Bake

Fudgy, Flourless Instant Pot Chocolate Cake

February  7, 2020
8 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis.
Author Notes

A PSA for all the chocolate cake–loving, Instant Pot–owning folks in the crowd: this gorgeous, uber-fudgy, flourless chocolate cake is destined to become your new fave. The cake is about as easy-peasy as they come, what with its fab one bowl–ness and short ingredient list, and has the silkiest of textures, due to the uniquely moist cooking environment that is the IP. The cake, in fact, manages to straddle both a homey, fudgy brownie vibe and an elevated, sliver-of-chocolate-cake-post-fancy-French–restaurant–meal one. The finished cake is a sight to behold, due to its dark, deeply chocolatey color; but it’s true that the cake does take about 15 minutes longer to “bake” than it would if one were doing so in a conventional oven. However, the texture of this cake, “cooked” under pressure, cannot be beat. Despite how hyperbolic this might sound, the uniquely steamy environment of the Instant Pot produces truly the moistest of cakes, with the most velvety of textures. Moreover, as we IP-devotees know, the 50 minute cook time is all oven-free, hands-off time, with no fears about a dry, over-baked crumb getting in the way of whatever else you are doing while this cutie “bakes” (whether it’s making your actual dinner or binge-watching This Is Us). A dollop of crème fraiche is the perfect finishing touch, though unsweetened whipped cream or even vanilla (or caramel!) ice cream would be awfully nice, too. —Jessie Sheehan

  • Prep time 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook time 50 minutes
  • Serves 8 to 10
Ingredients
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted high-fat butter, such as Plugra
  • 1 cup semisweet (or bittersweet) chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • Crème fraiche, for serving
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Pour 1 cup water into the Instant Pot. Line a 7-inch springform pan (with removable bottom) with a parchment round and grease the sides and paper-lined bottom with cooking spray or softened butter.
  2. Put the butter, chocolate, and cocoa powder in a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high in 40 second intervals, whisking after each, until melted. Or, place the butter, chocolate, and cocoa powder in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk until melted.
  3. Add the salt and sugars to the warm chocolate and whisk to combine.
  4. Add the vanilla and then the eggs one at a time, whisking gently after each, until combined.
  5. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and tap the pan against the counter to pop any air bubbles. You probably won't be able to pop them all (don't worry).
  6. Cover the pan tightly with a sheet of tinfoil, making sure to tuck the edges of the sheet under the pan, and not on top. Place it on the Instant Pot trivet and using the long trivet handles, lower the cake into the pot.
  7. Secure the lid and set the pressure release valve to sealing. Select Manual and set the cooking time for 50 minutes on high pressure. The pot will take about 5 minutes to come to pressure before the actual cooking time begins.
  8. When the cooking program ends, let the cooker release naturally for 10 minutes and then move the pressure valve to venting and release the rest of the steam.
  9. Open the pot and using potholders, or a dish towel, carefully grab the trivet handles and remove the cake. Although some recommend creating a tinfoil sling with which to remove items from the pot, I have never had trouble lifting out something hot, as long as I am using my long-handled trivet (the one that comes with the Instant Pot). But if you are nervous about burning yourself, just wait to remove the cake until it has cooled enough to easily handle.
  10. Unwrap the tinfoil, being careful not to pour any of the collected condensation on the cake. The cake is ready if the center jiggles just slightly like firmly set jello (if it still looks liquid-y, return it to the pot for another 5 to 10 minutes). Blot the top with a paper towel to absorb any condensation. Let the cake cool to room temp on the counter, about 2 hours.
  11. Remove the sides of the pan by running a paring knife around the edges. Then remove the bottom of the pan by sticking a long knife between the paper and the round metal bottom piece and shimmying it a bit until the cake releases. Garnish with cocoa powder and serve slices with dollops of crème fraiche.
  12. The cake will keep wrapped in plastic wrap on the counter for up to 3 days. Or you can refrigerate it for up to a week or freeze it for up to a month (and late-night frozen slivers of this baby are some of life’s greatest pleasures, FYI).

