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 anytime.
How do you make a flourless chocolate cake?
Although of course I tell you exactly how to make a flourless chocolate cake in the recipe below, the general idea is to melt chocolate and butter together, then set them aside to cool.
Whip egg whites until they form peaks. Beat some whole eggs with sugar and cocoa powder, then mix in the melted butter and sugar. Finally, fold in the whipped egg whites.
Is a flourless chocolate cake gluten free?
Yes! Unless one or more of the basic pantry ingredients that you source contains gluten, it will be naturally gluten free.
How do you store a flourless chocolate cake and do you refrigerate it?
It can be served at room temperature or chilled in the refrigerator. It can be frozen for longer storage. It freezes really well—just wrap it tightly! Then defrost in the refrigerator and served slightly chilled.
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.
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, for cheesecake or 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.
If you don’t have a springform pan, though, just use a round cake pan.I do recommend that you chill the cake for at least an hour in the refrigerator before transferring it carefully to a serving dish.
That’s true whether you use a springform pan or not. Once it’s chilled, the cake will become much more firm and stable.
Rise and fall
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
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.
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.
Haha just kidding this is a rich chocolate cake. No making it without chocolate, silly! If you’re making a gluten free chocolate cake, it’s going to have chocolate in it!
Easy Flourless Chocolate Cake
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
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.