The Cake That Hides A Dramatic Surprise

Put some green in your life in a different way this St. Patrick's Day.
Put some green in your life in a different way this St. Patrick’s Day.

There are cakes, which when cut, tumble out a hidden torrent of rainbow sprinkles or M&Ms.

This cake also boasts a surprise center, but a far more sophisticated one.

Cut into it with a fork, and a gush of melty, brilliant-green, matcha-chocolate will flow out instead.

This genius recipe for “Matcha Chocolate Lava Cakes” is from “The Honeysuckle Cookbook” (Rodale, 2020) by Dzung Lewis, a former Bay Area financial analyst who moved to Los Angeles to pursue her passion for cooking with her YouTube channel “Honeysuckle.”

There are several techniques to create the molten center of lava cakes. This one relies on freezing matcha ganache — melted white chocolate mixed with matcha and a little oil — in an ice cube tray until solid. The frozen cube then gets set into the cake batter, so that during baking, the frozen ganache slowly liquifies within the set cake.

Specifically, you’ll need a 1 1/4-inch-square silicone ice cube tray for this. Although Lewis instructs in the recipe to make sure the ganache fills each square to the top, I found that I didn’t have nearly enough to do so. Instead, mine probably came up only 3/4 of the way. But if you’re using a silicone tray, you have nothing to fear. You’ll still be able to pop out the cubes easily.

Chocolate lava cakes with the surprise of molten white chocolate-matcha ganache inside.
Chocolate lava cakes with the surprise of molten white chocolate-matcha ganache inside.

The chocolate cake batter is just dark chocolate melted with a stick of butter, and mixed with eggs, egg yolks, a touch of sugar, and all of 1 tablespoon of flour.

Be sure to butter and flour your ramekins well, so that the cakes will release easily. Then, spoon some of the cake batter into each one, place a matcha-white chocolate cube in the center, then cover with the rest of the batter, before sliding into a hot oven.

Making the frozen ganache cubes.
Making the frozen ganache cubes.
One frozen cube gets placed inside each ramekin, then covered with the chocolate cake batter.
One frozen cube gets placed inside each ramekin, then covered with the chocolate cake batter.

After cooling briefly, invert each cake onto a serving plate, dust with matcha and serve immediately.

The warm cake is tender and moist. When cut into, the molten center will gush out. It’s fairly sweet from the white chocolate, but mitigated a bit by the grassy, astringent taste of the green tea.

If you don’t eat them all right after baking, you can definitely store the remainder, covered on your counter. Then, just microwave briefly to warm through and get the filling runny again.

I’ll let you in on a secret, too. The first time I made this, I completely forgot to add the stick of butter to the cake batter. Oops! (I blame Daylight Savings Time on my mental lapse.) But you know what? It wasn’t missed. The cake still turned out plenty rich tasting.

Adding the butter will add lushness and result in slightly larger cakes with a darker hue. They’ll also sport an airier crumb, as opposed to the version without butter that bakes up more compact and fudge brownie-like in texture. Because the non-butter ones are a bit smaller, the matcha filling is more dramatic, spewing out faster.

So if you’re the type to beat yourself up after allowing yourself dessert, just know you don’t necessarily need to add that stick of butter. That way, you can shave off some calories, then have your cake and eat it, too — sans guilt. That’s a true win-win.

You'll feel so fancy as you enjoy these.
You’ll feel so fancy as you enjoy these.

Matcha Chocolate Lava Cakes

(Makes 4)

For the matcha ganache:

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted (you can use vegetable or canola oil instead)

1 1/2 teaspoons matcha powder

For the cakes:

Melted butter and all-purpose flour, for the ramekins

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter (see Note)

4 ounces dark chocolate (at least 60 percent cacao), chopped

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

3 tablespoons sugar

For garnishing:

Matcha powder, for serving

Make the matcha ganache: Fill a small saucepan with about an inch of water. Set a heatproof bowl over the pan, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water, and bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the white chocolate chips, coconut oil, and matcha powder to the bowl and cook, stirring, until the mixture is melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan immediately, then divide the mixture among four spaces in a 1 1/4-inch square silicone ice cube tray, taking care to fill each space all the way to the top, if possible. But if you don’t have enough ganache to reach the top, it’s fine; you’ll still be able to pop out the cubes easily. Gently tap the bottom of the tray on the countertop to disperse the ganache evenly in each square. Freeze until the cubes can be easily removed in one piece, about 45 minutes. Or alternately, make the cubes the night before you plan on baking the cakes.

Meanwhile, bake the cakes: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Brush the insides of four 4-ounce ramekins with melted butter, then dust lightly with flour and tap to remove any excess flour. Arrange the ramekins on a baking sheet.

Set another heatproof bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water and melt the butter. Add the dark chocolate and stir until smooth, then remove the bowl from the pan.

In another bowl, with a hand mixer, beat the whole eggs, egg yolks, and sugar on high speed until fluffy and a shade lighter in color, a minute or two. (Or use a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisking on medium-high speed for about 1 minute.) Pour the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture, add the flour, and mix gently until no streaks remain.

Fill each ramekin with 1/4 cup of the cake batter, then plop 1 cube of the ganache filling into the center of each. Divide the remaining cake batter among the ramekins, taking care to cover the filling completely. Bake the cakes for 7 to 9 minutes, until puffed but still a little shiny in the center.

When the cakes are done, transfer them to a cooling rack and let cool for 10 minutes. To serve, invert each ramekin onto a dessert plate, then gently remove the ramekin, tapping the sides as necessary to encourage the cake to pop out. Dust the cake with matcha and serve immediately.

Note: As mentioned in the blog post text above, the cake can be made without the stick of butter, if you prefer a cake with less fat, fewer calories, a more fudgy texture, and a more dramatic flow of ganache.

Adapted from “The Honeysuckle Cookbook” by Dzung Lewis

Another Recipe to Enjoy From Dzung Lewis: Kimchi Mac and Cheese

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10 comments

  • What a fun recipe! Love the idea of this, and the color is perfect for St. Patrick’s Day. And looks so tasty, it’s totally appropriate for the other 364 days in the year. 🙂

  • Hi John: So true! You could definitely enjoy this cake any day, any time. It’s not only fun to make, but a delight to eat. 😉

  • Do my eyes deceive me, or did you also make (at least) one frozen dark chocolate ganache cube for this baking project? I have some matcha powder on hand and just looked at your recipe for Iced Matcha Lemon Loaf Cake yesterday, but this one may very well come out ahead in the “next to bake” line up.!

  • Hi Carroll: I think that’s just a strange reflection from the light that makes it seem like there might be a dark chocolate frozen ganache cube in that tray. In reality, it’s only four green matcha-white chocolate ganache cubes. 😉

  • Wow, what a beautiful dessert! You got a good action shot of the matcha chocolate spilling out. And good to know about being able to skip the butter. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  • I’m deciding if the matcha lava looks delicious or not :), but certainly a head-turner for St. Patrick’s Day. Very unique and I’m looking forward to serving for a great conversation dessert. Even not on St. Paddy’s!

  • Hi Rosemary: It’s a very fun dessert. And yes, definitely eye-catching. Hope you and your guests enjoy it! 😉

  • Hi Joanna: Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you, too! Hope it was full of luck and prosperity. 😉

  • I can just imagine the look on guests faces when they cut into these fun little cakes, they will certainly be in for a surprise.

  • Hi Karen: Right? If you don’t tell people what to expect, they will definitely be amazed once they cut into these cute little cakes. Makes them ideal for a dinner party. 😉

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