Clementine Chocolate Lava Cakes Recipe on Food52

5 Ingredients or Fewer

Clementine Chocolate Lava Cakes

September 30, 2020
21 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
Author Notes

I like to serve these individual chocolate cakes for dessert at the end of long dinner parties (everyone loves chocolate). But more often than not, I just end up baking one ramekin off for myself when I'm alone, then stashing the rest, covered, in the fridge to enjoy throughout the week. (Just add five minutes if you're baking from fridge-cold.) We spend so much time talking about meal prep, but dessert prep can get you a long way in these colder, darker days.

This recipe is easily divisible by half if you wish to only make two ramekins, which I often do when I have a date coming over for dinner. (That means 3 tablespoons of olive oil, by the way.) However many of these you decide to make, I've found that a contrast in temperature and flavor—in the form of cool, soft vanilla ice cream—is wonderful relief against the dark, hot lava cake.

Sans ice cream, though, these do happen to be dairy- and gluten-free, which comes in handy when you're cooking for others. —Eric Kim

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: A 15-Minute Lava Cake for When You Need a Little Chocolate. —The Editors

  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 1 (4 times)
  • 4 ounces dark, bittersweet chocolate (60% or more cacao)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (scant) granulated sugar
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 clementine or satsuma mandarin
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish (optional)
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)
In This Recipe
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease four 6-ounce ramekins and place them on a sheet pan.
  2. Melt the chocolate in the microwave and set aside to cool slightly. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla, clementine zest, and olive oil until light and fluffy (you don't have to go overboard here; just incorporate all of the ingredients—though, if you have the wherewithal in you, a little air in the eggs now will result in a deliciously chewy-edged lava cake later). Fold in the chocolate.
  3. Pour batter into the ramekins and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until just cooked. (The tops should be slightly cracked, the insides hot and gooey.) Dust with powdered sugar before serving, or top with vanilla ice cream.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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Eric Kim is the Table for One columnist at Food52. Formerly the managing editor at Food Network and a PhD candidate in literature at Columbia University, he is currently working on his first cookbook, to be published by Clarkson Potter in Spring 2022. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can find his bylines at Saveur, Bon Appétit, and The New York Times and follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho. Born and raised in Georgia, Eric lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson.

    43 Reviews

    Heidi R. February 28, 2021
    Even without the citrus, these are just . . . YUMMMMMM!

    This makes 4, but as a single person, they keep in the frig, are good out of the frig, and they microwave well back to almost lava-ish if you need to reheat. Love 'em with creme fraiche, mascarpone, or yogurt, as they are super sweet.

    @EricKim is, hands down, the best at recipes for one or two people.

    anne7hall September 30, 2020
    This is my go-to last minute dessert and I always have these ingredients on hand. The whole family loves this! The orange zest is 😘👌🏿
    Nikki May 26, 2020
    LOVE this recipe! I usually sub for whatever citrus I have on hand - namely orange or lime. Perfect for cold nights when I’m craving something chocolatey but couldn’t be bothered spending a lot of time on prep. Also, no flour! It’s heaven in a hot ramekin. Eric, thank you for this masterpiece!
    magsmaggiep January 11, 2020
    Do you use a convection or traditional oven? I’m often mystified by the type of oven used in online recipes as this can vary baking times.
    Mike J. January 24, 2020
    Liz A. January 6, 2020
    as one of the aforementioned "dates", i can attest to the deliciousness of this. i'm gonna make it myself soon - with hella dark chocolate and less sugar hehe
    Sarah January 4, 2020
    This was great and came together very quickly. I had a friend come for dinner and decided to make on a whim. I halved the recipe (so I wouldn’t be tempted with left overs!) and skipped the clementine since I didn’t have any, and cooked for about 12 minutes. I could have cooked a minute longer but it was fine as was and I had no issues. Next time I might cut the sugar a little bit because it was a tad too sweet for me, but it will definitely stay in the rotation!
    Author Comment
    Eric K. January 5, 2020
    I'm glad you said that re: sugar! I always do a scant 1/2 cup. Heck, I should probably make it official and call for 1/3 cup or even 1/4 cup, but I also think it really depends on the chocolate one buys, and I know some people hate bitterness.
    dlddld December 31, 2019
    Made 1-1/2 times the recipe using the zest of a whole orange and Grand Marnier instead of vanilla. Baked in 5 ramekins for 12-1/2 minutes. The top was set and slightly cracked although it was more like eating chocolate soup than lava cake. Next time I will bake for another 2-1/2 minutes. It was delicious though.
    Author Comment
    Eric K. January 5, 2020
    Right; 1, 2, 3 minutes here make a world of difference, which is helpful depending on how much "lava" one wants.

    Your Grand Marnier version sounds fab. Thanks for reporting back.
    Dede December 30, 2019
    Made this last night, and it was insanely delicious! quick, no fuss, and simple to make, too.

    I think I’m in love with you, Eric Kim.

    Btw, I used 88% “Endangered Species Chocolate Extreme Dark + Velvery Chocolate, which is already sublime. I added some finely minced Clementina fruit and whole peel in the bottom of the ramekin, with a little dash of Grand Marnier. Cake batter on top.

