the-best-chocolate-cake-expletive-free Recipes

lighter-than-air chocolate cake

It is clearly some sort of oversight on my part that I haven’t gotten to this before because no annals of my cooking life could ever be complete without at least a single mention of one of the greatest cakes I was introduced to growing up: the Sh*t Cake. The Sh*t Cake, you see, is a lighter-than-air chocolate roll cake with whipped cream that my mother would make each and every Passover. Unfortunately, as anyone who has ever made a Yule Log or other such roulade cake knows, they crack and sever easily and often, and can be mighty frustrating because of this. A nice, sweet person like my mother, who otherwise echews displays of gutter mouth might even be so irritated by say the fourth or fifth crack or so to curse aloud while her (frankly, precious) 7-year-old daughter watches, and comes in turn to rename the cake.

asterik

But despite the annoyance of making the cake, we still go at it year after year (I’ve made it too, and it has indeed kept its nickname in the process) because the cake is really one of the best in the world. It manages to have an intense, pronounced bittersweet chocolate flavor but none of the heft of your typical flourless chocolate cake (although I love them, they are so often like gigantic truffles and less like something you can eat more than two bites of without running your fork through sauce, fruit or gulping down quantities of water). Besides having no flour, it also has no butter, milk, cream or chemical leaveners. Frankly, if you have a bag of good chocolate pieces, a dozen eggs, some sugar and salt, you could make this right this very moment, though you might need to dash to the store for some heavy cream for whipping. Mwa-ha-ha, consider chocolate cakes as you know them banished.

final

Many, many egg yolks are beaten to a thick, pale ribbon with sugar and a pinch of salt, melted, cooled chocolate is added and finally a gigantic cloud of furiously whipped egg whites is carefully folded in from a separate bowl, creating an impossibly light batter that is poured into a greased and parchment-lined and greased-again cooking sheet and baked for just 20 minutes. Were you rolling the cake, you’d let it cool (it doesn’t take long) covered with damp paper towels, then sprinkle unsweetened cocoa on it and flip it onto a large sheet of waxed paper before covering it with whipped cream and beginning to alternately curse and pray to the Let My Cake Not Break Gods. But you may have noticed that I skipped the foul language, the sweating and the frustration this time around and make it into a simple layer cake, partly because I find the log version somewhat diminutive (good for eight, maybe ten people but, uh, being a brown log not exactly the most ta-da presentation), partly because there’s something about a stacked layer cake that screams celebration but mostly because I just don’t love my friends enough to sweat, curse and pray over a cake when there is an easier way to go. Obviously.

It was a raving success. Busting out the middle-school math equations involving multiplying things by pi, Alex and I figured that by doubling the recipe, we could make 4 9-inch circles of the same approximate thickness as the roll cake, that is, about one inch. To make the cake assembly easier, I froze the layers until stiff (takes an hour or less), but that was the beginning and end of the trickery. It was a cinch to make, a cinch to put together and oh, you want to hear about the eating? The cake dissolves in your mouth. Dissolves. Ceases to exist in solid form. And that should be all you need to know.

a peek

Lighter-Than-Air Chocolate Cake

My mother’s recipe was clipped from the New York Times in the 1970s, that ancient decade in which I was born, but after finding this version from a 2001 Gourmet Magazine, we concurred that it was the exact same thing. To make it as a 4-layer cake, use the instructions that follow.

Updated 4/20/11 If you’re interested in making the rolled version of the cake, it has a new home. In this separate post, there are overhauled directions and a tip that will virtually eliminate cake cracks. See: Heavenly Chocolate Cake Roll

Just one little structural concern: the layer cake sinks a little in the middle. Nobody will know this once you hit it the layers up with some whipped cream, or once it’s rolled, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it. Now get to work!

To make four cake layers:
12 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
6 tablespoons water
12 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder

For filling:
2 cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons confectioners sugar, sifted
4 tablespoons Grand Marnier*

Make cake layers: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease four 9-inch circular cake pans and line bottoms of circles with a piece of parchment paper.

Melt chocolate with water in a small heavy saucepan over very low heat, stirring. Cool to lukewarm.

Beat yolks, 2/3 cup sugar, and salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer until thick and pale, about 5 minutes in a standing mixer or about 8 minutes with a hand-held mixer. Fold in melted chocolate until blended. Beat whites with cleaned beaters until they just hold soft peaks (you will need an enormous bowl for 12 egg whites).

Gradually add remaining 2/3 cup sugar and beat until whites just hold stiff peaks. Fold one third of whites into melted-chocolate mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.

