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Easy Flourless Chocolate Cake

Easy Flourless Chocolate Cake

A flourless chocolate cake is one of those restaurant-style desserts that it’s tempting to think is too fussy to make at home. It’s naturally gluten free, and easy to whip one up at home any time.

I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about flourless chocolate cake. Not just anything should be able to call itself by the name. And it is a cake. It is not a brownie.

Brownies can be cakey or fudgy, but if you’ve made proper brownie, no one will describe it as light. A proper flourless chocolate cake, made with the right ingredients and method, should be both rich and light.

Although none of this is truly important, in the world of things that are actually important in life. But all of it is “important,” in the sense that I care about it and want to show you the right way, as ridiculous as I realize I sound. Fair enough?

A flourless chocolate cake is one of those restaurant-style desserts that it's tempting to think is too fussy to make at home. It's naturally gluten free, and you can whip one up at home any time!

Is it really flourless?

Unlike some other desserts that some like to call “flourless,” this decadent chocolate creation is actually without flour of any kind. There are no grains or anything ground into a flour-like powder at all used in the making of this cake.

If it calls for almond flour, it’s not flourless. Oats or oat flour? Again, not flourless. If you have some chocolate, butter, eggs, sugar and cocoa powder, you can have flourless chocolate cake.

Since there are so few ingredients in this recipe, the quality of the chocolate and cocoa powder matters quite a lot. Use the best you can come by. Using Dutch-processed cocoa powder will make for a smoother, less acidic cake. And remember that the melted chocolate is the star of the show, so its quality will shine through as well.

If you’re looking for a flourless peanut butter creation, try my recipe for Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies, which are very lightly sweet and healthy enough to have for breakfast (really). For instant gratification, my Flourless Chocolate Mug Cake (made with nut butter) is also a great choice.

A flourless chocolate cake is one of those restaurant-style desserts that it's tempting to think is too fussy to make at home. It's naturally gluten free, and you can whip one up at home any time!

What pan, what method?

This recipe doesn’t call for a water bath or any other sort of fanciness. It’s not a cheesecake, but it’s going to fall and crack a bit after it’s baked. It’s meant to. I promise.

You can make the cake without beating the egg whites separately and folding them into the batter. Simply beat the sugar egg whites and eggs vigorously until pale yellow in color before whisking in the cocoa powder and the melted butter and chocolate. Your cake will be more dense and even more fudge-like.

The truth is, for flourless chocolate cake, cheesecake or virtually anything else, I hate using springform pans. I’ll do almost anything to avoid them.

They tend to leak, they’re confusing to assemble if you’re not really on your game (which is the top, which is the bottom, for crying out loud?), and they’re just crazy hard to clean. But for this cake, you’re best off using one. (I have a link to my favorite springform pan so far in my shop, if you’d like to check it out.)

If you don’t have a springform pan, though, just use a round cake pan. The sky will not fall. I do recommend that you chill the cake for at least an hour in the refrigerator before transferring it carefully to a serving dish—whether you use a springform pan or not. Once it’s chilled, the cake will become much more firm and stable.

A flourless chocolate cake is one of those restaurant-style desserts that it's tempting to think is too fussy to make at home. It's naturally gluten free, and you can whip one up at home any time!

A flourless chocolate cake is one of those restaurant-style desserts that it’s tempting to think is too fussy to make at home. It’s naturally gluten free, and easy to whip one up at home any time.

Don’t panic (!)

If you’ve never made a flourless chocolate cake before, you may find its tendency to rise like a regular cake and then fall abruptly after it is removed from the oven rather alarming. No worries. That’s what it is meant to do.

If you do use a springform pan that is dark in color, start watching it closely at 20 minutes as it will have more of a tendency to burn. You’re less than an hour away from creating the ultimate restaurant-quality, naturally gluten free flourless chocolate cake in your very own kitchen.

Ingredients and Substitutions

Dairy-Free: If you’d like to make this cake without dairy, it’s relatively easy to find a dairy free dark chocolate. The only other dairy containing ingredient is the butter in this cake, and it can easily be replaced with Earth Balance buttery sticks. The cake may rise a bit and fall a bit more, due to the extra moisture, but it will still be rich and fudgy.

