Flourless Chocolate Cake with Meringue Topping

5 stars based on 14 votes

Flourless-Chocolate-Cake-with-Meringue-Topping

A rich, fudgy slab of flourless chocolate cake topped with a light, marshmallowy meringue — this cake is as impressive as it is delicious. The chocolate base is a cinch to make: you simply mix all of the ingredients in one bowl and place it in the oven. After it’s baked, you swirl a Swiss meringue dramatically over top, then the whole thing goes back in the oven until the peaks are lightly golden. If you’re short on time, feel free to skip the meringue topping and serve the cake plain with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. No one will complain, I assure you.

ingredients

Begin by melting the butter in the microwave.

melted-butter

Immediately add the chopped chocolate.

chocolate-and-melted-butter

Stir until completely melted and smooth.

melted-chocolate

Add the sugar and whisk to combine.

sugar-and-chocolate

Whisk in the eggs.

adding-eggs

Then add the cocoa powder.

adding-cocoa-powder

Whisk until smooth and thick.

batter

Transfer the batter to a buttered 9-inch springform pan.

ready-to-bake

And bake for 35-40 minutes, or until set.

baked-cake

Meanwhile, make the Swiss meringue topping. A Swiss meringue is simply a cooked meringue that is silkier and denser than your typical French meringue, which is not cooked. Begin by combining the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer (or any other large heatproof bowl).

egg-whites-sugar

Whisk to combine.

egg-whites-sugar-1

Then set the bowl over a sauce pan filled with 1/2-inch of simmering water, and whisk until the egg whites are hot and the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes.

whisking-over-double-boiler

Remove the bowl from the pan and attach it to the stand mixer. (Alternatively, a hand mixer can be used.) Fit the mixer with a very clean whisk attachment (or beaters if using a hand mixer) and whisk on medium speed (or high if using hand mixer) until the meringue is cooled, glossy and holds medium-firm peaks, about 5 minutes.

whisking-meringue

You’ll know it’s ready when you lift the whisk out of the bowl and the meringue holds firm peaks that curl over.

peaks

Spoon the meringue over the hot cake, leaving a 1-inch border around the perimeter. Then use a small spoon to create dramatic swirls.

meringue-swirls

Place the cake back in the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the meringue is lightly browned.

lightly-golden-meringue

Let cool on a rack, then remove the sides of the springform pan and transfer to a serving platter.

Flourless-Chocolate-Cake-with-Meringue-Topping-1

Make-ahead note: The flourless chocolate cake base may be made up to 2 days ahead of time, but wait until the day of serving to add the meringue (it is not necessary to heat the cake before adding the meringue topping).

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Meringue Topping

Servings: 12
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 55 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes

Ingredients

For The Cake

  • 1-1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (best quality -- I use Ghirardelli)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder

For Meringue Topping

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Instructions

  1. Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Generously butter a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter in the microwave until foamy. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until completely melted and smooth. (If necessary, it's fine to pop the bowl back into the microwave for 20 seconds.) Add the sugar and whisk until well combined. Whisk in the eggs. Whisk in the cocoa powder in three separate additions, using a folding motion at first so it doesn't fly out of the bowl. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 min, or until the cake is set.
  3. While the cake bakes, make the meringue topping. Bring 1/2-inch of water to a boil in a small sauce pan, then lower the heat so that the water just simmers. Combine the egg whites, cream of tartar and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer (or any large heatproof bowl). Set the bowl over the pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Whisk gently for about 3 minutes, until the egg whites are hot to the touch and the sugar is dissolved. Remove the bowl from the pan and attach it to the stand mixer. (Alternatively, a hand mixer can be used.) Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment (or beaters if using a hand mixer) and whisk on medium speed (or high if using hand mixer) until the meringue is cooled, glossy and stiff, about 5 minutes. You'll know it's ready when you lift the whisk out of the bowl and the meringue holds a firm peak that curls over. Set aside until the cake is done.
  4. When the cake comes out of the oven, give the meringue a quick whisk, then pile it onto the the hot cake, leaving a 1-inch border around the perimeter (it will spread and you don't want it to touch the sides of the pan). Use a small spoon to swirl it into dramatic peaks.
  5. Place the cake back into the oven for 10-12 minutes, until the peaks are lightly browned. Let the cake cool on a rack, then run a sharp knife around the edges to loosen any meringue that may have stuck to the sides. Carefully remove the sides of the springform pan. Transfer the cake to a platter and serve at room temperature. (To remove the base of the springform pan is optional: to do so, simply slide a large spatula underneath the cake and lift it off -- it is pretty sturdy.)
  6. Notes: The flourless chocolate cake base may be made up to 2 days ahead of time, but wait until the day of serving to add the meringue (it is not necessary to heat the cake before adding the meringue). To make neat slices through the meringue, use a clean, buttered knife. Wipe the knife clean between slices and lightly grease with more butter each time.

Nutrition Information

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  • Per serving (12 servings)
  • Serving size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 331
  • Fat: 19g
  • Saturated fat: 11g
  • Carbohydrates: 42g
  • Sugar: 37g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 6g
  • Sodium: 52mg
  • Cholesterol: 108mg

Reviews & Comments

  • 5 stars

    I have a guest coming that is gluten free and this looks like a perfect dessert. Was wondering if I could bake this in an 8 inch square pan and serve like a brownie? I probably won’t make the meringue but would go with raspberries and ice cream. Thoughts?

    - Dawn C. on July 27, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Dawn, Sure, I think that’s doable. I would begin by lining the pan with parchment paper, then either spray the paper with non-stick cooking spray or grease with butter. Be sure to leave an overhang; this will make it easy to lift the cake out of the pan before cutting. Also, you may need to bake it for just a tiny bit longer, due to the size of the pan. Enjoy!

      - Jenn on July 28, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This is my second time making your cake. I love most sweets, but I’m not a big cake fan. Your flourless cake is a different matter entirely. Fudgy, like the best brownie. How do you think it would taste with just homemade whipped cream on top? Thanks!

    - Barbara on April 22, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Barbara, It’s delicious with just whipped cream. Glad you are enjoying the cake!

      - Jenn on April 22, 2016 Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    This looks great! Do you think substituting nondairy margarine would be a mistake? I need to make the cake nondairy.

    - Joan on April 20, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Joan, I’m not sure this would work with nondairy margarine. Unfortunately, I don’t recommend it. Sorry!

      - Jenn on April 21, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Jen- If I do not make the meringue topping, should I increase the bake time of the cake to make up for the extra time it would have spent in the oven with the meringue?
    Thanks.

    - Elise on April 19, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Elise, no need to bake the cake any longer if you’re not adding the meringue. Hope everyone enjoys!

      - Jenn on April 20, 2016 Reply
  • Hi, instead of your macaroons (which we love!) I’m making this for Passover….and then traveling with it. Would you suggest that I leave it in the pan and just remove it when I get to my destination? Or am I better off removing and putting it in a cake carrier? I can make the cake the day before if that makes a difference.

    - Sheri on April 18, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Sheri, I think you could transport it either way. But regardless of whether or not you still have it in the pan, I would put it in the cake carrier as the meringue is a little fragile and the cake carrier will protect it. Hope everyone enjoys!

      - Jenn on April 18, 2016 Reply
      • 5 stars

        This was a HUGE hit last night! However, after 3 hours in the car the meringue sort of “leaked” – the top of the cake under the meringue was wet and there was liquid coming out of the pan. We put it in the fridge during the seder and took it out a few minutes before serving. Still tasted awesome and no one was wiser for it! Was surprised that no one else experienced this, though.

        - Sheri on April 24, 2016 Reply
  • Hi Jenn!

    Can I use Dutch cocoa powder here instead of the natural one? Will it clash with the natural chocolate bar?

    By the way, I made your Snickerdoodles and double chocolate chip cookies and they are awesome.

    Thank you!

    - Patricia Unite on February 22, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Patricia, I made it with the natural cocoa powder here, but I think you could get away with using Dutch cocoa powder here. And glad you enjoyed the cookies :).

      - Jenn on February 22, 2016 Reply
  • Quick question – can I used dutch-processed cocoa or would you recommend natural cocoa? Thanks!

    - Sally on February 18, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Sally, I recommend natural cocoa since that’s what I tested the recipe with. However, this is not one of those recipes where it would really make a big difference since there’s no flour or leavening agent. If you really prefer the flavor of Dutch-process, it will work here too.

      - Jenn on February 18, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Hello! I am making this today, but I could only get one semi sweet bar, 4oz. Is it okay to add 2 oz chocolate chips to make it to 6? Everyone is shopping for chocolate here in New York!

    - Lora on February 13, 2016 Reply
    • Yes that’s fine, Lora. Enjoy!

      - Jenn on February 13, 2016 Reply
      • 5 stars

        This was supper easy, beautiful and a great success, just like the other two recipes I have tried from this site! I had no idea I could bake! Thank you!!!

        - Lora on February 18, 2016 Reply
  • Hi Jen,
    How far ahead can you make the meringue for the cake and then leave the cake out? I am having people for dinner and would like to have the cake finished before they arrive.

    - Cathy on January 12, 2016 Reply
    • You can make the cake up to 2 days ahead and leave it out at room temp. I would wait to add the meringue until the day of and you can do that a few hours before your guests arrive.

      - Jenn on January 12, 2016 Reply
  • Hey Jen, can I make this with your chocolate ganache as a topping instead of the meringue? Have you tried it that way?

