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
This was super delicious! Especially with the mocha whipped cream. A lot of gluten free chocolate cakes are really rich and moist, but this one was not to rich or moist. It was super good!
Any thoughts on cooking this in an instant pot? That is what I have been using for my cheesecakes and it does an amazing job and so much easier than a traditional water bath. Since this cake also benefits from a moist environment am thinking it should works as well. I bake a 6″ cheesecake for 30 min or till between 140 and 150 degrees. Any thought on a similar temp to cook this cake till?
Hi Sherry, We have never tested this recipe in an instant post so we are unsure of the results or the exact timing you would need. But let us know if you give it a try!
I’ve made this a few times and it is delicious. I use xylitol and 85% dark choc, and my friend who is diabetic is able to eat it.
I wanted to know how it would work if I used a square tin and made it in to brownies instead?? Thanks
Would this recipe work using a 7 inch pan? Thanks!
Hi Nav, 7 inches is a bit too small for this cake batter.
Baked this cake .. it’s cooling . Cudnt resist eating n it’s moist n so chocolaty I love it , any substitute for eggs ?
Hi Nidhi, hope you love this cake! The base of this flourless cake are the eggs, so we don’t recommend any substitutes. This wouldn’t be the ideal recipe for making eggless!
Absolute winner! Sally, your Flourless Chocolate Cake stands up to any I’ve enjoyed out at a restaurant. Topped with your Mocha Whipped Cream, fresh raspberries and a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar, it beats them all. Thank you! You make it so simple. A heavenly and impressive dessert, that is not terribly complicated. The hardest part is waiting for the cake to cool so it can be finished and enjoyed!
I have made this time and time again with unsweetened cocoa powder + baking powder and love it! I recently tried dutch pressed (I know you said it’s an option) + baking powder as usual. The texture of the one I made with Dutch pressed is a bit different than using non-Dutch pressed cocoa. The Dutch pressed + baking powder is almost lighter and dryer. I prefer the more dense cake, extremely moist cake that I achieve with non-Dutch pressed + baking powder. Have you experienced this? I’ve been wondering if keeping the baking powder caused this, or something else. I’ve read your article on Dutch vs non, so I do understand the difference. I figured since there’s no baking soda in this recipe the swap would be fairly identical, but do you think the baking powder really cause this change in texture? Maybe I overcooked by 30 seconds to a minute? Could it be the powder? The cocoa? Thanks Sally!!
Hi Noelle, We are so happy you enjoy the recipe! The texture using either cocoa powder should be the same. The difference should really just be the flavor. It’s very possible that this particular cake was simply baked longer (as you mention, even a minute can make a difference here), or the ingredients were measured slightly differently this time around.
Could you use a 6 inch cake pan?
Hi Nikki, You can try halving the recipe for a 6 inch pan. We’re unsure of the exact bake time though.
Hi there, i’ve made this couple of times but both times I felt like my whipping cream is tad bit runny and mushy. What am I doing wrong? Thanks! Delicious recipe btw! Everyone loves the mocha whip cream!
Hi UB, Make sure that you are using heavy cream or heavy whipping cream – anything with a lower fat content won’t whip properly. Also make sure that you let your espresso cool down a bit before adding it to the cream. The colder the cream, the easier and more successful it will whip. Slightly warm or room temperature cream does not equate to whipped cream. If you’re ambitious, you could even chill the mixing bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or the freezer for 15 minutes before using.
Absolutely awesome …to die for
Didn’t change anything in the recipe and even copied the topping design from above
Was a huge success at a dinner party
I want to make this recipe for my brother’s birthday and I have a couple questions…
First of all, can I brown the butter and then refrigerate it so it becomes solid again before making the recipe? I’ve made many recipes with brown butter instead of regular butter and they have all turned out amazing but I just wanted to make sure beforehand.
Secondly, ventilated or static oven?
Thank you for taking the time to read this Sally, I’ve made many of your recipes before and have loved all of them! Greetings from Italy!
Hi Lavinia, If you have the choice, we recommend conventional settings when baking cakes, breads, etc. The flow of air from convection heat can cause baked goods to rise and bake unevenly and it also pulls moisture out of the oven. We hope your brother loves his birthday cake!
I want to use this flourless chocolate cake as a base and add a meringue topping (halfway through baking) as I have seen in other recipes. Would I still want a steamy oven with a meringue on top? Just trying to figure out what to do and see if anyone had ideas!
Hi Victoria! We’ve never tested anything like that so can’t offer any advice. Let us know if you try it – sounds incredible!
Question: I read that you don’t recommend any substitutions but am wondering, since I can’t have dairy, if a vegan butter would be suitable for the butter (or coconut oil?). My birthday is coming up and this gluten-free, dairy-free girl is dying to give this one a try!
Hi Karen, we haven’t tried it ourselves, but let us know if you do! Vegan butter would likely be a better bet than coconut oil.
Thinking of making this for friends who are gluten free. Can I cook in a square pan and serve like a brownie?
Hi Ellen, You can try using an 8 inch square pan. The cake may be a little thinner so the bake time may differ – we are unsure of the exact time it would need. Let us know if you give it a try!
Today I baked this flourless chocolate cake for my son’s birthday, in fact he suggested this one from the list of recipes. It came out so well, comments from them is that they haven’t tasted anything so delicious before! Thank you Sally
Hi- can this recipe be doubled and used as a two layer cake? Maybe with chocolate ganache in the middle?