Spread batter evenly over four baking pans and bake until puffed and top is dry to the touch, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating cakes between racks to ensure they bake evenly. Transfer pans to cooling racks and if necessary, loosen edges with a knife.

Sift cocoa powder over top of cake layers and place a piece of waxed paper over the top of the pans. Place a baking sheet over paper and invert cake onto it, gently peeling off wax paper lining. Place layers in the freezer for about an hour, until they are firm enough to be carefully lifted without breaking.

Make filling: Beat cream with powdered sugar and Grand Marnier with cleaned beaters until it just holds stiff peaks.

Fill and stck cake: Bring first cake layer out of the freezer and arrange on platter, cocoa side down. Spread one-quarter of filling evenly over the cake. Bring the next cake layer out of the freezer, placing it gently over the filling, again cocoa side down. Repeat this process until all layers and whipped cream are used.

Keep cake in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it. Two hours should be more than enough to assure that the layers are no longer frozen.

Dark chocolate grated into curls with a vegetable peeler makes for an excellent garnish.

* You can substitute the following for Grand Marnier: 4 tablespoons Cognac and 1 teaspoon vanilla; 4 tablespoons cocoa and 1 teaspoon vanilla; or 4 teaspoons instant-espresso powder or instant-coffee granules dissolved in 4 teaspoons water plus 1 teaspoon vanilla.

To Make a Chocolate Cake Roll This section has a new home: Heavenly Chocolate Cake Roll.

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214 comments on lighter-than-air chocolate cake

  1. Oh wow. This looks incredible. I finally managed to bake a loaf of Russian sourdough today because reading about bread here has made me crave it something fierce. Now this. You must stop for the sake of my hips!!! My weakness for chocolate is much worse than my weakness for bread! :)

    Your story of the cake name reminds me of a certain chicken we had when I was a child. Yes, I grew up in the country with farm fresh eggs that were delish (I still insist on farm fresh eggs to this day). This particular chicken was a very colorful character and managed to get out of the coop on a daily basis. My dad would always come in the house when he got home from work proclaiming that Son B*tch had gotten out again and was running around the yard. Naturally, I thought this was the poor critter’s name and evidently, although I don’t remember this, told my fourth grade teacher that I had a pet chicken with that name. I’m 27 now, and I still haven’t heard then end of me telling my fourth grade class all about my pet chicken named Son B*itch.

  2. Okay, I’m so saving this for my 10% celebration. I’ve decided at milestones that I’m going to make special food and this is on that list. And, as always, beautifully tempting pictures help seal the deal.

  3. If you were making this for Passover and needed a non-dairy filling instead, what might you suggest? I’m a terrible baker, but I gladly take on the holiday desserts to avoid the boxed stuff that my family tends to prefer. Thanks!

  4. Delurking Deb.

    That cake looks awesome, I think I might have to try it this year.

    Karen, I’m pretty sure Richwhip makes kosher for pesach non-dairy whipping cream, just go to one of the kosher grocery stores. Not the same as real whipped cream, but yummy none the less. Also, you could make a marshmellowy 7-minute frosting. Definetely a lot sweeter, but non-dairy and kosher for passover.

    And tangentially related, epicurious has a chocolate cake recipe for passover that uses sweet potato in the base. It’s damn good, and you can’t taste the sweet potato. Another alternative to the truffle cake for passover.

  5. Marie

    Duh, why didn’t I think of that? What a great idea. I always made mine in a roll too, but this looks super.

    I never had a problem with cracks. Here’s my method. After the sheet cake cools off for about 10 minutes (just so it’s warm, not hot), I take it out of the pan, carefully remove the parchment paper and roll it up in a clean four sack towel. Let it cool rolled up in the towel overnight. It firms up and stays in a roll. The next day gently unroll and fill with whipped cream. I sometimes add a few tablespoons of whipped cream cheese to the heavy cream before whipping to give it more body.

    Either way, way delish. All your pictures and recipes are wonderful, and wonderfully inspiring. Thank you so much, Deb.
    p.s. Still laughing about the son of a bitch chicken.

  6. Hurricane Marge

    I had the priviledge of eating a piece of that cake. It was awesome. I think it was the best cake I ever had. Thank you Debbie. Also, Debbie: for another Passover alternative, maybe you should try that idea Alex had about making You-Know-What Surprise with matzoh (adding salt, of course).

