Ok, so these aren’t technically lava cakes because I faked the oozy chocolate center with yummy melted chocolate – but who’s complaining when you can serve heavenly chocolate dessert to your sweetheart, or entire family, in no time?

These cakes come together in just a few minutes, with two bowls, a whisk, and a spatula. You can bake them in 6 ounce ramekins or silicone baking cups, but if you don’t have either, a muffin tin will work in a pinch – you’ll just get more smaller cakes and need to reduce the baking time by about 5 minutes.

Use the best cocoa powder you can find for the richest chocolate flavor. Natural versus Dutch cocoa doesn’t matter here, but quality does. I added espresso powder to the batter to enhance the chocolate flavor, but if you don’t have it the cakes won’t suffer dramatically. Just don’t skip the vanilla extract, or the salt, as they both provided important balance.

For the gooiest centers, serve these cakes warm, no more than 10 to 15 minutes out of the oven. You can turn them out onto a plate, or eat them straight from the ramekins. I like mine plain so I can enjoy all the chocolate flavor, but they’re also great topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. A few raspberries would also spruce up the presentation, and pairs well with the dark chocolate.

Chocolate may not officially have any aphrodisiac qualities, but Valentine’s Day is certainly a good excuse to enjoy a decadent chocolate dessert, especially one that’s this quick an easy.

Danielle DeSiato

Easiest Little Lava Cakes
Makes 8 individual cakes


  • 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder, plus extra for ramekins
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) brown sugar
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate bar such as Ghirardelli, Lindt, or Hershey’s Special Dark, broken into 1/2 ounce pieces


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease eight 6-ounce ramekins, then sprinkle a bit of cocoa powder into each, rotate to coat and tap out extra. Arrange ramekins on a baking sheet.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and butter, and let cool slightly. Add milk, whisking constantly, then whisk in eggs and vanilla extract until smooth. Stir flour mixture into wet mixture until just combined.
3. Divide batter evenly among prepared ramekins and place 1/2 ounce of chocolate bar in center of each ramekin and press gently to submerge chocolate in batter. Bake until cakes rise slightly above rim of ramekins and tops are just firm to touch, about 20 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking.