Chocolate melting cake — a.k.a. molten chocolate cake, or chocolate lava cake — will always remind me of family vacations at sea.
I guess it was on a cruise ship that my love for this dessert really began. It quickly became a must-have every night in the main dining room. So much so that I eventually had to ask the head chef how to make it at home!
WHAT IS THE BEST CHOCOLATE FOR CHOCOLATE MELTING CAKE?
Being a chocolate dessert with so few ingredients, the type and quality of the chocolate you use makes all the difference!
The chef onboard the ship was so kind as to answer all of my baking questions about how to make their famous chocolate melting cake at home. I specifically asked what brand of chocolate they use, and he told me that they use Felchlin dark chocolate.
Unfortunately, I haven’t ever been able to find that particular brand of chocolate in my area, so I just use a good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa) and the result is indistinguishably identical!
Just remember: if you go for a lower percentage of cocoa (like semi-sweet chocolate), you will likely need to reduce the amount of sugar. On the other hand, if you go for a higher percentage of cocoa, you may want to add a bit more sugar to balance out the bitterness.
DO YOU NEED TO BAKE CHOCOLATE MELTING CAKE / MOLTEN LAVA CAKE IN A WATER BATH?
Yes, I recommend using a water bath to bake your melting cake, as it produces the most consistent results.
Using a water bath to bake chocolate melting cake helps regulate the temperature, and is a fool-proof method of getting that signature ooey-gooey center every time!
OOEY-GOOEY vs. CAKE-Y CENTERS
Now, I know you may be thinking: isn’t a chocolate melting cake meant to be… well… melting?
Yes, but, I do have friends and family members who prefer their chocolate melting cake to be fully set (or more “cake-y”) in the center.
If that’s the case for you or anyone in your family, just leave them in the oven for an extra 3 to 5 minutes until they are set all the way through.
Alternatively, you can bake them on a cookie sheet or sheet pan — sans water bath — instead.
Start by preheating your oven to exactly 390℉.
Place an oven safe bowl over a saucepan filled with 2 to 3 inches of water and, over medium-low heat, bring the water to a simmer.
Add the chocolate and butter to the bowl, stirring every few minutes with a whisk for about 5 minutes, until fully melted and combined.
When the chocolate and butter are fully melted, remove the bowl from over the saucepan and set it aside to cool for 10 minutes. Continue to simmer the hot water in the saucepan for the water bath that you will create later.
In the meantime, beat the eggs in a large bowl with a whisk for 30 to 60 seconds.
While continuing to whisk, slowly pour the sugar into the eggs, followed by the flour and salt. Continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth.
After the chocolate has cooled, slowly pour it into the egg mixture while whisking constantly. Mix until smooth.
Fill 4 to 5 oven-safe ramekins, each about 6 to 8 ounces, about ¾ full and place in a large baking pan with sides.
Pour the simmering hot water (used to melt the chocolate) into the pan, until the water level reaches half way up the sides of your ramekins. You can add in extra hot tap water, if needed.
Carefully place the water bath and melting cakes into the center of the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
Remove the water bath from the oven and place the ramekins on a cooling rack to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Alternatively, you can leave them in the water bath to stay warm until ready to serve.
Sprinkle the tops with powdered sugar and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
Chocolate Melting Cake
This rich and decadent cruise ship favorite will satisfy any chocolate lover’s craving.
- 1 cup (6oz, 170g) dark chocolate (I use 70% cacao)
- ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 6 Tbsp white sugar
- 6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- ⅛ tsp kosher salt
- powdered sugar (for topping)
- vanilla ice cream (for serving)
- Preheat oven 390℉.
- In a saucepan over medium-low heat, bring 2 to 3 inches of water to a simmer. Set a heatproof bowl over saucepan to make a double boiler.
- Place chocolate and butter in the bowl. Heat slowly over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally with a whisk, until chocolate and butter are fully melted and mixed together (about 5 minutes).¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter1 cup (6oz, 170g) dark chocolate
- Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Continue to simmer hot water in saucepan for later.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat eggs with a whisk for 30 to 60 seconds.4 large eggs, at room temperature
- Whisking continuously, slowly add in sugar. Whisk until fully incorporated.6 Tbsp white sugar
- Whisking continuously, slowly add in flour and salt. Whisk until smooth.6 Tbsp all-purpose flour⅛ tsp kosher salt
- Whisking continuously, slowly pour in cooled chocolate/butter mixture. Whisk until smooth.
- Pour batter into 4 to 5 oven-safe ramekins (6oz to 8oz each) about ¾ full. Place each into a baking pan (with sides) large enough to fit all ramekins.
- Pour simmering hot water from saucepan into baking pan to create a water bath, adding additional hot tap water as needed. Fill pan until water level reaches ½ way up the sides of the ramekins.
- Carefully set baking pan in preheated oven on the middle rack. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove baking pan from oven. Set ramekins on a cooling rack to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Alternatively, leave ramekins in water bath to stay warm until ready to serve.
- Dust top of each chocolate melting cake with powdered sugar and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.powdered sugarvanilla ice cream
- Chocolate: I use 70% dark chocolate in this recipe. If using a lower percentage of cocoa (like semi-sweet chocolate), you will likely need to reduce the amount of sugar. If using a higher percentage of cocoa, you may want to add a bit more sugar to balance out the bitterness.
- Prefer a cake-y texture? If you prefer a chocolate melting cake that is more “cake-y”, you can leave it in the oven for an additional 3 to 5 minutes (depending on your desired consistency).
- How to store leftovers: If you have any leftover chocolate melting cakes, you can cover them in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for up to a day. When ready to serve, reheat them in the microwave (with the plastic wrap removed) for about 45 seconds. They won’t have exactly the same consistency, but will still be delicious!