This dark, rich, and deliciously moist flourless chocolate cake is naturally gluten free. A 1 bowl cake recipe without any special tools, decorating, or assembly required, this is chocolate cake MADE EASY. With its fudge-like texture, it satisfies even the biggest chocolate craving. Top however you’d like or with my favorite mocha whipped cream.
Is this chocolate cake or is this fudge masquerading as cake? Only one way for you to find out. I promise you’ll be satisfied with the verdict.
If you like chocolate, you definitely don’t want to miss this recipe.
Why You’ll Love This Flourless Chocolate Cake
- Easy 1 bowl cake recipe
- Dense like homemade brownies
- Mind-blowing rich and chocolatey
- Tastes like fudge you eat with a fork
- Moister than others I’ve tried (use my oven trick explained below)
- Naturally gluten free
- No crazy decorating, layering, or assembling required
- A billion ways to top it
- Leavener is optional (zero leavening without it)
Plus, I’m teaching you how to make mocha whipped cream. Take my whipped cream and add espresso powder/water and cocoa powder. It’s lightly sweetened and oh-so-simple.
Flourless Chocolate Cake Video Tutorial
Flourless Chocolate Cake Ingredients
“Where’s the flour?!” you might be asking. So you can understand how this recipe works, let me explain each ingredient you DO need.
- Chocolate & Butter: This recipe starts like my chocolate lava cakes: melt butter and chocolate together. It’s important to use pure baking chocolate, not chocolate chips. Chocolate chips contain stabilizers preventing them from melting into the silky consistency we need. Instead, pick up two 4-ounce semi-sweet chocolate baking bars from the baking aisle– I prefer Ghirardelli or Baker’s brands. You need 6 ounces for this recipe. (Reserve the remaining 2 ounces for another time.)
- Eggs: Eggs have 3 main jobs in this recipe. First, they help take the place of flour. And like they do in homemade brownies, eggs create the bulk of this cake’s moist, fudgy texture. Finally, they help the cake rise too.
- Sugar, Vanilla Extract, & Salt: Sweetens/adds flavor. Adapted from King Arthur Flour, I reduced the sugar in the cake. (I also found the cake a little dry, so I reduced the cocoa powder and added another egg, more vanilla, and used baking chocolate.)
- Espresso Powder: Just like in my regular chocolate cake recipe and marble loaf cake, espresso powder deepens the chocolate flavor. This cake DOES NOT taste like coffee. Find espresso powder in the coffee aisle of the grocery store. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll use it in baking: see all my recipes using espresso powder.
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: Because we’re not using baking soda, you can use either dutch-process cocoa powder or natural cocoa powder in this recipe. Cocoa powder also helps take the place of flour.
- Baking Powder (OPTIONAL): In my recipe testing, I found a touch baking powder added *a little* extra lift to this normally flat cake. (It’s still pretty flat even with it though!) If you want to skip the leavening, leave it out. The cake tastes the same!
How to Make Flourless Chocolate Cake
Even though this is a simple cake recipe, its preparation is very unique to traditional chocolate cake recipes. To ensure success, I encourage you to read through the following section, as well as the written recipe below.
- Prepare an 8-inch round cake pan. (A 9-inch cake pan works, but the cake is thinner.) Always line your round pans with parchment paper rounds before adding the batter. Grease the pan, line with a parchment paper round, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cake release seamlessly from the pan. This cake WILL stick if you don’t use greased parchment. Sadly, I know from experience.
- Melt chocolate and butter together.
- Whisk in the sugar, espresso powder, and vanilla then whisk in the eggs.
- Whisk in the dry ingredients and pour batter into cake pan.
- Create a steamy oven. This is an egg heavy cake and, like cheesecake, it needs a moist environment to prevent it from drying out. (Trust me on this one—not many recipes call for this but it makes all the difference!) We don’t need a water bath, instead place a large metal roasting pan on the bottom oven rack. Fill with hot water. Place cake on the center rack. Quickly shut the oven door trapping steam inside.
- Bake in the steamy oven. Takes about 30 minutes.
- Cool the cake for only 10 minutes, then invert it onto your serving plate. This is important! Run a sharp knife around the edges of the warm cake to help release it.
- Cool completely. Just stick it in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. Decorate and serve!
Warning: Your cake may awkwardly rise around part of the edges. At one point, it looked like one of my test recipes would over-flow on one side! It won’t, as long as you’re using the correct cake pan and following the recipe below.
As the cake cools upside down, any lumps on the top (which is now the bottom!) flatten out.
