raw egg was fine after 5 days in the fridge! There are plenty of things people do without thinking about it that are way riskier, like not cooling foods quick enough (sticking a big pot of something in the fridge, for instance).

  8. Eeka

    Once upon a time, I was going to make molten chocolate cakes for New Year’s Eve. I’d scoped a recipe for them in Bon Apetit, bought the ingredients… but on 12/31, I couldn’t find the magazine. Anywhere.
    Several weeks later it re-materialized on my bedside table!
    I still haven’t made a molten chocolate cake, but maybe this will be the one. It looks delicious!

    1. deb

      Oooh, I really wanted to test this but didn’t. (It’s always my preference for a brownie-like oomph.) Cook’s Illustrated says “To Replace: 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate or 1 ounce semisweet chocolate, use 2/3 ounce unsweetened chocolate + 2 teaspoons sugar.” I’m thinking about whether I’d suggest you do the reverse and use more chocolate and I’m not certain! I’d probably, personally, add 1T sugar per ounce of chocolate.

      1. Melissa

        Made these tonight on a whim. Came out great except I am at altitude (5400 feet) and would recommend increasing the baking time by 2 minutes. I found that when I released them from the ramekins that the top was not fully cooked/set yet. Even my finicky eater kid even thought “they were yummy.”

        1. Jen

          Tried this just now following the instructions exactly and my batter totally broke after adding the egg & yolk! I’ve made molten chocolate cakes a few times and remember this happening once before as well, but I have no idea what is different between the successes and the fails. Help?

          1. deb

            What Leslie said. You’ve got to whisk it thoroughly after the egg + yolk. Smooth and shiny is what you’re going for, more than just mixed. When I skimp on this step (it’s why I said 20 to 30 extra whisks), the texture does not work once baked.

        2. Jenn

          In case anyone else also only has 4-oz ramekins, I thought I’d share that you can 2/3 the recipe (2.6 oz butter or a smidge over 5 tbsp; 2 oz chocolate; one egg, no yolk) and bake for 6-7 min and it works perfectly!

  9. erin

    Silly question, but I don’t own ramekins (!!). do you know of a good substitute? i have your standard teacups from crate & barrel…not sure if they are oven safe.

    1. Mimi

      I’m a potter, and based on the fact that most commercial ceramic items are fired to at least 1850 and more likely 2350 degrees, they should be fine at cooking temps. I’d probably use them, but you do it at your own risk 😉. But no direct heat such as broiling and make sure they aren’t cold from the fridge when you put them into the oven to prevent thermal shock.

      1. Amy

        Baked these for our Valentine’s dessert. Made ahead and baked straight out of the fridge. Used Pyrex custard cups (didn’t think of the high temp, oops) set on a small aluminum baking tray. Baked for 10 min, but could have used a bit longer I think. The puddle was barely warm, and the baked wall pretty thin. Gas oven.

        1. Molten chocolate cake is one of my all time fave desserts, but I’ve failed whenever I’ve made them. Made these tonight; I baked them for 8 min and they came out just a puddle when flipped (and the sides stuck to the ramekin, even after I thought I had buttered the hell out of them). Alas! I’m determined to try again and might try muffin tins instead of ramekins, and definitely bake them for longer.

    1. deb

      It will probably fit in them, but if you divide into 3 ramekins, I’m not sure how much less time it will take — there isn’t a calculation. I’d just feel for them to be barely set, maybe take them out at 5 minutes.

  10. Cindy

    Oh, I was looking for something to make for my husband and I tomorrow night. We aren’t really celebrating until this weekend, but I wanted to make something to celebrate a little. I was going to try your chocolate pudding recipe, but this is easier for a weeknight. I will make the pudding another time. Thanks for this and thanks for the 90s throwback. I was in college through the early 90s so I miss all of it!

    1. Cindy

      I made them last night. Everything was at room temperature and I made them right away. I baked them for almost 8 minutes, but they were not completely set. We ate them anyway and they were delicious, but next time I will bake them for at least 10 minutes to make them set more.

  11. Brittany

    Eating this as I type and regretting sending a picture to my husband as I am now forced to save the survivor for him. I used 68% chocolate and no sugar and baked them 8 min in oven proof tea cups. I will not be changing a thing but still might have to consider this the test run in preparation for another round tomorrow so I can have another! Terrible indeed Deb. Terrible.

      1. Myra

        I’m guessing it’s the question on baking chips. The link didn’t work for me but thanks for the answer! For some reason that registered as something different than what I was asking (sleep deprived new mom mush brain).

        1. deb

          Sorry, didn’t realize! So, yes to baking chips. They can run a little sweet; I’d just use 1T sugar unless you have a definite sweet tooth, then use 2T. Enjoy!

