Voters in my unofficial Instagram poll agree. What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with a warm, dense chocolate dessert? Mix these Individual Chocolate Mocha Lava Cakes ahead and bake them to order so that you have a warm dessert for your sweetheart.

Although the batter is quite simple, blending then beating it thoroughly helps ensure  a light texture. You beat the batter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whip or using a hand mixer until it resembles fluffy marshmallow. Then you fill  individual heart-shaped molds or ceramic ramekins with the batter. Refrigerate the batter-filled molds for up to two days. Then bake them when needed. A gooey center of melted bittersweet or milk chocolate doubles the chocolate punch.

What brand of chocolate you ask? Find the best quality available and the brand that you can afford.  The dessert’s appeal rests on the quality of the chocolate. (Please don’t melt generic chocolate chips, which are usually made with ingredients added to keep them from losing shape.) I was recently given a box of Scharffenberger chocolate as a gift from the Jacques Pepin Foundation. Magical flavors slightly high in a fruity acidity, which gave a distinct taste to chocolate pudding that I made with it. For a deeper, nuttier chocolate taste, I use Callebaut. Their Mi-Amère 58% Dark Chocolate is delicious as in anything from Valrhona.  Guittard and Ghirardelli, which are available at many grocery stores make pleasing chocolate for baking too.

These Individual Chocolate Mocha Lava Cakes are rich and intensely chocolate. Reserve them for the grownups and serve after a lighter meal. And if you prefer something creamy and fruity for your love bug, try these Petits Coeurs Almond Cheesecakes instead.

About This Photo

The Love Triangle card in the background of this photo comes from Cummings and Good, who offer many inspired and witty cards for those you love on any occasion.

Individual Chocolate Mocha Lava Cakes

Yield: 6 Servings

Individual Chocolate Mocha Lava Cakes


3 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate

6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

1 teaspoon instant coffee dissolved in 1 teaspoon water.

6 small pieces, about 1-inch square, bittersweet, or milk chocolate

Whipped cream or ice cream, if desired


  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Grease 6 individual 3 to 4-ounce ramekins or muffin cups.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over simmering water.
  3. Combine the flour, sugar, eggs, egg yolks and coffee in the bowl of a mixer fitter with the whip.
  4. Beat the mixture together until combined, about 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl then add the melted chocolate and butter mixture. Beat on medium speed for a minute. Scrape the bowl then beat the mixture on medium high for 5 minutes. The mixture will become fluffy and have a dense marshmallow-like texture. (The mixture can be made ahead to this point and refrigerated, covered, for up to 5 days before using.)
  5. When ready to serve, portion 1/3 of a cup of chocolate batter in each greased ramekin. (Greasing the measuring cup will help the batter release easily.) Tuck one piece of bittersweet chocolate into the center of the batter in each ramekin. Spread some of the batter to cover any exposed chocolate.
  6. Bake the cakes until well puffed around the edges and the center is still slightly soft to the touch, for about 10 to 14 minutes (A shallow ramekin will bake more quickly than a deep muffin cup. Batter than has been chilled will take longer than freshly made batter.) Unmold the hot baked cakes onto serving plates.
  7. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.