This easy flourless chocolate cake sets itself apart from the scores of similar recipes by sneaking a smidgen of cayenne into the rich, chocolatey batter. The subtle heat coupled with the silken texture and truly outstanding flavor have landed it as our latest way to woo friends and family. And no one will even notice it’s gluten-free as it lacks nothing whatsoever.Angie Zoobkoff

A flourless chocolate chile cake cut into 8 wedges with one slice missing on a piece of parchment paper.

Flourless Chocolate Chile Cake

4.73 / 11 votes
This flourless chocolate chile cake, made with butter, dark chocolate, eggs, sugar, espresso, and vanilla, also has a small amount of cayenne pepper in the batter, which lends a subtle heat to this gluten-free dessert.
David Leite
Servings8 servings
Calories381 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes


  • 11 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • 7 ounces 70% dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more, to taste
  • 1/3 cup espresso or strong coffee, cooled
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup superfine sugar, (or just blitz granulated sugar in a blender until finely ground but not powdery
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, for dusting


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a 8-inch (20-cm) springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  • In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the butter, chocolate, and cayenne pepper until the chocolate melts, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the coffee and vanilla. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  • Using a stand mixer or handheld mixer on medium-high speed, whisk together the eggs and sugar until thick, pale, and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Pour the cooled chocolate mixture into the eggs, add the salt, and use a spatula to gently fold until everything is combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the cake is just cooked through with a slight wobble in the middle, 38 to 45 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let the cake cool completely. As it cools, the surface will crack, and this is what you want!
  • If desired, dump some cocoa powder in a small strainer and tap it over the cake to generously dust it before serving.
The New Way To Cake Cookbook

Adapted From

The New Way to Cake

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 381 kcalCarbohydrates: 29 gProtein: 5 gFat: 28 gSaturated Fat: 17 gMonounsaturated Fat: 8 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 112 mgSodium: 180 mgFiber: 3 gSugar: 23 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2019 Benjamina Ebuehi. Photo © 2019 Holly Wulff Petersen. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Absolutely delicious! The cayenne really added some kick but was balanced by the other flavors. The consistency was fabulous—denser than a soufflé but still ooey-gooey, silken, and moist. I whipped up some cream to serve with it, which took it to another level entirely. This will be going into my regular rotation because it’s so different and unexpected. Definitely a keeper!

My cake only took 38 minutes to bake to desired doneness. I couldn’t find my springform pan so I made a parchment paper “sling” and buttered it and my 8-inch Pyrex pan and the cake unmolded easily, but I couldn’t get it off the paper so I highly recommend using springform or tart pans as suggested in the recipe.

This cake is too easy! There’s a big payoff here as it’s also quite delicious and the kick of cayenne pepper sets it apart from the pack of other flourless chocolate cakes. This cake is the one you can whip up on a late lazy Saturday afternoon to have around for drop-ins or dinner guests or to take with you when invited in at someone else’s home. It’s gooey, rich and is perfect with a simple vanilla ice-cream.

The second time I made this, as a personal preference, I halved the cayenne pepper to 1/2 teaspoon and it suited us a little better than the full amount. Neither was too hot, we just preferred the heat to be a little more subtle.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I made this to bring to a New Year’s Eve party and it was a big hit! And because my springform pan measures 9″ (instead of the 8″ called for) I scaled the recipe up, using the following proportions: 4 eggs; 12 Tablespoons butter; 8 Ounces chocolate; 1 Cup sugar (plain granulated worked fine for me); 3/4 teaspoon vanilla. I did not change the cayenne, salt and coffee proportions although I limited the cayenne to 1/2 Teaspoon. It was still pretty warm (and we are fond of hot stuff!), so I might reduce the cayenne even more the next time I make this cake. Because I was traveling to friend’s home for the party, I decided to bring an aerosol can of whipped cream — the real stuff, mind you, from a dairy co-op — but felt sad not to offer a slice of cake with a big, rich dollop of freshly whipped heavy cream. That said, no one complained about the aerosol can — and the cake disappeared.

    1. So happy to hear that the cake was loved at the party, Judith! And LOVE your advice about scaling up for a 9 inch pan, this is ever so helpful.

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve been making a similar flourless chocolate torte for many years. Never thought to add cayenne pepper. I used short half teaspoon and it came out with just a light heat and interesting taste. Topped it off with a chocolate whipped cream and then dusted it with cocoa powder. Will be making this again. My wife loved it. Her birthday is coming soon and I may do this for her then.

  3. I’m thinking this would be a perfect New Year’s Eve dessert! I’m wondering if it’s best served warm or at room temperature; better the day made or the next day; and if it can be successfully scaled down. Thank you!

    1. Hi Beth! Yes, it would be a wonderful New Year’s eve dessert. We recommend letting it cool completely and serving at room temperature, so you could easily make it in advance, and I think it would keep well overnight, so if you want to go ahead and make it today, you’re safe, but hold off dusting it with the cocoa powder until shortly before serving. We haven’t tried scaling it down, so we can’t say for certain. Do let us know how it turns out, and Happy New Year to you!

      1. 5 stars
        We decided to make this as written, except that we used 1/8 of a teaspoon of cayenne, which was perfect for us, and we are spicy-food lovers. This cake was just delicious and definitely a keeper!