Easy Chocolate Lava Cake Recipe

single serving chocolate lava cake

Learn how to make a delicious chocolate lava cake recipe for one (or more!) with this easy-to-follow recipe. Also, learn about lava cake’s history, key ingredients and substitutions, baking tips for the perfect molten center, variations and optional toppings, presentation tips, make-ahead tips and adjustments, and more!

A Brief History of the Chocolate Lava Cake Recipe

Everyone knows chocolate lava cake is a delectable dessert.  Chocolate lovers find them irresistible.  But did you know this recipe traces its origin back to the late 1990s? The creation of this sweet masterpiece is credited to renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The story unfolds in his kitchen where he accidentally removed a chocolate sponge cake from the oven before it was fully baked. Much to his surprise, the cake’s center was still molten, creating a delightful contrast with the fully baked outer layer. This delicious accident marked the birth of the chocolate lava cake. We love this recipe so much we included it in our cookbook, “Cooking for One, Not an Army”.

This unique dessert quickly became a sensation in the culinary world. Its enchanting combination of a rich chocolate cake exterior and a velvety, molten center made it an instant hit among dessert enthusiasts. The allure of the molten chocolate center, often likened to a river of liquid chocolate, has made this dessert a must-have for anyone seeking a sublime dessert experience. Moreover, the simplicity and speed of preparation have further added to its appeal, making it an ideal choice for a quick, yet impressive, dessert.

These cakes not only tantalize the taste buds but also present a visual treat. The moment you cut into the cake, the warm chocolate syrup flows out.  And who wouldn’t love a chocolate river?? Whether you’re planning a cozy, intimate dinner for one or a festive gathering, this chocolate lava cake recipe offers a touch of luxury that can elevate any occasion. So, why not embark on a delicious baking adventure and prepare this delightful treat in your kitchen?

Key Ingredients and Substitutions for Chocolate Lava Cake

Creating a chocolate lava cake for one requires a handful of simple, yet high-quality, ingredients. The stars of the recipe are flour, butter, cocoa powder, high-quality chocolate, egg, and a dash of salt. These ingredients come together to create a dessert that is rich, indulgent, and utterly satisfying. An optional addition of peanut butter and bourbon can also be included to add an extra layer of flavor and richness to the cake.

The recipe’s versatility is another of its important features. Whether due to dietary preferences or pantry availability, you can substitute different types of flour, oil, and nut butter. For instance, for those following a gluten-free diet, a gluten-free flour can be used in place of regular flour. Similarly, you can replace the peanut butter with almond or sunflower seed butter if you have a nut allergy.

The quality of the chocolate used in the recipe is another critical factor that impacts the final result. Instead of regular chocolate chips, it’s recommended to use high-quality chocolate bars. The superior quality of these chocolates enhances the texture and flavor of the cake.  The result is a velvety, luxurious molten center.

The beauty of this recipe lies in its simplicity and flexibility. You can easily adapt it to your liking and dietary needs. So, gather your ingredients, put on your apron, and get ready to bake your way to a delightful, chocolate lava cake for one or two!

Step-by-Step Preparation Guide

The preparation process for a chocolate lava cake begins with melting the chocolate and butter together. To do this, place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. You may also melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave.  Once both have melted and combined into a smooth mixture, set the bowl aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and sugar. This mixture forms a velvety base for the cake batter.

Once the egg mixture is prepared, it’s time to combine it with the melted chocolate. Take care to mix these together gently to maintain a smooth and consistent texture. After the egg and chocolate are well combined, stir in the flour and a pinch of salt. This step requires caution as overmixing can result in a dense cake, rather than the desired light and velvety texture.

Precision is key when it comes to baking, and this recipe is no exception. Precise measurements ensure the correct balance of ingredients, resulting in the perfect texture and flavor of the cake. For example, using a kitchen scale to measure ingredients accurately will improve your baking results. Additionally, adhering to the recommended baking time and temperature is vital to achieving the ideal balance between a firm cake exterior and a gooey, molten center.

Baking Tips for the Perfect Molten Center

The defining feature of a chocolate lava cake is its molten center. Achieving this requires some baking know-how. Do not skip greasing your pan generously.  Not only does this help with baking and presentation, but it also saves on cleanup time.  We recommend these ramekins for baking and serving.

The cake should be baked for 7-10 minutes to achieve the ideal molten center.  Do not overbake or your molten center will bake and become firm.  This is not the time to take a phone call!

However, everyone’s preference for how ‘molten’ they want their center to be can vary. If you prefer a less molten center, you can increase the baking time by a minute or two. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of a super gooey center, you can reduce the baking time slightly.

The size of the baking dish and the baking time are critical components of achieving the perfect molten chocolate cake. It’s this attention to detail that can transform your baking experience from a simple activity into a culinary art.

Variations and Optional Toppings

The world of baking is all about creativity, and this chocolate lava cake recipe is no exception. One way to add a personal touch to your dessert is through optional garnishes. A dusting of confectioners’ sugar, a handful of fresh berries, a dollop of whipped cream, or a scoop of your favorite ice cream all add an extra layer of flavor and elegance to your cake.