  12. Anna

    These are amazing! I want to get some other dark chocolate for next time (I only have some Trader Joe’s stuff that’s okay but a little flat in flavor) and maybe add a tiny drop of vanilla but otherwise they were perfect. Has anyone tried adding vanilla before?

    1. Bridgit

      I doctor the trader joes pound plus bars with the tiniest bit of cinnamon and/or coffee concentrate; a little vanilla doesn’t hurt. My brothers, who both look down their noses at the pound plus bars, both asked what kind of chocolate I used when I made Deb’s hot fudge sauce. Adding more cinnamon, some ginger and a bit of cayenne gives a “Mexican hot chocolate” flavor that I love.

      1. Anna

        Pound Plus bars are so good! I only had the three pack of 72% snacking bars which are faster to melt but I think from a different producer than the Pound Plus. Good to hear the vanilla should work :)

  13. Pam

    For anyone dairy-free (me not by choice), earth balance works great as a substitute for butter. Obviously, also choose a dairy-free chocolate (lots of them out there to choose from!).

  14. Marcia

    So everyone is being very wink, wink, nudge, nudge, about the cook book with the lamb fritters. What is the book, who is the author? Lamb fritters could be a very nice dinner before this dessert tomorrow.

  15. Marcia

    So everyone is being very wink, wink, nudge, nudge, about the cook book with the lamb fritters. What is the book, who is the author? Lamb fritters could be a very nice dinner before this dessert tomorrow.
    Whoa , I just figured it out….

    1. deb

      Ottolenghi’s Simple book. I have deep empathy for the difficulties in naming a book something that isn’t going to make everyone say “But I don’t find this [insert book title’s promise here]!” Ahem! But I made a few of the recipes before I chatted with him at the 92Y and they were great, even if not what we always think of as simple. Simpler, perhaps.

  16. Deb thank you for being a mind reader. I had another chocolate lava cake recipe all cued upto my valentines desert menu for tomorrow, but it was from a source that is not nearly as reliable and trustworthy as you and I was nervous to make something for the first time without it coming from someone that to me is tried and true (YAY DEB!).How fun it will be to hide a surprise in the middle! I am thinking candied ginger nubs or pomegranate seeds (or both?) would love your thoughts on if that would work. Deb, you are the Queen of Valentines!

  17. Erica

    Thank you!! I had always used the cooks illustrated recipe but had usually not needed 8 of them so this is great! :) I also love your count to ten tip, since the last time I tried the recipe it stuck to the ramekin for some reason… hopefully I can unmold in one piece!!

  18. Jessica Powers

    Molten cakes were my New Year’s Day request this year (usually it’s cheesecake for breakfast, but we had cheesecake for Christmas, haha). I love that this is for two! our standard is a Nigella base recipe ‘babycakes’ (snort) with a Gordon trick of double buttering the ramekins. But it makes too much/too many cakes! And devours our chocolate stash. This will be perfect. Thank you!

  19. Fiona

    OMGosh this was just what I was looking for tonight as a last minute Valentines Day dessert. I made them as soon as I saw the email in my inbox, and as always your recipes turned out perfectly. I used Ghiardelli 60% chocolate and added a sprinkle of cinnamon for extra oomph. I think though next time I’ll use smaller ramekins / baking cups and make extra dessert instead!

    1. deb

      It would be fine. Maybe bake it one minute less since it can keep “cooking” in the hot dish. Btw, I did an IG Story of this yesterday where I show this but I flip it onto the plate using a dishtowel or potholder and then, when the ramekin is upside-down on the plate, slide a knife or my small offset spatula just under the edge to help lift it off. Because potholders are cumbersome.

    2. It comes out much easier than you’d imagine. I flipped one out right away and let the others sit in the ramekins until they were cool enough to handle without a potholder. Either way, they came out easy.

  20. Calisson

    This looks lovely! Wording question: did you mean to write “I drop the sugar back a little back a little” ? It actually reads rather sweetly, but I wondered if it was an editing error all the same?

  21. Susan B

    Deb – Thank you!!!! I’ve been looking for this recipe – that makes enough for 2 people, not a crowd. This will be our stay-at-home Valentine’s dinner dessert on Sat Night. Happy Valentine’s Day Deb. I wish you joy, peace and Love.

  22. Alene

    I just wanted to say that you are funny! Thank you for the morning chuckle. And, yes, I too made the recipe when it first came out. Making a Valentine’s Day dinner today for my wonderful husband and thought about a flourless chocolate cake. And lo and behold, I read this this morning. And, ta da! It’s gluten free! You read my mind. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  23. Hi Deb,

    Is there any reason why we can’t print your pictures and comments leading up to the recipes ? They are really wonderful and your reasons for doing what you do are so helpful.
    Thanks,
    Susan

    1. deb

      Thank you. Overwhelmingly, people prefer not to print photos (and use all their toner, pages, etc.) but at some point in the future I hope to have an option where you can choose whether you’d like to print them or not.

