Our Chocolate Lava Cakes are truly luscious, rich chocolate cakes with velvety sauce. An aura of mystery seems to surround this show-stopping dessert, which is probably why so few cooks try to make it at home. In fact, it is easy to make in an under an hour; just pay close attention to the baking time.
Note: Use bittersweet chocolate bars or pieces, as directed, not chocolate chips (which do not melt properly for this cake).
We prefer to make lava cakes in ceramic ramekins because they turn out beautifully. (Some readers have used muffin tins; others have used a baking dish. The latter just needs to be baked longer; watch the cake carefully.)
Find this recipe and many more delicious treats in The Old Farmer’s Almanac Everyday Baking cookbook.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Butter six 1-cup ceramic ramekins. (Do not substitute tall custard cups.) Put 1 teaspoon of sugar in each. Turn and tilt the ramekins to coat them evenly with sugar. Set aside.
Combine all of the butter and the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over not-quite-simmering water until melted. (If you do not have a double boiler, combine in a heat-safe bowl over a pan of simmering water. You could even microwave for about a minute, stopping half-way to stir.) When the chocolate is melted, whisk to smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 15 minutes. Stir in the vanilla.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and yolk, until blended. Add the confectioners’ sugar and whisk to combine. The mixture will look curdled. Add the chocolate to the egg mixture and whisk until evenly blended. Add the flour and salt, then whisk to blend.
Divide the batter evenly among the ramekins (they’ll be about half full).
Bake one as a trial to check the timing: Place it directly in the middle of the center oven rack. Immediately set your timer for 10 minutes and bake, expecting it to take 30 to 60 seconds either way. When done, the cake will have doubled in height; the top will be almost flat, not sunken or knotted; and a “skin” will have formed around a soft, flowing center.
Using a spatula and oven mitts, immediately remove the dish from the oven. Place a dessert plate over the ramekin and invert the cake onto the plate. Wait about 10 seconds, then carefully lift the ramekin. If this is done properly, you will have a nicely shaped cake that will be slightly sunken in the middle, with a soft, lavalike, but not overly runny center. (Use a paring knife to cut into the top to see; cover the cuts later with a scoop of ice cream.)
Bake the remaining cakes, adjusting the time as needed, and invert them as directed.
If time requires, set the cakes aside for several hours before serving or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate on the plates.
When you’re ready to serve, remove the plastic and reheat in the microwave to soften the centers: 5 to 10 seconds for a room temperature cake; 10 to 15 seconds for a cold cake.
Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top (or whipped cream).
Six 1-cup ceramic ramekins