These easy chocolate fondant cakes are perfect for days when you are craving a home-made, sweet and indulgent dessert but don't fancy the hassle of having to make one. Okay, so you do still have to make them, but homemade desserts don't get much easier than this. There's no special equipment required, just a few simple ingredients and a short 20 minute total cooking time and then you will be ready to fall in love with these little warm molten chocolate cakes.
Chocolate fondant cakes are great for entertaining or for a romantic night in because they are equally simple and decadent. You can easily make ahead and get the timing right. The other thing I love about these little molten cakes is the fun you can have customising them. I highly recommend pushing your favourite cream centred chocolate into the batter just before you cook. You then get to enjoy the taste of your favourite flavoured truffle melted in the molten centre, yum!
- Chocolate: use 70% dark chocolate or half milk and half dark. I have been testing both to see which one is better, but my husband and I can't agree. I think this is because it's a matter of personal preference. If you're more of a dark chocolate person go for all dark, if you prefer milk chocolate do half and half. I advise against doing 100% milk. It will be too sweet.
- Sugar: I generally prefer brown over white for a lot of desserts because it brings a rich caramel taste as well as sweetness, but you can use golden or white sugar if you don't have brown.
- Unsalted butter: you definitely need unsalted instead of the normal salted butter you spread on your toast. No one wants a salty fondant cake.
- Vanilla essence: this is optional but recommended to provide additional flavour
- Cocoa powder: this doesn't go into the batter and is used for prepping the moulds. Adding a dusting of cocoa powder to each mould ensures the fondant cake will easily come out of the mould once cooked. You could line the moulds with greaseproof/parchment paper instead but you would not get such a smooth cake.
- Soft centred chocolate of choice: this is purely optional, but a great way to customise your chocolate fondant cake, simply push the soft-centred chocolate of choice into the batter before you bake the cake and it will melt into the rest of the molten chocolate. For best results, choose a chocolate with a creamy centre and relatively thin shell so it's completely melted into the fondant cake after 8 minutes in the oven.
How to make easy chocolate fondant cakes
1. Grease your pudding moulds, ramekins or muffin tray:
Heat your oven to 220°C or 430°F. Grease the pudding moulds, ramekins or muffin tray with butter. I normally put a little butter on some kitchen paper and rub it over the inside of the moulds. Then sieve cocoa powder over the greased moulds, ramekins or muffin tray until the bottom and sides are lightly covered. I do this over the sink to reduce mess.
2. Melt the butter and chocolate
- Option 1 - microwave - I usually put it on high power and stir at 30-second intervals. It should take less than 2 minutes.
- Option 2 - Pyrex bowl and saucepan - fill a saucepan with a small amount of water, place a Pyrex bowl containing the butter and chocolate in the pan and bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer and stir intermittently until the butter and chocolate are fully melted and combined.
3. Mix the dry ingredients and beat the eggs
You can prepare the other ingredients while the butter and chocolate melt. Place the flour and sugar in a bowl and mix together. Beat the egg and egg yolk in another bowl.
4. Combine all ingredients
Add the eggs to the melted butter and chocolate mixture and incorporate. Then add the dry ingredients and continue to mix until you have a smooth and thick batter. You can do this manually or with an electric whisk. I normally mix by hand because it's a very quick process and not worth the additional washing up.
5. Spoon into moulds and bake
Spoon the batter into the greased and dusted pudding moulds, ramekins or muffin tray. If you are adding a soft-centred chocolate push it into the mould until the batter covers it.
Place the moulds/ramekins or muffin tray in the middle of your oven and bake for approximately 8 minutes.
Note, cooking time may vary depending on the size of the container you are using. If in doubt check sooner to avoid over-cooking. A 19.3 x 13 x 9.7cm pudding mould takes 8 minutes.
Fondant cakes are done when the tops are firm. You can also place a flat knife down the sides of the cake to check them. If they are firm they are done.
Loosen the sides with a flat knife and place the cakes upside down onto a plate. They should easily come out. I find that cake moulds can be quite slippery and hard to pick up when I'm wearing oven gloves so I use tongs to grab the moulds and flip them over. Serve immediately with cream, ice cream and/or fresh berries.
Tools & Equipment
- Moulds, ramekins or a muffin tin - you basically need small heatproof containers to cook each cake in. Traditionally pudding moulds are used but ramekins and muffin tins also work well. Note that the cooking time may vary depending on the type of tin you are using. It takes 8 minutes to cook the fondant cakes in the 19.3 x 13 x 9.7cm pudding moulds I use.
Top tip: if you're making fondant cakes for houseguests or looking to impress someone have a practice run to confirm the ideal cooking time.
- Pyrex bowl - necessary if you are melting the chocolate and butter over a saucepan of boiling water. Other bowls will crack under the heat. If you are using your microwave to melt the butter and chocolate a microwaveable bowl is okay, you don't need Pyrex.
- Sieve - needed for dusting the moulds with cocoa powder.
- Tongs - these are completely optional, but I find them very useful for turning over the red-hot and slippery pudding moulds to serve the fondant cakes.
3 Tips For Perfect Chocolate Fondant Cakes
- Check on the cakes a little earlier than you need to if you are unsure of the cooking time. You can always pop them back into the oven if they are not ready but there's nothing you can do to reverse the process once they're overdone. I also recommend a trial run if you are making these for guests as the cooking time can vary slightly depending on the size of the container you are using. That way you get to enjoy some extra fondant cakes while confirming the right baking time for your oven and choice of cooking container.
- Grease your moulds/ramekins/ muffin tray and dust the bottom and sides with cocoa powder. This ensures the cooked fondant cakes can easily be removed from the moulds when they are done and is key for good presentation and properly formed fondant cakes.
- Make them your own - one of the things I love the most about these little molten cakes is how versatile they are. Add a soft-centred chocolate or dollop of sauce of your choice onto the uncooked batter to add your chosen flavour into the delicious molten centre. I have tried this with praline creams, caramel sauce and a mini-Cadbury's cream egg. So if you're making these for someone, try putting their favourite cream centred chocolate in. Just make sure it has a liquid centre and a relatively thin chocolate shell so it melts fully and merges with the molten chocolate.
How to eat chocolate fondant cakes
Fondant cakes can be served with cream, ice cream, custard or another sauce of your choice. Ice cream is the most popular option. Fresh berries are also good to have on the side.
Yes, the batter comes to a high temperature during the cooking process so is no-longer considered raw and is perfectly safe to eat.
Yes you can make them ahead of time, but they are best served immediately once cooked. Prepare the batter, pour it into the moulds and then put it into the fridge until you are ready to cook the lava cakes in the oven. Cooking time might be a little longer if you are cooking them from cold.
Lava cakes are best served immediately. If you want to make them ahead it's best to prepare the batter, spoon it into moulds and refrigerate until you are ready to cook it. However, you can store a cooked lava cake in the fridge and reheat for up to 3 days, it just won't be as yummy as a fresh one.