Egg Free and Vegan: Once this cake is dairy free, it’s a short step to making it vegan if you replace the eggs. However, that’s a tall order. There are not only three eggs, but two egg whites in the recipe. The two egg whites can possibly be replaced by aquafaba, although I haven’t experimented with that replacement.

Generally, my favorite replacement for whole eggs is one “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground chia seeds mixed with 1 tablespoon lukewarm water until it gels). But I generally only recommend replacing up to 2 eggs per recipe with chia eggs. It’s a risk, but if you’re vegan it might be worth it!

Chocolate-Free: Haha just kidding this is a rich chocolate cake. No making it without chocolate, silly!

Links:
Guide To Chocolate Varieties
Springform pan recommendations
Dutch-processed versus natural cocoa powders

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 1 9-inch cake

Ingredients

6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, chopped (plus more for greasing)

2 egg whites (50 g) + 3 eggs (150 g, weighed out of shell)

3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar

1/2 cup (40 g) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (Dutch-processed is best)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch or 9-inch round springform pan, line just the bottom with a round of unbleached parchment paper, then butter the paper. Set the pan aside.

  • Melt the chocolate & butter. In a double boiler or a medium-sized microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate and 8 tablespoons butter until both are melted and smooth. If you are using the microwave method, microwave in 30-second increments at 70% power, stirring in between intervals, taking care not to burn the chocolate. Set the mixture aside to cool briefly.

  • Beat the egg whites. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl using a hand mixer), beat the 2 egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. (For a slightly fluffier cake, separate one of the 3 whole eggs and add that white here.) Add about half of the sugar and about half of the cocoa powder slowly, beating on medium speed until glossy peaks begin to form. Adding cocoa powder to the egg whites makes it easier to incorporate them into the rest of the mixture later without deflating the whites.

  • Assemble the batter. In a large bowl, whisk the 3 whole eggs (or 2 whole eggs and remaining egg yolk), remaining sugar, remaining cocoa powder, vanilla and salt until well-combined. Add the melted chocolate and butter mixture slowly, whisking constantly, until fully combined. Continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Fold the egg white mixture into the batter carefully but completely. The mixture will be thickly pourable. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top carefully. Tap the pan gently on the counter to break any very large air bubbles.

  • Bake. Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven. Bake for about 25 minutes (closer to 30 minutes for an 8-inch cake), or until the cake is just set in the center. If you are using a dark-colored springform pan, begin checking at 20 minutes to ensure that cake doesn’t burn. Remove the pan from the oven and place the cake on a wire rack, still in the pan, to cool completely. Chill the cake in the refrigerator for a few minutes before unmolding it from the springform pan. Slice with a sharp, wet knife and serve.

  • This recipe was originally posted on the blog in 2013. The recipe method was slightly updated and the photos were redone in 2016, the video was added in 2017.

Love,
Nicole

 

If you liked this recipe, you'll love my new book!

Gluten-Free on a Shoestring [Second Edition]:

125 Easy Recipes for Eating Well on the Cheap

Amazon.com Barnes & Noble IndieBound.com

Comments are closed.

  • Ellen
    April 16, 2017 at 4:26 AM

    Can this be made in individual ramekins?

    • Nicole Hunn
      April 16, 2017 at 9:27 AM

      I’m afraid you’ll have to experiment, Ellen. I haven’t tested that!

  • Shirley E Harlan
    April 14, 2017 at 1:00 PM

    I noticed that you used granulated sugar. I have a condition that doesn’t allow me to use white granulated sugar I have to use something like Agave Nectar as my sweetener. I also know you use 1/2 to 2/3 cup of agave in place of 1 cup of white sugar. This also requires you to decrease your liquid ingredients by the same ratio the only liquid you shouldn’t reduce is oil that should stay the same. This would then make it also good for diabetics as the glycemic index is low and won’t spike the sugar count. Is it possible to create this dessert using agave

    • Nicole Hunn
      April 14, 2017 at 1:12 PM

      As I’ve stated in other comments, Shirley, you can’t replace a granulated sweetener 1:1 with a liquid one. You’ll have to experiment!

