Flourless Chocolate Truffle Cake: a chocolate cake for Passover – and beyond

Passover is a holiday that celebrates questions – none of which have to do with flourless chocolate cake.

And yet, “What should I make for dessert?” is a question that plagues many a baker at Passover time, mainly due to restrictions around many grains, and leavening. This is a story about questions that remain the same, people who are always changing, and a lovely flourless chocolate cake.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Passover, the Four Questions are a key part of the Seder (which means “order,” and involves the ritual retelling of the Jewish exodus from slavery in Egypt). The Four Questions are traditionally recited, both in Hebrew and English, by the youngest boy attending the Seder – although nowadays I believe the honor goes simply to the youngest child.

To give you a little taste of what’s involved, here’s my brother Aaron’s son, Holden, practicing the four questions in Hebrew as a little boy. He also throws in a little Passover song at the end.

We’ll revisit Holden later, but let’s talk cake first.

There are lots of flourless chocolate cake recipes out there, including several delicious ones on the King Arthur web site. But this Flourless Chocolate Truffle Cake does have some unique selling points:

•It has an intense chocolate flavor and smooth, dense texture that will excite even the most discriminating chocolate lover – think the center of a rich chocolate truffle.
•It’s easy to make (really!)
•It can be made ahead and frozen.
•It’s flour-free, gluten-free, nut-free, free of leavening, and also (if you choose to make it so) dairy-free.
•It’s a great Seder dessert for Passover when made with kosher for Passover ingredients. But it’s also so good, you’ll find you want to make it all year long for any occasion calling for an extreme dose of chocolate deliciousness.

It takes a little explaining how this cake came to join my family’s Passover celebration, so bear with me.

My mother (of Mom’s Caramels fame) grew up on a small farm in Sydney, Ohio, and wasn’t raised in the Jewish faith. But then she met my father. They fell in love, my mom converted, and they got married.

My mother embraced Judaism (as she did all things) with devotion and determination. She joined Hadassah (a Jewish women’s volunteer organization), she took her four children to Hebrew school and Sunday school, and for each holiday she did her best to recreate the traditions and foods my father remembered.

His parents had died when he was a young man, so she didn’t have a mother-in-law to guide her Jewish cooking endeavors. Instead, she leaned heavily on her Hadassah cookbook, Like Mama Used to Make, and the guidance of Jewish friends and my father’s siblings and cousins.

When it comes to preparation and cooking, Passover is by no means an easy holiday. There’s the cleaning and purging of all chametz (forbidden grains and leavened products); the preparation of the ritual elements of the Seder plate, as well as cooking a large holiday meal for family and guests.

Every year for Passover my mother would prepare charoset (a mixture of chopped apples, walnuts, and sweet red wine meant to represent the mortar used by Jewish slaves), chopped liver, boiled eggs, matzo ball soup, gefilte fish (OK, she bought the kind in a jar), brisket, cooked and fresh vegetables, and fruit salad. It was a lot of work. And my mother was, at best, a reluctant cook and entertainer.

It was so much work that she was able to convince even my father to help with the chopped liver, one of his favorite foods. This was the one and only time of year that my father participated in food preparation. His job was to do the chopping after the chicken livers had been fried with onions in schmaltz and put through the hand grinder with hard-boiled eggs.

The mixture needed to be finely chopped to give it the desired smooth texture. Many families still own the “hocker” and bowl their grandmother used to make chopped liver, but my dad used a regular knife and wooden cutting board. Long after my brothers and sister and I were sent to bed, we heard the rhythmic sound of his knife hitting the cutting board – a soothing harbinger of Passover.

With all the cooking and cleaning required for just the basic Passover meal, my mother made a fruit salad for dessert and left the rest to Manischewitz and Barton’s. Now don’t get me wrong, we loved those canned macaroons and kosher for Passover chocolates! They were as much a part of my family’s Passover traditions as chopped liver.


Here’s a picture of my mom lighting the candles during a Passover Seder later in her life.

