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.

Although the cake relies on only four ingredients, it’s remarkably accommodating when it comes to chocolate. Ours is an adamantly bittersweet chocolate house. The One chomps through at least two bars a week. When I first made this cake, I went the darkest of dark chocolate routes. The cake was good, very good, but it seemed to be missing something—even to The One. Then I tried semisweet chocolate, and that clinched it for us. All the pieces fell into place.

Of course, you do you and go for your favorite type of chocolate, but, darlings, make sure to get the best quality you can find. This isn’t the time to whip out those chalky-looking chocolate chips in the back of the pantry.

David Leite's handwritten signature of 'David.'
david caricature

Why Our Testers Loved This

My testers return to this light and airy dessert again and again because it is easy to prepare and always receives rave reviews. It’s no surprise that they’re describing this flourless chocolate cake recipe as “fabulous,” “elegant,” and “impressive.”

What You’ll Need to Make This

The ingredients for a flourless chocolate cloud cake: chocolate, butter, vanilla, orange, eggs, heavy cream, sugar, and Cointreau.
  • Chocolate–Depending on your sweet tooth, you can use bittersweet or semisweet chocolate. The flavor of the chocolate is prominent, though, so use the best-quality chocolate you can find.
  • Butter–Use room-temperature butter for this recipe, as it will melt into the chocolate readily. Cold butter may cool the chocolate mixture too much.
  • Eggs—Definitely use room-temperature eggs here. It’s easier (and faster) to whip more volume into room-temp eggs because their consistency allows air to be incorporated better than with cold eggs. They also blend easier into batters. (Can you tell I’m a room-temp egg fan?)
  • Heavy cream—For light, airy whipped cream, always start with cold whipping cream. Also, chill your bowl and beaters before whipping for the best results.

How to Make Flourless Chocolate Cake

A person's hand sliding a circle of parchment into a cake pan; a person stirring melted chocolate over a bain marie.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch springform pan with a circle of parchment.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over low heat.
A hand whisking in butter into melted chocolate; a hand beating egg yolks together.
  1. Remove the chocolate from the heat and whisk in the butter.
  2. Whisk 2 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar in another bowl until smooth.
A person's hand whisking melted chocolate and egg yolks; a person's hand pouring Cointreau into melted chocolate.
  1. Slowly stir in the warm chocolate mixture.
  2. Add the Cointreau and the orange zest to the chocolate.
A mixer beating egg whites; then a person adding sugar and beating more.
  1. Beat the egg whites with a handheld mixer on high speed until foamy.
  2. Gradually add the remaining sugar to the bowl.
A bowl of perfectly whipped egg whites; A person folding egg whites into a chocolate batter.
  1. Continue beating until the whites are lusciously cloud-like and hold soft peaks.
  2. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
A person folding chocolate batter; a persons hand smoothing the top of cake batter in a cake pan.
  1. Continue folding the batter until no streaks of white remain.
  2. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top.
  3. Bake until puffed and cracked on top. Let the cake cool on a wire rack.
  4. Before serving, beat the whipping cream with confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Mound the whipped cream decoratively in the center of the cake. Dust with cocoa powder and chocolate curls.

Common Questions

What is a cloud cake?

It’s a delicate cake with a light, airy texture, much like soufflé. These cakes are often made with beaten egg whites to achieve a very light consistency.

Can You freeze a chocolate cloud cake?

Indeed, you can. Freeze it without the whipped cream topping for up to 3 months. Once the cake’s completely cooled, wrap it well in plastic and stash it in the freezer. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before topping with the whipped cream.

Is this cake gluten-free?

Yes. Not all flourless chocolate cakes are gluten-free, but this one is.

What does the addition of alcohol do for baked goods?

In this cake, adding Cointreau or Grand Marnier gives it a lovely boost of flavor and bumps up the moisture level.

It’s important to consider your guests when cooking with alcohol. Although some of the alcohol cooks off during baking (about 65% in 30 minutes of baking time), a fairly substantial amount (35%) is still present when it’s time to eat.

Helpful Tips

  • Fat can make whipping egg white impossible, so make sure there’s not even a speck of yolk in the whites.
  • The egg whites give the cake structure, so take time to make sure they’re well-beaten and reach the soft-peak stage. Be gentle when folding them into the chocolate. On the other hand, under-beating the eggs can result in a cake that deflates and falls apart.
  • This recipe is suitable for gluten-free diets.

Storage

The cake stores best without the whipped cream topping. Cover it with plastic wrap or a cake dome and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days. Top with the whipped cream just before serving.

A flourless chocolate cloud cake with a sunken middle on a metal platter.

More Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipes

Write a Review

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

We literally couldn’t stop eating this cake—it was SO good! It was light and chocolatey with hints of orange, and it paired wonderfully with the whipped cream!

Karishma
A flourless chocolate cloud cake topped with billows of whipped cream on a metal platter.

