Lava Me Tender

When it comes to desserts, I prefer recipes that are utterly complicated. Weird, I know.

But there are some nights that I want chocolate and, to quote Veruca Salt, I want it now!

Ooozy, chocolatey goodness!

Lava cakes are one of the best kept secrets of any home baker. They look like they have taken hours of work, tons of ingredients, and complex techniques. But they don’t.

Six ingredients. 30 minutes from start to finish. Seriously.

Not long ago I taught my former roommate (a guy whose livelihood depends on the microwave) to whip these up for a girl he was trying to woo. He got it on the first try. Oh and he got the girl too!

“Hold on, you said 6 ingredients. I’m only counting 5.”                      Patience, young padawan…


Let’s do this.


Break up your chocolate and throw it into a microwave-safe bowl with the butter. Microwave on high for 30 seconds, take it out and stir, then repeat until it looks like this:


Resist the urge to eat a spoonful and add the powdered sugar. Whisk it in until it’s a uniform color.



Then add the eggs and egg yolks and whisk them in. I prefer to beat them in a coffee mug beforehand to make it easier to incorporate. Add the flour and whisk until the batter is a uniform dark color again.

Up to this point you will have a classic chocolate lava cake. No bells or whistles.
Enter my secret weapon.

The sweet nectar. If you’re ever in Fort Collins, Dancing Pines should be your first stop. No excuses.

This stuff is a game changer. Honestly you can add any flavoring to your batter and the experimentation is half of the fun. Try vanilla, rum flavoring, bourbon, Cointreau (orange), Kahlua (coffee),  whatever you fancy. Add about 1/2 teaspoon and mix it in.

Now to prepare the ramekins. The most harrowing moment of lava cakes is turning them out onto a plate. If you butter your ramekins adequately, you won’t even break a sweat.


Now THAT is how you butter a ramekin!

Pro tip: Butter the crap out of your ramekins! “But I always use cooking spray for my pans and it’s totally fine.” No. Use butter – a lot of it. Don’t hold back. I’ve found that it’s easiest to use a sandwich bag for this (yes, like going-for-a-walk-with-your-dog style) to get good coverage on the ramekins and keep your hands completely clean. Magic!

Bake for 13 minutes (no more, no less) in a 425° oven. They are done if the edge is firm and the center is squishy – technical terms, I assure you. Pull them out of the oven and let them sit for a minute. Then run a butter knife around the edge.

Now for the magic inversion: Grab a small plate and cover the top of the ramekin (this will be the bottom of the cake). Flip it over and gently lift the ramekin. And for goodness sake, use potholders and don’t burn yourself!


Now dust with some powered sugar, add a scoop of ice cream, and voila!

Wait for it…

See? That was a piece of cake…err, easy as pie…. Why are all idioms food-related? Weird.

What are you waiting for? Stop reading…Get a spoon!


Molten Lava Cakes


  • 4 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate*
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of flavoring (e.g., vanilla, bourbon, Kahlua, etc)
  • Extra powdered sugar or ice cream



  1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Butter four ramekins/custard cuts. Place on baking sheet.
  2. In a microwaveable bowl, melt the chocolate and butter together. Start with 30 seconds on high, then stir with a whisk, and repeat until smooth.
  3. Stir in powdered sugar until well blended. Add in eggs and egg yolks with wisk. Stir in flour and flavoring of choice. Divide batter between prepared custard cups.
  4. Bake 13 to 14 minutes or until sides are firm but centers are soft. Let stand
    1 minute. Carefully run a small knife around cakes to loosen. Invert cakes onto
    dessert dishes. Serve immediately with a dusting of powdered sugar and a scoop of ice cream. Yields 4 lava cakes.

*Bakers brand chocolate used to come in 1 oz squares. The newer packaging is slightly different where 1 “old” square = 4 new pieces. Make sure to read the box to get the correct measurements.

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