      1. Emily M

        Oh, can I piggyback on this? I do prefer not to print photos for the reason you mention, but the print document includes the “related” recipes from the bottom of the post along with their photos! Sometimes I’m lucky and they end up on the last page with nothing from the actual recipe, so I can just not print the final page, but I do get frustrated that I have to print pictures that aren’t even of the recipe I’m after a fair amount of the time.

  24. Brigitte

    Made these for breakfast because it’s not only V day but also our 49th wedding anniversary and at our age you can have decadent cakes for breakfast. WOW.! What a treat. I happen to have a bar of dark Lindt chocolate with hazelnut chips on hand and it was exactly 3 oz. so I took that as a sign. Thanks Deb for this and so many delicious and we’ll tested recipes.

  25. Shilpa Vimalananda

    I only have 10oz ramekins. Will that make a difference if I just use the same proportions divided into 2 ramekins, or should I triple the recipe and baking time to fill them?

    1. deb

      There is a print icon that leads to a print template at the bottom of each recipe, where it says “DO MORE:” You can also click CTRL + P from any recipe post and it will take you to a streamlined print template.

  26. CT

    Wonderful and easy! I used a 3 oz bar of 70% bittersweet chocolate and 1 tablespoon of sugar. I don’t have ramekins, so I made 3 little cakes in a muffin tin. Even trying this recipe for the first time, it only took 10-15 minutes to prep (and that was mostly spent cleaning up spilled cocoa powder/microwaving the chocolate and butter in 10 second bursts).

  27. clermont

    I have unsweetened chocolate at home (from making your browniessst cookies with my kids over the weekend). Can I use that to make these tonight for Valentine’s Day? Should I go with 2 T sugar or more?

  28. This is such great timing, I’m definitely making these tonight. Question though: could I add a small amount of liqueur do you think, without compromising the consistency? Or should I keep my boozy tendencies for another time :D

    1. deb

      I bet it would be great with 1 tablespoon of hazelnut liqueur or something equally chocolate-friendly. I’d go easier on something with a stronger flavor because it’s almost definitely going to not taste cooked.

  29. Katia

    Made these tonight. Amazing. As promised very easy and very delicious. I used 52% chocolate so didn’t add any sugar and it was perfect.

  30. LitProf

    Deb, Did you know that Claudia Fleming’s THE LAST COURSE is being released on Kindle this fall? I saw it as I was making your challah tahini buns for my family today. Hope your day is as excellent as every one of your recipes is. You make our world better one delicious meal at a time!

      1. LitProf

        They should ALWAYS ask you, and you should write an Afterword that would be the last Last Word! (I wish for a print release as well.) Now back to making your blueberry muffins for my ravenous kids!

    1. deb

      Just prep it all in advance. Also! When I was making these for the 8th time in a few weeks last night, I decided to cut (another) corner and used 3 whole eggs instead of 2 eggs + 2 yolks for 4 ramekins and it worked perfectly! So, this will be great to know when scaling it up.

  31. Hilly Jacklin

    I’ll be making these tonight with a bit of my home made orange marmalade dropped in the center. It is so perfect the recipe only makes two, enough to be indulgent, not enough extra to feel guilty.

  32. Monica

    I cooked it for 8 minutes and it was way undercooked. It splatted down when unmolding it. But delicious, and nice to have a recipe thats good for just 2 or 4 servings!

  33. Robyn

    Yes! I just made this and it was amazing. Didn’t need to add additional sugar, and I made four mini-cakes in standard sized muffin pans. Set the timer for 5 minutes but had to pull them out around 4:20 when they started smoking, I think 4 minutes would have been perfect. They were still so great with some vanilla ice cream!

  34. Sharon

    I just made this as a Valentines dessert. I chose the peanut butter in middle option. It was so easy and really good. The only complaint was that I should have made more.

  35. Athina

    I just made this as part of my Valentine’s Day dinner-and not only was it simple and easy to make, but it was out of this world delicious! Only change I made was I added about 3/4 tsp vanilla. I served it with a dusting of powdered sugar and a perfect scoop of Haagen dazs vanilla ice cream-a perfect Valentine’s Day dessert! Thanks Deb!

