Molten Chocolate Cake with Coconut Whipped Cream and Pistachios (gluten-free, paleo)


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This decadent and sinfully good molten chocolate cake (aka – chocolate lava cake) will have you doing the happy dance. It’s also gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free and paleo.

When I made this recipe for the first time I seriously did a happy dance. It’s so unbelievable decadent and sinfully good – you guys are gonna love it!

It’s a healthier take on the traditional molten chocolate cake, using honey instead of processed sugar and high-quality, dairy-free chocolate. I also swap out butter for organic palm shortening to keep it 100% dairy-free. Now, I can (and do) eat grass-fed Kerry Gold butter, but palm shortening is an awesome alternative for those who are dairy sensitive. Quite frankly, I was super curious to see how this recipe would turn out removing the butter, so it was a bit of an experiment. But I’m happy to report that these molten chocolate cakes are just as good with palm shortening as they are with butter.

So what exactly is palm shortening? It’s derived from palm oil and a mixture of saturated and unsaturated fats. Remember, good quality saturated fats are NOT bad for you (butter was thankfully redeemed in this Time article)…and healthy fats are critical for basic bodily functions such as immunity and hormone development.

But let’s be very clear, organic palm shortening is NOT the same as Crisco. Crisco is very unhealthy – it’s highly processed, hydrogenated and contains trans fats which have been linked to cancer, type 2 diabetes, hardening of the arteries, stroke, immune dysfunction and a whole host of other diseases. In other words – you really shouldn’t come anywhere near Crisco.

Organic palm shortening on the other hand is trans fat free, not hydrogenated and derived from virgin palm oil. A few more things I love about it – it’s neutral in flavor, has a high melting point (so is a good fat for frying) and is extremely shelf stable. I’ve had one tub of palm shortening for a long time, so it’s worth the investment for the good stuff. And it’s absolutely perfect for this recipe! But if you can handle butter, feel free to use that instead.

So what makes this molten chocolate cake recipe perfect for those who are also gluten-free and grain-free? Cassava flour! I’ve touted the benefits of cassava flour numerous times before in my recipe for cassava flour tortillas and my post 5 Things You Need to Know About Cassava Flour. It’s an amazing gluten-free, grain-free flour. And just a couple of tablespoons in this recipe ensures that your molten chocolate cake stays firm on the outside and oozy, gooey, delicious on the inside.

The topping is a quick and easy coconut whipped cream. Well, easy if you get a good can of coconut milk that separates appropriately when chilled. Yep, they’re totally temperamental. I typically put two cans of coconut milk in the refrigerator each time, just in case. I’ve worked with every brand of coconut milk under the sun and unfortunately none of them are 100% consistent, but this brand seems to work the best.

And that’s it…with some chopped pistachios on top. A scrumptious molten chocolate cake that’s dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, paleo-friendly and maybe, just maybe, your new favorite dessert!


If you make this, I’d love to see! Tag your photo with #downshiftology on Instagram.

Molten Chocolate Cake with Coconut Whipped Cream and Pistachios (dairy-free, paleo)

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Lisa Bryan


This decadent and sinfully good molten chocolate cake (aka – chocolate lava cake) will have you doing the happy dance. It’s also gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free and paleo.




  • Ensure that the can of coconut milk has been refrigerated overnight. Open the top of the can and carefully spoon out the hardened coconut cream into a small bowl, leaving the coconut water behind. (note: If your can has not fully separated into coconut cream and coconut water, you'll need to try again with a new can).
  • Using a hand mixer, whip the coconut cream, vanilla and honey for 1-2 minutes. Place in the refrigerator.
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees fahrenheit. Grease and flour four 6 ounce ramekins with a little palm shortening and cassava flour. Set the ramekins on a baking sheet and set aside.
  • Heat the palm shortening in a small pot over medium heat until fully melted (1-2 minutes), then turn off the heat. Add the chocolate to the warm palm shortening and stir until melted.
  • In a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer with a medium sized bowl), beat the eggs, egg yolks, honey, vanilla extract and salt at high speed for approximately 2-3 minutes. The mixture should slightly thicken and turn a pale yellow.
  • Turn the stand mixer to low speed and slowly add the chocolate and cassava flour until fully combined into a batter consistency. (note: the chocolate should not be hot, only slightly warm).
  • Spoon the batter into the ramekins and bake for 8-9 minutes or until the tops and sides have set but the centers are still soft and slightly jiggly.
  • Let the cakes cool in the ramekins for one minute, then invert each ramekin on a plate. You may need to gently tap the ramekin to unmold the cake.
  • Top with the coconut cream and pistachios and serve immediately (as the coconut cream will melt quickly on the warm cakes).


