Flourless Chocolate Lava Cake for Passover

Flourless Chocolate Lava Cake with Blackberries for Passover (gluten free) | Photo by Zoë François

The chocolate lava cake has got to be one of the most popular desserts to ever hit American dessert menus. The story goes that Jean-George Vongerichten created it in New York, sometime in the 80s. Others claim it goes farther back in history and should be credited to the French. Whoever was the first to pull a chocolate cake from the oven too soon, to discover that it was thoroughly baked on the outside and still warm and gooey on the inside, was a genius. Since the 80s nearly all restaurants have created a version of chocolate lava cakes. Some of the recipes, including Vongerichten’s, are not actually flourless, but for Passover it must be. The version I have created is made with bittersweet chocolate, cocoa powder, butter and egg whites. It is just a touch lighter in texture than many recipes, due to the whipped egg whites. If you need to make the dessert parve (no dairy), you can replace the butter with your favorite margarine or butter substitute, but not oil. These can be prepared a few days ahead, refrigerated and baked just before serving.

Greased Ramekins | Flourless Chocolate Lava Cake for Passover (gluten free) | Photo by Zoë François

Flourless Chocolate Lava Cakes

10 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

1/4 cup (1 ounce) cocoa powder (Dutched or Natural), sifted if very lumpy

5 ounces (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter (or margarine), plus extra for ramekins

pinch salt

2/3 cup (6 fl oz) egg whites (about 6 large egg whites)

1/4 cup (2 ounces) sugar, plus extra for dusting ramekins

4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/2-ounce chunks for center of cake (optional)

Powdered sugar for top of cakes

Blackberries or raspberries for top of cakes

To make the cakes:

grease eight 6-Ounce Ramekins with butter and then coat with sugar, set aside.

Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in the center of the oven.

Chopped chocolate | Flourless Chocolate Lava Cake for Passover (gluten free) | Photo by Zoë François

Place the chopped chocolate in a large bowl over a pot of simmering water to create a double boiler. Once the water is simmering, turn off the heat and allow the chocolate to melt.

Whisking ingredients | Flourless Chocolate Lava Cake for Passover (gluten free) | Photo by Zoë François

Whisk in the cocoa powder, butter and salt.

Smooth batter | Flourless Chocolate Lava Cake for Passover (gluten free) | Photo by Zoë François

It should be smooth, with no visible lumps.

A whisk with egg whites at soft peaks | Flourless Chocolate Lava Cake for Passover (gluten free) | Photo by Zoë François

Whip the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Reduce the speed and slowly add the sugar to the whites. Once it is all added turn the speed to medium-high and whip to medium-soft peaks.

Mixing egg whites into batter | Flourless Chocolate Lava Cake for Passover (gluten free) | Photo by Zoë François

Mix 1/3 of the whites into the chocolate to loosen it up.

Chocolate batter with egg whites folded in | Flourless Chocolate Lava Cake for Passover (gluten free) | Photo by Zoë François

Gently fold another 1/3 of the whites into the chocolate. Repeat with the last of the whites.

Piping batter into ramekins | Flourless Chocolate Lava Cake for Passover (gluten free) | Photo by Zoë François

Put the batter into a large piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Divide evenly among the prepared ramekins.

Ramekins with batter, ready for the oven | Flourless Chocolate Lava Cake for Passover (gluten free) | Photo by Zoë François

it should go about 1/2 way up the sides. If it is more than 2/3 then use more ramekins.

Chunk of chocolate pressed into the top of the baked cake | Flourless Chocolate Lava Cake for Passover (gluten free) | Photo by Zoë François

The trick to getting a fluid center to these chocolate lava cakes is the timing in the oven. I usually bake just one to make sure I have the right timing. I break it open and see if the center is still gooey, if not, I reduce the time. If the cake just falls apart I add another minute to the baking.

As a bit of insurance you can add 1/2-ounce chunk of chocolate to the center of the cake, this will be nice and runny, no matter if you are a minute over. Just press it into the top of the cakes, just beneath the surface (a bit farther down than this picture shows).

Cake cooling | Flourless Chocolate Lava Cake for Passover (gluten free) | Photo by Zoë François

Bake the cakes for about 8 minutes (if the batter is still warm) or 10 minutes if the batter has been refrigerated first. Don’t forget to do a test on just one cake to get the timing just right.

Remove from the oven and let the chocolate lava cakes sit for about 3 minutes before inverting onto a plate. If the cake is stuck, run a thin paring knife around the edge.

Finished cake topped with blackberries and a sprinkle of powdered sugar | Flourless Chocolate Lava Cake for Passover (gluten free) | Photo by Zoë François

Cover the top with berries and a dusting of powdered sugar.

Chocolate oozing out | Flourless Chocolate Lava Cake for Passover (gluten free) | Photo by Zoë François

When you cut into the center of your chocolate lava cakes, chocolate should run out onto the plate. Enjoy!