  7. OK, YUM! I’m going to have to give this a shot in the next few days. It’s not often I see a “baking” recipe that I’m willing to dive in and try, but you’ve got me hooked!

  8. fascinating. it´s a sort of mousse, I guess, but more solid, which means I´m going to love it even more. thanks for doing all the maths for changing it into cake shape, now I have to do my own maths and turn it to grams, and I´m done.

  9. LyB

    What a great idea! I love the texture of roll cakes but they are a pain to make. This is a wonderful idea and the presentation is definitely better!

    On another note, I made the Russian Black Bread and Oh my! is it ever good! My husband and I agreed that the aroma while I was kneading proofing and baking the bread was worth the 20 ingredients in the recipe. And then we tasted it… I couldn’t believe I had baked such a bread! It’s wonderful, the flavor is incredible. I can’t describe it but one thing I know for sure, it won’t be the last time I make it! Thanks so much for posting the recipe and raving about it!

  10. Thank you for giving me a reason to look forward to Passover. I can’t wait to try this cake with my family. Maybe my daughters will dread the holiday a little less.

  11. What a delicious looking cake, and such presentation!

    Your soda bread looked amazing too, and I agree with your description of the real stuff as it is terrific when warm, but nigh unpalatable when cooled. I could eat yours until I burst into carb overload.

  12. SantaDad

    I’m just thinking about all the fun I could have eating the part that got cut away to form the circles! You didn’t talk about that part, huh!?

  13. this cake does look very fragile but i sure it melts away when u put in in your mouth.
    I love the little chocolate shapes your made.very cute.Definitely saving this recipe for my next baking session.Thanks.

  14. Whenever I make roll cakes, I always take the slightly warm cake, invert it onto a floured or sugared tea towel, and then immediately roll the warm cake up in the tea towel. Put together the filling, then unroll the cake, fill, and roll (w/o towel this time, obviously). Rolling the cake while still warm prevents cracking, at least that is what I always thought.
    Your cake looks glorious- I think you should call it chocolate cloud cake or something similarly ethereal.

  15. what i love is that this can be made for passover- and i think my grandmother made something similar for pesach, but added honey to it as well, and it was butter cream, not whipped. but the whipped cream sounds even better!

    and of course, i will make it! is it wrong for me to want to leave work right now, go home and make it??

  16. The Lighter Than Air Chocolate Roll from Gourmet was the first cake roll I ever made and I was surprised that it didn’t crack at all! I think I got really lucky.
    I love the idea of a cake version… it is so tasty, I can just imagine how delicious your version must be!

  17. Alternatively, you could make the meringue buttercream from Baking With Julia (my own standard, wow-the-crap-outta-them icing) for in between the layers. So smooth and silky it sortof dissolves in your mouth, sliding down your throat in a pure experience of flavor. So good.

  18. Nikki

    Why, oh why, wasn’t this recipe up last week when I needed to bake a birthday cake for my fiancee’s birthday. Now I have to find some other excuse to bake it, and those don’t just fall out of the sky when you’re trying to slim down before the wedding!

  19. Deb,
    Your mother wasn’t blasphemous, she was skatological.

    And that does look like f***ing good cake (which is neither blasphemous nor skatological).

    Kevin — nits picked while you wait

  20. Good lord, Deb, that cake sounds AMAZING. I don’t have a real reason to make one anytime soon, but it looks like I’ll just have to make something up. Maybe I’ll start celebrating Passover…

  21. Oooh! I have a recipe just like this that I love! My only question is, having whipped cream as a filling instead of a frosting, how do you keep the layers from slipping all over? Even after refrigerating I doubt I’d have that kind of luck. =P

  22. Carol in VT

    Deb (or anyone else with more brains than me) (which, as you’ll see, is everyone), help!

    I can’t figure out your instruction for the waxed paper/baking sheet thing , and this is because I’m a true idiot, I know, but I’m a true idiot that wants to make her fiancee this cake so that he keeps wanting to marry me until July, after which he’ll be trapped in my clutches for all eternity. Um, that’s not me talking. That’s the chocolate cravings.

    So… I sift cocoa on the top of the cake round – right – got that. From there I couldn’t visualize the next step.

    Any help appreciated. Must. Make. this. cake….

  23. Oh, wow. Must make this cake. Thank you!

    I think the scalloping comes from the batter puffing up unevenly around the edges, yes? It doesn’t look uniform enough to be from a scalloped pan, but it’s pretty nonetheless.