    - Erin on December 26, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Erin, You could definitely do that, although it will be very rich — not necessarily a bad thing ;) It’s also good with whipped cream or a simple dusting of powdered sugar.

      - Jenn on December 26, 2015 Reply
  • Hello! I am making the flour less chocolate cake with meringue. If I am serving it tomorrow but making it today, do I refrigerate it until then or leave it out? Thank you!

    - Christina Panos on December 24, 2015 Reply
    • It’s best to leave it out at room temp. And I would wait to add the meringue until the day of, or you can just leave it off and serve with whipped cream. Enjoy!

      - Jenn on December 24, 2015 Reply
  • Hi, Jenn. Do you think the mascarpone topping from your Double-Chocolate Pavlova recipe would work on the Flourless Chocolate Cake? I’m thinking of subbing in the mascarpone topping for the meringue. Thanks!

    - Nancy on December 23, 2015 Reply
    • Yes, I do think that would work– let me know how it turns out!

      - Jenn on December 23, 2015 Reply
  • Do you think this recipe would work using Stevia instead of sugar? I would love to try this however am trying to stay away from sugar.

    Thanks

    - Rhoda Heinrichs on November 22, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I’ve made this recipe 2 times in the last month. Perfect every time. I did not make the meringue with it, but instead served it one time with a raspberry sauce. All guests enjoyed the deep rich flavor. Absolutely a favorite!

    - Sue De'ak on October 29, 2015 Reply
  • Does this cake need to be stored in the fridge? I was hoping to make it for an auction/bake sale, but it would out at room temperature for about 8-10 hours. Would that ruin the meringue? Thanks!

    - Anna on October 15, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Anna, It will be fine for a day at room temp. Enjoy!

      - Jenn on October 15, 2015 Reply
  • Hi Jenn!
    Would I be able to top the cake with slices of caramelized pears before adding the meringue topping without ruining the whole dessert?
    I want to take this dessert for a potluck dinner and plan on adding the meringue topping ahead of time. Once again, I hope this will be ok.
    I have always enjoyed and had success with your great recipes Jenn and don’t want this to be the exception as a result of my changes!
    Thank you Jenn!

    - Nila on October 5, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Nila, I love the idea of caramelized pears with this cake but I would probably serve them on the side — otherwise, I worry the cake would get soggy. Hope that helps!

      - Jenn on October 6, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I just wanted to tell you how much I am enjoying your receipts. Each and everyone has been a grand success. Thank you so very much for sharing your bountiful knowledge with us.
    I live in Malta (Europe). Do you have a link where I may donate some money for your cause.

    - Nathalie Marlin on September 18, 2015 Reply
  • Can this be done as a cupcake recipe?

    - Colette on June 20, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Colette, Yes, that would work — just be sure to reduce the cooking time.

      - Jenn on June 21, 2015 Reply
  • The beautiful cake is made-I piled some fresh sliced strawberries and hid them under the meringue-waiting to slice into it for my son’s birthday get together tonight.

    - cindy on June 2, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Hands down, this is the best dessert ever! I just made the cake; didn’t have time to do the meringue topping, but it was still wonderful! Thanks! Love your website.

    - Beth Stamper on May 5, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this twice during the past Easter weekend- one as instructed and one without the meringue – absolutely delicious and a crowd pleaser! I did cut the sugar content in the cake to 1/3 C since the cocoa powder I used had sugar in it already. Thanks Jenn, for such a wonderful and easy-to-make recipe. –Anita

    - Anita on April 7, 2015 Reply
  • 4 stars

    Yummy and easy. But beating the meringues took much longer than 5 minutes before peaks formed. Eventually it did get there and this cake is really pretty!

    - Linda Fox on April 4, 2015 Reply
    • 5 stars

      Same here; it took much longer than 5 minutes. It was beautiful and delicious and it’s all gone!!

      - ImaBlackCatt on April 6, 2015 Reply
    • 5 stars

      I treat meringue like whipping cream and chill the bowl with beaters for several hours or for an hour in the freezer before making meringue or whipping cream. Also, humidity can play a big factor in how quickly the meringue will set up. The earlier in the morning you tackle the meringue, the less likely you are to have a humidity problem that slows the process down. I’ve been baking & cooking for nearly 60 years & had to figure these things out on my own…long before the internet. :))

      - Patty Link on August 27, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this dessert for our Passover seder last night and it was beyond delicious! I am not a baker so I was a little nervous about the meringue (never made it before) but it was easy peasy. Thanks for making me look like a rock star!

    - Stephanie on April 4, 2015 Reply
  • This looks amazing – but is there a note for the room temperature egg whites? I didn’t see it…

    - Sally on April 1, 2015 Reply
    • Thanks for catching that, Sally. That was a mistake — no note :)

      - Jenn on April 1, 2015 Reply

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