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • deanna1001
    deanna1001
  • Sherri Dahlin-Ryan
    Sherri Dahlin-Ryan
  • Marna
    Marna
  • Monica Meier Richardson
    Monica Meier Richardson
  • Rosalind Paaswell
    Rosalind Paaswell
Bio: Jessie Sheehan is a cookbook author, recipe developer, and baker. She is the author of The Vintage Baker (one of the Washington Post’s best cookbooks of 2018 and beloved by Oprah and Nigella) and the co-author of Icebox Cakes (both published by Chronicle Books). She has developed recipes for many cookbooks, besides her own, and has contributed recipes, written and/or created video content for Better Homes & Garden, Rachael Ray Everyday, the Washington Post, Fine Cooking, Yankee Magazine (October 2020) Epicurious, Food52, The Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family Show, The Feed Feed, The Kitchn, TASTE, Chowhound, Yummly, Spruce Eats and Little Sous, among others.

67 Reviews

Jesse S. February 1, 2021
So easy and decadent! I have an 8" springform and based on reviews about the cake's short stature I decided to scale up the recipe to 1.25x (except kept the sugars at 1/2 C each). The cake turned out just over an inch tall, which seemed about right for this style. Also based on reviews and the larger volume of batter, I set the IP for 65 minutes at pressure. Next time I will cut back to 60 minutes and see if it's set. It seemed just a tad over done but was still excellent. Served with creme fraiche and sugared cranberries... so pretty and great contrast to the sweet cake!
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. February 1, 2021
Yay! So glad u made and liked and great that an 8 inch pan fits in your instant pot! That’s good to know. What size do you have?
 
Jesse S. February 1, 2021
It’s a 6 qt IP.
 
Karen January 23, 2021
This was my first instant pot dessert with my Ninja Foodi. I was so excited to try it. After 50 minutes it looked pretty well set. After cooling for two hours I cut a slice but it was very soft and pudding like. Instead of throwing it away I tried to cook it another 15 minutes but had the same results. So disappointed. With so many positive reviews, I will have to try it again with a longer cooking time.
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. January 23, 2021
what a bummer and am so sorry. have you found that things cook more slowly in the Ninja Foodie than the Instant pot? Based on recipes you have tired that are written for an instant pot? I mean the finished cake IS soft in the center, but don't think I'd call it pudding. Do hope you'll give it another go - maybe for 75 minutes this next time?
 
loosylou November 9, 2020
This was my first instant pot dessert and it will definitely not be my last. Love how easy this was at every step. Super recommend the creme fresh! It made it feel very fancy.
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. January 23, 2021
Yay! so happy to read this and so sorry for the delayed response - I too love the addition of the creme fraiche.
 
deanna1001 November 1, 2020
I have a mini IP. A 7" pan won't fit. A 6" one would with under an inch on the side. Can I cut the recipe by ¼ and proceed?
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. November 1, 2020
I think yes!
 
milo3698 October 30, 2020
I do not understand why I need to cover the bottom of pan with foil, as it is not submerged in a "waterbath". Also, your video does not show this. Please explain what I am trying to achieve in this step:
"Cover the pan tightly with a sheet of tinfoil, making sure to tuck the edges of the sheet under the pan, and not on top. Place it on the Instant Pot trivet and using the long trivet handles, lower the cake into the pot."
 
