Step aside, baked Alaska. Only one dessert can rule the waves, and it’s not a 1950s throwback that’s paraded around the dining room. It’s Carnival’s melting chocolate cake, a dessert that’s neither gimmicky nor unique, but which Carnival does so well that it puts luxury cruise line desserts to shame.
Not only is this dessert worth ordering at least once during, if not every night of, your Carnival cruise, but it’s also simple to make at home when you want to wow guests or transport yourself back to an amazing vacation on a gray weeknight. We’ll even give you the recipe.
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Carnival’s most popular dessert
On a Carnival cruise, melting chocolate cake is essentially a lava cake or molten chocolate cake that has a firm top but is warm and runny inside. It’s served in a ramekin, like a souffle. The treat pairs perfectly with cool vanilla ice cream, which cuts both the heat and the chocolate flavor — but eat quickly, or your ice cream will melt on top of the cake.
The dessert is so popular that Carnival offers it every night of the cruise on its Always Available menu in the main dining room.
Interestingly, Carnival offers a slightly different version of this dessert in its Chibang! restaurant, found on Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration. The Chocolate C-Bang is described as “textured chocolate, salted fudge ganache, ginger and caramel ice cream.” In reality, it was a stand-on-its-own chocolate cake with a moist center that tasted like a melting cake, just with more flour to make it firmer and less runny.
Why is Carnival’s melting chocolate cake so famous? I’m not a trained food critic, but I find that chocolate cake is hard to get right in a restaurant setting. Often the cake itself is too dry, or it’s topped with frosting that’s too sweet, or layered with nuts or coconut or fruit filling that someone objects to. Carnival’s melting chocolate cake is simple because it’s all chocolate. The molten insides are designed so they’re the opposite of dry.
The line’s chefs have mastered this recipe; it always comes out the same way, with that perfect crust of a top and the warm, melty center. I’ve seen cruise lines mess up easy treats, such as a skillet chocolate chip cookie dessert, so I can assure you that it’s trickier than you think to consistently turn out simple desserts at scale.
Please don’t get me wrong — luxury cruise lines do desserts well. But sometimes they try too hard to make a treat that is complex or looks more impressive than it tastes. Personally, I’ll take a simple chocolate dessert done exceptionally well over some froufrou concoction with choux pastry and Chantilly cream, an emulsion of this or a custard of that. Carnival’s cake is a dessert with mass appeal (like the cruise line itself), taking simple ingredients and elevating them to something sublime.
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Carnival melting chocolate cake recipe
Whether you’re simply curious about how this decadent dessert is made or want to re-create it when you’re landbound, take a look at the melting chocolate cake recipe below. It involves only six ingredients, most or all of which you have in your kitchen already. The only somewhat specialized items on the list are the ramekins; if you don’t have any at home, you can easily buy some online or at a home store, such as Bed Bath & Beyond or Target.
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate
- 3 ounces sweet chocolate (typically found as German’s sweet chocolate; if you can’t find it, you can substitute 3 ounces of semisweet chocolate plus 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar)
- 6 ounces unsalted butter
- 4 eggs
- 3 ounces sugar (preferably fine or superfine sugar, but regular granulated will work)
- 2 ounces all-purpose flour
- Melt the chocolate and butter together. (Be careful — chocolate is easy to burn!)
- Whisk together the eggs and sugar for a few minutes.
- Add the flour.
- Add the melted chocolate to the egg mixture, whisking while you pour to keep the warm chocolate from cooking the eggs.
- Pour the batter evenly into four greased ramekins.
- Arrange the ramekins on a rimmed baking tray and pour a little water around the bottom of the tray to create a water bath.
- Bake the melting cakes in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
- Serve with vanilla ice cream, and enjoy!
Don’t trust your baking skills? For chefs on Carnival, melting chocolate cake is easy. Watch as they show you how it’s done.
You don’t need to spend thousands on a cruise to try what might be the best dessert at sea. Carnival is among the most affordable cruise lines, but its melting chocolate cake is a million-dollar treat — whether you try it at sea or bake it at home.
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