  • Aeron
    April 10, 2017 at 8:01 AM

    Oh…I found the oven temp!
    Thank you!

  • Lynne Mori
    April 10, 2017 at 5:03 AM

    OMG I made the flour less chocolate cake today. It was DELICIOUS and so very easy to make. I had visitors coming and it smelt soo good when they walked in the door ad I was just about to take it out of the oven. I cannot wait to make it again. Oh how that had given my GF life a much needed boost having only been on it now for about 6 weeks. Oh what a treat.
    Thankyou so very much for such a awesome recipe x

  • Debra Jones
    April 10, 2017 at 3:35 AM

    Looking forward to trying this one. We L-o-v-e-d the black beans & choc brownies – absolutely wonderful, and froze well too. They’re a keeper. Thanks so much.

    • Nicole Hunn
      April 10, 2017 at 9:43 AM

      I loooove those, too, Debra!

  • Katie
    April 9, 2017 at 2:07 PM

    Looks amazing. I love how you are always experimenting. My cooking and baking are definitely always evolving too. Thanks for sharing your creative recipes!!

  • Coleen
    April 9, 2017 at 1:35 PM

    Just a question regarding the “dark chocolate.” With so many varieties on the market these days, is there a certain brand or % chocolate I should use? (I personally eat 85% dark chocolate, but think I read somewhere that in recipes we should use 600% chocolate). Or maybe, as someone said above, just “bittersweet”?

    • Nicole Hunn
      April 10, 2017 at 9:44 AM

      I personally like to use a chocolate that is 72%, but any of them will work. It’s really to taste, Coleen!

  • Lisa
    April 4, 2017 at 9:38 AM

    Hi Nicole,

    I’m not a good baker/cook but would like to make this for my daughter that is GF/DF (butter should be fine) and as low sugar as possible. I’m hoping you can tell me the most basic way to make this. Can I do it in a 9X13 glass pan and just cut pcs out? Do I need to grease the pan first? With butter or oil? Is there any better substitute for the white sugar?? Thank you for the help. Hoping my daughter has something yummy for Easter dinner.

    • Nicole Hunn
      April 4, 2017 at 9:50 AM

      As I explained in the earlier comments, Lisa, I haven’t tested this recipe with any substitutions. You do need the sugar. I do not recommend a 9-inch x 13-inch pan, no. As I discuss in the recipe, if you don’t have a springform pan, use a round cake pan.

  • Carmen Jones
    April 4, 2017 at 7:59 AM

    hello Nicole ,how far ahead could i make this cake eg in the morning ,for a dinner party many thanks in advance Love Carmen

    • Nicole Hunn
      April 4, 2017 at 9:51 AM

      You can definitely make this pretty far in advance, Carmen. It freezes really well, even.

  • Mitch
    April 3, 2017 at 8:00 PM

    I am allergic to eggs, will aquafaba (chickpea water) work as an egg replacement for this recipe? 😁

    • Nicole Hunn
      April 4, 2017 at 9:52 AM

      I haven’t tested this recipe with an egg substitution, Mitch. I’ve been working a bit with aquafaba, but I haven’t tested it in this recipe. Even if it did work, that won’t substitute for the egg yolks. I’m afraid that is a very big substitution in a cake like this, and I’m not too optimistic. Sorry!

  • Mandi
    December 3, 2016 at 11:33 PM

    Do you think you could substitute with organic cane sugar or some type of organic sugar or even maple sugar as a natural sweetener?

    • Rachael
      April 3, 2017 at 12:21 PM

      Yes…curious if I can use coconut sugar instead? We don’t buy white sugar. Also, what brand of cocoa powder is suggested??

    • Nicole Hunn
      April 3, 2017 at 12:31 PM

      I haven’t tried this recipe with any substitutions, Rachael, but generally coconut sugar is not a good replacement for granulated sugar, but for brown sugar. So I don’t recommend it here. I like Rodelle brand of Dutch-processed cocoa powder best.