It wasn’t until I was well into adulthood that I realized it was even possible to bake a Passover dessert at home. This revelation came when I went to work at Zingerman’s Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, MI. It was at the Bakehouse that I first learned to bake wonderful artisan breads.

Later, when I had the opportunity to work in their baking school (Bake!), my education broadened to include amazing pies, cookies, cakes, pastries, and pizza. At Zingerman’s, baking became not just a job for me, but a passion. One of the great teachers at Zingerman’s that I had the good fortune to work with, Alejandro Ramon, created and shared the recipe for Chocolate Truffle Cake with Bake!

I must admit, however, that the Chocolate Truffle Cake and I got off to a rough start. I first met this cake while assisting in a baking class, assigned to bake all the students’ cakes. This involved placing several cakes in a giant, heavy pan, pouring boiling water around them, and then ever so carefully sliding the whole thing into the hearth oven, trying my best not to burn myself or splatter water onto any of the cakes.

This was a little nerve-racking, to say the least! It was only later, when I made one of these cakes at home, that I realized how easy and delicious this cake is, and how hard it is to mess this recipe up. Bread baker that I am – that’s my kind of cake!

In 2014 I moved to New Hampshire and joined the ranks of King Arthur Flour. I know a little more about flourless chocolate cakes now, and am more familiar with the many choices out there. But this is still the flourless cake I love best.

When I asked one of the managing partners at Zingerman’s Bakehouse, Amy Emberling, if she’d mind if I shared this recipe with King Arthur Flour and our baking community, she was kind enough to agree.

So, here we go – gather the following ingredients:

2 2/3 cups (16 ounces) Belcolade or Guittard bittersweet chocolate Onyx wafers (50-80% cocoa)
3/4 cup butter or margarine, unsalted preferred
2/3 cup water
1 1/3 cups sugar
7 large eggs
1/4 cup liqueur (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted margarine or butter)

First, let’s talk about the chocolate. It can be whatever degree of darkness you prefer; I love Belcolade or Guittard bittersweet chocolate in this recipe. You can also substitute up to 20% unsweetened chocolate, if you prefer a darker, less sweet cake.

Our chocolates are kosher, but aren’t designated pareve or kosher for Passover; so you’ll need to source out other chocolate if you keep strictly kosher. And if you’re severely allergic to nuts, it’s important to note that our chocolates are not produced in a nut-free facility.

I added 1/2 teaspoon salt, because I think the salt brings out the chocolate flavor; but this is optional.

This recipe works well with margarine if you’re looking for a dairy-free dessert. But beware – many margarines contain salt; so if you use salted margarine, omit the salt in the recipe.

I leave out the liqueur when I make this cake for Passover, but it can be a fine addition at other times of the year. Think Grand Marnier.

First things first: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Boil a kettle of water; you’ll need it for a water bath. Spray or butter a 9″ round cake pan.


Place a parchment circle on the bottom of the pan, and grease the parchment.

Chop the chocolate and dice the butter or margarine into 1/4″ pieces, and place them in a mixing bowl. Pour the water into a saucepan, add the sugar and salt, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to be sure the sugar dissolves.


Remove the sugar water from the heat, and pour it over the chocolate and butter.


Stir until the mixture is completely melted, smooth, and shiny.


Whisk the eggs with a fork until well blended. This doesn’t mean beat the eggs. Just be sure they’re of a uniform consistency. Seriously – don’t go crazy with the eggs here.

If you’re adding liqueur, stir it in once the eggs are blended.


Add the eggs to the chocolate mixture once it’s cool enough not to cook the eggs. Again, no beating required. This cake is meant to be moist and dense, so you don’t really want to introduce a lot of air bubbles.


Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.


Place the cake in a large, deep baking pan that’s already set on the oven rack. I use a disposable roasting pan. Slowly pour the boiling water into the deep pan, to bring it halfway up the side of the cake pan.

