Lava cake: A step-by-step recipe for the most delicious dessert

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Chocolate lava cake, also known as molten chocolate cake, and chocolate moelleux, is a dessert somewhere between a mini flourless cake and a soufflé. Its outer cake is exceptionally light – pillowlike – and the inside is decadent and gooey. It’s dessert heaven!

 There is a dispute as to who really came up with this dessert. Some sources say that French chef Michel Bras, invented the chocolate molten cake. Chocolatier Jacques Torres also claims to have invented it.

 However, New Yorker, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, maintains that he invented the dessert, by accident it seems, when he took a chocolate sponge cake out of the oven too early. He liked the taste and texture of the cakey outside combined with the warm gooey inside. Since then, he has popularized it in the United States. You’ll find it on the dessert menu of most high-end restaurants.

What makes lava cake such a ubiquitous dessert?

It’s time to rediscover the molten chocolate cake. It was at its zenith in the 80’s and 90’s, and is still a favorite. So, why the widespread popularity? Well, firstly because this dessert can be made from only a handful of basic ingredients. With a stick of butter, two bars of good quality dark chocolate, flour, sugar, eggs, and salt you can make four diners very happy. Also, a lava cake takes less than an hour to prepare. This delectable dessert, which is ludicrously easy to make, is sure to make a good first impression.

Step-by-step lava cake recipe

Adapted from Jean-Gorges Vongerichten’s molten chocolate cake recipe:

Makes three to four individual cakes

Ingredients

·         8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter (plus a little extra for greasing ramekins)

·         Two 3-ounce chocolate bars, 70% cacao, broken into pieces (or 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips)

·         2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

·         ¼ cup sugar

·         2 large eggs

·         2 egg yolks

·         A pinch of salt

Method

·         Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (230 Celsius)

·         Butter the ramekins generously and sprinkle lightly with flour tapping out any excess. You can also whisk cocoa powder with flour together, and then dust the ramekins with the cocoa mixture. Again, it’s important to tap out the excess.

·         Arrange them on a sturdy baking sheet.

·         Melt the butter with the chocolate in a double broiler, over simmering water. Put aside.

·         Mix the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and salt together. Beat at a high speed with an electric mixer, or with a whisk, until the mixture is thickened and pale.

·         Whisk the chocolate until smooth. Quickly fold it into the egg mixture, along with the flour. Use a rubber spatula and fold until just combined.

·         Spoon the batter into the prepared ramekins and give them a baking time of 12 to 13 minutes. Remove them from the oven when the sides of the cakes are firm, and the centers nearly set but still a bit wobbly.

How should you serve lava cake?

The cakes need to rest in the ramekins for one minute. Then cover each one with an inverted dessert plate. Carefully turn each ramekin over, hold for 10 seconds, and remove from the mold. You can dust each molten chocolate cake with powdered sugar from a small sieve. Serve them on their own or with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Serve immediately.

Different ideas for the filling

Even though the classic lava cake is filled with an intensely chocolatey oozy filling, it doesn’t mean you have to stop there. There are other decadently sweet fillings you could try out. What about a warm caramel filling or a warm gooey raspberry filling? There may be a few changes to the recipe, but the base ingredients are the same.

For a long time, it has been de rigueur for high-end restaurants to have lava cakes on their menus. But this shouldn’t stop you from baking lava cakes at home. If you have a restaurant or a catering business, then this is a great option for your dessert menu. Sexy and indulgent, they would make the ultimate Valentines’ desserts. In fact, they would be welcomed on most occasions seeing as they are so decadently delicious.

As you can see, baking a molten chocolate cake is quick and easy, which makes it such a popular dessert. You just need the correct ingredients, kitchen equipment and a good recipe. And remember to serve a lava cake hot!

References

Brenner, L. (2021). Made in a flash, intensely chocolatey and ludicrously easy, molten chocolate cake deserves a comeback. Cooks Without Borders.  https://cookswithoutborders.com/new-story/2021/2/12/super-easy-and-intensely-chocolately-chocolate-molten-cake-deserves-to-make-a-comeback

Cooks Without Borders. (s.f.). Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Molten Chocolate cake. https://cookswithoutborders.com/molten-chocolate-cake

Krystal, B. (2021). If loving a piping hot chocolate lava cake is wrong, I don’t want to be right. The Seattle Times. https://www.seattletimes.com/life/food-drink/if-loving-a-piping-hot-chocolate-lava-cake-is-wrong-i-dont-want-to-be-right/

Parisi, G. (2008). Molten chocolate cake with caramel filling. Food and Wine. https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/molten-chocolate-cake-caramel-filling

Vongerichten, J. (1999). Molten chocolate cakes. Food and Wine. https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/molten-chocolate-cakes

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