Lune October 30, 2020
I don't think it is about covering the bottom of the pan in foil, but to make sure that there is no condensation/water going in the pan. It is more of a matter of sealing than covering the pan's bottom. Hope this helps! Stay well!
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. October 30, 2020
i am so sorry that you are confused. the video is of me making a cheesecake in the IP and should not be on the same page as the recipe for my chocolate cake in the IP! oops - have written to food52 to ask them to change this! but, basically the tinfoil goes on top of the cake in order to protect the cake from the steam and water and moisture that the IP creates . . . i merely mentioned the bottom of the pan because i wanted to make sure the edges of the tinfoil were tucked in well around the bottom of the pan and not on top . . . so no water gets on the top of the cake. hope this helps.
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. October 30, 2020
EXACTLY! you said it so much better than I . . . XO
 
BethM July 28, 2020
This was a huge hit! Everyone who tried it thought it was fantastic. After reading the other reviews, I added 5mins to the cook time and left out the brown sugar. It was still perfectly sweet and delicious! Everyone wanted me to send this recipe to them.
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. July 28, 2020
music to my ears!! yay!!!
 
Sherri D. July 9, 2020
Oh. My. Just Oh My. So rich and delicious. And easy-peasy to make! Thanks for my new favorite dessert recipe!
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. July 9, 2020
Yay Sherri!! So pleased u liked it! XO
 
Marna July 5, 2020
OMG! Rich with a capital R. Read the reviews, cut the sugar in half. Cooked on HI for 55 minutes, 10 minute natural release, then vented and cooled. Fudgy, smooth, definitely a small serving item but so simple and elegant. No one believed that it was from my instant pot! This one is a keeper.
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. July 6, 2020
Yay! So happy to hear that you enjoyed it and that it’s a keeper, to boot!
 
Monica M. July 5, 2020
Jessie, I love the concept of using my IP and a flourless cake! Do you think this would work if I used sugar-free chocolate chips and Truvia white and brown sugar? My husband is diabetic but still loves cake!
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. July 6, 2020
Great question. I never bake with those ingredients, so I can’t be certain, but if those items tend to behave like their sugar-full counterparts, I can’t imagine why not! Do you usually successfully substitute sugar free chocolate and truvia in baking recipes for your husband?
 
paula R. July 5, 2020
My mouth is watering but i have no i p
Can i bake in oven??
 
Rosalind P. July 5, 2020
Some did; scroll down through comments February 14 of this year. She said it worked but gave no specifics about time, temperature, cooling. I imagine it would be the same as conventional cheesecake.
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. July 5, 2020
Hi Paula and yes! What Rosalind said . . . I have never made this particular cake in the oven, but i have a very similar one on my website and you can follow those instructions - and even make that cake, if you'd prefer. I think this cake might bake for less time than the one on my site because it is in a smaller sized pan. https://www.jessiesheehanbakes.com/2014/04/24/flourless-chocolate-cake/
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. July 5, 2020
thanks for weighing in Rosalind - i shared a recipe from my site for a. flourless chocolate cake that you bake in the oven and i think it will be helpful for this recipe if one does not have an IP. here it is if you're interested: https://www.jessiesheehanbakes.com/2014/04/24/flourless-chocolate-cake/
 
Rosalind P. July 5, 2020
If I ever win the lottery, I would see if Jessie would come to my kitchen and work with me whenever I wanted or to just prepare all our meals and I'd pay her a zillion dollars. Her work is awesome, imaginative, accessible and it produces great dishes. BUT (you knew there was a but, right?) I would also hire an acting coach, a great director and whatever it would take to do better in the videos. Too much giggly talk, too much talk that strains to be folksy, too much talk, period. Just do the recipe, explain in your warm style but only where explanation is necessary. Really. Watch the video. Look for talk that just fills the dead air. Please keep doing what you're doing because you're up there with the best. But that doesn't automatically transfer to being great on video. I ultimately couldn't go on watching.
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. July 5, 2020
thanks for the feedback Rosalind. glad that you are a fan of my recipes and sorry my video "persona" is not to your liking.
 
