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Mini Lava Cakes for Two

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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, 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.

Chocolate lava cake

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.

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.

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.

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