Lava cakes just got easier with my fool proof short cuts: cake mix and muffin tins! This cake mix chocolate lava cake recipe uses devil’s food cake mix, chocolate pudding, and is filled with a two ingredient chocolate ganache! Fluffy cake with a molten lava center . . . what’s not to love?
Chocolate lava cake ingredients
Traditional lava cakes are made with flour, sugar, and chocolate, but today, we’re taking a shortcut by using chocolate cake mix!
- Devil’s food cake mix. Any chocolate cake mix should be fine, but I think devil’s food cake has the best texture and flavor.
- Chocolate instant pudding helps to add fluffiness to the cake. The extra chocolate flavor doesn’t hurt either.
- Buttermilk. Instead of using water, which is called for on the back of the cake box, we’re using buttermilk for extra moistness.
- Butter. Instead of using oil, which is called for on the back of the cake box, we’re using butter for extra flavor.
- Eggs help bind the cake together.
The ganache makes the gooey molten filling in the center of the lava cakes.
- Whipping cream has a high fat content and helps to make the ganache super rich, yet stable (aka not too runny).
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips. Feel free to use any flavor, but I think semi-sweet is the perfect flavor. It’s not too sweet, but not too bitter either.
How to make lava cake
Making lava cakes can be quite tedious and difficult, so today, we’re making these lava cakes with cake mix and in a muffin tin! Trust me. It’s not only extremely easy, they’re just as delicious as the “completely from scratch” version. There are two parts to these cake mix lava cakes: the ganache and the cake.
A ganache is made from chocolate and cream and can be used as a glaze, frosting, sauce, or filling!
- Heat heavy cream in the microwave until warm, but not boiling, about 90 seconds. Pour over chocolate chips and stir until melted.
- Refrigerate overnight (it should still be scoop-able). Keep in the fridge until ready to use.
Lava cakes are kind of a mash up of a souffle and a chocolate cake stuffed with a hot fudge like filling. They’re light, airy, and fluffy and have a liquid-y rich chocolate center.
- In a large bowl, beat together cake mix, instant pudding, buttermilk, butter, and eggs with a hand mixer. We’re basically amping up the boxed cake mix with pudding, buttermilk, and butter. 🙂
- Evenly scoop the batter into the prepared pans.
- Place a scoop of the ganache into the center of the batter and gently press down.
- One pan at a time, bake 15-20 minutes (I did 19 minutes) in preheated oven.
- Let cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing (see video). Serve and enjoy!
Chocolate lava cake without ramekins
You don’t need any fancy equipment for today’s recipe! Instead of using ramekins, we’re using muffin tins. Scoop the batter into a greased muffin tin, add in a dollop of ganache, and bake as directed. To remove the cakes from the muffin tin, simply cool for 5 minutes, then flip the muffin tin upside down onto a rimmed baking sheet. See video for visual. This recipe has been specifically written for a muffin tin, so I wouldn’t recommend using ramekins.
If you’re following another recipe that uses a ramekin, I also wouldn’t suggest using muffin tins for that recipe.
Make ahead instructions
The ganache and lava cake batter can both be made up to 2 days in advance. Make the ganache as directed, then cover with saran wrap and keep in the fridge. Make the chocolate cake batter as directed, then cover with saran wrap and store in the fridge.
When you’re ready to make the lava cakes, keep the ganache in the fridge until you’re ready to scoop the ganache into the batter, but allow the cake batter to come to room temperature before continuing with the recipe.
Lava cakes are most commonly chocolate cake with a molten chocolate center, but here are some fun twists on the classic!
- Lemon Lava Cakes
- Molten Dulce de Leche Cakes
- Marshmallow Chocolate Lava Cakes
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Lava Cakes
- Salted Caramel Chocolate Lava Cakes
How to know when molten chocolate cake is done
The middle will probably still looked gooey and undercooked, but the sides will be set. That’s how you’ll know it’s done. You can insert a toothpick into the sides and it should come out *almost* clean. That being said, if you follow the directions, you should be good to go!
How to freeze
If you’re like to freeze the lava cakes, bake, cool, then flip the pan onto a rimmed baking sheet, as directed. Allow them to cool completely before freezing in a freezer safe, sealed container. They can be frozen for up to 3 months. Re-heat in the microwave before serving.
How to store molten chocolate lava cake
The best part about these lava cakes is you can make them to serve immediately or pull them out of the freezer for a sweet treat on a rainy day.
How to store at room temperature: You can leave the cooked and cooled lava cakes in a sealed container (I like using a gallon sized ziplock baggie) for up to 3 days at room temperature. Longer than that and they might start to mold, because they’re so moist. Place in the microwave to-reheat until warm.
How to store in the fridge: You can leave the cooked and cooled lava cakes in a sealed container (I like using a gallon sized ziplock baggie) for up to 2 weeks. Place in the microwave to-reheat until warm. They may *slightly* dry out, but nothing a little ice cream and hot fudge drizzle can’t fix!
How to store in the freezer: You can leave the cooked and cooled lava cakes in a sealed container (I like using a gallon sized ziplock baggie) for up to 3 months. Place in the microwave to-reheat until warm.
What to serve with lava cake
Serve your lava cakes with ice cream (any flavor you choose), whipped cream, cool whip, fresh fruit: berries in particular . . . you can’t go wrong! Anything cool and creamy like ice cream and whipped cream are a nice contrast to the sweet cake, rich chocolate, and warm texture. The berries also add a nice contrasting punch!
Cake Mix Chocolate Lava Cake
Equipment for this recipe
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 (15.25 oz) box devil's food cake mix*
- 1 (3.9 oz) box chocolate instant pudding
- 1 1/4 cups fat free buttermilk room temperature
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- Heat heavy cream in the microwave until slightly steaming but not simmering, about 90 seconds.
- Pour over chocolate chips.
- Stir until melted.
- Let cool, cover, then refrigerate overnight or until firm (it should still be scoop-able).
- Keep ganache in the fridge until RIGHT when you’re ready to use it.
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- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease 2 (12 slot) non-stick muffin tins with cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, beat together cake mix, instant pudding, buttermilk, butter, and eggs.
- Evenly scoop the batter into the prepared pans (about 3 tablespoons or a big cookie scoop worth - should fill 1/2 the muffin tin).
- Place 1 level tablespoon ganache into the center of the batter and gently press down. It’s ok if the ganache isn’t fully submerged.
- One pan at a time, bake 15-20 minutes (I did 19 minutes) in preheated oven. The center will still be gooey, but an inserted toothpick in the edge of the cake will come out *mostly* clean.
- Let the cakes cool for 5 minutes in the pan.
- Run a knife along the sides of the cakes. Place a baking sheet on top of the muffin pan and flip them. The cakes should pop out.**
- Serve with powdered sugar, ice cream, whipped cream, hot fudge, etc. and enjoy!
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*Note: Nutrition information is estimated and varies based on products used.