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Dark Chocolate Lava Cake (Moelleux au Chocolat)

Cook Time:
20 mins
Prep Time:
1 hr 15 mins

Chef notes

I fell in love with my husband over this moelleux au chocolat. I was 23 years old and had recently started dating this handsome French chef during my university exchange to Nice, France. One evening I was waiting for Sébastien to finish his dinner shift at the L'Auberge de La Vignette Haute, a five-star hotel and medieval chateau in the village of Auribeau-sur-Siagne (close to Cannes) where he was executive chef.

Sébastien, in his pristine chef's jacket and apron, surprised me carrying a room service tray with the most tempting dark chocolate cake, strawberries and a glass of Champagne. I stuck a spoon into the top of the moelleux au chocolat and the aroma was almost as seductive as the rich chocolate interior that oozed out like slow, molten lava.

Technique tip: Add the parchment paper collar to the pastry ring is fiddly but worth it; you will have a flawless moelleux au chocolat. Be careful not to overcook or you won't get the lava effect. The top should be just firm to the touch. If your finger leaves a wet dent, place back in the oven for a couple minutes.

Special equipment: Stainless steel pastry rings.


  • cups chopped semisweet chocolate
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1⅓ cups white sugar
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 4 strawberries, to garnish



Create a double boiler to melt the chocolate by filling a saucepot halfway with water and bring it to a boil.


Place the chocolate in a heat-resistant mixing bowl.


Set the mixing bowl on top of the pot of boiling water (the base of the bowl should not be touching the water) this is the bain-marie. Stir the chocolate as it melts over the steam. Once it is melted and shiny, take the bowl off of the pot and give it a good stir with a whisk.


In a bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until frothy, about 1 minute.


Add sugar to the eggs and continue to whisk for another minute until dissolved.


Then, slowly whisk the sugar-egg mixture into the chocolate. Add the melted butter and whisk again.


Place a sieve over the chocolate bowl and slowly add in the flour.


Mix again with the whisk until all the ingredients are well-integrated.


Cover with cling wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.


Thirty minutes before you are ready to cook your moelleux, heat the oven to 350 F (on the convection setting if you have one).


Cut out the parchment paper so that you have a square for the base of the pastry circle and a tall strip to place inside the circle. I cut a strip 6 inches deep. Then cut off the last third of the strip to be the base; the other piece fits into the pastry circle. The parchment paper should be higher than your circle. Repeat 4 times.


Place each square of parchment paper on the cookie sheet. Place a pastry circle on top of each square of parchment paper, then a strip of parchment paper inside each pastry circle. Spray the insides with the cooking oil spray.


With a spoon, carefully fill the pastry circle just under the brim with the chocolate mixture (it should be 175 grams of chocolate mixture if you care to measure it out). You will want to avoid getting the pastry mixture on the top rims of the parchment paper. This is fussy, I know, but it is so worth it!


Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. The top should be just firm to the touch. If your finger leaves a wet dent, place back in the oven for a couple minutes. Be careful not to let the cake cook too much or you won't get the lava effect inside.


Carefully remove from oven. Using a long spatula, slide the spatula under the pastry ring (above the parchment paper square) and set on a dessert plate.


Using a kitchen towel, grasp the pastry ring and gently slide it up over the cake. Remove the parchment paper.


Garnish each with a strawberry and serve immediately.