The only thing better than an ooey, gooey chocolate cake is an ooey, gooey chocolate lava cake. The only thing better than an ooey, gooey, chocolate lava cake is one that you throw the ingredients into a crock pot and walk away from. Scoop it while it's still warm and serve that deliciousness with creamy, vanilla ice cream.
Simple Chocolate Cake Ingredients With an Extra Lava Cake Result
Although this recipe uses conventional chocolate cake ingredients (and not even all of them), the outcome is anything but conventional. The crock pot slows down the baking time, but simplifies the whole process as well. I made this recipe last weekend and the response to it was so overwhelming we resorted to serving it in Solo cups to accommodate everyone (dessert plates sacrifice too much of the lava sauce in each bite).
A Couple Quick Recommendations for Making this Crock Pot Chocolate Lava Cake:
*Adjust the bake time based on the type of crock pot you use. For a wider based crock pot, use 2 hours, but for a taller, narrower based crock pot use 2 ½ hours.
*Use Dutch Process cocoa powder (see differences highlighted below)
*For the "cake batter" follow the typical add-wet-ingredients-to dry order, but with a few tweaks. First, whisk the cocoa powder, baking powder, and flour (powder consistency igredients) in a large bowl first so that they're evenly distributed. Next, add the brown sugar and whisk into the cocoa powder and flour mixture. Whisk in the sea salt flakes and then begin adding the wet ingredients. Last, fold in the chocolate chips. The mixture will have the consistency of brownie batter.
*Make sure to spray the interior of the crock pot with baking spray before pouring in the batter.
*Don't lift the lid on the crock pot until it's reached the 2 hour mark on the crock pot.
*This is a really rich dessert, and I highly recommend serving it with vanilla ice cream.
*I also highly recommend licking the bowl and all spoons used in the preparation of the batter. It's egg-free, delicious, and reminds me of brownie batter.
Cocoa Powder: Go Dutch
There are a few things I'm extremely particular about when it comes to baking, and knowing when to use Dutch process cocoa powder or natural cocoa powder when a recipe calls for "cocoa powder" is one of them. Dutch process cocoa powder is considered "European" style and has a smoother taste and darker color because it's acids have been neutralized. Natural cocoa powder has a lighter color, and tends to carry a more metallic taste (that requires baking soda to neutralize it).
So how do you know whether a recipe is better off using Dutch Process or Natural cocoa powder? Look to see if the recipe has a heavier baking soda or baking powder content. If it has heavier baking powder, Dutch Process is the way to go. If it has a heavier baking soda content, you can use natural cocoa powder because the baking soda will neutralize the acidity from it. Dutch Process is (not so) secretly my favorite, and I personally prefer to use it wherever I can because of the taste difference and color. For reference, my two favorite brands of Dutch Process cocoa powder are Ghirardelli (linked here) and Droste (linked here). When purchasing cocoa powder, a Dutch Process cocoa powder will specify that it is Dutch Process on the label.
For this recipe, because it only uses baking powder, Dutch Process is the way to go. Dutch process cocoa powder gives this recipe an incredibly rich, smooth taste and dark, chocolate color. It literally looks as good as it tastes.
Preparing the Chocolate Cake and Lava Sauce
Follow this simple order to make this recipe. It's tried, tested, and super successful.
- Spray the crock pot interior with a baking spray. I recommend PAM Baking Spray (add link).
- Combine the "powder" dry ingredients first. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and Dutch Process cocoa powder together and then continue adding dry ingredients and whisking (brown sugar and sea salt flakes).
- When dry ingredients are well combined, begin adding in the wet ingredients and continue whisking.
- Mixture will be the consistency of cake batter when wet ingredients have been added.
- Fold in the chocolate chips last.
- Pour the cake batter into the crock pot.
- In a separate bowl, prepare the chocolate lava sauce "layer". Combine the brown sugar and dutch process cocoa powder, whisking together well. Sprinkle in an even layer over the cake batter.
- Prepare boiling water in a small/medium saucepan. Distribute it evenly and pour it over the lava sauce "layer." Do not stir in the water.
- Cover the crock pot, set it to high, and walk away for 2 hours.
- At the two hour mark, check it. The top of the cake will appear to have a sponge like texture. The magical, chocolate lava layer is in there- don't worry!
- Serve warm and top with vanilla ice cream!
Crock Pot Chocolate Lava Cake
- Spray the interior of a crock pot basin with PAM baking spray.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, Dutch Process cocoa powder, sea salt flakes and baking powder, set aside.
- Add melted butter, vanilla, and brown sugar to mixing bowl. Beat the butter with the sugar until creamy.
- Spoon in the cocoa mixture and gradually incorporate the milk and heavy cream. Batter will have the consistency of brownie batter.
- After all wet ingredients have been added and mixed in, fold in the semisweet chocolate chips. Scoop batter into Crock Pot and spread in an even layer.
- In a separate bowl, prepare the lava sauce by whisking Dutch Process cocoa powder and brown sugar together. Sprinkle mixture evenly on top of cake batter in the crock pot. Do not mix.
- Bring water to a boil and pour evenly over the lava sauce layer. Do not stir.
- Cover the crock pot, set temperature to High, and set the timer for 2 hours. Check at the 2 hour mark. Deeper, narrow-based crock pots may require additional time, but do not exceed 2 hours and 30 minutes. Chocolate Lava Cake will be ready when the top of it appears sponge-like.
- Serve warm (preferably in a bowl or mug) with vanilla ice cream.