Flourless chocolate cake: perfect for Passover

For those of us who don’t celebrate Passover, it’s a mystery.

We know it’s a major Jewish holiday. We’re pretty sure it’s a happy one. We think it goes on for a few days.

But more than that – as I said, mystery.

Oh, and one more thing: certain foods are forbidden. Like flour. And leavening, as in yeast, baking powder, baking soda…

Now, for those of us who bake, that makes Passover a pretty challenging occasion, culinarily speaking.

Start with “no flour.” OUCH. How many baked goods can YOU think of that don’t include flour? A fruit-filled meringue pavlova is one. Lemon soufflé is another. And then there’s…. hmmm…

You can find recipes using matzoh meal in place of flour. Or variations on the meringue theme, incorporating chocolate chips, nuts, and other tasty add-ins.

And then there are the recipes where ground nuts stand in for the flour (which works in a low-flour, high-sugar, high-fat, high-egg recipe, such as brownies). But most sound a little forced. Like, too bad we can’t use flour, but we’ll substitute x-y-z instead and it’ll be pretty good.

At the end of the day, there’s one flourless dessert that was born to be flourless. A special treat that doesn’t require compromise, doesn’t need the “almost as good as” label. And that’s Flourless Chocolate Cake.

Chocolate, sugar, eggs, and butter. Salt and – if your Passover dietary laws allow it – vanilla and espresso powder. These simple ingredients create magic together, the alchemy of eggs and sugar providing structure, the vanilla and espresso and salt adding flavor, and the chocolate lending its own special qualities: a bit of structure, sumptuous mouth-feel, and the undefined yet intensely compelling quality we all love: CHOCOLATE.

Serve this dense, rich, flourless/unleavened cake at Passover, where it’s the perfect finale to the Seder. But don’t relegate it to once-a-year status. Although it doesn’t have King Arthur Flour’s favorite ingredient, it’s still one of our favorite desserts.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Put 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips and 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the butter is melted and the chips are soft. Stir until the chips melt, reheating briefly if necessary. You can also do this over a burner set at very low heat. Transfer the melted chocolate/butter to a mixing bowl.

Can you tell this is going to be one rich cake?

Stir in the following:

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 teaspoons espresso powder, optional
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional

Espresso enhances chocolate’s flavor much as vanilla does; using 1 teaspoon will simply enhance the flavor, while 2 teaspoons will lend a hint of mocha to the cake.

Add 3 large eggs, beating briefly until smooth. Finally, add 1/2 cup cocoa powder, and mix just to combine.


Grease an 8” round cake pan, and line it with parchment. Cut it to size by laying the pan atop the parchment, drawing a circle around it with a marking pen, then cutting it out. Lay the parchment in the pan, and grease the parchment.


Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 25 minutes; the top will form a thin crust, and it’ll puff up nicely.

Remove the cake from the oven; it should register at least 200°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into its center.

This cake is actually a bit over-baked; I should have lowered the temperature a couple of minutes, because I was using a darker (dark gray) pan.

A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out with moist crumbs clinging to it; again, this is slightly over-baked, as evidenced by the paucity of crumbs.

Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes, then loosen the edges with a table knife or nylon spreader, and turn it out onto a serving plate. The top will now be on the bottom; that’s fine. Also, the edges may crumble a bit, which is also fine.

Allow the cake to cool completely before glazing. When ready to glaze, slip strips of parchment under the edges of the cake, to catch any drips.


To make the icing/ganache, heat 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips and 1/2 cup heavy cream together until the cream is steaming. Remove from the heat, and stir until the mixture comes together.

Keep stirring; don’t give up. All of a sudden, you’ll have beautifully smooth, creamy chocolate icing, a.k.a. chocolate ganache.

Immediately pour the ganache over the cake.

Isn’t that beautiful?

Spread the ganache to the edges of the cake, encouraging it to drip down the sides. It doesn’t need much encouragement once you push it to the edge.

Once the ganache sets, gently pull away the strips of parchment; you’ll be happy at how neat and clean your plate looks.

