Recipe: Slow Cooker Chocolate Lava Cake

updated Jan 21, 2020
Valentine's Day
Slow Cooker Chocolate Lava Cake
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

If Valentine’s Day had a mascot, it would be the chocolate lava cake. Luxurious and bittersweet, this dessert is Valentine’s Day in a mouthful. And while I enjoy a romantic night out, there is no love lost for me in avoiding overcrowded dining rooms packed like the most elegantly lit tin can of sardines on February 14. Instead, I will spend Cupid’s finest hour at home spooning a strikingly decadent molten chocolate cake out of the slow cooker.

The Chocolate Lava Cake We Secretly Love

Without fail, every time I go out with the girls, a chocolate lava cake erupts at the table. You may hate to admit it, but everyone wants the chocolate lava cake; the desire for rich cake and velvety chocolate center is simply too strong.

Jean-Georges Vongerichten popularized the molten chocolate lava cake in the 1990s, although like most food origin stories, its lineage reaches back in time. Vongerichten’s cake was a slightly underbaked almost flourless cake, while in other iterations, a pool of luscious melted ganache sits beneath the surface of a rich chocolate cake. No longer reserved for trendy upscale restaurants, molten lava cake still remains one of the most decadent and luscious of chocolate desserts.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

The slow cooker might not seem like the most romantic tool for Valentine’s Day dinner, but the magic of this machine’s slow and even heating is that it delivers a moist and tender chocolate cake with a velvety molten center. And since no one wants to spend their Valentine’s Day dishing out individual servings, simply serve straight from the slow cooker — a gift when celebrating with a large group of loved ones.

Whether you serve your best group of gals or (like me) a table of toddlers, a generous dusting of powdered sugar and a tumble of tart berries add the finishing touch to this decadent chocolate dessert.

Slow Cooker Chocolate Lava Cake

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info


  • 1 1/4 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1 cup

    unsweetened natural cocoa powder, divided

  • 2 teaspoons

    baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    fine salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    espresso powder

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1

    large egg yolk

  • 1/2 cup

    whole milk

  • 6 tablespoons

    vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1/4 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • 2 ounces

    bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao), finely chopped

  • 1 1/4 cups

    boiling water

For serving:

  • Powdered sugar

  • Fresh berries

  • Vanilla ice cream


  1. Coat a 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray; set aside.

  2. Whisk the flour, granulated sugar, 2/3 cup of the cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder together in a large bowl. Add the egg, egg yolk, milk, oil, and vanilla and stir until combined. Pour the batter into the slow cooker. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup cocoa powder and the brown sugar over the top of the batter. Scatter the chopped chocolate evenly over the top. Pour in the water, but do not stir.

  3. Cover and cook on the LOW setting until the cake pulls away from the edge and the center of the cake wobbles slightly, 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours. You will see some bubbling around the edges. Spoon into serving dishes, dust with powdered sugar, and serve with fresh berries and vanilla ice cream.

Recipe Notes

Storage: The cake is best served the day it is made. Cover leftovers and store in the slow cooker insert or an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.