3 Success Tips (Don’t Skip These)
- For a fudge-like flourless chocolate cake, don’t over-bake it. You’ll walk a thin line between moist flourless chocolate cake and dry flourless chocolate cake. All of my test recipes took 30 minutes. Test the center with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, it’s done. Even if it comes out with just a couple moist (not wet) crumbs, it’s done.
- Use my steamy oven trick. Again, this is an egg-heavy cake. To prevent the eggs from drying out, bake the cake in a moist oven as explained in the breakdown of the steps above. Not many recipes call for this, but I’m certain that’s why this one is so unbelievably fudge-like and moist.
- Follow the recipe as written. Sometimes it’s ok to play around with a recipe. But this is a very precise one. Without traditional butter/sugar creaming, flour, a lot of leavening, or milk, the other ingredients in this recipe have A LOT of weight to carry and jobs to do. For best taste, texture, and so you don’t waste your time (and money!), I do not recommend any ingredient substitutions.
Flourless Chocolate Cake Toppings
I opted for homemade mocha whipped cream, fresh raspberries, and a dusting of confectioners’ sugar. Isn’t it pretty? You don’t need to go all out like I did. 😉 A simple dusting of confectioners’ sugar will do or any of the following:
- top with chocolate ganache or even my red wine chocolate ganache
- drizzle with salted caramel or pipe salted caramel frosting
- decorate with fresh berries
- pipe strawberry buttercream frosting
- serve with homemade strawberry sauce or raspberry sauce
- add a dollop of regular whipped cream
- drizzle with melted peanut butter (DO IT!)
Flourless Chocolate Cake
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 3 hours (includes cooling)
- Yield: serves 8
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
A 1 bowl recipe, this naturally gluten free flourless chocolate cake is indulgently rich, moist, and fudge-like. For best taste, texture, and so you don’t waste your time (and money!), I do not recommend any ingredient substitutions.
- 1/2 cup (115g; 1 stick) unsalted butter
- 6 ounces (170g) high quality semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped*
- 2/3 cup (135g) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons espresso powder
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup (27g) unsweetened natural or dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- optional: 1/2 teaspoon baking powder*
Mocha Whipped Cream
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder
- 1 teaspoon warm water
- 1 cup (240ml) cold heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
- 3 Tablespoons (22g) confectioners’ sugar (see note)
- 1 Tablespoon (6g) unsweetened natural or dutch-process cocoa powder
- optional: raspberries and a dusting of confectioners’ sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Make sure you have a bottom oven rack and a center oven rack in place for step 5. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan, line with parchment paper rounds, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the pans. (If it’s helpful, see this parchment paper rounds for cakes video & post.) The cake WILL stick unless it’s lined and generously greased. (Trust me!)
- Cut the butter into pieces so it melts evenly. Place in a large heat-proof bowl. Add chopped chocolate. Melt in 20 second increments in the microwave, stirring after each increment until completely melted and smooth. Let cool for 2-3 minutes. You can use a double boiler for this step if desired.
- Whisk the sugar, espresso powder, and vanilla extract into the chocolate mixture. Whisk in the eggs until smooth. The mixture will be heavy and tacky, like brownie batter. Whisk in the cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder (if using).
- Pour and spread batter into prepared cake pan.
- Prepare the steamy oven: Place a large metal roasting pan or baking dish on the bottom oven rack. Do not use glass. Pour boiling water about 2 inches up the sides of the pan. (I just boil a kettle of water.) Quickly place the cake on the center rack and shut the oven door, trapping steam inside. The steamy oven helps guarantee an extra moist cake.
- Bake for 30 minutes until the edges are set. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean OR comes out with just a few moist crumbs. It’s important to not over-bake this cake, which dries it out. Begin checking it at 25 minutes. Don’t be alarmed if the cake rises extra tall around some of the edges and slightly cracks– this is normal (it’s the eggs expanding) and will flatten out as it cools.
- Remove from the oven, place cake on a cooling rack, and cool for only 10 minutes in the cake pan. Run a sharp knife around the edges to help release the warm cake, then quickly invert it onto a serving plate or cake stand. (If it cools completely in the pan, it’s very difficult to release from the pan.) Cake will be a little crumbly on the edges. Cool completely. I usually stick it in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
- Once the cake is cool, top with your choice of toppings. My suggestions are listed above this recipe. I love it with my mocha whipped cream.
