Double Chocolate Chiffon Cake

February 27, 2018
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 10 to 12
Author Notes

Chocolate chiffon gets a tasty makeover with a combination of finely chopped unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder. A healthier and better tasting oil subs for the usual vegetable oil, and the method is simplified. The cake is tall, light, moist, and chocolatey. —Alice Medrich

Test Kitchen Notes

To learn more about chiffon cake, see the full article. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened natural (not Dutch process or alkalized) cocoa powder (50 grams)
  • 3/4 cup boiling water (or hot strong coffee)
  • 3 ounces dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao, or even unsweetened chocolate (85 grams)
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar (350 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I use fine sea salt)
  • 1/2 cup (110 grams) expeller pressed sunflower oil (or another neutral flavored oil)
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour (sifted before measuring or 177 grams without sifting)
  • 1 cup egg whites (255 grams from 7-8 eggs), at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325°F (adjust for a convection oven according to the instructions with your oven). Have ready a 10-inch (10-12 cup) tube pan with a removable bottom (ungreased), and a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. If the pan tube is not taller than the height of the pan sides, find a bottle with a neck thin enough to fit into the tube so that you can suspend the cake pan upside down on the bottle to cool.
  2. Put the cocoa powder in a large mixing bowl (the bowl it must be large enough to mix the all of the ingredients and fold in whipped egg whites later). Whisk in the boiling water and set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.
  3. While the cocoa mixture is cooling, use a long serrated bread knife to chop the chocolate into very fine shards and pieces—the largest pieces should be not be more than 1/4 inch thick. Leave the chocolate on the cutting board until needed.
  4. Set aside 1/4 cup (50 grams) of the sugar to stiffen the egg whites later.
  5. Add all of the remaining sugar to the cooled cocoa mixture with the baking powder, baking soda, salt, oil, egg yolks, and vanilla. Whisk until the ingredients are well blended. Add the flour and whisk until blended and smooth. Set aside.
  6. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-high speed until the mixture is creamy white—no longer yellow or translucent—and holds soft peaks when the beaters are lifted. Gradually beat in the reserved 1/4 cup of sugar, increase the speed to high and beat briefly until the egg whites are stiff but not dry.
  7. Use a large rubber spatula to fold one quarter of the egg whites in to the cocoa batter. Scrape the remaining egg whites into the bowl and scrape the chocolate from the cutting board over the top. Fold the egg whites and chocolate into the batter.
  8. Scrape the batter into the pan. Bake 55-60 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted in a couple of places comes out clean and dry.
  9. If the tube is taller than the sides of the pan, simply turn the pan upside down (supporting the tube as you do so) and let it rest on the tube (the cake will be suspended an inch or two above the counter). If the tube is not tall enough to suspend the cake, insert the neck of a bottle into it and carefully turn the pan upside down, holding on to the bottle, and let it rest and balance on the bottle (which is now right side up). Leave the cake suspended upside down to cool.
  10. To remove the cake from the pan, turn it right side up and slide a thin metal spatula around the sides, pressing against the pan to avoid tearing the cake. Detach the cake from the tube with the spatula or with a skewer. Lift the tube to remove the cake from the pan. Detach the cake from the bottom of the pan by sliding the spatula between the cake and the pan, around the tube, pressing against the pan bottom as you go. Lift the cake off of the tube with two spatulas (one on either side of the tube) and transfer it to a platter. I like to keep it right side up, but you can turn it upside down if you prefer.
  11. You can sprinkle the cake with a little powdered sugar (or not). Slice with a sharp serrated knife and serve it plain, or with dollops of whipped cream and berries, or with ice cream and chocolate sauce.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Wendy Wilson
    Wendy Wilson
  • Alice Medrich
    Alice Medrich
  • Helen Anne
    Helen Anne
  • AT
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).

15 Reviews

Helen A. August 8, 2021
I made this cake today and followed the directions exactly. The cake looked beautiful when I took it out of the oven. I turned it upside down on a bottle to cool and to my dismay, in about 5 minutes the cake fell out of the pan in large chunks. The sides were still attached, but the center pieces fell out. What would make that happen?
AT May 2, 2019
Can I make this using a normal cake pan with a removable bottom or a bundt pan? I’m trying not to buy another kitchen item since I don’t bake chiffon or angel food cakes typically.
Amy F. April 20, 2018
Hi Alice, I made your chiffon cake today -- it came out beautifully. I did however have some troubles with turing the pan upside down. When I tipped the cake it came away from the edges, causing the cake to collapse slightly. How did you manage to flip it without this happening? And why did you recommend this step over a wire rack? Thanks.
Flo April 3, 2018
Hi there. Would this work with Dutch process cocoa as that’s all I have on hand?
Alice M. April 3, 2018

Try at your own risk. Dutch Process cocoa changes the chemistry (thus texture and flavor) of a recipe that has leavenings in it, such as this one. In this particular case, I'm not completely sure that it won't work, but I am completely sure that the texture and flavor are both very good with natural cocoa (as specifically called for). I keep both types of cocoa in my pantry because they are not always interchangeable!
cosmiccook March 18, 2018
How about Pecan Oil?
And if I wanted a coconut cake, how would I sub? Coconut flour for the cocoa? What would you suggest in lieu of melted chocolate? cream of coconut (NOT coconut milk).
Alice M. March 18, 2018
Pecan oil might be delicious!
As for coconut. Why try to turn an apple into an orange? Unless you are fine with experimenting (and making mistakes), why not start with a recipe for coconut chiffon cake? Check out my recipe in Gluten Free Flavor Flours.
Wendy W. March 18, 2018
How do I adapt this recipe for high altitude (7000 ft.)?

Alice M. March 18, 2018
Check out Susan Purdy’s Book on altitude baking. Or go to her website!
Wendy W. March 18, 2018
I have Pie in the Sky and find some of the recipes incomplete. I'll give her website a try. Thank you.
Alice M. March 18, 2018
Possibly check out Letty Flatt’s Blog, . She bakes and cooks at 8000 feet. She might have tips. Also check The Joy Of Cooking section on altitude.
Alice M. March 18, 2018
In general, less leavening and less beating of egg whites ate probably required, but there’s more to it than that. Try googling high altitude chiffon cake and see how they handle details, including temperature, time,and even the type of pan.(Sorry I’m responding on my iPhone). Good luck
Wendy W. March 19, 2018
Thanks so much!
Aidan March 18, 2018
I am thinking about using grapeseed oil, as chocolate and it are so fruity.
Alice M. March 18, 2018
Sounds good!