Weeknight Cooking

Flourless Chocolate Cake

May  5, 2014

Jenny is in perpetual search for easy, weeknight recipes to attempt to feed her family. When they balk, she just eats more.

Today: Jenny's famous chocolate cake for Mother's Day -- and all other days.

Flourless chocolate cake from Food52 

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Babies crawl and then they walk, and then they get their braces off and refuse to eat fondue with you on a Saturday night, and you sit in your kitchen alone imagining them in dorm rooms and first apartments and finally with their own little families and think to yourself, “What dish of mine will they miss and want?”

I assume my children will always associate me with Flourless Chocolate Cake. I have made this cake for years, because, Jenny-style, it is super easy and insanely versatile. I have made it for Passover, bake sales, and cake walks at fall festivals. I have made it for scores of school doings, birthday celebrations, dinner parties thrown by others, and random office events that I attended with ambivalence.

When friends send me frantic emails looking for a last-minute dessert, I pause for a moment to wonder why they never write to talk about the Ukraine, and then I send them this recipe and wait for the grateful reply the next day.

This cake is universally loved because it is intensely chocolatey, extremely rich, and has the appearance of something quite difficult to make, giving it effort points among your guests, even though you will know better.

It tastes best with good quality chocolate, though I have made it with Tollhouse chips in a pinch. It looks best when you whip the egg whites, though you can skip this step if you do not own a mixer. It is improved with sea salt over commercial table salt; I don’t know why. Powdered sugar on top makes it much prettier.

I have improvised over the years with orange-infused chocolate or dashes of peppermint oil in the batter, and this has been been received much in the way of a good Hollywood remake: Nice try mom, cheeky, but let’s revisit the original. 

On a recent holiday, my 15-year-old (formerly known as the incipient pescetarian) rejected this confection in favor of cookies. Other guests were shocked -- what child refuses a rich chocolate cake?! -- but I well understood the drill. This treat, like a mother, becomes familiar and thus worn in its ubiquity. But knowing that it will reappear is a certain comfort. It will be available for all whom I love as long as I am blessed to walk the earth among them, and can find my 8-inch pan.  

Flourless Chocolate Cake 

Serves 10 to 12

8 ounces high quality bittersweet chocolate
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
6 large eggs, separated
1 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photo by James Ransom

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Shikha Kaiwar
    Shikha Kaiwar
  • LukePF
  • gingerroot
  • drbabs
  • Lavender

Written by: Jestei

The ratio of people to cake is too big.


Shikha K. May 8, 2014
I can totally see this with some peppermint for the holidays!
LukePF May 8, 2014
Made this last night; it's lovely, totally a weeknight wonder. You mention salt in the head note here, but it's not in the recipe, though? I pitched some Maldon into the batter, but how much do you generally use? I could see it being awesome with MORE salt like Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies...
gingerroot May 6, 2014
Flourless chocolate cake is my standby too! I've also taken it everywhere, made it for everyone's birthday and even once at Christmas. The recipe (Bon Appetit) I use is very similar, just a little more chocolate a little less butter and sugar, and no cocoa. I can't wait to try yours!!
drbabs May 5, 2014
When I was a Food52 newbie, one of the first recipes I adapted was this one. I also make this cake a lot, although my family and friends associate me more with white cookies (meringues) than with flourless chocolate cake. Turns out that my husband prefers your original (just chocolate) to whatever variations I've dreamed up. (He really hates cardamom. Go figure.). It's nice to have a recipe or two that you know you'll be remembered for. Thanks for sharing this one with the community-- it's really great. Oh, and because I was playing around with figuring out how to submit recipes and take (admittedly terrible) photographs, I posted my then- version of your recipe. Here it is: http://food52.com/recipes/3885-a-marriage-of-two-chocolate-cakes
Jestei May 5, 2014
i love this recipe. i want to try it right away thank you!
Lavender May 5, 2014
Wow, that looks so good! And the recipe is very easy to make, thanks for sharing!
Jestei May 5, 2014
very easy
fiveandspice May 5, 2014
This is wonderful Jenny. Thanks for sharing!
Jestei May 5, 2014
thank you!
ATG117 May 5, 2014
Great piece and all so very true. There's just something about those dishes our moms made time and time again.
Jestei May 5, 2014
thank you for reading!