The Trendiest Dessert Of The '90s Was Invented By Accident

While many great restaurants will try to put their own twist on a dessert menu, incorporating items that pay homage to their establishment's style of cuisine, there are a few types of dessert that pop up time and time again, like the molten lava chocolate cake recipe. Often served up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and garnished with berries or fresh mint leaves for a bit of color, this dessert has been a menu staple for decades now. But, did you know it was actually invented entirely by accident?

Melissa Clark, a food writer for The New York Times, revealed on an episode of "The Rachael Ray Show" that allegedly it was a mistake made by a chef way back in 1987 that led to the creation of the now-iconic dessert. Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten was apparently trying to whip up some standard chocolate cupcakes, and simply undercooked them. The interior remained somewhat molten, or "melted" as Clark describes it, while the exterior had presumably cooked.

The contrast in textures has become a signature of the molten chocolate lava cake, and the cupcake origin accounts for why the sweet confection is shaped like a small puck, almost like the base of a cupcake without the top. According to Clark, the dessert "really took off in popularity in 1991," and while it may no longer be the trendiest dessert offering, its continual presence on menus to this day definitely marks it as something special.

Tips for perfecting the classic treat

This dessert has remained so iconic that brands continue to riff on it. Recently, Dove released new molten lava filled chocolates. But what if you want to craft your own version right at home rather than heading out to a restaurant to enjoy the decadent chocolate-packed treat? There are a few tips to keep in mind for molten chocolate-y success.

First of all, ironically given the dish's origins, you always want to make sure that you don't overcook it. While the flavor may still be delicious, overcooking a lava cake will essentially just turn it into a regular chocolate cake — tasty, but lacking that signature gooey interior.

Another trick to ensure you get the ideal molten consistency for the interior is to use chilled chocolate ganache. When chilled and hardened, ganache can be nestled in amidst your uncooked batter, and it'll become liquid as the cakes bake in the oven.

Finally, lava cakes are a dessert where timing is incredibly important. Don't be too hasty — you do want to wait for a minute or two after removing the cakes from the oven to let the interior set just the slightest bit, so that the cake has a better chance of remaining intact when you remove it. However, don't wait too long, as you still want them to be plated up fresh from the oven while the interior is still warm for best results.