  36. Sue

    I made these delightful confections as a Valentine dessert for my sweetie. They were so yummy and easy to prepare! I used only one tablespoon of sugar, and it was enough for us. I cooked for 8 minutes, and the inside was gooey, although not oozy, which I liked. I was worried they may not come out of the ramekins, but they released effortlessly. We topped ours with ice cream and whipped cream. I like the fact there’s no white flour and not too much sugar. I’ll definitely make these again for a quick chocolate fix!

  37. This was just what I was looking for to make for Valentine’s dessert! I cannot find my ramekins (I likely sent them into the world with a baked good, and they never found their way home!), and I am wondering if the silicone heart-shaped cupcake cups I have might work?

  38. Please take Deb’s advice and only eat half. I made them for my family and we each had a whole one (plus vanilla ice cream, which is necessary to cut the intense chocolate). Now we all feel like we’re gonna barf. It was delicious though and as easy to make as advertised.

  39. chocolatechipkt

    I made these tonight! The flavor was great, but super intense. The whipped cream and raspberries were necessary. I think next time I’ll use a mix of milk and dark (72%), because this dark at least was a lot. I’ll also use a smaller ramekin, as the result was a little flatter than I’d planned. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  40. Landon

    Did I make this recipe for Valentine’s Day? Yes. Was it amazing? Yes. Would I make it again? Yes. It took about 10 minutes in my oven to reach the cooked on the outside, molten on the inside stage. I ran a knife around the rim of the ramekin to get the cakes to turn out onto the plate. This is the type of quick, delicious recipe that everyone needs in their collection!

  41. Hilary

    I tried making these with coconut oil instead of butter. I’m not sure whether that was the problem, but when I beat in the eggs, the batter became grainy and stayed grainy after baking. Any suggestions?

  42. rachaelanneallison

    spontaneously whipped these up for Valentine’s day, and they were a huge hit! My husband, a foodie but 80s kid to the core said “It’s just like chilis!” with only a hint of irony. SO GOOD. I added macerated berries on top, and it was divine. New family tradition! Thanks Deb!

  43. I used grocery store chocolate bits and unsalted butter. Microwaved 1 minute 23 seconds on 70% power, even just 1 minute would have been enough. I added just a 1/2 Tablespoon of sugar and two pinches of flaky sea salt. I filled the ramekins half way, added a teaspoon of raspberry jam and then the rest of the batter. Baked 7 minutes, I think I’d go a minute longer next time but my husband thought it was perfect. Served with a small scoop of premium vanilla ice cream. I’ve been married 31 years and this is our new Valentine’s Day tradition! Thanks, Deb.

  44. Jen

    Tried this just now following the instructions exactly and my batter totally broke after adding the egg & yolk! I’ve made molten chocolate cakes a few times and remember this happening once before as well, but I have no idea what is different between the successes and the fails. Help?

    1. Hillary

      Made these for Valentines day dinner. They were perfect! So easy to make and impressive looking for so little effort. I also like that they could be made ahead for dinner party. I would use more sugar next time. I used about 1.5 Tablespoon sugar, but next time I would increase it to a full 2 tablespoons. I used 70% bitter sweet chocolate baking bar by Ghirardelli and thought the flavor was a little flat. I messed up one of the cakes while lifting the ramekin off the plate I dropped it back on to the molten chocolate cake and broke the molten chocolate cake in half. But the other one came out beautifully. I whisked for 30 times and still had a grainy texture, so I kept whisking and then magically the batter turned smooth and shiny and perfect. For those that I had a texture issue, I think they just need to whisk more. The recipe’s description that you whisk until smooth I think is critical. I will make again and experiment more!

  45. Gina

    Oh my! This was so easy and so, so wonderful. Delicious, in fact. My husband, to whom I have been married for 38 years, said this was one of the best desserts I had ever made. And I cook and bake. A lot! It was creamy, gooey, and just the right amount of sweetness. These chocolate lovers had a most wonderful Valentine’s Day dessert, thanks to you, Deb! I served it with cacao nibs, a very light dusting of powdered sugar, and barely sweetened whipped cream. Heavenly!

  46. Monica

    I broke it. :(

    Despite my bowl being quite cool, it seemed like the texture never smoothed out after adding the eggs. I guess they scrambled? It looked a grainy mess, but I tried baking anyway. It was still grainy with a bubble of liquid on the sides after 7 minutes.

    Any other ideas what might’ve happened?

    1. deb

      Did you whisk really well — that 20 to 30 extra times — after adding the egg + yolk? I made these 8 times and the only two times I had trouble was when I skimped on this extra whisking. You want to get the batter smooth and absolutely glossy (as it looks in the photos). Hope this helps.