- Mocha Whipped Cream: Using a fork, mix the espresso powder and warm water together in a very small bowl. Cool down for a few minutes. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream, sugar, cocoa powder, and espresso mixture on medium-high speed until medium peaks form, about 3-4 minutes. Medium peaks are between soft/loose peaks and stiff peaks and are the perfect consistency for topping and piping on desserts. Serve cake with whipped cream or pipe it on top. I used Ateco 849 piping tip. Decorate with raspberries and a dusting of confectioners’ sugar, if desired.
- Cover and store leftover cake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Make-Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Prepare recipe through step 4 up to 1 day in advance. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to bake. Continue with step 5. Since it’s cold, the cake batter will take a few extra minutes to bake. To freeze– invert and cool cake as directed. Wrap with 2 layers of plastic wrap and 1 layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. When ready, thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before decorating/serving. See how to freeze cakes for detailed instructions on freezing cakes.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): 8-Inch Round Pan | Glass Mixing Bowls | Whisk | Cooling Rack | Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand) | Ateco 849 | Fine Mesh Sieve
- Chocolate: Use 6 ounces of “baking chocolate” bars found in the baking aisle. They’re sold in 4 ounce bars, so you’ll need 2. (You’ll have 2 ounces leftover for another use.) I prefer Bakers or Ghirardelli brands. Do not use candy melts, chocolate dipping wafers, or chocolate chips– all contain stabilizers or added ingredients which prevent them from melting into the same silky consistency needed for the base of this cake. Feel free to use bittersweet chocolate for a darker chocolate flavor. I don’t recommend white chocolate or unsweetened chocolate.
- Espresso Powder: I highly recommend this addition to help deepen the chocolate flavor, though you can leave it out if necessary. Espresso powder is like instant espresso, found in the coffee aisle. You can also use instant coffee granules. (Not ground coffee.)
- Baking Powder: This is an optional ingredient. In my recipe testing, I found a touch baking powder added *a little* extra lift to this normally flat cake. (It’s still pretty flat even with it though!) If you want to skip the leavening, leave it out.
- Confectioners’ Sugar: If you prefer a sweeter whipped cream, increase confectioners’ sugar to 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp; 30g).
- 8 Inch Cake Pan: I recommend an 8-inch cake pan. A 9-inch cake pan works, but the cake is thinner. The bake time will be a couple minutes shorter in a 9-inch cake pan.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Keywords: flourless chocolate cake, cake, chocolate, gluten free
Reader Comments & Reviews
Any thoughts on making a half size version of this cake or small individual cakes in ramekins? Can’t wait to give it a try!
Hi Michele, you could try half of this recipe in a 6 inch round cake pan. Individual small cakes could work, too. We’re unsure of the exact bake time for either. Let us know what you try!
Excellent recipe. Made exactly as written including espresso powder, baking powder and steamy oven. Baked for 29 minutes. Came out perfect. Thank you Sally. : )
Can this be made day ahead and just kept in airtight container ? Or refrigerated ?
Hi Louise, Cover and store leftover cake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Thank you so much for your gluten-free recipes!! For this one, instead of creating a steamy oven, I would like to use my steam oven and was wondering which setting to use: 100%, 80%, 60% or 30%?
We would love to help but haven’t tested using steam oven settings – we would try one in the middle, maybe the 60% first. Let us know how it goes if you give it a try! Other readers with steam oven settings may be curious to hear as well 🙂
It turned out absolutely perfect. I followed the recipe to a T. Served with your strawberry sauce and whip cream with a splash of Gran Marnier.
How can I adjust this recipe to accommodate a 9” springform pan?
Hi Lynda, you can use the recipe as written, the cake will just be a bit thinner and the bake time will be a few minutes shorter.
I’m making this cake now and the center is still sooo wet! I have followed the recipe to an exact T. Not sure how long I can bake it for ? Going on 40 minutes now
Hi Christina! Does your batter look like the video tutorial above? The cake should bake for for 30 minutes until the edges are set.
So when you say a day in advance does it have to be a full 24 hours?? Or would it be fine if I made it, refrigerated it for like 4-5 hours then finished making it?
I’m making this for my bfs bdays which already happened but I saw this recipe and just wanted to make it so bad!! His fav Is chocolate cake with raspberry filling! I’m also excited to see how the whip cream turns out because he loves coffee flavored stuff and I’ve never even thought of making a mocha whip cream or even knew it was a thing!!
The store didn’t have raspberrys tho so I got blackberries… Do you think the blackberries will mix well with the cake? I’m a tad bit worried about that
Hi Maymay, yes, you can prepare the cake batter a few hours ahead of time. Blackberries on top would be delicious! We also just published a recipe for raspberry cake filling, if you’re interested in making that for another time. Hope it’s a hit!