Carefully slide the rack back into the oven, trying not to splash water into the cake (although it won’t ruin the cake if you splash in a drop or two of water).

IMG_0458 Bake the cake for 45 to 50 minutes, and remove it from the oven. The center should feel set when you touch it, and the edges will be just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan. The cake pictured above had been out of the oven for a bit, so it shows more pulling away from the sides than will be apparent when your cake first comes out of the oven.

Carefully remove the cake from the hot water. Allow it to cool at room temperature for 1 hour, then cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

De-panning this cake can be a bit tricky, because it sometimes requires banging the pan upside down – which you probably don’t want to do on a beautiful glass or ceramic plate. Here’s a technique that will spare your delicate plate.


Run a knife or offset spatula around the edge of the pan. Set the pan over a low flame or burner on the stove for 30 seconds.

Lift the pan with oven mitts and place a cutting board covered with parchment paper over the top. Flip the cake over, so the parchment and cutting board are underneath.

Tap the edge of the pan sharply on one side, turn it 180°, and tap the pan again. The cake should release. If it doesn’t, tap it a few more times.

When you feel the cake release, flip the cake and pan back to an upright position, using the parchment and cutting board to prevent the cake from falling out.


Next, place a serving plate on top of the cake pan, and carefully flip everything over. Lift up the pan – the cake should remain on the plate. Peel off the parchment.

Refrigerate the cake, uncovered, for 15 minutes, to allow the top to firm before cutting.


To finish and serve, cut the cake into at least 16 pieces – it’s very rich. To prevent sticking, use a sharp knife, dipped in hot water and wiped off after each slice.


Dust the top of the cake with cocoa powder.


Serve with fresh raspberries.

This cake freezes very well, and can be defrosted overnight in the refrigerator. Wait to dust the cake with cocoa powder until you’re ready to serve.

My friend, Jim, loves this cake slightly frozen, but it’s wonderful cool or at room temperature. It keeps well in the refrigerator for up to four days.

The first time I brought this cake to our family Passover my father had passed away, and my mother was showing early signs of Alzheimer’s. My older sister, Ann, had taken on the responsibility of the Seder, and introduced her own flare; one year this included a rousing round of Passover Jeopardy – “Can I have Moses for $100?”


I’m happy to report that the Flourless Chocolate Truffle Cake was a hit with all generations, and has joined our traditional Passover fare.

It still impresses me that my mother, despite her limited background, embraced Passover and all its challenges, and took great joy over the years in seeing the table fill up with her four children, our spouses, and eventually her 13 grandchildren.

It’s to my mother and father’s credit that we all came to love Passover, which despite its restrictions and deprivations, its rituals and rules, is really a joyous celebration of family and religious freedom. Each year we’re given the opportunity to come back to the same questions – “Why is this night different from all other nights?”

And each year the Passover questions and rituals invite us to re-engage, to wonder and discuss, and to feel always the embrace of family and the comfort of tradition.

It makes me sad that my father didn’t live long enough to see all of his grandchildren around the Seder table. But it’s a blessing to remember that my mother got to enjoy all of her 13 grandchildren and to witness her 12th grandchild, Holden, not only learning the four questions as a toddler; but later, chanting them with great confidence at our family Seder.

I wish a happy Passover and a joyous Easter to all those observing these holidays. And for everyone I wish celebrations full of laughter and love and (of course) great food. I hope this chocolate cake will make an appearance at many of your homes this spring, and maybe even become a family tradition.

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Flourless Chocolate Truffle Cake.

Print just the recipe.

Barbara Alpern

Long time professional artisan bread baker, caramel maker and member of our Baker Specialist team, Barb grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan and has four grown sons. She has baked in Michigan, Maine, Vermont, and Texas (if you count baking cookies for her son’s wedding!).


  1. Maggie

    Barbara, what a wonderful post! It is truly heartwarming to read about your family traditions – old and new. Passover Jeopardy sounds fun! The videos of your nephew, Holden, are beyond adorable. Thank you so much for sharing them and what looks like a great recipe. I also appreciate the suggestion of using the disposable foil pan for your water bath.

