There was a time when a molten or lava cake with a half-baked center just wasn’t a thing. The year was 1966, and the dessert that changed it all was the Tunnel of Fudge Cake; a second-place winner at a Pillsbury Bake-Off contest. Ella Helfrich, a Texan housewife, used Pillsbury’s powdered chocolate frosting that liquefied when baked to create her Bundt cake with a runny center.Jean-Georges Vongerichten, chef-owner of the popular, fine-dining Manhattan restaurant JoJo. Vongerichten claims the invention of molten chocolate cake again after under baking a chocolate sponge cake. He decides to add the delicious cake to his menu calling it a Chocolate Valrhona Cake.
By 1997, the cake is part of the cannon of classic desserts, earning a coveted recipe slot in the Joy of Cooking, one of the best-selling cookbooks of all time. The elegant dessert spread across America showing up everywhere from fine dining to fast casual restaurants.
While the technique may have been perfected by master chefs like Jacques Torres, Tom Colicchio, and of course, Vongerichten, the recipe doesn’t require a culinary heavy-weight belt to produce. This gooey, rich cake made from scratch will add a taste of chocolate decadence to the end of dinner parties and romantic dinners for two. Not to mention, one taste of the homemade version and you will forever be ruined from enjoying the pre-packaged, microwave variety again.
Angela Carlos is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Find her on Twitter and tweet @angelaccarlos.