Muddy Middle Chocolate Cakes (also known as Molten Lava Cakes)

Because we have some members with food restrictions, we’ve adapted this recipe to be dairy-free, gluten-free, and cane-sugar-free.  Our substitutions are in red.  We’ve also made this recipe as originally-written, both versions are delicious.  The key is, don’t leave them in the oven too long, or there will be no muddy middle.

Makes 6 large servings or 12 muffin-sized cupcakes

Kitchen equipment:

  • 2 mixing bowls
  • sharp knife
  • rubber spatula
  • stirring spoon
  • electric beater
  • medium pot
  • measuring cup, measuring spoons, and kitchen scale
  • oven mitts
  • pastry brush
  • small microwaveable dish
  • baking pan and 6 ramekins and parchment paper (for larger cakes)


  • muffin pan and 12 silicon muffin liners (for smaller cupcakes)


• 4 ounces (110 g) bittersweet chocolate (make sure it’s dairy-free, if you need it to be)
• ²/3 cup (140 g) butter (and a little bit extra for buttering your containers) or coconut oil (you can get the kind that doesn’t taste coconutty, if you prefer, but we like the flavour, so we used unrefined, which is also healthier)
• 4 eggs
• ²/3 cup (140 g) sugar or coconut sugar
• ½ cup (60 g) flour or use an all-purpose gluten-free flour + generous 1/4 tsp guar gum – add the guar gum to the melting chocolate mixture and blend thoroughly.  You could use xanthum gum instead of guar gum, but we used guar gum because that’s what we had on hand.  It worked great.
• Ice cream or whipped cream for serving (optional, but delicious — use dairy-free, if necessary)


1. Put a little bit (maybe a teaspoon) of butter (or coconut oil) in a microwaveable container and microwave it for 12 seconds or so, just until melted.

2. Brush six ½ cup (125 mL) ramekins or custard cups with melted butter (or coconut oil). Cut out circles of parchment paper to fit the bottoms, then brush those with butter (or coconut oil) too.

3. Chop up the chocolate into little bits. Place a bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. The bowl should cover the pot, and not touch the water. You need gentle heat to melt the chocolate. Put the butter (or coconut oil) and chocolate in the bowl, and stir them together as they melt. Remove bowl from heat (use oven mitts, there will be hot steam) and let cool slightly.

4. Beat the eggs and sugar (or coconut sugar) together with an electric beater until the sugar is dissolved. Beat in the chocolate-butter (or coconut oil) mixture, scraping down the sides with a spatula. Fold in the flour, just until well-blended and no longer visible. Pour into the ramekins. Put the ramekins on a baking sheet and put them in the fridge until you’re ready to bake them.

5. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Put the baking sheet with the ramekins in the oven, and bake until the tops are set but the centre is still slightly wobbly, about 12-14 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes before unmolding into serving dishes. Delicious served with ice cream.

To make smaller muffin-sized servings (like at Lunch Club):
Use silicon liners for your muffin tin, and brush them with melted butter (or coconut oil). Fill cups ¾ full, and bake for about 7-9 minutes, until top is set but the centre is still slightly wobbly. Let cool 3 minutes before unmolding into serving dishes.

Adapted from French Taste: Elegant Everyday Eating, by Laura Calder (2009)


5 thoughts on “Muddy Middle Chocolate Cakes (also known as Molten Lava Cakes)

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