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      Thanks so much for your kind comments, Maggie! And be sure to wait until the water has cooled in the water bath pan before trying to empty it. I have visions of bakers everywhere spilling hot water all over themselves. Or maybe that’s just something I would do! –Barb

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      You are awesome, Holden! Thanks for letting me share your videos. Love you. –Auntie Barb

  2. Neko Bertera

    I love the warmth of the family details. I love, too, the guidance of such thorough advice. The suggestion to warm the baked cake over the stovetop to help nudge it from its pan already makes me feel more confident. Lucky me, I love chocolate cake, too. Thanks for the post.

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      You’re very welcome, Neko! This is really an easy cake, so be confident and enjoy! –Barb

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Clare. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! –Barb

  3. Cameron

    Have you tried or think using coffee instead of the water in the recipe would work? I love the coffee and chocolate combination.

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      I think this would probably work, Cameron, but I haven’t tried it. The other option would be to add some espresso powder for flavoring, which would definitely work. –Barb

    2. Maria

      I just made this cake for my husband’s Birthday this past weekend and I used strong coffee instead of water and it was amazing! I Served it with lightly sweetened whipped cream. Big hit at the party 🙂 thanks for the great recipe!

  4. Sareena

    Would it be possible to use a loose-bottomed cake pan for this recipe, to make it easier to remove from the pan?

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      The concern has to do with placing the pan in the water bath, Sareena, since you really don’t want water to leak into the cake. As long as your pan is covered on the outside up to the rim with a double layer of heavy duty foil to protect the cake from water leaking in, it should be fine. –Barb

  5. Sandy

    I really enjoyed this post and I can hardly wait to try the cake. I love that it is gluten free. I am not an experienced baker and I wonder if maybe using two parchment circles would make it easier to get out of the pan? or maybe bringing the parchment up the sides a little?

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      Thanks, Sandy! I think I scared everyone with the directions for removing the cake from the pan. It’s really not that hard, especially if you put the cake on the burner for 30 seconds, as this melts the hardened chocolate enough to let the cake slip out. I don’t think two layers of parchment circles would make much difference, but a little more along the sides may be helpful. –Barb

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      It’s just the water bath you have to worry about, Glo, since you don’t want the water leaking into the cake. It should work fine as long as you take the extra precaution of covering the outside of the springform pan with a double layer of heavy foil up to the rim. –Barb

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      This seems to be the question of the day, Adrienne. Yes, as long as you take the precautions outlined in my earlier reply. You don’t want to risk water leaking into the cake when it is in the water bath.

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      A springform pan will work, Kathryn, but be sure to follow the directions outlined in my response above. It won’t be good if water leaks into the cake during baking. –Barb

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      You can use a springform pan, Jodi, but be sure to prepare the pan as described in the recipe, and then double layer the outside with heavy duty foil all the way up the sides of the pan, so there is no risk of water leaking in during the water bath. –Barb

    2. Lenore Roberts

      Sounds very tasty. I make the Queen Mum cake for the seder. This is made with ground almonds and chocolate (yum!). This too is baked with the pan in a larger pan of water. I do use a springform pan that I carefully fit with tinfoil so that there is no chance of water leaking into the pan.
      Since the Passover is the story of Freedom, I decorate the cake with chocolate Butterflies…since the play “Butterflies are Free” their symbol adds a bit more tasty meaning as we end the seder meal.

    3. Barbara Alpern, post author

      Thanks for sharing your favorite seder cake, Lenore. It sounds beautiful and delicious. –Barb

  6. glinsdell

    Did Zingerman’s Bakehouse ever produce a cookbook? Years ago I had a book as a gift that contained some wonderful recipes. All I remember is that it was from a bakery in Ann Arbor and sadly I lent it to someone and it never came back. I would love to find a copy of that book.

