Chocolate Lava Cake, Anyone?

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Be Still Our Hearts

Also called molten chocolate cakes, the U.S.-based chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten of the iconic Jean-Georges restaurants, claims to have invented the dessert in New York City in 1987, but the French chef and chocolatier Jacques Torres has disputed that claim, arguing that such a dish already existed in France.

According to Vongerichten, he pulled a chocolate sponge cake from the oven before it was done and found that the center was still runny, but was warm and had both a good taste and a good texture. Regardless of who invented the dish, Vongerichten has been credited with popularizing it in the United States, and it is now almost a de rigueur inclusion on high-end restaurant dessert menus.

We have collected recipes for this wonder from the oven for years. At Chocolate Guru we agree that this is one of our favorite versions.  Another Bon Appétit recipe, we’ve served this numerous times much to our friends’ delight.  It is served with a coffee custard instead of whipped cream or ice cream, so if you aren’t a huge fan of the custard, you can always substitute your favorite accompaniment instead.

Chocolate Lava Cakes with Coffee Custard Sauce



6 1/2 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Pinch of salt

4 large egg yolks

4 tablespoons sugar

2 large egg whites

Coffee Custard Sauce

3 large egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup whipping cream

1 teaspoon instant coffee powder

1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground espresso beans

Whipped cream (optional)



Preheat oven to 425° F. Butter four 3/4-cup custard cups. Dust with flour; shake out excess. Combine chocolate, butter and salt in top of double boiler set over simmering water. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from over water. Cool 10 minutes.

Beat egg yolks and 3 tablespoons sugar in large bowl until thick and light, about 2 minutes. Fold in chocolate mixture. Using electric mixer fitted with clean, dry beaters, beat egg whites and 1 tablespoon sugar in medium bowl until stiff but not dry. Gently fold whites into chocolate mixture in 3 additions. Divide batter among prepared cups.

Place custard cups on baking sheet. Bake until cakes are puffed but still soft in center, about 11 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to rack; cool cakes 1 minute.

Using small knife, cut around sides of cakes to loosen. Place plates on top of cups. Invert cakes onto plates; remove cups. Spoon Coffee Custard Sauce around cakes. Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Coffee Custard Sauce

Beat yolks and sugar in medium bowl until thick and light yellow, about 2 minutes. Bring cream to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Gradually whisk hot cream into yolk mixture. Return mixture to same saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sauce thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about 3 minutes (do not boil). Strain mixture into clean medium bowl. Add coffee powder; stir until dissolved. Stir in ground espresso beans. Refrigerate until cold, whisking occasionally, about 1 hour. (Sauce can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.)

Makes 4 servings

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