It doesn't get more delicious than the infamous chocolate lava cake. With a cakey exterior and irresistible warm chocolate caramel center, it's the perfect individual dessert for dinner parties and special occasions. It's surprisingly easy to make, and ready in an hour!

Take these gooey chocolate lava cakes to the next level with a scoop of vanilla coconut ice cream or tonka bean ice cream.

chocolate lava cake with salted caramel spilling out

If you're in the mood for a decadent dessert, this chocolate lava cake recipe is for you! They're fudgy, rich, and made with only real ingredients.

They're are a crowd-pleasing treat that's unbelievably better when made fresh at home. They might look fancy or complicated, but they're surprisingly easy to make. A simple chocolate caramel and chocolate cake batter are spooned into ramekins and baked until just set.

We love that they're individual servings, and they're easy to prepare ahead of time. Serve them with some whipped cream or ice cream and a few fresh raspberries or strawberries.

They're the perfect sweet treat for dinner parties, special occasions, or for someone you love!

If you prefer a gluten-free option, try our flourless molten chocolate lava cakes.

What is a chocolate lava cake?

A chocolate lava cake is a popular dessert that's a cross between a cake and a soufflé. While there's some debate about who invented it, Jean-Georges Vongerichten has been credited with popularizing it throughout the United States.

Characteristically they're made with just a few ingredients: butter, eggs, sugar, chocolate, and flour then baked in ramekins. They're small, individual-sized cakes that are served warm with a soft liquid chocolate center.

icing sugar dusted over a chocolate lava cake

Chocolate lava cake ingredients

The cake is actually delicious both with and without the chocolate caramel. If you make it with caramel, you will have more than you need for this recipe. Spoon the extra caramel over the cakes after they come out of the oven, or just eat it by the spoonful!

Here's everything you'll need to make the chocolate caramel sauce:

  • Semi-sweet chocolate – we use good quality baking chocolate, but you can also use chocolate chips.
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Heavy cream – bring your cream to room temperature before using.
  • Butter – cut into small cubes so it melts more quickly.
  • Sea salt

This is what you'll need for the lava cakes:

  • Butter
  • Semi-sweet (or unsweetened) chocolate – if you prefer a less sweet cake, use unsweetened chocolate.
  • Eggs + egg yolks – we use both eggs and egg yolks for a cake that's more tender and rich.
  • Flour – regular all-purpose flour is what we use.
  • Powdered sugar – also called icing sugar or confectioners' sugar, it mixes well into the batter. Keep a little extra for dusting.
  • Cocoa powder
  • Sea salt
  • Maldon sea salt – the unique taste and texture of Maldon sea salt works great with caramel.
  • Butter and cocoa powder – for greasing and dusting the ramekins.

You'll also need four 6-ounce (¾ cup) ramekins and a candy thermometer.

a spoonful of drippy chocolate lava cake

How to make these chocolate lava cakes

Chocolate lava cakes are a delicious dessert for chocolate lovers. With this easy recipe and no fancy equipment required, now you can make them at home!

The only tricky part is nailing the baking time. In general, it's better to undercook them (which means they'll be messier looking) than to overcook them.

Here's how you'll make the chocolate caramel:

First, you'll melt some chocolate. Next, you'll heat sugar and water in a pot until they liquify and turn a dark amber color. Then you'll pour some whipping cream into the pot and whisk whisk whisk until it is nice and smooth. Finally, you'll stir in the melted chocolate, some butter, and salt. You've just made caramel!

Note: Jamie has an excellent tutorial over at My Baking Addiction about how to make salted caramel.

Here's how to make the lava cakes:

  1. Get your ramekins ready by rubbing butter on the inside and then dusting them with cocoa powder.
  2. Now, melt some butter and chocolate.
  3. You'll whisk the eggs and egg yolks in one bowl and the flour, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in another bowl.
  4. Then you'll make the batter by mixing the chocolate into the eggs and then adding the dry ingredients.
  5. To assemble your lava cakes, pour some of the batter into the ramekins, top with a spoonful of caramel, then finish with more batter.
  6. Pop them in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes. When they're done, run a knife along the edges of the cake, hold a plate over the top of each ramekin, and invert them to carefully remove each one. We like to serve these guys with a dusting of icing sugar or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Delish!

Full recipe instructions are in the recipe card below.

Gooey chocolate lava cake cut open with the inside melting out.

FAQS

Can I make them ahead of time?

Yes! These can be made up to three days ahead of time. Cover and store filled ramekins in the fridge and bring to room temperature before baking.

What size ramekins should I use?