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      Last I heard they were working on one, but I don’t think the book you remember is from Zingerman’s. Years ago I worked for a bakery in Ann Arbor called Wildflour, and we put out a cookbook called “Uprisings.” It was a collection of recipes from whole grain collective bakeries all over the United States. Do you think that might have been the cookbook you remember? –Barb

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      I haven’t tried this recipe with Splenda, Marybeth, so I’m not sure how well it would work. Let me know how it turns out if you give it a try. –Barb

  7. Beryl

    Barb, I am not given to commenting on articles, but your story has really grabbed me.
    My family have always celebrated Paesach with a Seder that encompasses all our ever growing family. For me, as a Ceoliac needing gluten free food, this has inspired me to make your cake. Hopefully it will be successful and I just know the family will love it. Thank you so much.
    p.s. I only saw this as a result of a good friend in USA sending me the link. So you never know what part of the world you are reaching out to – I am in the UK.

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      Thanks so much for reaching out, Beryl. It makes me very happy to think I am touching people–near and far. And have no fear with this cake; it really is easy and delicious. I hope you and your family enjoy a wonderful Seder together. –Barb

  8. Pat

    This sounds so yummy. Must try but you must check labels as most margarines are not dairy free. My grandson is allergic to dairy. There is an ingredient that is called casinate, that is made from milk. To get dairy free margarine you have to buy vegan.

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      Thanks for the reminder about margarines, Pat! I did test this recipe with Earth Balance margarine, which I believe is considered a vegan product. I also baked this recipe with an equal amount of vegetable oil (I used grapeseed oil) instead of butter and this worked fine.

  9. Honey

    Thank you for this excellent recipe. You’ve done a great job explaining all the necessary details and both experienced bakers and novices alike can be grateful for that. Young Holden is amazing and seems so self-assured! Could there be a cantorial future for him?

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Honey! I’m not sure what Holden will end up doing, but he does have a sweet voice. I think he got his confidence from his parents, who are both actors. –Barb

  10. Ann

    Hi Barb,
    Where do you get those chocolate brands in Ann Arbor? What do you think about using Callebaut? Plan on making this over the weekend (although right now my freezer space is limited – stocked with chicken soup, matzoh balls and brisket). Any chance you might come in with Elijah on Friday night?
    Love, Ann

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      Callebaut would be great, Ann–the darker the better. Look for cocoa percentage in the 50-80% range. Or you could use semi-sweet and substitute in 20% unsweetened chocolate. The cake doesn’t take up much freezer space, since it’s pretty flat. I wish I could be there with you all!
      Love, Barb

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      No, you don’t need to add extra water if you leave out the liqueur, Martha. It works with our without liqueur. Happy baking!

  11. Barbara rabkin

    THANK YOU, Barbara. This recipe is awesome. I doubled the recipe and added some instant espresso coffee for fun. This will be on our Passover table in Boquete, Panama. It may also show up in our bakery, Morton’s Bakehouse, as a special offering year round.
    Chag sameach – happy holiday.
    Barbara Rabkin

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe, Barbara! It’s nice to think of this cake making the rounds in Panama. Happy Passover to you and yours!

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      Jen, I would cover the cake in a double layer of plastic wrap on the serving plate and store in the refrigerator or freezer. Cut the entire cake before serving and dust with cocoa powder. It would also work fine to slice the cake and then store it, but save the cocoa powder for just before serving. Enjoy! Barb

  12. ljflynn17635

    Thank you so much for this fabulous recipe. I took it to a seder last night and it was the hit of the evening! We served it with a splash of raspberry puree on the plate and topped the cake with whipped cream and a few fresh raspberries. I’m new to this community but I’ll bet I’ll be asked back next year if I promise to bring this cake.

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      I’m so glad to hear this recipe was a hit at the seder you attended! I’m sure your new community will welcome you next year with or without this cake, but it never hurts to bring cake! Happy Passover to you and yours.

