- I tried chocolate lava cake recipes from chefs Ree Drummond, Duff Goldman, and Anne Burrell.
- Drummond’s cake was delicious and used ingredients I already had on hand.
- Goldman’s cake looked fancy and tasted great, but Burrell’s recipe was a bit tricky to master.
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Part souffle and part cake, chocolate lava cake has been a popular dessert since its conception in the 1980s.
According to Thrillist, two chefs â€” Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten in New York and Michel Bras in France â€” have claimed to invent this dessert.
Vongerichten’s molten cake was born after he pulled a chocolate cake from the oven too early. Bras’ version was created when he suspended frozen ganache in the centre of chocolate cake batter. As it baked, the cake fully cooked and the ganache centre melted.
Decades later, the dessert is still pretty popular (though a bit clichÃ©) and it’s known as a staple for romantic dinners.
Plenty of famous chefs even have their own recipes, with many going the Vongerichten route by making a slightly undercooked chocolate cake to score that gooey centre.
To put some of these versions to the test, I made chocolate lava cakes using recipes from chefs Ree Drummond, Duff Goldman, and Anne Burrell. Read on to see how they turned out.
Drummond’s lava cake calls for many kitchen staples
Drummond, star of “The Pioneer Woman” cooking show, had the easiest recipe I tested.
The ingredients were items I typically have on hand, including eggs (and egg yolks), flour, powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, and two types of chocolate.
I cut the recipe in half, which yielded exactly two servings. The only tricky part of cutting the ingredients in half is that I then needed one egg and one and a half yolks â€” this was doable but a little messy.
Drummond’s recipe was the easiest and fastest of the bunch
I’d never made this dessert before, so I was pretty impressed when I started with Drummond’s lava cake.
It was way easier to make than I imagined, and I had the batter ready before the oven was even finished preheating. I melted the butter and chocolate together, then mixed in the powdered sugar.
From there, I vigorously whisked the eggs into the mixture, followed by the vanilla and finally the flour. It looked a lot like brownie batter.
After greasing and filling my ramekins I baked my cakes for 13 minutes. I let them sit for a minute before flipping them onto plates.
The first one I tried to flip completely fell apart, but the second cake remained intact.
The bottom of the cake was not very attractive, so I flipped it back over again, and it was presentable.
I knew right away I’d be making this lava cake again
The Pioneer Woman’s lava cake tasted like a mix between chocolate cake, a brownie, and brownie batter â€” so it was delicious, obviously.
I liked that it wasn’t too rich, either. It was great on its own, although I’m sure it’s also awesome with ice cream or fresh berries.
Since this recipe was so easy and quick to make, I can see myself making this often.
Pastry chef Goldman adds some bold flavour and texture with a unique garnish
I trusted Goldman, pastry chef and star of “Ace of Cakes,” to deliver an amazing chocolate lava cake recipe. His recipe also had some basic ingredients, and I loved the addition of candied walnuts and fresh orange slices.
This recipe had a lot of steps, but the directions were pretty straightforward and much easier than they appeared.
I started by coating some chopped walnuts in egg white and powdered sugar, then baking them until they were sugary and extra crispy. I also cut an orange into small pieces for the garnish.
For the lava cake itself, I melted a lot of chocolate and butter together, then whisked in the flour and sugar.
I mixed in the eggs, then vanilla, and finally poured the finished batter into some greased ramekins.
Goldman’s recipe says to bake the lava cakes for exactly 14 minutes. I took one lava cake out after that time, and when I went to flip it over onto a plate, it completely fell apart.
So I let the other lava cakes bake for 2 additional minutes, and those were perfect.
I finished them off with the candied walnuts and oranges, then took a moment to admire these little works of art.
These gorgeous lava cakes were very rich
On its own, this lava cake was very rich â€” I wasn’t surprised since this recipe called for the most chocolate and butter.
I was glad I didn’t skimp on the toppings because they really balanced out this dish in terms of flavour and texture.
The cakes were very soft and pretty fragile, so the candied walnuts offered a nice contrast with how crunchy they were.
The acidic orange help cut some of the richness of the chocolate, and I basically inhaled this dish despite it being piping hot.
Burrell’s recipe had simple ingredients and not as much chocolate as I expected
Compared to the others, Burrell’s lava cake recipe had a lot less chocolate. Other than that, the recipe had very similar ingredients to Duff’s and Drummond’s.
The directions required some multitasking
The instructions weren’t too difficult, but I did have to do some multitasking.
To prepare the ramekins for my batter, I had to brush them with butter and put a light coating of sugar inside each.
For the batter, I melted the butter and chocolate in a double broiler while my stand mixer whisked together the eggs and egg yolks, powdered sugar, and vanilla.
I added the chocolate, mixing it in “gently” per the directions, then the flour.
My cakes baked for 14 minutes and while they were in the oven, I used my stand mixer to make a quick whipped cream. All it took was heavy whipping cream and a bit of patience.
After the lava cakes were finished baking, I had a hard time getting them to flip out onto a plate.
I ended up using a knife to get them out because the sides got stuck to the sugared ramekins.
I definitely made a mistake when making the batter because I could see egg yolk in these lava cakes
I plated both lava cakes and as soon as I cut into the first one I knew I had messed up my batter.
Cooked egg yolk was clearly visible, and there was barely any molten chocolate pooling in the centre. I assumed that I didn’t mix the melted chocolate into the egg mixture quickly enough so the eggs started to cook while I was making the batter.
The other lava cake that I had plated looked a little better, so I tried a couple of small bites of that one (at this point, the visible egg had pretty much ruined my appetite).
The cake was very, very soft, yet pretty chewy around the outside because of the sugar.
The chocolate flavour was pretty good and not too rich. It also tasted delicious with the extra powdered sugar coating and fresh whipped cream.
The whipped cream was really simple, and I think it’d be tastier with a little bit of vanilla or orange zest so it would contrast the chocolate.
Although I didn’t make this perfectly the first time, I’d be willing to test it again in the future to fix the egg issue.
I’m already looking forward to making these recipes again
If I have a random craving for lava cake, I’d make Drummond’s recipe because it is so quick and easy. Plus I usually have the ingredients on hand.
But if I know in advance I want to make this dessert, maybe for date night or another special occasion, I will definitely go for Goldman’s.
His lava cake looks fancy and tastes incredible, especially with the toppings.