Molten chocolate cake is a popular dessert.
It is also known as chocolate moelleux (from French for “soft”), chocolate lava cake, or simply lava cake.
Its name derives from the dessert’s liquid chocolate center.
The origine of the dessert are in despute.
The United States-based chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten claims to have invented molten chocolate cake in New York City in 1987 but the French chef and chocolatier Jacques Torres disputes this, 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 texture.
Regardless of who invented the dish, Vongerichten has been credited with popularizing it in the United States.
The dessert become very popular in upscale restaurants, eventually spreading throughout the US in many different versions as well as presented in other cookbooks.
Molten chocolate cake can now even be found in chain restaurants and in the freezer section of some supermarkets.
Some versions are flourless and more soufflé-like – some are eggless.
Vongerichten’s original recipe contained butter, high cacao and high cocoa-butter content dark chocolate, eggs, extra yolks and a bit of sugar. The only flour used was to coat the ramekins.
Surprisingly, molten chocolate cakes are easy enough for even the novice baker to make at home. It can be made in under an hour from start to finish.
The butter and chocolate are melted together, while the eggs are either whisked with the sugar to form a thick paste, producing a denser pastry, or separated, with the white whipped into a meringue to provide more lift and a lighter result.
The cakes are typically baked in individual portions in ramekins, or brioche molds. However, there are a number of creative variations in chocolate lava cakes or molten chocolate cakes such as preparing the cakes in a coffee or tea mug. The cake can also be prepared in a microwave oven instead of an oven in certain cases.
It should not be confused with chocolate fondant, a recipe that contains little flour, but much chocolate and butter, hence melting on the palate (but not on the plate).