Here are some of my other favorite Passover desserts from past years:

(Click on the pictures for recipe)

Caramel Matzo Crunch | photo by Zoë François

Caramel Matzo Crunch

Coconut Haystacks | photo by Zoë François

Coconut Haystacks

Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte made with Matzo Meal | photo by Zoë François

Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte – Made with Matzo meal

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30 thoughts to “Flourless Chocolate Lava Cake for Passover”

  1. Hello, I’m planning to make these tonight so probably too late for a response but in case you see this can you let me know whether the butter should be room temperature or melted? I’m thinking room temp and it will melt naturally into the hot melted chocolate? Thanks.

  2. Hi Zoe,

    You said the batter can be refrigerated. How long can it be refrigerated? It is just me and my husband and this would be excellent for dessert each night.
    Thank you,

    1. Hi Sherry,

      Just put the ramekins filled with the batter in the refrigerator and cover with plastic. Then you bake as directed. I’ve left them for a few days, so this should work well.

      Enjoy, Zoë

  3. Your lava cake looks wonderful. My questions are first does the lava stay liquid as does the choc. chunk in the middle when it cools or does need to serve a lava cake only warm?
    Also I do not have kosher for Passover cocoa. May I use a little potato
    starch or cake meal if needed or will it matter if I leave out the cocoa.

    1. Hi Mille,

      I am sorry to answer this so late! As the cake cools the chocolate will firm up again. This cake will be very different with potato starch, so it may be one better saved for a time when you can find kosher cocoa.

      Thanks, Zoë

  4. The lava cake looks absolutely delicious and plan on making them for our passover Seders. Minus the powdered sugar of course since that is not kosher for Passover! thanks for giving us some delicious options for the holiday!

  5. Hi Zoe,
    These look fantastic and I’m sure will taste divine too.
    Just wanted to know, if using flour how does the recipe change?

    1. Hi Mesha,

      I have never attempted this particular cake with flour. Are you wanting to replace the nuts with flour?

      Thanks, Zoë

  6. Thanks for the explanation of the eggs. I bet I can freeze an egg yolk in an ice cube tray.

    I am grateful for all I am learning from you, Zoe!


  7. Zoe, your photography is phenomenal.
    For this one or any other where whipping egg whites is required, can I use liquid egg whites from the carton? Do they whip the same way as fresh egg whites?

    1. Hi RC,

      Yes, the egg whites in the container are fine to use. Pasteurizing the eggs, which is typically the case with the ones in the carton, does effect their ability to whip, but it is negligible and you may not notice a difference at all.

      Thanks, Zoë

  8. Zoe, every time I save an egg that I have cracked open, it looks terrible the next day. If I don’t use it the same day, I have to toss it. So I really don’t know how to save yolks for later use.

    How can I do that? THANKS!

    1. Hi Judy,

      You can freeze them or put them in a container in the refrigerator that is airtight. It is the air that creates a skin on the yolks. If you had enough of them you can even place plastic wrap directly on the surface in the container.

      Thanks, Zoë

  9. Thanks, Zoe. I look forward to the recipe! I’m going to do a “dry run” of a flourless chocolate cake by Weight Watchers, just to practice whipping egg whites for the first time.


  10. Hi Zoë,
    From experience, you can use tin foil cups instead of ramekins – it works great. You can also freeze the batter in the cups and then cook for 11-12 minutes.

    1. Hi Michal,

      That is exactly right. When I use to make this in a restaurant we would freeze them and bake to order, worked perfectly. We also used the disposable metal tins, but I can’t find them in the stores anymore for home use?

      Thanks, Zoë

  11. Hi Zoe,

    This recipe sounds fabulous! We have someone celebrating their anniversary at the seder, and this will be perfect. I was able to get the next to impossible sticks of Passover margarine this year, too. Someone found them in a big city, so I have 2 sticks I can use. I feel like I have contraband!

    But the ramekins aren’t going to work for me. We don’t have any that are ok for Passover, and borrowing from a neighbor won’t work.

    What else would work? I have a tube pan, and a springform pan.

    Also, any tips on what to do with all the egg YOLKS? Can they be frozen in batches? What can be made with them after Passover? Can they be used to brush on breads after defrosted?

    Thanks so much!!! And Happy Passover to you and your family.


    1. Hi Judy,

      I have a recipe that I just did for the cooking Channel that they will be posting this week that I think may work even better for you. It is one that can be done ahead and doesn’t require individual servings. I will find out when they are posting the recipe and let you know.

      The problem with doing this recipe as a large cake is that you won’t have the liquid middle or the whole thing will just collapse and not be very attractive. It may be better saved for an occasion when you can use your ramekins?

      When you do end up making this recipe save all the yolks for custards, cheesecake or ice cream. You can certainly use them as an egg wash as well.

      Happy holiday to you and your family!

      Thanks, Zoë

  12. I don’t have enough ramekins for the number of people at the seder we are going to. Would it work to bake them in muffin tins?

    1. Hi KSK,

      Good question, they are a little fragile to try to turn them all out of the muffin tins at once. You can always borrow ramekins from your neighbor! 😉

      Thanks, Zoë

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