Red Velvet Chocolate Lava Skillet Cake

This red velvet cake is cooked in a cast iron skillet and has a gooey, melted chocolate ganache center.

I love red velvet cake. It’s a serious weakness of mine and I am really, really happy with how this cake came out. Baking it in the cast iron skillet gives the cake crispy edges, while still keeping the interior tender and moist. And of course there’s the chocolate ganache center. The cake is designed to feed two, but Mr. K doesn’t like red velvet so I kept this all to myself. I also ate every last crumb of all the other versions I made before finalizing this one. I just couldn’t resist!

Did you watch Grease: Live this past weekend? While I found some of the acting not quite up to par, overall I thought it was a lot of fun and I found myself humming the songs all day. Interestingly, I was reading some articles about how they had to change certain lyrics to the songs to tone them down for television. While reading the changes, it made me realize I’d been seeing some pretty inappropriate lyrics in my childhood without realizing it.

Red Velvet Chocolate Lava Skillet Cake


for the cake:

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp fat free milk
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 tsp distilled vinegar
  • about 1 tsp red food coloring (depending on how red you want your cake)

chocolate layer:

  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream


1. Add heavy cream and chocolate chips to a small saucepan over low-medium heat on the stove. Whisk constantly until chocolate is completely melted and mixture becomes smooth and uniform in color. Lay a small sheet of parchment paper (about 6 inches in length and width) flat onto a plate or small cutting board. Pour the chocolate onto the parchment paper so that it forms a round circle. Spread it out slightly, so that it is a circle about 4 to 4 1/2 inches in diameter. Place chocolate ganache into refrigerator to chill for about 20 minutes.


2. While ganache is cooling, make the cake. Lightly grease a 6 inch cast iron skillet. Preheat oven to 350F.

3. In a medium bowl, add all the cake ingredients. Whisk until smooth. If you feel your batter is not red enough, you can add a few more drops of food coloring and whisk again until smooth. I used a gel base food coloring, so I found 1 tsp was enough to achieve a dark red.

4. Pour a little more than half of the batter into your skillet. The batter should completely cover the bottom of the pan. Check on your chocolate ganache (assuming it's been 20 minutes. If not, wait until at least 20 minutes to check on it.) The ganache should have cooled enough to form a delicate solid shell around it. It won't yet be completely solid, but you should be able to touch it without any chocolate getting on your hands and you should be able to peel it off the parchment paper, like a limp pancake. Take your ganache pancake and place it on top of the batter already in the skillet. Pour the remaining batter on top of the ganache, covering the ganache entirely. Make sure to use a spatula and scrape up any red velvet cake batter left in the bowl and put it into your skillet as the batter will be quite thick and won't all pour out easily. Tap the bottom of your skillet a few times on your counter to settle and smooth out the surface of the batter. The top shoud be smooth and the batter should be evenly spread out.

5. Bake cake for about 20 minutes. Surface of cake should be dry to the touch and when you push in, the cake should slowly bounce back. Make sure you don't overbake the cake, otherwise the chocolate will cook into the cake and the edges will overcook. Let cake cool a few minutes before consuming. You can add powdered sugar or top with ice cream.

* Do not leave out buttermilk or vinegar. Buttermilk is key to the red velvet flavor and the acid reacts with the baking soda to make the cake rise. You will not taste the vinegar, but the vinegar also reacts with the baking soda.

All images and content are © Kirbie's Cravings.

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