  47. Linda Convissor

    LOL. I think this was the ugliest dessert I’ve ever made, but it sure was yummy. We have very limited kitchenware so I had to use the only oven-safe bowl I could find. The store only had Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa which I used to densely coat the bowl. So when I turned the cake out on to the plate (no trouble there), it was a very dark, unappetizing, collapsed disc. I didn’t have any confectioner’s sugar to hide the ugliness, so went with vanilla ice cream. Totally delicious and a big hit!
    I really enjoyed the “smallness” of this recipe.

  48. JulieI

    Made these tonight for Valentine’s Day and they were delicious! Used 8 oz ramekins and they worked fine. Thank you Deb for another great recipe!

  49. Ellen

    Made these last night after a last minute search while standing in the supermarket. They were fabulous, even with estimating due to no measuring equipment, putting in 2 whole eggs (not concentrating) and then baked in mugs. Thanks Deb!

  50. Lucinda

    Hello! These look lovely but my husband can’t eat dark chocolate (it causes migraines), can I use milk chocolate and no sugar or is there a better solution? All the lovely desserts seem to use dark chocolate now and I have to eat them all by myself *sniffles unconvincingly*

  51. Li

    Made this for Valentine’s dinner, can confirm it works in a muffin pan. I managed to fit all the batter into 2 of the cups. Was delicious!

  52. Awads

    this was a total flop for me. i followed the directions to a tee. it never turned into cake. just a cup full of hot gooey lava. my family ate it, but probably just to cheer me up. kind of ruined my holiday meal.

    1. deb

      Did you whisk really well — that 20 to 30 extra times — after adding the egg + yolk? I made these 8 times and the only two times I had trouble was when I skimped on this extra whisking. You want to get the batter smooth and absolutely glossy (as it looks in the photos).

      1. AWADS

        i thought i did. but i was trying to do several things at once (mash potatoes! sear steaks! toss salad!). i will give it another go when i’m not quite so bitter over it :-)

  53. Leslie

    Planned a 90’s inspired Valentines Day dinner for two last night and these were the perfect dessert. They were so easy—it’s going to be hard to resist making them all the time! Or maybe I shouldn’t even try to resist. 😉

  54. Christina

    Valentine’s Day disappointment :( I made the batter and left at 60-degree counter for about an hour before baking. Baked 11 minutes and still wound up with a plate of hot fudge. I used 3 ounces 72% Askinosie chocolate and 1 tablespoon sugar.

  55. JoanneB

    Mixed up the batter the night before, baked them cold out of the fridge for Valentine’s Day dessert. Whaaaaa, I over baked and there was no goo inside, Very disappointed. but I’m sure it was my fault entirely and not the recipe. Just gives me an excuse to try again this weekend to make them perfect

    1. deb

      Was it baked through? Or did it seem kind of grainy/sediment-ish? If the latter, it needed to be whisked more. After you add the egg + yolk, you’ve got to whisk until it’s smooth and shiny. I can say this with total authority as someone who made these 8 times and ran into this problem with 1 to 2 of my batches. :)

      1. JoanneBCPA

        Thanks for the tips Deb, but it was definitely baked through, not even a hint of goo. Will try again as these were so quick and easy, once I get it right I’m sure they’ll be a regular treat in our house. If it takes me 8 times we won’t be sorry!

  56. Complete fail for me. I had prepped the batter about 2-3 hrs beforehand and had them in the fridge. Took them out maybe 20 minutes prior to baking. I did add 2 minutes to the bake time, so had them in there for 9 minutes. Ended up with a puddle. I baked at 425 in my convection oven. Wondering what I might have done wrong.

  57. Emily D.

    Made this for Valentine’s Day dessert and my husband demanded to know why I had never made it before. Delicious. I put a teaspoon of pomegranate jelly in the middle which added a little sweetness and tartness. We then spent a sizable amount of time discussing all the fillings or mix-ins we could use. Anyone try bourbon or liqueur? Unsure if a liquid would stay in the middle.

    1. K

      What might work better is if you froze one of those liquor-filled chocolates, then put one in the center of the batter right before you baked the cakes. Oh god, I want to try EVERY TINY LIQUOR-FILLED kind now.

  58. Beth

    I made these last night using 70% dark chocolate and 2T sugar. Also added about 1/4 tsp of chipotle-cayenne powder. The results were phenomenal!!! The spice added a subtle complexity that we marveled over with every bite! I *highly* recommend this flavor addition. I forgot the powdered sugar, but did serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream which was lovely.

    I was very cautious about overheating the chocolate and butter in the first step, and my batter turned out beautifully after adding the egg and egg yolk and whisking 20-30 strokes.

    I had mine out of the fridge for about 30 minutes before baking. Put them in at 450 for about 11 minutes and they were properly baked on the outside, gooey on the inside.

    There is something sweet and romantic about a recipe for two!