    Carol, I think this is how it works: You have a cake layer all baked in the pan that has been lined with a circle of parchment. You dust the top of the layer with cocoa powder, presumably to make it less sticky. You then take fresh sheet of paper and lay it over the pan, and a flat baking sheet over that. Holding the whole sandwich (pan, liner paper, cake, fresh paper, cookie sheet) firmly, a palm on top and a palm on the bottom, turn the whole thing over. Voila. Now you have the cake layer sitting free and flat on a fresh sheet of paper on a flat sheet, not sticking to the paper because of the cocoa powder. Peel off the liner paper, which is sticking to what is now the top, and put the whole thing in the freezer.

    At least I think that’s how it works.

  24. deb

    Jenn — Farm-fresh eggs! It’s a testament to the fact that I never had them growing up that I can rarely tell the different between the organic, free range and other options available to us. But I can taste the difference in Europe, sigh. Doesn’t everything taste better there?

    Jenifer — You can even make it in a smaller quantity as a two or even one layer cake, by halving or quartering the big recipe. It is absolutely worth the points.

    haasome — It says Goodbye Jess and we will miss you. My friend Jocelyn’s roommate is moving to freaking Arizona for a job, so she had a surprise going-away part for her on Saturday night. I meant to add some notes about piping melted chocolate, which is nearly impossible on top of cold, airy whipped cream. First of all, the melted chocolate quickly cooled when it reached the tip, therefore firming up, so it was very hard to get out without constantly pressing it again the heat pipe (of all things!) to keep it melted and working quickly. Finally, I piped each letter on a piece of waxed paper, where it quickly cooled and I was able to pick them up and place them on the cake top. It was much, much easier this way.

    Karen — Ack, sorry I have no idea. I mean, I know I should suggest a margarine or shortening-based frosting (there are a ton of recipes online), but they sort of turn my stomach. Another idea is to make it one or two-layered, keep the shortening-based frosting on the side for dolloping, and make a quick fruit sauce. One of my favorites is raspberry. Take a bag of frozen raspberries, defrosted, puree them in a food processor, press them through a fine mesh strainer to get the seeds out and then cook this mixture briefly with a tablespoon or three of sugar, to taste. Once it dissolves, you will have the best raspberry sauce on earth. You can use the extra to mix into plain yogurt.

    Timi — Thanks for the ideas. I will try to feature a couple other recipes I bust out for Passover over the next couple weeks. They’re not Passover recipes per se, but flourless! Eggy! And all those other things that make desserts phenomenal.

    Marie — Thanks for the suggestions. Whipped cream cheese sounds AWESOME.

    LyB — Yay! I’m so glad you made the black bread and loved it too. I wish to eat it everday — such depth! Complexity! That Hensperger is fantastic, and I will have to try more of her recipes now. Which reminds me, I still need to thank the person who gave ME the recipe…

    Hillary — We most certainly do not dread Passover desserts in my family. Not one bit. ;)

    Liz — The cake shrunk a little bit when it cooled. I caught a picture because I wanted to warn people, but it had no effect on the final shape since so it’s padded with so much glorious whipped cream. Scalloped! That sounds much better than “shrunk.”

    Mercedes — Warmth does help the rolling but I think that warmth would melt the whipped cream. I have had success with the cooled rolling method above, however, it does take much patience and the ability to not get too frustrated. Inevitably, there will be a crack somewhere!

    Bernadette — Oh thank you. That sounds wonderful, and now I finally have an excuse to buy that book. I can’t wait.

    Molly — Oh, I think it makes for a perfect birthday, or just-for-the-hell-of-it cake too! The truth is, we all know that nobody wants to feel weighted down after dessert and while this is the furthest thing from heath food, it’s lightness is always appreciated. Now get cooking!

    Alicia — The layers really don’t slip. The cake is that light, to the point that the whipped cream is actually heavier and really keeps the layers in place. Gah, hungry now!

    Carol in VT — What Kitt said. ;) But yes, the cocoa goes on top of the cake, and keeps it from sticking to the waxed paper when you flip it over onto it. The cookie sheet just gives you a firm surface to keep the cake on once flipped. Good luck!

  25. we had sponge cake- similar, but heavy as all get out from the DOZEN eggs- and every year while the cake was baking we had to tiptoe around the house because any loud noise or bang? the cake would FALL, sponge cake disaster.

    this looks delish- a true passover delight.

