Flourless Chocolate Cloud Cake

This flourless chocolate cloud cake is a wickedly elegant dessert that’s deceptively easy to make. Just four ingredients–chocolate, eggs, butter, and sugar–come together for a crunchy-on-the-outside, airy-on-the-inside cake.

A flourless chocolate cloud cake on a glass cake stand on a white tablecloth

This flourless chocolate cloud cake is crammed so full to brimming with chocolate and butter and air, there’s no room left for flour–although there’s ample space for graceful swoops of softly whipped cream piled on top. Because there are only four ingredients in the cake, you’re gonna wanna use the best quality ones you can get your hands as their flavors bellows loud and clear in the resulting cake. Especially that of the chocolate. Trust us. It’ll be well worth each cent. Originally published January 21, 2002.Renee Schettler Rossi

Flourless Chocolate Cloud Cake

  • Quick Glance
  • 40 M
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • Serves 8 to 12
5/5 - 7 reviews
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Ingredients

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  • For the cake
  • 8 ounces best-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (4 oz), cut into pieces, room temperature
  • 6 large eggs, 2 whole, 4 separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Cognac or Grand Marnier (optional)
  • Grated zest of 1 orange, preferably organic (optional)
  • For the finishing touches
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder, for sprinkling

Directions

  • Make the cake
  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan with a round of wax paper.

    TESTER TIP: Do not butter the pan or the paper, that’s a definite no-no.
  • 2. Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over but not touching gently simmering water. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the butter until it’s melted and completely incorporated.
  • 3. In another bowl, whisk the 2 whole eggs and the 4 egg yolks with 1/2 cup of the sugar until foamy and well combined. Slowly whisk in the warm chocolate mixture. Whisk in the Cognac or Grand Marnier and the orange zest, if using. In another bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the 4 egg whites until really quite foamy. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until the whites form soft peaks that hold their shape but aren’t stiff when you remove the beaters. Gently, gently fold about 1/4 of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then carefully fold in the remaining whites. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
  • 4. Bake the cake until the top is puffed and cracked and the center is no longer wobbly, 35 to 40 minutes. Be careful not to overbake the cake.
  • 5. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack. The center of the cake will sink as it cools, forming a sort of crater.
  • Put the finishing touches on the cake
  • 6. When ready to serve, whip the cream with the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until not quite stiff. Using a spatula, carefully fill the sunken center of the cake with the whipped cream, pushing the billowy cream gently all the way to the edges of the cake in decorative swoops and swirls. Sprinkle the top lightly with cocoa powder. Run the tip of a knife around the edge of the cake, carefully remove the side of the pan, and serve.

Recipe Testers Reviews

This cake has been my family’s go-to flourless cake for Passover for several years. There are plenty of flourless cakes out there, but this one is easy to prepare and always gets rave reviews. This recipe has never failed and the removal from the springform pan has always been flawless.

The whipped cream topping is a great accompaniment to the chocolate and makes for a terrific presentation, although truthfully, the cake does keep better without the cream on top, so whenever I think we may have leftovers I serve the cream alongside the cake. Otherwise I mound the cream in the middle of the crater and it looks just like this photo.

I’ve made this cake with several types of chocolate and suggest that you experiment with semisweet and bittersweet–my family prefers semisweet. I have never added the Cognac or Grand Marnier, nor have I put in grated orange zest, as we prefer the pure chocolate flavor. Add it to your recipes for Passover as well as for anytime a celebration calls for a chocolate cake.

I have also frozen the cake prior to putting the whipped cream topping on it and there has not been a very significant change in texture. I usually wrap it well right in the springform pan after it has completely cooled.

This flourless chocolate cloud cake recipe is identical to the one I use frequently and that I call "baked chocolate mousse," one of the whole family's favorite chocolate cakes. But this recipe features two fundamental differences, which significantly improve the taste of the cake: a higher chocolate content and the subtle but very nice taste of Cognac and orange. It's a very light cake but at the same time moist and intense. It's also very easy to prepare. One of my favorite chocolate cakes!

I had no problems removing the cake from the pan and the underlying paper. Also, it sliced well, it didn’t crumble.

In a word, FABULOUS! The chocolate with the Grand Marnier and orange zest was such a great flavor combination in this surprisingly light (and definitely cloud-like) chocolate cake. The whipped cream topping made this dessert almost mousse-like while eating.

I used semisweet chocolate for this recipe. However, it took me two attempts at this recipe to get the photo quality result! My first try was a complete fail. The cake tasted great, but looked very sad. It baked up nicely with a puffed and cracked top and not wobbly in the center, but as it cooled, it all shrank down evenly to about 1 1/2 inches and completely fell apart once the ring from the spring form pan was removed. After some research, I suspected it had to do with not getting enough air into the mixture to support the cake’s structure. So, on the second cake attempt, I beat the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar with an electric hand mixer until the mixture was foamy and lemon colored, and continued on with the recipe as instructed. The batter was a bit thicker this time once I was folding in the whipped egg whites and the cake rose nicely with a puffed and cracked top at 37 minutes. Once out of the oven this time, it cooled with the characteristic crater in the center while the sides remained nice and tall.