  • Mattie86
    April 24, 2016 at 11:18 AM

    Just want to let you know I’m so appreciative for all your recipes. You truly are an inspiration to people like myself and my family who have so many issues with IBS and colitis and sensitivity problems. So thank you and have a nice day ❤️

  • Janet Lathbury
    April 23, 2016 at 3:14 PM

    Hi Nicole, I have recently made this cake and I can attest to its deliciousness! I am impressed and grateful for your desire to make the best tasting food (not just “good for gluten-free”)! As someone who loves to bake and was feeling that I would no longer create delicious baked goods, you have proved that it is possible to still rock some awesome food! Thank you!

  • Diane Kaighin
    April 23, 2016 at 4:15 AM

    Hi Nicole, can cacao powder be substituted for unsweetened cocoa powder? I live in Aus and have never seen unsweetened cocoa powder.

    • Victoria Donaldson
      April 23, 2016 at 10:10 PM

      Any cocoa powder that you buy that says 100% cocoa powder is unsweetened. The dutch stuff that aldi sells from time to time is awsome for cakes like this. Or Nestle cocoa powder is good too, it is unsweetened it just doesn’t actually advertise it. P.s. I live in Australia too.

    • Diane Kaighin
      April 24, 2016 at 4:09 AM

      Thanks Victoria :)

  • Julie Bergfeld
    February 18, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    Can this be made with a butter substitute? I can’t do dairy

    • April 22, 2016 at 10:34 AM

      You can try using virgin coconut oil one for one, Julie, but I haven’t tried it so I’m not sure if it would work!

    • Hayley
      June 3, 2016 at 2:33 PM

      I had AWESOME success by replacing the butter with Earth Balance’s Soy Free baking sticks and nondairy chocolate chips. Top it with whipped coconut cream and it’s amazing!!

  • Annette Coats
    February 16, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    I made this last night but played with the proportions a bit and used 2 7″ springform pans since it is just the hubs and I. ;)
    Here are my notes (in case it’s helpful):
    12 oz chocolate (I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chips)
    6 eggs (4 whites, 6 yolks)
    1 cp Sugar
    No chg to butter or cocoa
    Baking time was nearly the same, but I started checking at 2. :)

    Made a lovely dessert for us and one to share with the neighbors!
    Thanks Nicole!!! You’re a RockStar in the Kitchen, GF or not!
    Hugs,
    Annette Coats
    (aka. The Newbie)

  • Dominic's Mominic
    February 16, 2013 at 1:00 AM

    This was absolutely delicious. Thanks so much for the fantastic recipe. We’re newbies to this lifestyle and are very thankful for everything you’re willing to share. Checked the book out at the library and have made just 2 recipes from it but hubs says you are a lifesaver. Looks like you have another believer…and another book (or both) sale. Thanks a million!

  • Rena Holcomb
    February 15, 2013 at 12:05 AM

    Do you have any calorie/carb/fat/fiber information?  It is a pain having to be gluten free, dealing with a few other tummy issues and trying to count points with Weight Watchers.  Love your recipes~ 

    • Victoria Donaldson
      April 23, 2016 at 10:13 PM

      The best way is to enter the ingredients into an online point counter. Nicole doesn’t add this to her recipies but it’s easy to do yourself online.

    • Keturah
      April 26, 2016 at 9:08 PM

      If you have online tools, you can use the recipe builder tool and it will calculate your points based on the ingredients. I just did that with the lava cakes. I put a link in my description back to the blog post. (And I own the books, too…love this blog and what you do, Nicole. I have been giddy making things from GFOAS Bakes Bread! I never thought I could do a yeasty bread dough gluten free!)

  • Chris
    February 14, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    If I wasn’t sick, I’d be making this for myself RIGHT NOW!