  59. AKB

    These were fantastic (albeit very very rich) as written and I loved the small scale of the recipe.

    Used 70% chocolate and 1 tbsp of sugar plus powdered sugar on top. Although I love dark chocolate, I might add an extra half tbsp of sugar to the batter next time since it was so rich. My husband thought it was great as is. Your mileage may vary depending on the chocolate used.

    I made the batter a few hours before and baked straight from the fridge. I added 2 minutes as directed. The outer shell was just baked and holding shape. The entire interior was gooey, which was awesome, but I might add another minute next time. I will note that the top of the ramekin looked a little “wet” with only the outer edge looking baked. Just in case anyone is wondering what done but still very gooey inside looks like.

  60. Andrea

    I made this in our silicone muffin pan (doubled the recipe for 6 cakes). Baked for 8 min, they were gooey in the center, probably would go with 6 min next time given the smaller size to get a more molten center. I used 4 oz of 60% bittersweet and 2 oz of 86% dark, adding 2 Tbsp sugar total to the doubled recipe, we thought it was perfect.

  61. Samantha

    I made this for the second night in a row. Both attempts did not rise much and came out as pretty flat disks. I wonder if it’s a difference in ramekin shape/depth or if I am doing something wrong. They still taste delicious but I was hoping for a nicer presentation!

  62. K

    I got mostly-puddles cakes, but A. it was 100% my fault and B. I ate them anyhow. If you’re reading this and you also ended up with very fancy hot chocolate in tiny bowls, take heart from a couple three other such comments and note that you’re in good company. It’s because we didn’t bake our cakes long enough, not because there’s something broken with Deb’s recipe. In my case, I let the (very-whisked-after-adding-eggs) batter sit at room temp for a good hour while I finished dinner, and then I filled the middle with a too-generous amount of salted caramel sauce (also a Deb recipe), which was (another error!) still cool from the fridge. After eight minutes, I pulled them, but chose to ignore how very wiggly they were. Once I managed to invert them, they looked like atolls in chocolate oceans. Still delicious, not cakes. Had I baked them another, say five minutes, I bet they would have looked just like Deb’s photos. Once I buy more solid chocolate, I’ll try this again and giggle over memories of my ’90s infatuation with certain foods.

    Also, for folks who are seeking answers to questions regarding substitutions like chocolate chips and coconut oil, please remember than CTRL+F is a present help in time of need. It’s so damn satisfying to find answers that way, isn’t it?

  63. marcella

    These were very good! Used 72% chocolate and we both agreed we either need to add more than 1 tablespoon of sugar or some vanilla ice cream is in order. Darn, guess we’ll have to try again to obtain perfection :-)

  64. Seattlecook

    Delicious! I made it twice in three days, it’s that good and that easy. I split the batter between three ramekins and had just the right size servings. Great with berries.

  65. JayneCobb

    I made 3 eight ounce ramekins with these mods:

    6 Tbsp butter
    1Tbsp cocoa powder
    1/2 heaping cup 60% chocolate chips
    Pinch of salt
    1 Tbsp sugar
    2 full eggs

    Fantastic! I had 1.5 cups of batter in allthat rose while baking so the ramekins were full to the top when they came out of the oven.

  66. Cathy

    I am so grateful for everyone’s questions and comments, I made this for a crowd so 8 ramekins. Phenomenal. The first 2 I took out of the cups were very runny, but still delicious beyond everyone’s imagination.
    I quadrupled most things. Used bittersweet.
    Salt, I guessed
    Sugar, 7 tablespoons
    Eggs, 6 large. No extra yolk
    Breyer’s vanilla was a must in spite of living in Ben and Jerry’s vicinity!
    This was fun and very satisfying!

  67. Kris

    Delicious! I used four 3oz heart tins that I inherited from my grandmother and they were extra-sweet with the heart shape. I used coconut oil, though reduced amount to ~3.3 tablespoons (due to lower fat % in butter) and it worked very well. No coconut taste even with unrefined oil. Overbaked them at 6min cold from fridge, but completely yummy anyway. FYI, I was eyeing doneness closely and took them out with an unset middle and there was no molten center. They must need to look quite underbaked to come out right.

  68. Erin

    I’ve made these twice already–I suspect I’m not the only household about to become addicted to constant lava cakes..

    Anyway, added some cinnamon and cayenne the second time around, for a different direction. Thank you for the insanely easy, insanely delicious recipe. I’m going to try to finish out this day WITHOUT a lava cake, yikes.

