Molten Chocolate Cake

Molten Chocolate Cake

pouring chocolate cake

I’m busily testing recipes for my new book, which involves lively, everyday stories of the French cook The recipes are from my friends and acquaintances, avid cooks, professionals, moms, dads, farmers, businesspeople. I collect them, I test them, I ask myself the ever-present question: “Will my readers love this as much as I do?”

I need your assistance! I’m going to publish the recipes here from time to time. If you want to try them, do. Tell me how you like them. Some of you may be able to tell just from reading the recipe whether you’d like it. All comments are welcome. I’ve got my official U.S. “tester” working on them too.

I’d love for you to tell me how you recreate your vision of French cooking in your kitchen, too. This is for my own interest, of course – I like to know what you’re up to.

Right from the oven - it will fall slightly as it cools
Right from the oven – it will fall slightly as it cools

interiorSo, for the first recipe from this marvelous collection, I’m actually offering two. Both are for the cake that is voted Most Popular with the French, year after year. It is for a Moelleux au Chocolat, or Molten Chocolate Cake. (The literal translation of moelleux is moist; but you’ll see that depending on how you bake the cake, it is either molten or moist, and can be both!).

showered with sugar

The less-baked version.
The less-baked version.

Here are the recipes. If you decide to make one or the other you should know there are no tricks – both are simple. The only thing to pay careful attention to is the percentage of chocolate. A lower percentage means more sugar and fat, which can change the texture of the cake. So, heed my recommendations, and all will be well!

Bon Appetit!


This recipe is from Michel Amsalem, a professional patissier who loves to fool around in his home kitchen, making cakes that taste like heaven. We spent a lot of time discussing ‘moelleux’ and he tested this recipe on his customers before calling me to share it. It’s delicious.

You can also use chocolate that is 62-65 percent cacao. If you can find this type of semi-sweet chocolate, use just that rather than the two different percentages. The margin of baking time is large – the shorter time results in an almost runny center for the cake; the longer time gives a more solid, but still very soft interior. Either way, the cake is luscious!

½ cup (75g) all-purpose flour
1 large pinch fine sea salt
7-1/2 tablespoons (217g) unsalted butter
5 ounces (150g) 52 % chocolate, finely chopped
5 ounces (150g) 70% chocolate, finely chopped
6 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (225g) vanilla sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Edible flowers, for garnish, such as pansies, primroses, forget-me-nots

1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Butter and flour a 9-1/2 inch (22.5cm) spring form pan.

2. Sift together the flour and the salt onto a piece of waxed or parchment paper.

3. In a small, heavy-bottomed pan melt the butter over medium heat. Place the chocolate in a large, heatproof bowl. When the butter is melted, pour it over the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate has melted into the butter.

4. In another large bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar just until thoroughly combined – do not whisk them to a pale yellow. Whisk in the chocolate and the butter mixture, then quickly whisk in the flour and the salt. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, set the pan on a baking sheet and bake in the center of the oven until the edges of the cake are baked but the center is still soft and tender, 30 to 40 minutes.

5. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing it from the mold and transferring it to a serving platter. Dust the cake with the confectioners’ sugar, and garnish with the flowers if desired.

6 to 8 servings

This is another version of “Moelleux,” developed with the help of patissiser Michel Amsalem as well.

¼ cup (30g) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (30g) rice flour
Generous pinch fine sea salt
7 tablespoons  (105g) unsalted butter
3.5 ounces (100g) bitter chocolate (70%), such as Valrhona brand, diced
2 large eggs
7 tablespoons light brown sugar
6 squares of either semi-sweet or bitter chocolate (about 1.5 ounces total; 40g)
Confectioners’ sugar – for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 400F (200C). Butter 4 ramekins.

2. Sift together the flours with the salt onto a piece of waxed paper.

3. Place the butter in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat. When it’s melted, add the chocolate and stir until it is melted. Remove from the heat.

4. Whisk together the eggs and the sugar in a medium-sized bowl until they are frothy and pale golden, which should take about 5 minutes. Don’t over whisk – you don’t want the mixture light and fluffy.