  • Jasmine Carlton
    February 13, 2013 at 9:39 PM

    I love flourless chocolate cake! One place I worked as a pastry chef we would make these 10 at a time! That wasn’t as fun.. I bake mine in a solid, parchment lined pan in a water path at 300F with top of the pan covered in foil for many hours (3-4) until it looks set and the top is matte not glossy. Cool gently at room temp in the water bath for a couple hours and refrigerate. Once it’s chilled it turns right out of the pan and the consistency is like fudge. So good. Just thought an alternate baking option might interest you :)
    Thanks so much for everything you do, you make being GF so much easier!!

  • Justice887
    February 13, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    I am totally going to make this for my 2 sweet Valentine’s tomorrow! I thought I had a stand-by recipe already but yours has more chocolate and I like the addition of the egg whites. Still think I’ll add the Frangelico to mine, but that’s only because I have some in the cupboard. Thank you for your witty sense of humor…it makes my day!

    • gfshoestring
      February 13, 2013 at 5:15 PM

      Oh by all means add some booze, Justice! Perhaps not for the children, but who am I to judge. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Pam
    February 13, 2013 at 4:00 PM

    Now I need to buy a springform pan!

    • gfshoestring
      February 13, 2013 at 5:14 PM

      Oh, no, Pam! You can totally make in a solid-sided pan, but maybe try a tart pan. The low sides will make it easier to get out of the pan. Springforms pans are so fussy!
      xoxo Nicole

  • February 13, 2013 at 3:24 PM

    Oh no you didn’t! Now, I just need to make it look like PF Chiang’s Chocolate Dome Cake and my daughter will be over the moon!

  • Pamela Gordon
    February 13, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    this looks frickin’ awesome!!! Will have to try! <3

  • Peggy Ford0518
    February 13, 2013 at 12:29 PM

    I have made flourless peanutbutter cookies but this is the first flourless chocolate cake recipe I’ve seen.  Will have to try this one soon!  Thans, Nicole!

  • Lisa
    February 13, 2013 at 12:29 PM

    I making this. I’ve made other flourless chocolate cakes but this one seems different enough (in a wonderful way) that I want to try again. yum yum yum

  • Amy
    February 13, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    Ooh! I’ve been trying to figure out what I could make in my new heart-shaped springform pan. This looks like the winner! Thanks for the recipe! Love your blog! xoxo, Amy

    • gfshoestring
      February 13, 2013 at 5:17 PM

      A heart-shaped springform pan, huh, Amy? Go for it. Me? I’d line up someone who promises to clean that pan (oh the crevices when it’s heart-shaped!!) before making the cake. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • February 13, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    Oh, how I do enjoy your posts! The pictures are gorgeous, sure, very “pin-able” for those Pinterest addicts (just joined!) but I’m really here for the writing, Nicole. You crack me up! And we happen to share a severe dislike of dirtying too many dishes (not to mention the Cuisinart) and dropping expletives along with whatever falls in the floor. Thanks for laughs and this insane looking cake.
    -Dana

    • gfshoestring
      February 13, 2013 at 5:18 PM

      That is one of the very many reasons that I so enjoy your virtual company, Dana. We speak each other’s unspoken language. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Gina Kelley
    February 13, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    I love flourless chocolate cake!  I used to make it all the time.  You’re right, it’s not too tricky, and it’s totally worth it.

  • February 13, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    You crack me up, Nicole. I echo your sentiments about cleaning springform pans…but alas, sometimes they are necessary. I’ve had a ton of requests for a flourless chocolate cake and have been on the search. I’m going to make your recipe. I like how it looks a bit less gummy and undercooked than most recipes I’ve seen. Lovely!

    • gfshoestring
      February 13, 2013 at 5:19 PM

      Mel! You’re here! If I had known you were coming, I might have cleaned the place up. I’d be so honored if you tried my humble little recipe. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Katelyn B
    February 13, 2013 at 9:05 AM

    My Kitchenaid broke :( (it was my 17th birthday present) and I’m still waiting on our tax return to replace it, but THIS will be the first thing I make when I’m back on action.

  • Lisa
    February 13, 2013 at 9:04 AM

    Yep, this is the one. Thank you so much for all you do for us gf sweet lovers out here. You just made my Valentine happy!

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