Flourless chocolate cake is a dessert that has been part of my kitchen journey since nearly the beginning. From the moment I was allowed to turn the oven on by myself, I wanted to know how to turn a bag of chocolate chips into a decadent, fudgy, not-too-sweet dessert. To this end, I’ve made hundreds of versions of fudge, brownies, molten-lava cakes, and layer cakes, but I have always returned to what I consider to be the model upon which all others are measured — the flourless chocolate cake.
Flourless chocolate cake is a cake in name and in appearance, but not much else. There is no flour, obviously, and none of the traditional rising agents (baking powder, baking soda) one usually sees in a cake recipe. It’s also entirely unfussy despite giving off the appearance of great skill and elegance. Compared against cake recipes with a dozen or more ingredients and just as many steps, this has 5 ingredients and only uses one bowl, one spatula, and one pan. It is, by my estimation, perfect.
I tend to make this chocolate cake when I remember, 45 minutes before I need to walk out the door, that I’ve agreed to bring dessert to a dinner party. I also make it at 10pm when I want a chocolate fix, or at 8am when I decide it’ll be the perfect day for a picnic. It’s an all-the-time, no-excuse-needed, just-because kind of dessert that doesn't require any fussy ingredients you don't already most-likely have on hand.
Before we get into the recipe, though, one last thing. While this cake doesn’t need a topping, I do think it benefits from one that cuts through the sweetness with a little tart or bitter bite. Coffee ice cream is a solid pairing, but my favorite are the cherries we can in the summer-time to eat all year. Our favorites are English Morello, a black sour cherry that is grown at Fix Farm in Hudson, New York, a 5th generation fruit farm. We pit the cherries before canning them in a sugar syrup flavored with a dash of almond extract. It’s a major operation that tends to take up most of an entire day, but it’s worth it come February when we want to have a cherry clafoutis, cocktail, or a slice of flourless chocolate cake piled high with perfectly tart cherries.
While I don’t expect you to get into canning all of a sudden, I do highly recommend storing some pitted or chopped up fresh fruit in sugar syrup in your fridge, as it’ll keep for a few weeks. Cherries with almond, strawberries with mint, and peaches with Myer’s Rum are our favorites.
Flourless Chocolate Cake (Serves 6-8)
- ½ cup high-quality chocolate, chopped or as chips*
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter + ½ tbsp for pan
- ¾ cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 8-inch round baking pan or similarly-sized rectangular pan.
- 1 large, microwave-safe glass pyrex or medium metal bowl
- 1 spatula
- Preheat oven to 375F
- Butter your pan before lining the bottom with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit**
- Melt butter in the microwave or by placing the metal bowl over a pot of simmering water.
- Add chocolate to hot butter, and stir constantly until smooth. Remove from stove if using double boiler method.
- Stir in sugar and eggs until combined.
- Stir in unsweetened cocoa powder until just combined.
- Pour batter into prepared pan (see step 2) and bake in oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the top has a thin ‘shell’.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before turning the cake out onto a plate.
- Cut, top, and serve.
In the images, I've served the cake on our Palatine Collection plate in Mugwort, available here.
* Bittersweet or semi-sweet preferred, but anything other than unsweetened can do in a pinch.
**I trace the bottom of the pan with a pencil to make this simple