5. Quickly whisk in the dry ingredients, then mix in the butter and chocolate.

6. Fill each mold half full with batter. Place a square of chocolate on the batter, then cover with the remaining batter. Bake in the center of the oven until the cakes look cooked on top and have a slight hump in the center, about 14 minutes.

7. Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool for at least 5 minutes and up to 10 before serving. They are very HOT!

4 molten chocolate cakes

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Lester

    I guess most of these recipes will have originally been wholly metric and in grams, especially the professional ones. So why not just stick to that, or at least put the original and accurate measurements up front? Your first recipe has a cup of flour as 150g and the second recipe has a cup of flour as 120g. The quantity of butter in the first recipe is twice as large in grams as it is in tablespoons. European egg sizes are different from American ones, so why not give larger quantities of egg by weight? I would certainly feel more confident trying your recipes if I knew which measurements I could trust. US Customary Units serve only to introduce ambiguity and confusion. If you insist on having them for convenience, at least make them secondary. Great looking cakes, btw. 🙂

    1. Susan

      You’re a great copy editor! Thank you so much for your comments!


  2. Becky

    Love this type of cakes and it’s a bonus because they are so simple and quick to prepare! Interesting that they are a favorite with the french as well. Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Susan


      ABsolutely. Let me know how it works out if you make it!

  3. Becky

    What is the purpose for the 1/2 portion of rice flour in the 2nd recipe? How will it change the cakes texture?

    1. Susan

      Dear Becky,

      It makes it a bit lighter. You don’t have to use it. If you use all wheat flour, the recipe works well too!

  4. Kathy

    I wanted you to know your recipe was perfect timing. I needed a special dessert to serve tonight as my sister and her family were visiting. I had everything on hand and decided to give it a try. I did use an eight inch springform pan. The cake was delicious and met with rave reviews! The recipe has been placed in my binder of favorites.

    1. Susan


      I’m so glad and thanks for letting me know!

  5. I have house guests that would LOVE to test these recipes. I will let you know how it goes. I just happen to have rice flour on hand, I just need to find the right kind of chocolate.

    1. Susan


      You said you tried the second chocolate cake with rice flour and it was great! I’m so glad!

  6. Lauri Thomasson

    Hi, I tried the first recipe. It was easy and delicious. I did not have vanilla sugar (not sure if I can get it her) so how much vanilla extract would you substitute, I used 1 tsp.? I used 1 bar of Valrhona (81% I think) and part of a Trader Joe’s pound plus 72% to make up the chocolate required. I love dark chocolate, the darker the better so I thought it was good. Next time I have to chop the chocolate finer though or grate it as I had to microwave it (which I hate to use) to get it to melt. It was great with raspberries that were frozen last summer over the top. Next time I will try it with fresh whipped cream and fresh raspberries.

    1. Susan

      Lauri! Thank you so much for this information…and I’m so glad you loved the cake. Interesting that the darker chocolates worked in the recipe. It’s dicey to fool around with percentages, but it sounds as though you had great luck!

      A wonderful ice cream recipe coming up…!

  7. Laura in Texas

    Dear Susan, I’m behind on my reading and just now reading this post. I haven’t tried the cake recipes yet, but wanted to answer your question on French cooking in my kitchen.

    One of the best things about your Farmhouse cookbooks is that you get recipes from people who raise and/or adore the produce resulting in the most delicious flavors. In the US, people often think French cooking is complicated, but as you know and how I perceive French cooking is letting the natural flavors shine and the food becomes more than the sum of its parts!

    Secondly, getting local produce will taste better. As a producer, the farmer markets can raise the prices due to fees and regulations, so we tend to sell directly to consumers and restaurants because I hate having to raise the price to cover the fees.

    To sum up what French cooking is to me, it is coaxing the flavors into revealing themselves. Thank you so much for your great cookbooks, they make my job as grower, mom and cook easier! 🙂 Best wishes and looking forward to another wonderful book.

    1. Susan

      Dear Laura,

      Well, thank you! You’ve got it right with French cooking. It’s mostly getting out of the way of fresh, wonderful ingredients! Take care, keep cooking, I’ll let you know more about the book as it approached publication!

      1. Laura in Texas

        I can’t wait! Thanks for keeping me posted. Let me know te next time you head to Houston 🙂

        1. Susan

          Will do!

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