  13. Houston

    Thank you for the story and the recipe. I made this cake over the weekend, and all turned out very well. Next time, I think I’ll add a little additional cocoa powder to the mixture — perhaps two tablespoons. Although I used good-quality, 70% cocoa chocolate, I was still hoping for slightly deeper chocolate flavour in the finished cake. I also think of espresso powder and even a dash of chilli powder would excite the flavour a bit.

    To save myself anxiety about turning the cake out, I used a silicone 9″ round baking pan. After cooling in the fridge, the cake just popped right out with no fuss at all.

    Thanks again!

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      Thanks for your comments, Houston. I love your suggestions for boosting the flavor! And using a silicone pan sounds like a great solution, but it’s really not that hard to get the cake out of the pan. I think all my precise instructions made it seem overwhelming, but as long as you give it the 30 seconds over the heat it should slip out easily.

  14. Kitty Cornwell

    I made this for a dinner meeting with work colleagues that fell on my birthday and I wanted to be sure we had dessert. It is amazing! I chose it because I didn’t know if there were any food issues in the group and this seemed the best I could do and still have something I would enjoy. Hands down it is one of the easiest and tastiest desserts I have ever made. I am already plotting other occasions when I can serve this delicious cake. Your directions were perfect and I had no issues removing the cake from the pan. Definitely a little stress getting the water into the roasting pan but all went well. Thank-you, and thanks to Zingerman’s for sharing a wonderful treat.

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      Happy Belated Birthday, Kitty! I’m glad this cake was a success and that the water bath did not deter you!

  15. Alejandro Ramon

    Hi Barb,

    Glad to see your following your passion for baking at King Arthur. I want to let you know this recipe for the Flourless Chocolate Cake is my recipe not the Bakehouse. I would appreciate it if you would credit me in this article.

    Please let me know if you have any questions.


    Alejandro Ramon

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      Hi Alejandro, I’ll be happy to credit you for this recipe! Sorry I did not do so earlier, but when speaking to Amy at Zingerman’s she didn’t mention this and I forgot. Great recipe and thanks for sharing it here! I hope you’re doing well!

    2. Alejandro Ramon


      Thank you. I appreciate the credit very much.

      I’m doing well and have been working on my blog “Just One Bite, Please?” at http://aramon65.wordpress.com and also my YouTube channel “Just One Bite, Please?”

      Take care and thanks again.


      Alejandro Ramon

      P.S. Please tell Jeffrey “hello” from me.

  16. Lisa Schoolfield

    My oldest daughter, and a few other family members, cannot eat gluten.
    I wanted to find a Thanksgiving treat that would not make her feel deprived as she sat next to neighbors and friends eating pecan pie and cobblers. This was amazing! It will now be part of our traditional holiday fare!

    Lisa, Texas

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      Lisa, I’m so glad to hear that this recipe was a hit at your Thanksgiving celebration and will join your traditional holiday fare!

  17. lff

    question about substitution:
    — I try to reduce eggs whenever possible, could i use silken tofu and/or almond meal for two of the eggs?

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      Hi there, we haven’t tried this type of substitution, but because the eggs are critical in terms of structure for this type of cake, I would recommend using all the eggs. If you decide to experiment, please let us know how your cake turns out!

  18. Mardie

    I have made this same recipe (for Passover but other times as well) many times in a springform pan with aluminum foil to keep the water out. It has never failed. This is the most delicious chocolate dessert I have ever tasted. And it really is a very simple recipe. Don’t be frightened. Give it a go!

  19. Canida Pittman

    It would be very helpful if you you would post the nutritional values. Due to the fact many of us are diabetic, Thank you.

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      Hi Canida, we do include the nutritional information for many of our recipes on our website. The link to find this information can be found in the “At a Glance” section on the recipe page. Unfortunately, this recipe does not include this information, but we often recommend using this website to calculate nutritional information in a recipe.

    1. Barbara Alpern, post author

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Rose! I hope you enjoy making this recipe and sharing it with your loved ones!

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