Molten chocolate cake derives its name from the cake's gooey chocolate center. It also is known as moelleux au chocolat (French for "soft"), puddle or lava cake. Its origins are disputed, although Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is widely credited for popularizing the dessert in the United States in the late 1980s.
The cake is usually baked in an individual portion in a ramekin and served warm. It is usually accompanied with a scoop of ice cream, crème anglaise, or barely sweetened whipped cream. It also can be dusted with confectioner's sugar or cocoa powder.
Preparation time 15 minutes Bake time 10–15 minutes Makes 4 small cakes (or servings)
170 grams (6 ounces or 1 cup) semi-sweet or dark chocolate, broken into pieces
170 grams (6 ounces or 1½ sticks) butter, cubed, plus additional butter for coating ramekins
25 grams (¼ cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
75 grams (⅓ cup+2 teaspoons) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
(Optional) 1 tablespoon strong brewed coffee to enhance the chocolate flavor
Preheat oven to 210C (410F). Position rack in the center of the oven.
Brush 4 ramekins (size: 8oz/240ml) generously with some soft butter and set aside.
Place butter and chocolate in a bowl and place over a bain-marie or pot of simmering water. Make sure that the mixture does not have direct contact with the flame/heat or it will burn. When the mixture is melted halfway, remove from the heat and stir to finish melting the ingredients. (This ensures the mixture is not too hot to add other ingredients.) Stir until smooth.
Add cocoa powder, salt and coffee (if using) to melted chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool.
Beat eggs and sugar until pale and thick.
Combine the cooled chocolate and egg mixtures and stir together. Add vanilla and mix until combined.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared ramekins and smooth the tops with a spoon. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet. [At this point, you can tightly plastic wrap the tops and place the filled ramekins in the refrigerator. Immediately before you intend to serve them, take off the plastic wrap and place directly into the oven from the refrigerator. Refrigerated cakes will need to bake a few minutes longer.]
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the sides of the cakes are firm but the centers are soft. If you like the centers to ooze, bake for 10 minutes. If you want the centers to be gooey, bake for 12 minutes (like the photo). If you bake the cakes for longer, they will be moist inside but not molten.
Let the cakes cool in the ramekins for 1 minute. Using a pot holder as an aid, cover each ramekin with an inverted dessert plate. Carefully turn each ramekin on the plate, let stand for 10 seconds and then unmold.
Serve immediately. A scoop of vanilla ice cream, crème anglaise, whipped cream, raspberry sauce, or dustings of confectioners sugar or cocoa powder are typical enhancements.