There's something about warm chocolate melting inside a moist, dark, rich cake that never seems to go out of style.

For years it has been a regular on dessert menus standing alongside its only relentless competitor, creme brulée. Now you can see its tempting face on the front of baking mix boxes promoted by words like decadence, indulgence, and molten.

We call it lava cake. For all the chocolate-crazed dessert lovers out there, THIS is your gig!

Timeless and simple it may be as a dessert celebrity, but it does demand careful clock-watching in the kitchen. Like a soufflé, this type of dessert ages exponentially by the minute after it's pulled from the oven – the lava firms up, and so does the magic. :(

For the perfect balance of cake and chocolate volcanic eruption meltdown, try this fun recipe using our gluten-free chocolate cake mix.

Start by preheating your oven to 375°F. Whisk 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons (120g) gluten-free chocolate cake mix, 1/8 cup (10g) cocoa (Dutch-process or natural), 1/2 cup (57g) confectioners' sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder together in a medium-sized bowl.

Add 3 tablespoons hot water and 6 tablespoons (85g) melted butter, and stir until just combined.

The secret to lava cakes is to minimize the amount of air in the batter, so gentle stirring, please.

Whisk in the egg slowly with an efficient, non-dramatic motion until completely emulsified. The less air that sneaks into this batter, the better!

Lightly grease three silicone baking cups.

Spoon some batter into each cup, so they're about 1/3 full. For some added chocolate joy, I dropped two lusciously smooth bittersweet disks into the batter halfway through filling each cup. Chocolate overload? No such thing!

Top each cup off with more batter so that they're about 2/3 full.

Bake the cakes for 14 minutes. When you pull them from the oven, you'll notice that they look underbaked – which is a good sign that the lava factor will be high! The cakes should reach an internal temperature of about 165°F and appear to have a quarter sized circle in the center that moves when shaken back and forth.

Wait 5 minutes before turning the cakes out. Dumping them out onto a plate immediately will cause the cakes to collapse and the centers to ooze out before you're ready; and let's face it, who wants to miss out on the satisfaction that they baked a most perfect molten cake that when cut, will release the most heavenly river of warm liquid chocolate? You'll want to hear the chorus of ooohs and ahhs emerging from your guests as they cut into and take their first bites.

Doesn't baking ask for so much of our patience? "Wait until cool before cutting!" "Allow to rise for 1-1/2 hours before baking." "Chill overnight before serving." But really, what's 5 minutes in the grand scheme of this already simple production for such a heavenly chocolate reward?

Nothing, really. It's all about self-control. In the meantime, you can plate up some sauces like crème anglaise or raspberry purée to accompany your delicious indulgence, or whip some fresh cream to rest on top. Honestly, what DOESN'T go with chocolate?

Please read, bake, and review our recipe for Gluten-Free Lava Cakes.

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About Amy Trage

Amy Trage is a native of Vermont where she spent much of her childhood skiing and training for the equestrian event circuit. With a strong desire to pursue food writing, Amy took her English degree from Saint Anselm College to the New England Culinary Institute where she immediately discovered a foc...
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