  26. Lorrior

    Perhaps this question is a bit too belated to get to you, but I am wondering how light the cake layers are – do you think they would be too delicate to support a denser filling like a fudgey ganache, mousse, or buttercream? I want make it super decadent for my mother’s 60th brithday, but would hate to have it collapse on itself. (Also it has to drive with me through an hour and a half of traffic and I worry about fluffy whipped cream layers slipping all about). Your advice would be much appreciated!

  27. deb

    Lorrior — The layers truly do not slip, mostly because they are so light, they adhere well to the whipped cream. The whipped cream really just acts like glue. I’m not sure how something fudgey would work (to be honest, although it’s just personal taste, my internal alarm is going off, absolutely certain that a chocolate filling would be overkill; I always prefer that fillings contrast, not compete with, cakes). I think it would certainly dominate. If you don’t use the whipped cream, I’d definitely opt for the lightest of your alternative fillings, such as mousse. Or, butter cream beaten in with whipped cream. Though the cake is very light, the dark chocolate flavor is very pronounced. It just doesn’t weight your tongue the way most flourless chocolate cakes do. Good luck!

  28. Lorrior–having recently made (and happily eaten) this cake, I’d respectfully suggest that your filling suggestions might be too much. The cake already is quite rich and dramatic. I made the version with the cocoa-vanilla whipped cream and it was splendid–a perfect balance of textures. I’m wondering if, to alleviate the structural anxieties, you could drive the cake through traffic still in the pans and then assemble it when you get where you’re going? To anyone else reading–go make this cake! It’s heavenly! Even my 88 year old grandmother who’s cooked many a Passover dessert said this was the best she’d ever had. So there.

  29. Anna

    Recommend increasing whip cream to 3 cups to cover sides of cake. Cake baked by expert looks great! My cake looks BAD (there is not enough whip cream to “stick out” and separate the layers and sides are pathetically ragged looking) but I will cover sides with whip cream tomorrow when the stores are open and if licking the parchment was any indication the cake will taste great! (Ok, may have had less yield whip cream because forgot the requested addition of amaretto so ended up with about 6tbsp booze in whipping cream but cake still needs a cover up).

  30. Judi

    Hi there, Just wondering if this cake needs to be eaten immediately after taking it out of the fridge? I’m only asking because I would like to take this cake to a party but dont want it melting orfalling apart on me on the way there! LOL!
    Thanks!

  31. deb

    Hi Judy — The cake is best very cold, but it won’t melt or fall apart if you have to take it there. I’m assuming that it will be eaten within an hour or hour and a half of being taken out. Whipped cream does tend to go soft if it’s out too long, but you’ve got a cushion of time before that happens.

  32. Sarah

    Hi,
    Like Karen, I was also looking for something dairy-free for Passover. I am going to try using this cake, but then rolling it up with a raspberry filling, borrowing the syrup and filling from this recipe:

    http://www.foodfit.com/recipes/recipe.asp?rid=712

    and modifying the glaze to use almond milk (and no corn syrup). I may even dust it with some powdered sugar stars of David.

    I’m sort of astounded at how many Passover recipes out there call for margarine. I wouldn’t ever think to use margarine for baking normally.

  33. Deb – did you really use round pans for this? It looks like you used something bundt-end-ish (like the top/bottom/widest part of a bunt pan) for an interesting edge.

    Please tell me your secret!

    Or is it my bad eyes and new way-to-fine monitor setting?

  34. deb

    Yes, I did. I mentioned in the head notes on the recipe that the cake layers sink a tiny bit in the middle which is why it looks a little pulled-in. However, it all gets filled with whipped cream and nobody complains.

  35. Caroline

    This is the most amazing chocolate cake I have ever made! Don’t be intimidated by how complex it sounds – it’s really not that hard. And extra whipped cream will cover up any cracks, breaks, crumbs etc on the layers. I made it with only 3 layers by using only 3/4 the recipe and it was a little easier for me to handle. I used instant coffee for flavoring in the cream. This cake is so good that it just won’t matter how it looks once you start eating it.

  36. kittyball

    I kinda made this for my Stepdad’s birthday, he requested a chocolate ice cream cake. I made the chocolate layers as specified, and then used the vanilla ice cream as filling, and then topped it with whip cream. It took me 2 tries to get it right, I had serious issues with the egg whites the first time, but I’m blaming it on the low pressure caused by the hurricane that happened to be going on. The next day I tried again and everything went together perfectly, if not a little messily (that’s one serious mass of egg whites to manage)

    And the cake was fabulous, I don’t really like chocolate cake, but I loved this one. Personally I would stick with the whipped cream layers, I thought the ice cream took away from the cake a little. But my Stepdad was happy.

