5 Ingredients or Fewer

Extra-Fudgy Flourless Chocolate Cake

March 28, 2021
20 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
Author Notes

Whipped cream on top of chocolate cake is a given. So, why not add whipped cream to the cake itself? I learned this one-ingredient hack from award-winning author Shirley Corriher, who learned it from pastry chef Heather Hurlbert. By adding whipped cream to cake batter, you get a fudgier texture, richer flavor, and all-around more show-stopping dessert. Inspired by Richard Sax’s chocolate cloud cake, this recipe yields a meringue-like shell and mousse-like center.

A few notes about the bake itself: The bottom of your springform pan has a rimmed border; when you lock the latch, make sure the rim is facing downward, so the cake is easier to serve (thanks to Samantha Seneviratne for teaching me this trick!). And when it comes to slicing, a serrated knife is your best bet to break through the crisp crust. Serving in big wedges (a opposed to little slivers) yields the cleanest slices—and since when was more cake a bad thing? —Emma Laperruque

  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 55 minutes
  • Makes 1 (8-inch) cake
Ingredients
  • Flourless chocolate cake
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used 67%)
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature, whites and yolks separated
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Whipped cream topping
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • Bittersweet chocolate, for shaving (optional)
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom of an 8-inch round springform pan—but don’t butter the sides of the pan, which would prevent the cake from rising properly.
  2. Melt the butter in a small pot over medium-low heat. As soon as it has totally melted, turn off the heat, then add the chocolate. Gently swirl the pot so all the chocolate gets covered in warm butter. Let this sit for a couple minutes, then stir until the chocolate is completely melted, smooth, and shiny.
  3. Combine the egg yolks, ½ cup sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk until the mixture is a very pale yellow (this shouldn’t take more than a couple minutes).
  4. Add the egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on low, then slowly increase the speed to medium, then to medium high. As soon as the egg whites start to turn foamy and puffy, slowly start streaming in the sugar. (A steady flow is fine, just keep it slow.) Once all the sugar has been added, continue to beat until glossy, mostly-stiff peaks form.
  5. Whisk the ½ cup cream until stiff peaks form, but be careful not to over-whip to the point of graininess. (I like to do this by hand—it doesn’t take as long as you’d think and makes you feel accomplished.)
  6. Add a small pour of the chocolate-butter mixture to the egg yolk–sugar mixture. Stir with a silicone spatula. Add a little more and stir. Continue doing this until you’ve incorporated all the chocolate-butter mixture. Now add a spoonful of the meringue and gently fold until mostly combined (some remaining streaks of white are good—it means you haven’t overmixed). Add a little more and, again, fold until mostly combined. Continue doing this until you’ve added all the meringue and it’s mostly combined, taking care to not overmix or deflate the batter. Now fold in the whipped cream in the same way.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and smooth the top. Add the pan to a rimmed baking sheet (this makes rotating easier) and get it in the oven.
  8. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the top of the cake is starting to crack around the perimeter and the center is no longer wobbly. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. The center will sink into a dramatic crater—that’s good. When you’re reading to eat, whip the remaining 1 ½ cup cream until slouchy, soft peaks form. Add this to the sunken center of the cake, spreading and swirling it, but making sure to leave a distinct chocolate cake border.
  9. Shave more bittersweet chocolate on top, if you’d like, before serving. Run a dull knife around the edge of the perimeter of the cake, then unmold the springform. Use a serrated knife to slice into big wedges.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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  • Ella Quittner
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Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles on the fly, baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., and writing about the history of pie in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's award-winning column, Big Little Recipes (also the cookbook in October 2021!). And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

26 Reviews

Julie November 26, 2020
This cake is delicious. It is a lovely, fudgy, decadent dessert that you can make early in the day and then add the topping shortly before eating. I topped with a crème anglaise but next time I’m thinking a raspberry purée needs to be somewhere beside or under it. I used a 74% dark chocolate with no problem.
 
Laurabee June 14, 2020
This is the most gorgeously delicious chocolate cake....largely due to the contrasts in textures. Fudgy, velvetty mousse layer, light, crispy meringue top, the cloud of cream, even the curls of dark chocolate on top. Recipe is perfectly divine as written, but i did add just a touch of sugar and hazelnut liquor to the whipping cream. Cannot recommend this recipe enough.
 
Laurabee June 21, 2020
This is kind of crazy, but I made this cake a second time in a week. PEOPLE....you need to try this cake. It really is, indeed, THAT good. Interestingly, my prep time was cut in half since I was familiar with the steps. Clearly, this cake will be in regular rotation. I upgraded my springform pan specifically for this recipe.
 
