A flourless chocolate cake is the perfect end to a holiday meal. Best of all it can be made up to three days ahead. You'll find that this elegant dessert is easier to make than you think. It really isn’t fussy, which means it can just as easily cap a small, cozy celebration (like you might be having this year) as it can an elegant dinner party (down the road).

You can dress the cake up or down or vary the flavors if you like — just read Baking Together # 11: A Flourless Chocolate Cake Is Always in Style before you start baking to discover all the tips and variations.  

And when you’ve made the cake, we’d love it if you’d leave us a note in the comments below. Let us know how you and family or friends liked it, whether you varied the flavors — or any serving suggestions you might have.

Editor’s note: The recipe calls for an 8-inch by 2-inch round cake pan. We tested with a 9-inch by 2-inch round cake pan and had great results. We began checking the cake a few minutes ahead of the suggested cooking range for an 8-inch pan and found the cake was done in about 30 to 32 minutes. Our oven can run a little hot, so we had a thermometer in it to check that it was preheated to 300 degrees F. This is always a good idea when baking since many home ovens run either a bit hot or a bit slow.   

Serves 10

For the cake
Unsweetened natural cocoa powder, sifted if lumpy, to prepare the pan
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (2 cups)
12 tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons bourbon (or 2  tablespoons water along with 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract)
1/4 teaspoon table salt

For the glaze
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (2/3 cup)
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
1 tablespoon corn syrup or Lyle’s golden cane syrup

Make the cake

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 300° degrees F. Lightly grease the bottom of an 8-inch by 2-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment, then lightly grease the parchment and the sides of the pan. Dust the sides and bottom with some of the cocoa powder.

2. Put the chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl and melt in the microwave (or put in a medium metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water), stirring with a spatula until smooth. (If using the microwave, heat for 10 to 15 seconds at a time, stir, and heat again.) Set aside to cool slightly.

3. Put the eggs, sugar, bourbon (or vanilla and water), and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl using an electric handheld mixer fitted with wire beaters) and beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is pale in color and tripled in volume, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually pour in the chocolate mixture and continue beating until just blended, about 30 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a silicone spatula to gently fold the batter until well-blended.

Bake and assemble the cake

Abigail Johnson Dodge

1. Pour the batter into the pan and spread into an even layer. Gently tap the pan against the countertop several times to settle the batter and release any air bubbles.

2. Bake until a pick inserted in the center comes out looking wet with small gooey clumps, 33 to 36 minutes. Move the pan to a rack and let cool until warm enough to handle but not hot, 30 to 40 minutes.

3.  Run a small knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Cover the cake pan with a wire rack and invert. Remove the pan and parchment. Using your fingertips, gently press any stray crumbs back onto the sides, top, and edge of the cake. Let the cake cool completely (or, for faster cooling, pop it into the fridge).

Susie Middleton


Glaze the cake

1. Put the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in a small heatproof bowl or measuring cup and melt in the microwave (or put in a small metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water), stirring with a small whisk or spatula until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

2. Set the cake rack over a sheet pan or large plate. Pour the warm glaze onto the center of the cooled cake and, using a small offset spatula, spread the glaze evenly over the top allowing it to droop over the edge in places. Set aside until the glaze is set, about 1 hour (or, for faster cooling, pop it into the refrigerator).

3. Using two long metal spatulas, transfer the cake to a flat serving plate. Loosely cover and refrigerate the cake until very cold, at least 6 hours or overnight. (See make-ahead tips.)

To serve

1. About 3 or 4 hours before serving, remove the cake from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. To serve, cut the cake into small slices using a hot knife. (See cutting tips.)