Calories: 921kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 76g | Saturated Fat: 38g | Cholesterol: 180mg | Sodium: 205mg | Potassium: 710mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 310IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 10.7mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: gluten free molten chocolate lava cake, molten chocolate lava cake, paleo molten chocolate lava cake
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

Other desserts you might like:

Roasted Cherry Cardamom Ice Cream
Nectarine Panna Cotta with Roasted Plums
Raw Mixed Berry and Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

Watch the video for how to make coconut whipped cream

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating


  1. A delicious dessert for chocolate lovers. Perfect size. I substituted the palm oil for unsalted butter. I will make this again and again and again. Thanks for this lovely recipe Lisa.5 stars

  2. I can’t have eggs (darn food sensitivities). I’ve had pretty good look substituting flaxseed or chia seed “eggs” but I’m not sure how to substitute for just the yolks. Are they just binders or do they serve any other function? I might just have to experiment to figure it out. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how it goes. Love your blog! 😊

    1. Hi Suzanne – in this recipe the yolks add creaminess and binding. If you try it with egg substitutes, let us know how it turns out! :)

  3. Would it be possible to substitute coconut oil for palm oil shortening as not availabe in the country I live in. Barb, Australia

    1. Hi Barbara – I haven’t tried that yet in this recipe, so not sure how it would turn out. If you give it a try, let us know how it goes!

    2. Hi Barb, I’ve been using gee and it’s fantastic! I also used coconut flour as couldn’t find the other one and it’s just as yummy!

  4. Thank you for this fantastic recipe Lisa. Your recipes are truly the best. I’ve made this one twice now. First for our stay home Anniversary dinner and then again, just because. :) They are AMAZING. So rich in fact that my husband and I share one between us we can’t get through one on our own – and he especially has quite a sweet tooth! Thanks for this!!!!!5 stars

      1. Also one thing I forgot to mention is that we have put them in the fridge and eaten them the next day. While the molten effect is obviously gone, they are soft and gooey on the inside and soooooo delicious.

  5. Hi! This looks amazing. You carefully got organic palm oil, but unfortunately, we’ve been conned. The “certified sustainable” palm plantations are losing 4% MORE of their forests (38%) than their non-certified counterparts. And all of them are a pollution disaster due to their massive burning. It’s infuriating that they just lied and got away with it. My reason for sharing all that was to ask if organic coconut oil would work instead? It does act like shortening. Thanks for the recipe and your help.

    1. Hi Melody – unfortunately, I haven’t tried this recipe with coconut oil so not sure how it would turn out, but it’s worth a try!

    1. Hi Alison – I’ve only tried this recipe with cassava flour, so not sure how it would work with other flours. And the shortening could be replaced with butter.

  6. I made this recipe and it was delicious!!! I plan to make the cakes again for a dinner party this weekend and I’m wondering, would it be possible to make the batter and pour it in the ramekins a few hours in advance, and then bake it once we’ve finished eating dinner? If so, would it be better to keep the ramekins with batter in the fridge or at room temperature? Thank you!

    1. Hmm, not sure if that would work. I think the flour in the batter would continue to absorb the moisture and maybe dry it out. But if you try it, let me know how it turns out!

  7. I JUST found your site by accident. As I have multiple food sensitivities, your recipes look SO ‘doable’ for me. I plan to try your ‘Molten Chocolate Cake’ next week for our son’s birthday. I am almost excited about baking again!

    1. Wonderful! I’m glad you found me as well, Fran. :) I hope you enjoy the molten chocolate cake and my other recipes! Enjoy!

    1. Hi Jen – butter or ghee should work as well. I haven’t tested it that way though. If you try it, let me know how it turns out! :)

  8. You can buy coconut cream, in a 5.4oz can. Would this work instead of trying the crap shoot method of hoping coconut milk separates while in the fridge overnight?

    1. Unfortunately, no. Canned coconut cream is a liquid (a mix of the hardened coconut cream and coconut water). It won’t whip into cream the same way as the separated, hardened cream from coconut milk.

      1. Thanks for your quick reply! I’m new to a paleo diet, and it’s a steep learning curve when figuring out substitutions, etc.! :-)

      2. You’re welcome! And don’t worry, you’ll get there little bit by little bit! :) x

  9. I made this again last night, but made the mistake of dusting the ramekins w/ cacao powder instead of cassava flour (I’m a fussy Type-A & don’t like white stuff on my chocolate goodies when they come out of pans, molds, & such – I need to get over that). They did not want to release and, for some reason, required extra baking time even though the oven temp was spot on. The 1st one that decided to jump ship was still cake-like and gooey; it pretty much collapsed as soon as I put a fork to it. It tasted fantastic w/ the coconut whipped cream (which melted almost immediately) & the pistachios. Next time, I’ll dust w/ cassava flour as directed, bake them an extra minute or 2, & allow them to rest in the ramekins a tad longer prior to inverting them on serving plates so they hold their shape. No one believes me that something so decadently rich falls into the “healthy” category. Of course moderation is key, but these surely beat ANY treat w/ refined sugars, preservatives, chemicals, & other little nasties. xo

  10. I made them last night and EVERYONE loved them. I may have to double it next time! Thanks again for a stellar recipe, Lisa.