Danai M. January 23, 2020
How does this compare to the normal cloud cake?
 
Author Comment
Emma L. January 23, 2020
Hi Danai! It's even fudgier thanks to the folded-in whipped cream.
 
jacting8 December 26, 2019
Hi, Is it necessary to use a spring form pan? Can i use a regular cake pan?
 
Author Comment
Emma L. December 28, 2019
Hi! Yes, you need a springform pan here to unmold the cake properly. If you used a regular cake pan, you'd have to flip over the cake to get it out, and it would probably fall apart.
 
HappyHugs May 15, 2019
As titled, the cake was "Extra-Fudgy" and delicious. I made it the day before and kept it wrapped at room temperature and it was fine. However, I would not recommend the downward facing rim on the spring-form cake pan -- the cake did release easily, but the "gutter" got filled with extra-fudgy chocolate and it was very difficult to clean. In future, I will use the cake pan in the traditional manner...
 
ArizonaBorn January 26, 2020
I wonder is using parchment slings would help to remove from a regular cake pan.
 
Josh April 28, 2019
Thank you for the stellar recipe. I’ve made disappointing flourless chocolate cake recipes in the past but wanted to nail this dessert. This recipe came to the rescue! In fact, trotted this beauty out for my bday cake for company and it wowed the crowd.
Thank you!
 
Author Comment
Emma L. April 29, 2019
Thanks, Josh! So happy to hear you and your guests enjoyed it!
 
Charlotta R. April 25, 2019
Looks delicious! For us Europeans, including grams and liters would be very, very helpful..! Thank you.
 
Chai L. April 18, 2019
Hi Emma, would like to ask if I can substitute sugar with stevia?
 
Author Comment
Emma L. April 18, 2019
Hi! The sugar contributes to the structure and moistness of this cake as well as its sweetness, so I wouldn't recommend that substitute. (I haven't baked with stevia before as a sugar substitute, but from what I'm reading—it's pretty complicated and unreliable.)
 
Chai L. April 21, 2019
OK thanks!
 
Ella Q. April 11, 2019
I'd like to live in a home made of this cake.
 
Author Comment
Emma L. April 11, 2019
With a whipped cream roof!
 
Tina April 10, 2019
Do you know if it is possible to use vegan whipped cream in the cake? I know that vegan meringue would work beautifully for this but I don't know how it would bake. I guess this is where I roll my sleeves up and experiment (again), yeah?
 
Author Comment
Emma L. April 10, 2019
Hi Tina! I'm not sure how vegan substitutes would work in this recipe (since it does rely a lot on the meringue and whipped cream), but if you do experiment...please let me know how it goes! I'm really curious. Whipped coconut cream would taste so yummy with the chocolate.
 
Katie A. April 10, 2019
Also curious if you could make this a day ahead. Passover turns into Jewish Thanksgiving/super bowl and oven real estate is valuable the day of a Seder.
 
Magnolia April 16, 2019
I have a similar cake recipe from Bon Appetit (1991) and that cake also dips in the center as it cools. It is actually presented as a Passover dessert recipe.
To serve, I invert the cake onto a platter or cake stand and lightly dust with powdered sugar (sometimes using a stencil to make it pretty), and serve the whipped cream on the side. The cake stays fresh at room temperature for 2-3 days if stored properly I
In an air tight container, plus it also freezes well. I would not put the whipped cream on the cake, since storing left overs becomes a problem.
I bake the cake, let it cool completely in the pan, wrap the cake (with the pan) in Cling Wrap and leave at room temperature (for up to two days), and remove the cake from the pan just before serving. Hope this helps😊
 
dkv April 9, 2019
Do you think I could make this a day before serving?
 
Author Comment
Emma L. April 10, 2019
Hi dkv and Katie! This cake is best the day it's made, though we ate a lot of day-old (and even older) leftovers at the office and they were still delicious. Depending on the humidity, the crust will just soften a bit and lose its crackly shell. If you do decide to make the day before, I'd recommend covering it well and keeping it at room temperature. Then, just before you serve it, fill the center with whipped cream, then un-mold.
 
Miss_Karen April 9, 2019
How would you adjust this for high elevation??? (6035ft.)
Usually about 2 TBSP of flour is added to compensate for high elevation...
 
Author Comment
Emma L. April 10, 2019
Hi Miss K! I'm not super-versed in high elevation baking, so I'm sorry that I can't say for sure. But this chart from King Arthur seems like a great resource for adapting recipes: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html
 
Eric K. April 8, 2019
WOW, what a dream of a cake.