Molten chocolate cakes, also known as lava cakes, were the quintessential 90s restaurant dessert — but the trend has solidified as you can still find them on dessert menus everywhere. Many recipes exist online for making chocolate lava cakes at home, but most require the use of ramekins or other small baking dishes. I’ve been running a baking blog for 3 years now, and I have so many useless kitchen gadgets and baking vessels collecting dust in my storage-free Brooklyn apartment, but the one purchase I can’t seem to justify is ramekins. So a while ago, I set out to create a recipe for mini chocolate lava cakes, but ones that home bakers can make in something almost everyone has: a standard 12-cup muffin tin.
These mini chocolate lava cakes still have the desired molten, gooey center of chocolate, surrounded by a rich chocolate cake with a crisp exterior. Unlike many recipes online, though, the center is not unbaked cake batter. Instead, a heaping teaspoon of chilled chocolate ganache drops into the center of each tin, and that is what oozes out when you cut into the cake. Not only does this decrease the chances of eating totally raw cake batter (which, I’m not saying I don’t do on occasion) but it also adds a complexity to the cakes and another layer of texture and flavor with a slightly more rich, dark, chocolatey filling.
One of the best parts about making molten chocolate cake is the short ingredient list, many of which you probably already have. All this recipe requires is:
The first task in this recipe is making the ganache so it has time to chill before dolloping it into each muffin cup filled with cake batter. Heat heavy whipping cream in the microwave just until hot, then add the 2 ounces of finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate and cover. Let the chocolate begin to warm up and melt for about a minute, then uncover and mix the cream and chocolate together. Ta-da! That’s ganache. (If the chocolate doesn’t melt all the way, just run the mixture through the microwave for about 5 seconds and it should loosen up.) Cover and chill the ganache in the fridge (or freezer) until its solid and scoop-able.
Gently melt the butter and chocolate by either placing a heat-safe mixing bowl over a sauce pan of simmering water, or by melting them together in the microwave a few seconds at a time.
Gently fold the beaten sugar and eggs into the chocolate-butter mixture. The air-filled egg mixture is the only source of leavening in this recipe, so they are solely responsible for the cakes’ rise and final texture.
Fold the flour in, then cover just the bottoms of 8 of the muffin cups with about a third of the cake batter. Then dollop a heaping teaspoon of chilled chocolate ganache into each cup and cover completely with the remaining batter. Make sure the ganache is covered or it will bubble through in baking and leak out when transferring the cakes.
The mini lava cakes are done in the oven once the tops look set and dry. Remove them from the oven and let them sit for 1 minute. Then, take a half sheet tray and invert it onto the muffin tin. Using oven mitts or towels, grasp the muffin tin and half-sheet tray together, and carefully but quickly flip both at the same time so that the muffin faces down on the tray. (The cakes are pretty fragile at this point.) Give it a gentle tap and carefully lift off the muffin tin. Don’t try to serve the cakes with your hands. Use a spatula to transfer them to plates.
Garnish with a dusting of powdered sugar or, let’s be real, a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Did you make these mini chocolate lava cakes? I want to see! Tag me @easygayoven on Instagram and TikTok.