Hi Paula, We don’t recommend it. This cake is too fragile for layering.
Sally, I love this cake and have made it more than a few times! Would you ever recommend adding peppermint extract to the mocha whipped cream to give it a little holiday kick?? If so, how much???
Hi Kelly, that would be delicious! Start small, with about 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon, taste, and then adjust for your liking.
I made this exactly to specs including the big steam pan with an oven that is usually pretty on the money with temp. This cake didn’t come out like what I expect of a flourless chocolate cake, which is a dense, creamy, and fudgy dynamic, usually. This was more cakey, even if a denser cake, and not the super moist affair I expected. When I’ve made other flourless chocolate cakes they’ve come out glossy on top — this one was completely matte. I didn’t leave it in a second longer than the recommended bake time.
I love so many of your recipes, Sally, but this one let me down!
omg! The BEST cake ever. And so easy to make. Thank you, thank you! I will be making this for years to come. The mocha whip cream is like a cloud that beckons you on with each taste. What a combo with the rich, but not too rich, chocolate salty yumminess. 10 stars.
We’re thrilled you loved this cake, Sally!
Thank you for recommending the metal cake pan. I bought one this afternoon and made another cake. According to my thermometer which I placed in my oven, it registered 350. When I baked the cake I still had to bake it longer than 30 minutes, but I think it turned out fine. Right now it is cooling. I want to make another one tonight which I will freeze. The glass cake pans I had were my mothers. I think i will donate them to Goodwill.
I just made the cake tonight. I baked it in my oven at 350 for 30 minutes. However, after 30 minutes the center still wasn’t done. I left it in the oven for 3 more minutes, but the center isn’t done. I had the cake in the center of my oven and a broiler pan with hot water on the bottom rack. After the 3 extra minutes took it out of the oven and put the pan on the rack to cool for 10 minutes. Then I inverted the cake onto a cake plate. I could see that the center of the cake wasn’t done. It is cooling in my refrigerator. I am going to make another one tomorrow. What am I doing wrong?
Hi Wendy, We are happy to help troubleshoot. Did you happen to make any changes to the recipe or use a different size pan? All ovens are different and yours may simply take longer to bake. If you find things take longer to make you may wish to purchase an inexpensive oven thermometer. Unless you have a new or regularly calibrated oven, your oven’s temperature is likely inaccurate. When you set your oven to 350°F, it might not be 350°F inside. We link to the thermometer that we use (and give many more tips) in this post on 10 Tips for the Perfect Cakes.
I always use an oven thermometer. I didn’t make any changes to the recipe. The cake pan I use is a Pyrex glass pan that is 8″ in diameter. I live in an apartment above a 3 car garage. The oven in my kitchen is an apartment size oven. I have access to the kitchen in the main house and use the oven in that kitchen when I’m baking cookies because it is larger and I can fit my trays in it easily. That oven is old but it works. This afternoon I’m going to make another cake and use that oven. I am determined to get this right.
It could certainly be the glass pan. Glass takes longer to heat up which means your cake could take longer to bake. This is a great article that explains this in more detail: https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/blog/2018/03/29/glass-or-metal-or-stoneware
Wow brilliant timing as I was thinking of making this for my birthday supper! I would like to do individual ramekin servings, any idea of how I should divide up the time?
Hi Shruti, we’re unsure of the exact bake time in individual ramekins, as it will depend on the size of your ramekins. Be sure to keep a close eye on it. Or, for a similar flourless chocolate bake, you might enjoy our chocolate souffles. Happy early birthday!
I want to make this cake for a friend’s birthday. She likes chocolate, but wants a vanilla icing. I was thinking of using a butter cream icing. Will that work?
Hi Wendy, absolutely! Vanilla buttercream would be delicious with this cake.
How long will this cake last once it is baked?
Hi Meg, you cover and store leftover cake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
I ate this warm and it literally melted in my mouth- like ‘poof’ it was magical. Texture was actually better after cooled. Very good for GF and rather easy to make. I used a foil pan and generously sprayed with waffle iron spray it it released easy. I love the crumbly edges. Looked underdone at first but set up nicely. Problem was it sticks to every knife and is tough to cut. Maybe a plastic knife would be better like for brownies?
What can I use instead of chocolate?
We haven’t tested this without chocolate. Substituting both the regular chocolate and the cocoa powder would require additional recipe testing so we can’t confidently recommend how to do it. Let us know if you try anything or find a great recipe for one!
Just made this for my anniversary and it was great! I placed the roasting pan in the oven before pre-heating, which made for a very steamy situation. I also made the mocha whipped cream and it was so worth it! Used strawberries instead of raspberries and it was so good. Such a chocolate tans decadent dessert!
Fabulous! Followed the instructions exactly, but I topped the cake with Sally’s chocolate ganache before adding the mocha whipped cream and raspberries. The mocha whipped cream is delicious! Hubby was eating the leftover by the spoonfuls!
I’ve made this twice, once as written and once with vegetable oil in place of the butter, and both times it came out perfectly – rich and decadent and delicious. 🙂
Awesome cake Sally! Doubled the recipe and poured proportionately into a 9 inch springform for my family (three of them have celiac so what a treat) and a 7 inch for my girlfriend’s birthday. It was a hit with everyone! Thanks so much!!!