  69. Annie

    I want to know if your aversion to lava cakes is the same as mine: the idea that I am somehow eating uncooked cake batter? And my husband is like yours: I avoid desserts (sweet rolls, whatever) referred to as “gooey” and to him, “gooey” = “serve me seconds.” 🙂

    1. Juliek

      Your oven needs to be so hot to cook the outside before the inside is cooked. Usually you bake in a moderate oven to ensure that everything is evenly baked at the same time. That being said, I baked these in copper molds and I think I’d use 425 next time as I suspect the metal conducted the heat even more efficiently and they were more more molten on the inside than I really wanted. If I left them longer they would have been almost burned on the outside.
      In any case we loved them! Another winner from Deb!

  70. Nancy Giges

    Sounds so yummy. I would love to make this for Passover too. When you say, “prep” ahead for a crowd, that means putting them in the frig? How far ahead can that be done? Any suggestions for an alternative option to offer guests who don’t like/can’t eat chocolate (for Passover)? Could I make this in a springform pan if serving a lot of people? How long would I bake it? I just think it will take too long to take them out of the ramekins. On second thought, maybe I can just serve them in the ramekins?

  71. Liz

    Has anyone tried this with a sugar replacement? I’m on keto, and these look very achievable if I use sugar free chocolate (Lily’s) and replace the granulated sugar. But I’m new to keto baking and still unsure about replacing sugar. Thanks!

  72. Lisette

    I made a quadruple batch of these on Sunday for a friend’s birthday– she changed her request from chocolate mousse when I mentioned having read this recipe– and everyone loved them! I made the batter and filled the baking dishes ahead of time, before we went out for a birthday lunch, and then popped them in the oven as soon as we arrived back home. Super delicious! Perfect with just a bit of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
    They did take a little longer than 10 minutes to bake (more like 12-13 minutes), but they had been chilled.
    I baked them in six ounce glass bowls (from Luminarc) because I live in Kampala, Uganda, and our baking supplies are somewhat limited. I was nervous, but the bowls were labeled as “extra tempered”, and they worked like a dream.
    Thanks for another great recipe!

  73. jjjeanie

    I want to make this, but wonder if I can get by with just 1 egg. I hate having leftover yolks or whites, because I forget about them, and then they’re wasted.
    I also wonder if the size of the egg matters. I sometimes am lucky enough to get eggs from a neighbor, and they vary in size a lot. If I had a bigger egg, would it be safer to use just one, or maybe two (whole) smaller ones? What weight of eggs would I aim for?

  74. Amy

    I’m a fairly experienced baker and for some reason, these cakes came out like chocolate soup that wouldn’t hold their shape. At 7 minutes, the cakes were still bubbling in the oven so I let them stay in for another 4 minutes but they started burning and I just ended up taking them out. I had made these for Valentine’s Day so was really disappointed why they didn’t turn out. I even went back and triple-checked the recipe to make sure I got the measurements right, but don’t know what happened.

  75. JulieG

    I made these for Valentine’s dinner, using 70% dark chocolate, and 1 tbsp sugar. I made the dough in advance and kept in the fridge for about 2 hours before baking them, so kept them in the oven a couple of mins longer, as suggested (about 11 mins). They turned out of the ramekins beautifully, following the advice in the recipe. Though they were gooey in the middle, I think I should have taken them out about the 9 or 10 min mark, or somewhere in between, to get a more liquid centre as I think I would prefer that. We had a dollop of greek yogurt on top, which was nice, but ice cream would be even better. They tasted oh so decadent, so rich that we should have shared one instead of eating a whole one each. This recipe is definitely a keeper, and next time I will serve with raspberries and ice cream.

  76. Karen

    I’m not sure what went wrong. I made these following the recipe to the letter, and baked them for the longest baking time specified. They were mostly puddle, very liquidy, barely cake, to the point I was leery about letting my kids eat them because they were hot batter with egg. I mean, they ate them, because chocolate, but were disappointed about them not being cake-like. The taste was good, but without a lot of experimentation in my oven, I wouldn’t try them again.

  77. Trisha

    I was away on a business trip on Valentine’s Day, so I made these as a special snow afternoon dessert for me and the kiddo yesterday. I probably should have whisked more but they were very tasty. I especially enjoyed being able to cook them in the toaster oven (at 425 since those babies can run hot.) It can take forever to get the regular oven to 450.

  78. Stacy

    I made this recipe the day after I encountered it- love that it was all ingredients I already had at home! I used 1.5 tablespoons of sugar and used dark chocolate, and it was sweet enough for my taste but others may have wanted the full 2 tablespoons of sugar. Baked for 10 minutes and they came out perfect! For some reason, I always have to bake things for a few minutes extra in my oven than what recipes state. I ate one straight from the oven, and the other the next day straight out of the fridge (the ‘like a truffle’ statement is on point). Great recipe, will definitely make again!

