I Tried 4 Recipes for Flourless Chocolate Cake and the Winner Was Over-the-Top Indulgent
When I think of flourless chocolate cake, I imagine a dessert that’s very rich, fudgy, and indulgent. It’s the type of dish I’ll order when I see it on a restaurant’s menu, but not something I’m accustomed to making at home. I don’t know why, though, because recipes for this type of cake, as I’ve come to find, are typically very easy to make. They’re also naturally gluten-free, and because my father has celiac disease, that’s something that has become important to me. I knew it would be personally gratifying for me to find a flourless chocolate cake recipe that could become my fallback, and I was delighted to actually end up with not just one.
Meet Our 4 Flourless Chocolate Cake Contenders
When searching for recipes to try for this showdown, I was excited to see versions that offered different paths to chocolatey richness. Some used a combination of cocoa powder and melted chocolate, while others used just chocolate. Some employed a stir- or whisk-together batter with no need for a mixer. One used beaten egg whites, another well-beaten whole eggs. Most included butter, but one used olive oil. How would these differences play out in the cakes themselves?
King Arthur Baking Company’s Flourless Chocolate Cake was the only recipe that offered the option to include a little espresso powder and vanilla extract in the batter, and the only one to finish the cake with a glaze. Despite the extra step of making a glaze, the whole recipe looked to be very easy to make.
101 Cookbooks’ Flourless Chocolate Cake looked to bake up very tall, helped along by five egg whites beaten to stiff peaks. It also called for extra-virgin olive oil instead of butter, which also piqued my curiosity. I simply could not wait to give this recipe a try.
Gimme Some Oven’s 3-Ingredient Flourless Chocolate Cake requires just eggs, chocolate, and butter. It promises to come together in some sort of kitchen alchemy to yield a fully formed, luscious cake. Could this be true? I just had to find out.
Gourmet’s Flourless Chocolate Cake looked to be perhaps the easiest and most straightforward. It involves a simple whisk-together batter of five ingredients (chocolate, butter, sugar, eggs, and cocoa powder) and is touted to only take about 45 minutes from start to finish.
How I Tested the Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipes
The recipes from Gourmet and 101 Cookbooks call for bittersweet chocolate, and the ones from King Arthur and Gimme Some Oven offer a choice of semisweet or bittersweet. To create as much uniformity as I could, I opted to use bittersweet chocolate for all of the recipes. Whether the recipes use whole bars, chopped, or chocolate chips, I used Ghirardelli brand for all.
I baked all of the cakes on the same day and allowed plenty of time for each to cool completely (or chill), as directed. Then I lined them all up side-by-side and tasted them together, going back and forth to evaluate taste and texture. (Then I drank about four glasses of milk!)
1. The Tallest, Fluffiest Cake: 101 Cookbooks’ Flourless Chocolate Cake
- Overall rating: 7.5/10
- Get the recipe: 101 Cookbooks’ Flourless Chocolate Cake
- Read more: The Flourless Chocolate Cake from 101 Cookbooks Is a Tall, Crackly-Crusted Beauty
Because this recipe stands apart from the rest with its use of extra-virgin olive oil instead of butter, I was very eager to give it a try. After melting chocolate in a double boiler, I whisked in the oil, sugar, salt, and egg yolks. I then beat 5 egg whites to stiff peaks — a large volume that, once folded into the chocolate mixture, made for a large amount of batter. The cake baked up very tall, with a wonderfully thick sugar crust on top. The inside of the cake was airy and fluffy, similar to a mousse or soufflé, but the olive oil flavor seemed to overwhelm the chocolate, and the cake ended up with a faintly oily mouthfeel.
2. The Fudgiest Option: Gimme Some Oven’s 3-Ingredient Flourless Chocolate Cake
- Overall rating: 8/10
- Get the recipe: Gimme Some Oven’s 3-Ingredient Flourless Chocolate Cake
- Read more: Gimme Some Oven’s 3-Ingredient Flourless Chocolate Cake Is the Epitome of Rich, Chocolaty Goodness
Although there are only three ingredients in this cake, there’s a large amount of each of them. The recipe starts with eight whole eggs that you beat at high speed with a stand mixer until they are very light and fluffy, with their volume doubled. Meanwhile, you melt a pound of chocolate with two sticks of butter, then incorporate the aerated eggs into the mixture. The batter goes into a springform pan and bakes in a hot water bath (inside a roasting pan) until it reaches 140°F on a thermometer. The texture of the finished, chilled cake is more like a cheesecake than a cake, with an incredibly rich flavor. I wished for a more cakey texture and perhaps a little less richness (am I crazy?), but this is definitely an indulgent, impressive dessert.
3. The Easiest, Quickest Cake to Make: Gourmet’s Flourless Chocolate Cake
- Overall rating: 9.5/10
- Get the recipe: Gourmet’s Flourless Chocolate Cake
- Read more: Gourmet’s Flourless Chocolate Cake Has Been a Winner for Over 25 Years
Originally published in 1997, this cake has won people over for over 25 years. I can see why. It’s the easiest and quickest of the bunch to make, featuring a whisk-together batter of melted chocolate and butter, sugar, eggs, and cocoa. That’s only 5 simple ingredients, which come together to make a cake that gives you best-brownie vibes: thin, crackly crust, deep chocolate flavor, and fantastically fudgy texture.
4. The Richest, Most Flavorful, Most Splendid Recipe: King Arthur’s Flourless Chocolate Cake
- Overall rating: 10/10
- Get the recipe: King Arthur’s Flourless Chocolate Cake
- Read more: King Arthur’s Flourless Chocolate Cake Delivers Over-the-Top Chocolaty Perfection
Even if it didn’t include the chocolate ganache glaze, this cake would be the winner. The simple stir-together batter (no mixer required) suggests two optional additions, both of which I included, both of which make for a much more well-rounded, well-balanced flavor. Espresso powder is one of them, and it creates a slightly mocha effect; vanilla extract is the other, which simply makes for a fuller, more complex flavor. But you know, this recipe does include that chocolate ganache glaze, and that’s simply the icing on the cake (sorry). It finishes things off with a truffle-like layer of less-intense chocolatey richness, truly taking this cake over the top. It is guaranteed to wow — and it’s easy to make.