Flourless Chocolate Cloud Cake

4.87 / 23 votes
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.
David Leite
CourseDessert
CuisineAmerican
Servings8 to 12 servings
Calories595 kcal
Prep Time40 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients 

For the cake

  • 8 ounces best-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
  • 6 large eggs, 2 whole, 4 separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Cointreau, Grand Marnier, or Cognac, (optional)
  • Grated zest of 1 orange, preferably organic
  • Pinch of salt

For the finishing touches

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder, for sprinkling
  • Chocolate curls, for sprinkling

Instructions 

Make the cake

  • Crank the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan with a round of parchment.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: Do NOT butter the sides of the pan or the paper; that's a definite no-no. The cake won't creep up the pan.

    A person's hand sliding a circle of parchment into a cake pan.
  • Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over but not touching gently simmering water.
    A person stirring melted chocolate over a bain marie.
  • Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the butter until it's melted and utterly silky.
    A hand whisking in butter into melted chocolate.
  • In another bowl, whisk the 2 whole eggs and the 4 egg yolks with 1/2 cup of the sugar until foamy.
    A hand beating egg yolks together.
  • Slowly whisk in the warm chocolate mixture. Whisk in the Cointreau, orange zest, and salt.
    A person's hand pouring Cointreau into melted chocolate.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the 4 egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy.
    A mixer beating egg whites until foamy.
  • Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until the whites form soft peaks that hold their shape.
    A bowl of perfectly whipped egg whites.
  • Gently fold 1/4 of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then carefully fold in the remaining whites.
    A person folding egg whites into a chocolate batter.
  • Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top of the cake.
    A person's hand smoothing the top of cake batter in a cake pan.
  • 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.
  • 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. Run the tip of a knife around the edge of the cake and carefully remove the side of the pan.
    A flourless chocolate cloud cake with a sunken middle on a metal platter.

Put the finishing touches on the cake

  • When ready to serve, whip the cream with the confectioners' sugar and vanilla until softly mounding. Fill the sunken center of the cake, pushing the billowy cream to the edges of the cake in decorative swoops and swirls. Sprinkle the top lightly with cocoa powder and chocolate curls.

Notes

  1. Separate your eggs carefully–Fat can make whipping egg white impossible, so make sure there’s not even a speck of yolk in the whites.
  2. Take your time–The egg whites give the cake structure, so take time to make sure they’re well-beaten and reach the soft-peak stage. Be gentle when folding them into the chocolate. On the other hand, under-beating the eggs can result in a cake that deflates and falls apart.
  3. Storage–The cake stores best without the whipped cream topping. Cover it with plastic wrap or a cake dome and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days. Top with the whipped cream just before serving.
  4. Dietary–This recipe is suitable for gluten-free diets.
Classic Home Desserts

Adapted From

Classic Home Desserts

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Nutrition

Serving: 1 portionCalories: 595 kcalCarbohydrates: 46 gProtein: 7 gFat: 42 gSaturated Fat: 25 gMonounsaturated Fat: 12 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 233 mgSodium: 75 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 40 g

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

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 1994 Richard Sax. Photos © 2024 David Leite. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This flourless chocolate cloud cake recipe is identical to the one I use frequently and that I call “baked chocolate mousse,” one of the 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 Cointreau and orange.

It’s a very light cake but moist and intense at the same time. It’s also very easy to prepare. It’s one of my favorite chocolate cakes!

This cloud 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.

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 egg yolk mixture 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 on 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 sweetness, is a perfect frosting substitute. If you love orange with chocolate, definitely add the orange zest and orange liqueur, as they hit the right balance with the rich chocolate.

I used 74% cacao dark chocolate and Cointreau, which added a bit more pop of orange flavor.

The egg whites took about 2 minutes to beat until foamy. It took a good 15 minutes or more to beat them into soft peaks. 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 crackled pattern, almost like a shell of chocolate above the dense chocolate cake.




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




36 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Haha! This picture looks like the Hershey cake I tried a few weeks ago! Made me laugh. Maybe I’ll have better luck with this one! Thanks!

  2. 5 stars
    We literally couldn’t stop eating this, it was SO good. The cake was so light and chocolatey with hints of orange. Followed the recipe exactly except we only had Cointreau so we used 1 tbsp of that since we figured it might be a bit stronger.

    And it paired wonderfully with the whipped cream!

    1. Karishma, well, you made my holiday! I’m delighted you all enjoyed it so much. Come back again; we have tons more wonderful recipes!

  3. Hi, has anyone tried making this in advance? How long does it stay fresh and what’s the best way to store it?

    1. Nathalie, we haven’t specifically tested making it in advance, but it should keep for 2 to 3 days in the fridge if well wrapped in plastic. Don’t fill it with cream until just before serving. One of our testers has also had success freezing the cake (without the filling) if you need to prepare it further in advance.