    All I can say is “wow”,just “wow’.
    Author Comment
    Eric K. January 5, 2020
    Aw Dede, thank you so much. Thrilled you liked this as much as I do! I truly make it whenever a friend comes over b/c I'm not much of a baker but seems to always have chocolate and eggs lying around the house...
    Dede January 5, 2020
    Eggsadtly! Whip it up from things in hand (though I did have to buy the clementines).
    The wonderful surprise kicker is that a couple of days later, I made your also fab Salt and Pepper pork baby back ribs. Also delish. Though, Since I live in snowy, cold Maine, I didn’t grill them. I gave them a few minutes in a stove top smoker (hickory) and then finished them off under the broiler set of low. Couple of minutes on each side, and they were perfect. Yes, I, too, loved the porky taste not smothered under sweet BBQ sauce.
    You’re my new fave food journo. Keep up the good work. I’m a fan and following you here and on Instagram.
    Author Comment
    Eric K. January 5, 2020
    I'm sitting alone in a crowded coffeeshop right now and smiling ear to ear.
    Alexis December 13, 2019
    Are there any other types of oils/fats you could use instead of olive oil? I like olive oil but sometimes find the taste too strong in baked goods...
    Author Comment
    Eric K. December 14, 2019
    Regular vegetable oil would work here, or better: melted butter!
    Alexis December 14, 2019
    Shelley M. December 13, 2019
    From a similar Nigella Lawson recipe, a little ground allspice adds a lovely element.
    Author Comment
    Eric K. December 13, 2019
    Love that idea.
    B April 18, 2019
    Am concerned about under or over baking...any tips?
    Author Comment
    Eric K. December 13, 2019
    Hi B, just be sure that your oven is well pre-heated, and pull out after 10 minutes exactly. Also, it really depends on your preference; you may prefer it cooked longer, 15 minutes. But try it at 10 first, and let me know how it goes!
    Fiona B. February 22, 2019
    Definitely going to make these: yum! Can they be frozen and reheated?
    Author Comment
    Eric K. December 13, 2019
    100%. Just add a few minutes, 5 to 10, to the bake time.
    Claire P. January 11, 2020
    This may be a silly question but should you bake and then freeze or freeze the unbaked batter?
    Joyce January 16, 2019
    Looks amazing! What do you think about substituting maple syrup for the sugar?
    Author Comment
    Eric K. December 13, 2019
    I bet that would taste lovely. Let me know how it goes!
    Starchgirl January 16, 2019
    A simple, delicious pleasure. I didn't have a clementine, so I used the zest from 1/3 orange instead.
    They take longer than 10 minutes in the oven....especially if they come out of the refrigerator.
    Author Comment
    Eric K. January 5, 2020
    Thanks! And good point re: refrigerated batter.
    Chocomint537 January 3, 2019
    Any way to do an eggless version of this recipe?
    Author Comment
    Eric K. January 5, 2020
    I have yet to try it, but a friend of mine once suggested a flaxseed "egg" version—especially if you're cutting the recipe in half and you only need one egg substitute for 2 ramekins. I will say, I'm in the process of developing a single-portion version, but the closest I got was with an egg white (you can't divide an egg in half) and even that wasn't quite right texturally.

    I'm sure there's a vegan out there who has a solution.
    C December 27, 2018
    Our son made batter and brought 3 of the 4 filled ramekins to our Christmas dinner - the first was his test run/lunch at home. Left on counter during dinner, baked 12 minutes - amazing. Gooey in the center, fudgy on the edges, way more orangey flavored than I expected with the zest from only 1 clementine. The perfect ending to our meal! I will be making this. C
    Author Comment
    Eric K. December 30, 2018
    I love this story.
    LG December 25, 2018
    Is there any alternative baking equivalent for the ramekins if you don't have any at home but have some rapidly ripening clementines that this sounds perfect for?
    Author Comment
    Eric K. December 27, 2018
    Hi LG, some people have baked them in muffin tins with success; it won't be pretty, but will taste good. If I were you, I'd just make them in one big pan (cast iron skillet or a cake round), and adjust the bake time accordingly. You might have to add 5 minutes or so. Small oven-safe mugs are also an option, but only if you're sure they're oven-safe.

    These kinds of ramekins, though, run at about $1.99 a pop. And they're worth the investment b/c I use them for everything. Plus, I appreciate that they help me portion out delicious things like chocolate cake. :)
    LG December 29, 2018
    Great thanks so much!
    Starchgirl January 16, 2019
    Hi LG, You can use coffee cups or a muffin tin, but honestly, run out and buy some simple Anchor Hocking ramekins. They're only about $6 for 4 of them, and I use them for everything....melting a little butter, mixing spices, etc.
    FR December 25, 2018
    Had Christmas for two people today, so halved the recipe. I didn’t add the zest, and didn’t have ramekins so made it in a muffin tin. We had to scoop it out of the tin so the presentation wasn’t great, but it was delicious served with ice cream and berries. Great recipe and so easy to make!
    Author Comment
    Eric K. December 27, 2018
    So glad to hear, FR. Thanks for reporting back!
    Mary A. December 23, 2018
    Fortunately , I found this great recipe for tonight's pre-holiday party. I doubled it with no problems and it was super creamy and delicious . It was a very big hit with my family. I served it with a clementine syrup made of the segments from four clementines simmered with brown sugar, water and vanilla bean . Thanks for this one !
    Author Comment
    Eric K. December 27, 2018
    Oh my goodness, Mary—what a GREAT idea. That sounds so good.
    Nancy O. December 20, 2018
    Looks great but what is "dark" chocolate? Unsweetened? 60% (Bittersweet)? Please specify!
    Author Comment
    Eric K. December 20, 2018
    I'd say 60% or more! Not unsweetened.
    Nancy O. December 21, 2018
    Got it-thanks!