Thursday, September 15, 2011

Molten Lava Cake

Featured Ingredient: Failed Molten Lava Cake

Fellow food bloggers of the world, I need your help. I’m working on my first cookbook based on this blog and was really hoping to include a muffin tin molten lava cake. I figure if you can pull it off in a ramekin why not a muffin tin? Well, despite two efforts, I just can’t get my mini cakes to ooze.

The recipe I have so far is below. I’d love to get some feedback on what could be mucking up my results. These taste crazy good, but they are not having the effect I am looking for. It takes about 10 minutes for the tops to set and it seems like the innards are still liquid, but after cooling and biting into one there is no flow. I’d be happy to toss in a complimentary book when it comes out in the spring for any one who can solve my cake dilemma.

Not So Lava Chocolate Cakes

8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

8 tablespoons butter (1 stick), diced

4 large eggs, preferably at room temperature

1/2 cup palm sugar or other granulated sugar of choice

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon cayenne or chili powder (optional)

2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 12 medium sized muffin cups. Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over a pan of lightly simmering water, stirring often. Or microwave chocolate and butter in a large microwave safe bowl in 20 to 30 second increments, stirring after each interval until everything is melted.

Using an electric mixer or metal whisk, whisk together eggs and sugar until thickened and paler, about 3 to 4 minutes. Fold egg mixture into chocolate mixture. Stir in flour, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, and cayenne or chili if using; mix well. If using espresso powder, place it in a small bowl and whisk with 2 tablespoons boiling water to dissolve and stir into mixture. Divide mixture among muffin cups and bake for 10 minutes, or until the tops are just set but the inner part is sill liquid (not working for me!). Let cool several minutes before unmolding and inverting on serving plates. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and garnish with fresh mint if desired.


  1. Try creating a cold chocolate ganache to add to the middle of the cake. Or possibly refrigerate or freeze the batter before baking? Good luck, I hope you find a solution!

  2. I tried making molten cupcakes not too long ago, with almost the same result. I also tried adding ganache to the middle, prior to baking - after baking - Stuffing them full of it - cool, hot... I had about thirty little chocolate cups in variant stages of experimentation - and not one flowed. :( I hope you find the magic...and I heart you for sharing.

  3. I would reduce the amount of flour (try to 1 tbsp or at most 2 tbsp). I would also reduce the butter to 1 stick and add a few more (up to 4) more egg yolks. Good luck.

  4. There's two ways to make these types of cakes. One is to add ganache to the center, which won't harden and the other is to undercook the cakes. Yours might be cooking through when you let them sit. Try cooking for less time or serving immediately.

  5. Usually the "molten" is just uncooked batter, which means less of the ingredients that could set. I would use less flour (the molten chocolate cake recipe that I have only uses an eighth of a cup per 8-oz ramekin) and try baking for less time. Check at 6 or 7 minutes-- what you're looking for is when the tops just barely set, but when you shake the pan they are still wiggly. If it still doesn't work, maybe even less egg. In any case, chocolate eating is good eating! Cheers!

  6. I agree with mini - reduce the flour by at least 70%. Also, try chilling the batter before baking and bake in a hotter oven (about 375 degrees F) to set the surface before the center has a chance to catch up. Good luck!

  7. I'm loving the advice so far. For the next batch, I'll try less flour and the chill method.

  8. You should make the molten cake batter, and then add a ganache that has been set. What you'll want to do is roll the ganache into balls and place them in when the vessel is filled 1/4 of the way. And then fill in the gaps with the rest of the batter. Make sure to cover the top as well.

  9. Time is one of the most important parameters for lava cakes and you should try to bake 3-4 minutes less. Good luck and have fun :))

  10. Molten cakes are usually an under baked cake. So your process is fine and the ingredients should be fine as well. If you look up some other molten recipes you maybe able to make changes and adjust according to what recipes you like. But generally under baking them is key to keeping the centers moist and lava like.

  11. I use this no fail recipe, maybe you might want to try it and play around with the flavors? Also is your oven too hot? Mine gets too hot and I cook it for a shorter time or cook it for the same amount of time at a lower temperature.

    4oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
    4oz butter
    2 eggs
    1/3 cup sugar
    1/4 cup flour

    Melt chocolate and butter in microwave.

    In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Add chocolate mixture into the eggs. Add flour and mix until incorporated.

    Pour batter into cupcake liners or ramekins. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350F for about 10-12 minutes. Serve warm.

  12. I really like this recipe I've used in the past to make mini ramikens of molten lava cake for 2-4 people.
    It differs from yours in proportions- only 1 teaspoon of flour and it uses one egg and one yolk.
    I wanted to try it out in a muffin tin before passing it on - it made 6 muffins, but cooked a little differently than the ones made in ramekins causing me to overcook them just a little. I was waiting for the tops to harden a bit, forgetting that the cakes (like most muffins and cupcakes) would keep baking a little once removed from the oven.
    I think timing is definitely key - when they seem a little undercooked, they're probably done.
    Still this recipe makes delicious cakes and even without the spilling lava element, the centers were much more moist than the edges, differentiating them from ordinary chocolate cakes.
    Good luck!

  13. That looks yummy and delish. I want to molten it in my mouth :)

  14. I think you might want to try baking at a higher temperature, so that the outside of the cakes will cook really-really fast. Here in Brasil I bake my chocolate lava cakes at 200ºC, which would be about 392ºF. The recipe I use also calls for as much butter as chocolate (250g each for 12 cakes) and more eggs (5 eggs + 5 yolks).
    I love your recipes so I hope you can solve this little problem soon!

  15. love your title of not-so-lava... a humorous touch to a bad situation...


  16. I have always had to water bath my lava cakes, something about the way the water conducts the heat and mediates it. Not sure if this is helpful cause I am a terrible cook LOL

  17. I got this recipe from a cooking classs i took...I love them. I have only tried them in ramekins. BUT when she taught the class she made them in muffin tims. YOu just have to be quite generous in the "greasing" of the muffin tins. (I believe she used floured "Pam"). Try it out is one of our favorites!

  18. Well I have never attempted to make a lava cake before, so I may be totally off, but it seems that the muffins are smaller than the average lava cake so they cook faster? maybe try using bigger muffin tins or reducing the heat.

  19. I'm not sure if you ever figured out your problem, but the same thing happened to me when I first made lava cakes- they looked exactly like the photo. The recipe was similar- calling for another stick of butter and 4 eggs yolks addition to your recipe. To solve the problem, I filled 8 out of the 12 muffin tins. Then the 10 minute baking time was accurate and they turned out great!


I love hearing from fellow muffin tin fans, so let me know what is on your mind.