Rosalind P. July 5, 2020
It would be a pleasure (and honor) to be with your "persona" -- in person. Media skills are learned, I think, and few people -- including me, I'm sure -- would not need training or coaching to do it well. And I'm also guessing that not everyone -- or maybe anyone -- had my take on the video because no one else expressed it. But when I watch a cooking video, I do want to get down to brass tacks, so to speak, with pleasantries, of course, but not so much kibitzing, etc. But if I had to choose between no videos of your work and the ones you do, I'll stick with the ones you do. Plus the recipes of course. So, bottom line -- thanks.
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. July 5, 2020
you're welcome! and you know, as they say, you cannot please everyone all of the time . . . as for the video, though, that you mentioned in your first comment, which one exactly are you talking about? i have never made a video of this chocolate flourless IP cake for food52 - are u talking about my chocolate peanut butter IP cheese cake video that i made for them? or my chocolate carrot snacking cake one? just curious . . .
 
Rosalind P. July 10, 2020
The one with a young male chef for food52
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. July 10, 2020
Gotcha! I made a PB cheese cake in that one, with a chocolate cookie crust - but also in the IP . . .
 
Redtom456 June 17, 2020
I made this cake today and it tasted good! I used salted butter (because that is what I had) and used a pinch instead of the 1/2 tsp and it turned out nice! I didn't know what you meant by a firmly set jello, so after when it was done after the first 50 min and 10 min natural release I put it in for 5 more min and it it was not soupy (looked the same). So I waited 2 hrs and when I cut into it, it was very moist! Great recipie! Will have to try again! Also I put it on the cake setting on the instant pot.
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. June 22, 2020
Yay! so happy the recipe worked for you and that you liked it and will make it again.
 
Mary P. May 20, 2020
Going to make this today! What is the 2 hour prep time?
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. May 20, 2020
When the cake comes out of the instant pot, it needs to rest for like 2 hours to firm up . . . and chill to room temp. In a pinch you could maybe stick it in the fridge instead . . . and if you have the issue that some of the folks have had, where the cake does not have a jello like jiggle at 50 minutes, and is instead more soupy at that point, please return it to the pot for an extra ten minutes or so!
 
Mary P. May 20, 2020
Oh, I see! I was reading that as lead-in time, not post 'baking' time 😉🤭
 
G April 27, 2020
Was not cooked after 50 minutes. Cooled to room temperature and all but the edges was like thick soup :( Followed recipe exactly.
 
G April 27, 2020
I put it in for another 10 minutes in and 10 min release, but perhaps since in the meantime it had cooled to room temperature that was not long enough. Still came out totally liquid. Putting in for another 15 min now. Honestly, I should have read the reviews more carefully. Confused as to why the recipe author even lists 50 minutes as the cook time. It's not like an instant pot gives you varied results. Guess this is just my first experience using a recipe that the author hadn't tested accurately...
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. April 27, 2020
I am so sorry that the recipe did not work for you. Actually In my experience instant pots do indeed give different results. My 50 minute cook time could be another person’s 60 minute cook time - they do not all keep temp in the same way. That is why you often see instant pot recipe writers explaining that u may need to cook something for longer than stated.
 
Lune March 29, 2020
Today is my birthday. Since I couldn't celebrate with friends and family due to social distancing, I decided to make this. After reading the reviews, I hold off on the sugar (1/4 cup cane and 1/2 cup brown) and cooked it for 55 minutes. I had a mix of chocolate chips and dark chocolate (70%). It tastes amazing! Not too sweet and definitely fudgy! Totally happy with this!
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. March 29, 2020
Yay! So happy to hear all of this and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️
 
dhawken March 1, 2020
Similar results to some of the other posters:
- only rose just over an inch. Will try not greasing the pan sides next time.
- was not quite done after 50 minutes. Needed to be in longer.

I'm not sure what the downside is to cooking longer, nor if the two results are related. I would recommend 55 mins cook time to others.
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. March 1, 2020
Hmmm. I mean the cake should not be super tall. It’s super fudgy and dense (in a good way). And a little longer cook time will help the center be less underdone but won’t help it rise more. Hope that helps.
 