    1. Molten chocolate cakes are a way to definitely gain love and affection, huh? ;) Glad to hear you made them with success! x

  11. I’m going to make these tonight & noticed that your ramekins are on a flat baking sheet nestled in a baking dish. Is there a specific reason for that, or is it just for easy handling in & out of the oven? Also, how far in advance can I make the batter? Is 2 hours okay, or is that enough time to change the chemical reactions amongst the ingredients And if the whipped cream is made ahead of time (as in this morning), do you recommend re-whipping it with a whisk or in the stand mixer? Thanks! xo

  12. these look awesome! Do you think I can make the cake batter in advance and store in the fridge overnight and then cook while we are eating Thanksgiving dinner? Trying to plan and do some things a day ahead . . . thanks!!

    1. Hi Julie – unfortunately batter made ahead of time doesn’t usually work, due to chemical reactions between the ingredients. But I have done the coconut whipped cream the day before and refrigerated, so you might save time there. This recipe really does come together quickly though (especially if your ingredients are pre-measured and ready to go) – so it’s worth sneaking away for 20 minutes to make! Hope that helps! :) x

  13. This may be a dumb question: Is it that the ramekin itself that weighs 6oz (the ones that are 3″ across & 1 1/4″ deep), or that the ramekin holds 6 oz?

  14. I saw the photo series of this dessert & it’s another, “I HAVE TO MAKE THIS!” recipe. Regarding coconut milk, I’ve had the best luck using Native Forest unsweetened, organic, full-fat coconut milk. Each can (even w/ this brand) is truly different when it comes to separating, so DO put 2 (or more if doubling the recipe for company) in the fridge. Lisa, my pantry contains these flours: spelt (so far, I’ve had no issues w/ it), quinoa, sweet potato, besan (chickpea), arrowroot, fine coconut (Nutiva), fine almond (WellBee’s / Honeyville), tapioca, plantain, Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose baking. I just placed an order for Otto’s Cassiva, Vital Zymes (I take Triphala right now), & more activated charcoal. I ALWAYS have A.C. handy, kinda like my Epi Pen. I don’t go anywhere w/o it… you just never know… Innyhoo- since the Cassiva flour won’t arrive in time for Thanksgiving, of the flours I have, which would you recommend using? Sweet potato is a no-brainer. Thanks! :-)

    1. Yes, it’s an amazingly delish recipe! :) As for the flours, I’ve only “tested” it with cassava flour, so can’t guarantee how the others might turn out. I’ve actually never baked with sweet potato flour – but might have to try! My gut tells me arrowroot, tapioca or a GF all purpose flour would be your best alternatives. Let me know how it turns out! :) x

      1. Cassava has shipped! I’ll try it w/ GF, wheat free, dairy free flour for now & let you know how it goes. Coconut milk is already in the fridge. :-D

  15. These look amazing! If I wanted to make it for a larger group (e.g. thanksgiving), could I use a large ramekin (e.g. 9 inch) and cook longer?

    1. Hi Julie – I’ve only made this recipe with small, individual ramekins. But my gut tells me that a large version won’t work as the inside won’t set up properly. Also, molten cakes are usually served individually and immediately right out of the oven – for that combo cake/gooey molten-ness. If you’re looking to serve this to a larger group, I would recommend just doubling the recipe and buying more ramekins…or maybe making my clementine upside down cake. Hope that helps! :) x

  16. Hi Lisa, I’m just trying to further sort our ‘getting there’ family diet! Our sugar intake is vastly reduced, just use small amounts of natural alternatives now, & trying to cut the grains… & try new recipes too….love the look of some of yours I’ve seen so far, with your words of encouragement, great!
    Just to let you know a discovery I made, to use as occasional cream alternative, is ‘CO YO’ coconut milk yogurt…it’s great, thick & creamy in natural or vanilla, made in UK, but may be available elsewhere?? IT isn’t cheap for a 250g pot, but goes a long way, it being rich means you don’t need much (I buy in Waitrose in UK).

    1. Hi Julie – you sound like you’re rocking your family’s approach to healthy eating – bravo! I LOVE coconut milk yogurt as well. I purchase it in a local health food shop and found it all over the world when I was traveling, which was awesome. I’ve been thinking of doing a tutorial on how to make your own (as it’s heaps cheaper!). Maybe I’ll add that to the top of my list! Thanks so much for your kind words and keep doing what you’re doing! :) x

  17. I can’t even believe this! I just need some cassava flour and then I’m making these for my next date night in. Beauty!!

  18. Another amazing looking recipe! I have a question: I’ve tried making coconut whipped cream before, and while it turns out the right texture, the colour is greyish. Is that normal? I can’t ever seem to get the white colour I see in photos, and I’m wondering what I’m doing wrong.

    1. That’s absolutely normal – and very dependent on the brand. Some brands are more white, some a bit more grey. As long as it whips up properly, you’re good to go! :) x

  19. is it possible to sub coconut flour for the cassava flour?
    I don’t have cassava and would prefer to keep starches out.

    1. Hi Sophie – I have not tried it with coconut flour, but coconut flour is more dense and absorbent than cassava flour. You may have to increase the liquid a bit (ie – add another egg), but give it a try and let me know how it turns out! :) x

  20. I’m doing a happy dance for you sharing this recipe! Thank you! Molten cakes are as delicious as they are little culinary masterpieces.