Very excited and looking forward to baking this cake. If I bake it today for a party tomorrow, would it be best to top it with raspberries tomorrow? Or would the raspberries hold up well for tomorrow if placed on the cake today? Thank you.
Hi Kathy, for best presentation (and to prevent any of the raspberry juices from releasing onto the cake), we’d recommend waiting until tomorrow to top with raspberries. Hope it’s a hit!
So delicious and easy to make! I will be making this again.
Any idea of nutrition values?
Hi Kat, We don’t usually include nutrition information as it can vary between different brands of the same ingredients. Plus, many recipes have ingredient substitutions or optional ingredients listed. However, there are many handy online calculators where you can plug in and customize your exact ingredients/brands. Readers have found this one especially helpful: https://www.verywellfit.com/recipe-nutrition-analyzer-4157076
I only have a mini oven with one rack, so I can’t put both a bottom and center rack. Is there a way to still make this cake? Can I put the cake pan directly into the water, for example? Thanks!
Hi Adriana, yes, you could bake this in a more traditional water bath like a cheesecake. (Though I haven’t tested it myself, I can’t see a reason why that wouldn’t work.)
I made it, and it turned out well! A little thinner than I expected, but that was presumably due to a pan slightly bigger than 8-inch round pan. I don’t have one, so I used a small rectangular one that was 9×4.5. I was also very approximate with the water bath, since I physically can’t carry around containers of boiling water, so I just put some warm water in the bottom pan starting during preheating and hoped there would be enough steam as the cake baked. Seems to have worked well enough. I’d premade the batter, so it was cold from the fridge. 30 minutes seemed perfect. I wanted to try a chocolate glaze on top, so I used the one from the doughnut recipe and topped everything with strawberries. It all turned out delicious!
Any thoughts if I can use a 6 inch pan?
Hi Sean, You can try halving the recipe for a 6 inch pan. We’re unsure of the exact bake time though.
Second time making this delicious recipe. Can’t believe how simple and delectable it is. Beats any restaurant flourless chocolate cake I’ve ever tried. The flavor combos of chocolate, mocha and raspberry are sublime. Thank you, Sally for another winner!
If I used salted butter should I eliminate the 1/8 tsp salt?
Hi Darlene, that should work in a pinch. Happy baking!
This recipe looks perfect for me, except I do not use any coffee products. Should I substitute the equivalent measurement of cocoa powder for the espresso, or just leave it out?
You can leave the espresso powder out.
How well does the mocha whip cream hold? I’m making this for a dinner party next week, just wondering if i should plan on making the whip cream right before I serve it? or if it would hold for a few hours in the fridge? thanks!
Hi Siobhan, it is stable enough that you can add the whipped cream and store in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving. Hope it’s a hit!
My only issue with this recipe – and I made it as is – is that, while each element is good, for such a densely chocolate-y cake, whipped cream is too weak a flavor and texture for it. Not the perfect complement to the cake in my humble opinion.
I am planning on making this for thanksgiving – if I make tonight, could I just leave it out on the counter overnight and for the Thursday, or does it have to be refrigerated?
Hi Tristan, if the cake is not decorated, it will be fine to cover and leave at room temperature overnight. If the cake has been decorated with the whipped cream, it’s best to store in the refrigerator.
Sure, that makes sense, how long can I leave the undecorated cake out at room temperature?
About a day should be fine. After that we’d recommend refrigerating!
Fantastic recipe – cake came out of the oven with a bit of an uneven top, but settled down flat as it cooled. Personally, I cut the sugar in both cake and frosting and it was delicious- rave reviews by GF guests and the non-GF folks did not even guess anything was different about this recipe.
Can you do a double layer cake??
Hi Ros, We don’t recommend it. This cake is too fragile for layering.
I tried making the whipped cream part – total fail, never got even close to the consistency to be able to pipe it onto the cake.
Hi Tristan! Here’s our post on making homemade whipped cream that has detailed instructions that may be helpful!
Hi! Could I use Milka chocolate bars instead of the baking ones?
Hi Pilar, we recommend bittersweet chocolate for a darker chocolate flavor, not milk chocolate.
Hi! You are awesome!
Looking for a dairy free option for the cake and topping.
Could we use almond butter for the cake?
Hi Susan! We haven’t tested a dairy free version of this cake- if you try anything let us know how it goes.