We recommend 6-ounce (¾ cup) ramekins. If you use a smaller ramekin with less batter, please reduce the cooking time so they don't cook all the way through.

How do I clean the sticky caramel from the pot?

To clean the pot you made the caramel in, fill it with water and put it on the stove till the sugar has once again melted or dissolved.

Can I use store-bought caramel?

Yes! Store-bought caramel also works and is a great way to save a little time.

How do I know how long to cook them?

With 6-ounce ramekins, we recommend 15-18 minutes. The caramel in the center of the cakes acts as a buffer against overcooking it. Even if the cake is a little overcooked, the caramel will stay runny.

Can I make them in a microwave?

There is a variation of chocolate lava cake that's made in the microwave but we don't recommend it with this recipe.

What to serve with chocolate lava cake

We like to serve these chocolate cakes with a dusting of confectioners' sugar, coconut whipped cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a few fresh berries on the side.

They're the perfect dessert for dinner parties, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, or whenever you, or someone you love, are in the mood for a special chocolatey treat.

chocolate lava cake topped with ice cream

Decadent dessert recipes

chocolate lava cake with salted caramel spilling out

Chocolate Lava Cake with Salted Caramel

It doesn't get more delicious than infamous chocolate lava cake. With a cakey exterior and irresistible warm chocolate caramel center, it's the perfect individual dessert for dinner parties and special occasions. It's surprisingly easy to make, and ready in an hour!

If you love this recipe as much as we do, let us know with a 5-star rating!

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Ingredients

Chocolate Caramel

  • 5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • cup heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Lava Cake

  • Butter and cocoa powder, for greasing and dusting ramekins
  • ½ cup butter
  • 10 ounces semi-sweet or unsweetened chocolate
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Maldon sea salt
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions 

To make chocolate caramel

  • Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or metal bowl over a pot of simmering water.
    5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
    image for recipe instruction
  • Add the sugar and water to a large pot over medium heat (make sure the pot is large, it will bubble up lots). Cook until it is dark amber in color and reaches 350 degrees then remove the pot from the heat.
    1 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons water
    image for recipe instruction
  • All at once add the whipping cream. Be very careful as it will steam and bubble ferociously. Whisk the mixture until the bubbling stops and the mixture is smooth. Add the melted chocolate and whisk till combined. Stir in butter and salt.
    ⅓ cup heavy cream, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon sea salt
    image for recipe instruction

To make the lava cake

  • Liberally butter 4 (¾-cup) ramekins. Dusk each with cocoa powder and tap upside down to remove excess.
    Butter and cocoa powder
    image for recipe instruction
  • Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water.
    ½ cup butter, 10 ounces semi-sweet or unsweetened chocolate
    image for recipe instruction
  • In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolks.
    3 large eggs, 3 large egg yolks
    image for recipe instruction
  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the flour, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt.
    ½ cup all-purpose flour, ½ cup powdered sugar, ¼ cup cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon sea salt
    image for recipe instruction
  • When the chocolate has melted (allow it to cool for several minutes if it is hot) add it to the eggs and stir well. Then add the flour mixture and mix until it's smooth.
  • Fill each ramekin halfway full with the cake batter. Then, place a small tablespoon of caramel on top and sprinkle it with a little Maldon salt. Cover with cake batter until ½ inch from the top of the ramekin.
    Maldon sea salt
    image for recipe instruction
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the cakes for 15-18 minutes. Remove from the oven and run a knife along the edges of the cake to loosen. Hold a plate over the top of each ramekin. Using oven mitts, turn the plate and ramekin over together so that the ramekin is inverted on the plate. Carefully remove the ramekin. Repeat with remaining ramekins and dust with icing sugar.
    Powdered sugar for dusting

Notes

The cake is delicious both with and without the salted caramel.
You will have more caramel than you need. Spoon the extra over the cakes after they come out of the oven, or just eat it by the spoonful 🙂
To clean the pot you made the caramel in, fill it with water and put it on the stove till the sugar has once again melted.
These can be made up to three days ahead of time. Store filled ramekins in the fridge and bring to room temperature before baking.
The baking time can vary considerably depending on the size of your ramekins (see story above). If this amount of cake batter fills many more than 4 (please please) reduce the amount of time they spend in the oven so they do not cook all the way through!
Serving: 1 lava cake, Calories: 1298kcal, Carbohydrates: 121g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 95g, Saturated Fat: 56g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 28g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 383mg, Sodium: 1505mg, Potassium: 978mg, Fiber: 17g, Sugar: 79g, Vitamin A: 1580IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 163mg, Iron: 17mg
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