I removed the ring from the springform pan and the cake remained intact so I didn’t tempt fate by trying to remove the parchment paper liner from the bottom of the cake and just gently transferred the cake with the parchment liner still on the bottom to my cake stand. Now my cake looks just like the photo. Success!

The slices came off nicely from the underlying parchment, so don’t stress about trying to take it off.

We loved this very impressive dessert and I will continue making it.

An elegant yet easy to make chocolate cake to impress for any occasion. Simple ingredients turn into a wonderfully dense chocolate cake and billowy cloud of whipped cream. I know a few folks (very few) who aren't frosting fans and the whipped cream, with just a hint of sweet, is a perfect frosting substitute. If you love orange with chocolate, definitely add the orange zest and orange liqueur as they hit the exact right balance with the rich chocolate.

I used 74% cacao dark chocolate and Cointreau in place of Cognac or Grand Marnier, which maybe added a bit more pop of orange flavor but was just right.

The egg whites took about 2 minutes to beat until foamy. It took a good 15 minutes or more to beat the egg whites with the sugar into soft peaks. I used fine baking sugar, which easily dissolved into the whip cream but still required extra whipping time. It can take at least 8 minutes and up to 15 minutes, possibly 20 minutes, to get the egg whites right. It may feel like it is taking forever but the egg whites beaten to perfection are what will give the cake the right oomph and lightness when baked. The cake baked perfectly in 40 minutes. It had puffed up and had a nice cracking pattern, almost like a shell of chocolate above the dense chocolate cake. The cake cooled for more than an hour and the center of the cake formed a crater as described.

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Comments

  1. There are numerous versions of this cake, this one truly “takes the cake.” The ingredients are simple: butter, sugar, chocolate, and eggs. Mostly pantry/staple/on-hand items. And the technique and instructions are spot on. In no time, you can have something for a simple get-together or a treasure for a true celebration. A real show stopper!

    1. William, thrilled that you’re inspired to near poeticism over this cake! It does tend to have that effect on people, we find. Thanks so much for taking the time to share that gorgeous photo with us as well as your experience with the cake. So glad you found a keeper! Looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next…!

  2. 6 years ago I belonged to the Culinary Arts of Ajijic (Mexico) which had monthly competitions. If you won 3 first places in a year you would win a Bing award which was named for the person who first donated the prize for this. I think it was February that year and the dessert category was chocolate for Valentine’s Day. I won. I had also won a first in January and also March which made me the only person to have won a Bing in March.

    People paid me to make this cake for their parties and I really got tired of making it plus a friend has celiac and is a chocoholic and pouts if I don’t make this cake. You absolutely HAVE to use the best chocolate you can for it to be as good as it should be. Driscoll grows raspberries near where I live and those berries are perfect sprinkled on top. The slight tartness of them helps to temper a little of the richness.

  3. My cake is in the oven as I type. The recipe couldn’t be more simple to follow. After sampling the batter, which turned into licking the bowl by way of a rubber spatula,
    I am giving this 5 stars! I KNOW I’m going to be very happy when we eat the baked cake tomorrow. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  4. I love this cake. Made it for the family seder for the first time and it was such a hit, we immediately started planning the next occasion for the cake. The extra benefit is that it’s gluten free, but nothing about this cake is a compromise for anyone who can eat gluten. I’m making it again today for my father in law who raved about it, but typically avoids anything “modified” to be GF. :)

    1. Beth, I love that you love everything about this cake. And thank you for bringing up the GF issue. I, like your father in law, don’t care for things that are trying to be something that they aren’t so I tend to avoid any GF recipes. But this just works naturally as-is. And I, too, love it for that. Looking forward to hearing about the next recipe you try from the site. And for what it’s worth, many of our GF recipes just happen to be GF without you needing to jump through any hoops or over any hurdles. Again, thank you! https://leitesculinaria.com/category/recipes/dietary-considerations/gluten-free

  5. This is one of my three go-to cakes – and I’m making it today for my birthday! Thanks for sharing it here – I packed all my cookbooks for an upcoming move (gasp!) and really, really miss R. Sax’s book.

  6. I worked for the Cookbook Store in Toronto for more than three decades. Because it was a favourite with those of us who worked at the store, I am making the chocolate cloud cake for our farewell potluck. I have made it many times for both work and family events. Even if you forget the butter, which I did the first time I made it, it is still scrumptious. Although I only met him once, about six months before he died, Richard Sax’s graciousness and sense of humour made his visit one of our most treasured author events.

  7. Hi Tsu Lin,

    So glad that you liked it–much better than a store bought birthday cake! I hope all the children enjoyed it as much as the parents.

  8. I made this more than TWICE, once for my daughter’s birthday celebration in her playgroup and it was so well received! A great recipe for a cake that you can be proud of when you bring it along to any parties.. Choc is rich but the cream complemented it perfectly! Makes you want to scoop for more. And the parents at the playgroup kept praising it for weeks afterwards. :)

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