    1. Sara

      Easy and delicious! I used 60% Ghirardelli chips + 1 Tbs coconut sugar and the flavor/sweetness was perfect. I was afraid of how wobbly they were at 7 minutes and put them back in for 1 more minute bit I should have trusted you Deb! They were still gooey and delicious but not puddly – I will definitely make again and go for the 7 minutes. My husband and I agreed that next time we will share one and put the second in the fridge to share another time because we both love the sound of a truffle-like center when chilled.

      1. Sara

        Reporting back that 7 minutes was melty perfection on these in my oven :) These might be a little TOO easy to make… Planning on doubling the recipe to make them for friends again this weekend! Also – so fudgy and delicious cold if you’re able to squirrel one away in the fridge.

  79. Karen

    I made these with coconut oil in place of butter and they came out great. Question – do you think you can use a microwave to cook them instead of the oven? How much time do you think would be needed?

  80. Korie Veidel

    Well, you inspired me this evening! I had everything on hand, so I decided to make these! I used semisweet chocolate chips and 2 teaspoons of sugar- thanks for the details on the sugar recommendation- I added it because we were sharing with the kids, but next time I would leave it out.

    I ended up baking them for 13 minutes, and they still weren’t done enough to hold their shape. 15 minutes would have probably done the trick. Still tasted amazing.

  81. This is mouth watering! I have to try this at home and suprise my wife. It’s a shame valentines day has just passed, this would have been perfect. Hard to tell if my kids will appreciate the subtlety of the warm chocolate inside or not, this might just be for the grown-ups!

  82. rkiley

    Thank you so much! I made these tonight as a special treat for the last night of school vacation week, and they were so easy and so yummy. My 7 year old with celiac disease looked at me like I was a superhero. She was a very happy kid.

  83. nadje6

    These are so simple and so delicious! I am adding them to my favorite dessert list. I made them ahead of time, doubled the recipe, and refrigerated them. Right from the refrigerator, they took 9 minutes and were the perfect end to a small dinner party.

  84. june

    I made this in 4 Pyrex mini prep bowls (3.5inch) and its just enough for a weeknight dessert. I microwave the mini bowls for about 20 seconds to reheat, and it comes out looking like a little volcano with a thick fudge-y center. 4 year old gives it a thumbs up, served with ice cream, or whipped cream and leftover canned cherry pie filling.

  85. geekgirl

    My husband made these as my birthday cake. I love Mexican hot chocolate so he added cinnamon and chipotle chili pepper. It was divine!

  86. I feel inspired. Especially by the ‘spoonful of almost anything inside’! Frozen vanilla sauce? Toffee or fudge? Cream cheese? Maybe not. But I’m certainly bookmarking this right now!

  87. Who doesnt love a chocolate pudding? This recipe is just simply amazing. We have a dinner party coming up soon for our company MyAlarm Security in Bexley, and we have been trialling a few desserts. This chocolate pud is mouth watering and easy to make – even for a non cook! Soo pleased we found this recipe.

  88. katie

    My batter also broke as soon as I added the egg and yolk. And I whisked. And whisked. And then got angry and switched whisks and whisked some more. But was never able to save it. :( Still tried to bake it but it’s just a lumpy, melty buttery mess that smells bad.

    Wondering if my chocolate/butter mixture wasn’t hot enough to start (like I whisked that for a while to get the chocolate to finish melting)? Is that even possible? Not sure what went wrong, guess I’ll have to try again another day when I have more chocolate lying around.

  89. I love your food blog, but I never read your “About” before. Very intimidating with 3 millions fab comments!! I have one question. I have an Italian comfort food blog that I can’t blog on anymore because I can’t eat my own food. I have chronic IBS, so I am starting a new food blog that is only ibs safe recipes. (sob) My question is, what platform do you think is best for a food blogger whose tech skills are just so so. (For example I have no idea what RSS feed is and I don’t want to know. Looking for an easier platform than WP which almost killed me.Do you have a blog advice section? lBTW, I love your photos and food and wish I could eat that puddle cake!!

  90. Sara

    Made this last night on a whim when I wanted dessert, but didn’t want to have a whole cake in my house. Unlike many recipes, the 15 minute time frame was super accurate. I had all the ingredients on hand. My boyfriend, who tends to be a bit timid in the kitchen, was able to handle most of the heavy lifting (aka I read the instructions to him as I was prepping the ramekins and measuring ingredients). We added a spoonful of crunchy peanut butter to the centers. We cut into the cakes in unison and he said, “wow…imagine all the different stuff we could put in here!”
    This is definitely going into my repertoire of happy, easier than I could ever tell anyone, impressive feats in the kitchen.