For cleanest slicing, use a sharp knife dipped in hot water and wiped dry. Repeat dipping knife in hot water and wiping dry for each slice.

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream; or just as it is, in all its chocolate-y splendor.

If you’re celebrating Passover, I hope you enjoy a lovely family celebration. If not – well, go ahead and enjoy this cake anyway!

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Flourless Chocolate Cake.

Print just the recipe.

P.S. Re: Vermont’s Fifth Season, a.k.a. Mud Season. Those of us in New Hampshire feel your pain, Susan. New Hampshire doesn’t have Mud Season; “the Granite State” is just too rocky. Instead, we have… spring! Here’s what it looks like at my house these days:

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Anne Hernandez

    My daughter is over the moon for TooJay’s Killer Cake which is similar. She wants to know if this could make a wedding cake. Suggestions welcome!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      That’d be a lot of Flourless Chocolate Cake, Anne! While we think a wedding crowd would absolutely love this dessert, it doesn’t lend itself to stacking or layering like a traditional wedding cake. (It tends to sink slightly in the middle and each layer is quite heavy — it might end up compressing the bottom layers a bit.) You might instead try encouraging your daughter to have a more traditional cake for a “presentation” cake if she’s looking to have something that’s taller and tiered. Then, you could serve a handful of large Flourless Chocolate Cakes that are pre-sliced into small wedges, dusted with confectioner’s sugar or cocoa and raspberries. A 10″ cake pan could fit about 1.5x the batter, which might be a good place to start for wedding-worthy cakes. You may need to bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes in order to get it to bake all the way through. These cakes look quite elegant on a wedding buffet, and we think they’d complete the spread nicely. We hope this helps, and congratulations to your daughter! Kye@KAF

  2. Alice

    I used xtra large eggs the first time I made it,I think it was a bit much. Made it again and used two xtra eggs and it worked. The large eggs seem smaller to me , does anyone else think so?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’re glad you brought this up, Alice. We recommend using large eggs to bake all of our recipes, as that’s what we use in the test kitchen during development and testing. If you’re a baker who appreciates fine details, then you might want to check out our Recipe Success Guide, which you can find linked on the right-hand side of the page of all of our recipes. It includes details like what size eggs to use, what kind of butter (Grade AA unsalted), what kind of salt (table salt) and more. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  3. Susan Brown

    Thanks, Annabelle. I’ll play with those ideas. Not sure about stacking–too fragile? But maybe I might try a 10″ with those cake strips which you wet and which help keep the edges from setting. Am trying to be impressive here. I have noticed that people aren’t terribly fussy about texture when it’s such deep chocolate…

    Reply
    1. Annabelle Nicholson

      So true, Susan! They’re just excited to get a slice. It’s a pretty sturdy little cake so stacking shouldn’t be a problem. It can help to let each layer chill in the freezer for 30 to 45 minutes before stacking to really set them. Annabelle@KAF

  4. Susan Brown

    I’ve made this many times and it’s trouble free, wonderful. But I want to make it for a big birthday party and wonder what will happen if I multiply the recipe by 2 1/4 and bake it in a 12″ pan? Should I lower the oven temp so that it bakes in the middle without overcooking the sides? Has anyone done this?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hmm, we haven’t tried that large of an increase without using multiple pans, Susan. You would run of the risk of drying out the edges, even with a lower oven temperature, before the center sets. It might be more effective to make a double batch and use two 8″ pans which you could stack. To make it easier to slice and serve, place a layer of parchment between the two cakes so you can slide the top one off easily. Annabelle@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Amy. This will keep wrapped at room temperature for a couple of days, but if your kitchen is warmer than 70°F we’d recommend keeping it in the fridge so that it will be easily more set and easy to cut. Annabelle@KAF

  5. Ancient

    Hi. I would like to make this for a Passover potluck. Was wondering if there is any way of making mini cakes somehow? Would like to take little bite size cakes. Any help would be appreciated

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Absolutely! You could either bake them in individual cupcake papers in a muffin tin, or make smaller cakes in ramekins. The baking time will be shorter but you still want the internal temperature of the cake to be at least 200°F. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

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