But why stop at toppings? You can also experiment with different flavorings and fillings in the batter itself. A hint of vanilla extract, a splash of bourbon, or a swirl of peanut butter all lend a unique flavor profile to your cake.

The beauty of this dessert is that there are no hard and fast rules. Please experiment with different flavor combinations, textures, and ingredients to create a dessert that’s truly your own. Let your creativity take the reins.  Who knows?  You might just stumble upon your new favorite dessert variation.

This Greek chicken recipe is the perfect meal to serve before your chocolate lava cake.  Your taste buds will be so happy!

Presentation Tips

A well-presented dessert is a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. Whether you choose to serve it straight from the baking dish or invert it onto a plate, presentation plays a key role in enhancing the dining experience. If you’re opting for a casual, cozy dessert night, serving the cake directly from the dish can add a comforting, homey touch. But if you’re planning to impress someone special or want to treat yourself to an elegant dining experience, inverting the cake onto a fancy plate adds a touch of sophistication.

Regardless of how you choose to serve it, it’s important to let the cake cool slightly before digging in. This brief cooling period allows the cake to set a bit, ensuring the best texture and flavor. It also prevents you from burning your tongue on the hot molten chocolate.

Other Single Serve Desserts

While the chocolate lava cake is a classic single-serve dessert, there are many other delightful options to explore.  “Cooking for One, Not an Army” is a treasure trove of single-serve recipes.  There are ideas for each meal of the day – plus dessert!

For chocolate aficionados, the single-serve microwave snickers lava cake is a quick and easy dessert that’s sure to satisfy your chocolate cravings. It’s perfect for those days when you need a little pick-me-up or want to treat yourself to a sweet indulgence without spending hours in the kitchen.

If you’re a fan of fruity desserts, the single-serve mixed berry crumble is a delicious choice. It’s a perfect blend of sweet and tart berries topped with a buttery crumble. This dessert makes the most of seasonal fruits. Plus, it’s easy to prepare and perfect for a cozy night in.

From classic mug cakes to innovative dessert concoctions, Sisters Know Best offers a wide array of single-serve dessert recipes. So, whether you’re a seasoned baker or a dessert novice, you’re sure to find a recipe that tickles your fancy and satisfies your belly.

Make Ahead Tips and Adjustments

One of the appealing features of the chocolate lava cake is its convenience. The batter can be prepared a day in advance and refrigerated.  This is perfect for those busy days when you still want to enjoy a homemade dessert. Just make sure to bring the batter to room temperature before popping it into the oven.

If you prefer your desserts less sweet, just adjust the sugar quantity to suit your taste. Similarly, the quantity of egg can be adjusted to achieve the desired richness and texture. These small adjustments can make a big difference in tailoring the recipe to your liking.

Again, using high-quality chocolate and precise measurements are crucial for this chocolate lava cake recipe. The quality of chocolate you use will significantly impact the flavor of the cake. So, opt for a high-quality chocolate that you enjoy eating. Remember, the better the ingredients, the better the final result.

Let’s Get Baking!

For those who can’t watch the oven or prefer crockpot cooking, this chocolate lava cake recipe is a snap to put together.  Still want more chocolate recipes?  This Almond Joy Shake recipe is creamy, filling, and crazy with flavor!  And if you’re wanting a healthier dessert, you can’t go wrong with Pumpkin Chocolate Brownies.

If you’re looking for more culinary inspiration, tips, and delicious recipes, you’ll want to start here. Whether you’re an experienced chef or a beginner in the kitchen, you’ll find a wide range of recipes, from quick and easy snacks to elaborate meals.

Craft enthusiasts will find a plethora of DIY projects and craft ideas on the website. In addition, you’ll find helpful tips and guides on various home and lifestyle topics, making Sisters Know Best a one-stop resource for all your home, health, and culinary needs.

single serving chocolate lava cake

Chocolate Lava Cake

Dark chocolate chip s and espresso baked into a decadent dessert.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American


  • 1 whole egg room temperature
  • 1 whole egg yolk room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter divided
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
  • ½ teaspoon instant espresso
  • 1 Tbsp flour


  • Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C).
  • Generously coat a 4x6” dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Using a mixer, whip egg, egg yolk, and sugar until fluffy and light yellow, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
  • Melt butter and chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second intervals, stirring between intervals (about 45 seconds total).
  • Stir instant espresso, flour, and the chocolate mixture into the whipped eggs and sugar on low speed using the electric mixer.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared dish and bake for 8 - 10 minutes. Remove the cake when the edges are set but the center is still soft.


This recipe is in our cookbook, “Cooking for One – Not an Army,” along with other favorite recipes. It’s made for one, but you can easily double this recipe for company or leftovers! If you didn’t get a copy yet, our book is on Amazon right here!
Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 507.15kcal | Carbohydrates: 36.75g |
Protein: 6.75g | Fat: 38.35g | Sodium: 233.35mg | Fiber: 1.85g
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition
calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional
nutritionist’s advice.
Keyword chocolate, cooking for one
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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