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.
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 on 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.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Flourless Chocolate Cloud Cake FAQs
What does the addition of alcohol do for baked goods?
In this cake, the addition of Cognac or Grand Marnier adds a touch of flavor. Adding alcohol through liquor or liqueurs to baked goods can boost flavor and assist with the moisture level. It’s important to consider your guests when cooking with alcohol – remember that although some of the alcohol does cook off during baking (about 65% in 30 mins bake time), a fairly substantial percentage (35%) is still present when it’s time to eat.
Do eggs need to be at room temperature for baking?
We recommend it. It’s easier (and faster) to get volume out of room temperature eggs, as their consistency more readily permits air to be incorporated into them than cold. Room temperature eggs also blend more easily into batters.
Flourless Chocolate Cloud Cake
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 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
Make the cake
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Put the finishing touches on the cake
- 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.
Originally published January 21, 2002