Aditi February 28, 2020
Can this be made in a traditional pressure cooker (non-electric, with a weight, which whistles, etc.)?
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. February 28, 2020
I’m sure it can be, but I have never made it in one. Good luck!
 
Andrew February 18, 2020
Is it possible to include weights of ingredients as well as volume measurements?
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. February 18, 2020
It is possible to do so in the future, but I don’t have them for this recipe. Apologies . . .
 
nutcakes February 20, 2020
i’d like weights too since i’ll be chopping chocolate off a quality bar.
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. February 20, 2020
Sorry: I don’t have weight measures for this recipe but 1 cup of chocolate chips weighs 6 ounces.
 
Alicja L. February 16, 2020
I made this for Valentine’s Day and tasted amazing...although I think the chocolate I used was a bit too dark.

My main issue was that the cake came out about to be only 2 cm in depth. I don’t think greasing the sides of the springform pan was a good idea.

I’d definitely try this recipe again but skip that step and just run a knife around the edges when the cake is done.
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. February 16, 2020
sounds like a plan (not greasing the pan) pan. so sorry the cake was only 2 cm in depth. interestingly enough, an earlier version of the cake was much taller, but took forever to set up in the IP. so we reduced the amounts of ingredients so that it would bake up faster . . . i, too, love a taller cake, though, so i feel u . . .
 
Hapgood February 14, 2020
I made this tonight for Valentines. The recipe is as promised, easy, fudgy and delicious. It definitely needs the unsweetened creme fresh or something else to cut the sweet. I didn’t have creme fresh so I used some fig sheep’s milk yogurt from the farmers market. The slight tart of the yogurt was a perfect match. I could also see raspberries as a nice way to even out the sugar. Next time, I’m going to try to cut back on the sugar a bit. It all going to depend on how sweet your chocolate chips are. I used Kirkland (Costco) and it was cloying sweet without the topping. I have an original Instantpot and the cake was nowhere near done after the initial cook/ release time. I had to put it back in for another 10 minutes of cook and release. Overall, this is a great, impressive tasting dessert but worth doing a trial run so there are no surprises.
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. February 14, 2020
Thanks for letting us know all your thoughts! And glad u enjoyed despite the sweetness.
 
nutcakes February 20, 2020
you used a 7-inch springform? I’m i’m excited to make it but I didn’t really want to purchase that piece of equipment.
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. February 20, 2020
Well, you need a pan that will fit in your instant pot and one with a removable bottom is great cause it makes removing the cake easier . . .
 
Hapgood February 20, 2020
Yes, I happened to have a 7” springform that came in a set I purchased years ago. This was the first time I used the 7” size and have used the others In the set quite a bit, so I understand your reluctance to purchase one. You do need something small enough to fit in the instantpot. The dessert is totally scoopable if you wanted to use something without removable sides but it wouldn’t look as pretty.
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. February 20, 2020
Thanks for weighing in!
 
Hapgood February 16, 2021
A year later and I’ve made this cake several times. It’s my go to easy dessert for chocolate lovers. It’s perfect for Valentine’s when you don’t need to serve a lot of people. Here are my suggestions. 1) high fat butter makes better cake (I know this shouldn’t be surprising). I used Kerigold which has the same butterfat as Pulgra that the recipe calls for instead of Kirkland (which is what is usually what’s in my freezer) and the two people that I shared leftovers with both remarked that the cake was better than usual. 2) I cut the granulated sugar to 1/4 a cup when using tollhouse or Kirkland chocolate chips. 3) I butter the springform and then dust it with cocoa powder. 4) I use two heaping tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa powder in the recipe to compensate for my bulk store chocolate chip 5) I also add a scoop of instant coffee for the same reason. 6) I increase the cook time to 1:05 with a 10 minute natural release. 7) creme fraiche and raspberries go so well with this.

Thanks Jessie for this easy dessert staple!
 
Author Comment
Jessie S. February 17, 2021
so happy this has become a sweet staple in your house! that is a recipe developer's dream come true. XO