  37. amy b

    deb – i’m so in. making this in the morning for husband’s birthday. question (for you or anyone who has made this): do you think the mixing bowl on a standard size Kitchen Aid will be big enough to hold the egg whites? if not, do you do them in 2 batches…? don’t think i have a bowl bigger than that one… thanks so much…

  38. deb

    Hi Amy — I use my standard KitchenAid–that is, my only KitchenAid–to make this so I know it shouldn’t overflow. But it will be on the full side. Good luck!

  39. amy b

    okay, i did it… and it was a lot of work… and kind of messy in an arts-and-craftsy way… but it really IS (well, was) the best chocolate cake ever. so light it nearly floated away. thanks, Deb! unrelated: i had the most insane fritter-zeppole-type dessert recently, the menu called them ‘apple-ricotta fritters with saba’ — and i’ve been trying to devise a recipe ever since. have found zeppole recipes and fritter recipes, but nothing with fruit inside… any ideas on how to re-proportion a sicilian ricotta zeppole recipe to include sauteed apples??? less cheese? less flour? I’m obsessed…

  40. Laura

    I just made this last night, and have yet to try a bonafide slice, but since I made it for a potluck… I think they’d be a bit upset if I showed up with only a 1/4 of the cake left. I was up till 2am making it, but it was worth it. It kept well in the freezer all night, built and all. And now is slowing thawing in the fridge while we wait for the potluck to start.

    CAN’T WAIT!! Love this and will be trying different variations with flavoring the whipped cream and maybe using light fruit sauces or thin-sliced strawberries as garnishes.

    YAY!

  41. Thank you for the cake recipe. I was even able to do it as a jelly roll because I don’t have enough cake pans for four layers and it wasn’t as cuss-inducing as advertised. The cocoa helped a lot, and probably the wet paper towel step, too. Forget about the cake (which is divine), whipped cream with Grand Marnier is one of the best things in the world.

    1. deb

      I have not. I think it would be too souffle-like, as you suggested. But totally delicious. Maybe you could stack two or three thin circles of the cake with whipped cream in between (a la icebox cake) — uh, and then invite me over. It would be crazy delicious.

  42. Nx

    I’m planning to make this for Passover, but I’ve gone to three stores already–and called another three–and no one seems to have Dutch-processed cocoa! Thoughts on how to adjust proportions for regular cocoa?

  43. Rachel

    I just wanted to thank you a million times over for this recipe. I made the cake yesterday for last night’s seder and wow. Just wow. It was such a smashing success. Everyone loved it. Thank you!

  44. Dana

    Fantastic recipe. My kosher relatives required a non-dairy dessert, so instead of the whipped cream, I made a coconut filling by reducing coconut milk with some sugar and margarine and shredded coconut. I layered the cake with the coconut filling and slivered almonds. Rave reviews. And, um, I’m eating the leftovers now.

  45. Leslie

    THANK YOU! The cake was awesome – Made it for the 2nd seder and not a crumb remained. All the kids loved it too. I was asked to make it again for a post-seder dinner and I am going to try the stacked-cupcakes idea. Maybe a three-layer version of 2inch circles. Thanks again.

  46. sandra

    how long should the layers be in the freezer for before they are ready to be stacked? do they have to defrost before they are frosted?

    1. deb

      Just until they are stiff. Your freezer time will vary. No need to defrost them, in a warm kitchen, they’ll defrost on their own, probably not long after you’re done filling them.

  47. Carina

    A friend requested “Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate!” for her birthday. So I turned two batches of the jelly roll version of this recipe into a 9×12 double-layer sheet cake. Filled with a thin layer of boysenberry jam, then filled/frosted with a mousse-like layer of cocoa buttercream. Wow was it was a HUUUGE success.

    However, I must dispute one point. This cake is every bit as rich and truffle-like as regular flourless cake! I’m tempted to say more, even. I wasn’t expecting that, so the buttercream really brought the whole thing to stratosperic levels. Even the most die-hard chocoholics were surprised by the intense richness of it. Wow, this recipe is a sure-winner. Next time I’ll just know to cut the pieces way, way smaller. And frosting or cream is probably just overkill for this thing. Next time I’ll probably pair it instead with a counterpoint, like a nice tart lemon curd. Maybe sprinkled with crushed hazelnuts and lots of powered sugar…ohhh yum.

    Deb, thanks for helping to give a good friend a very happy birthday indeed.

    (For those wondering, this is actually a fairly easy recipe as long as you’ve got a good mixer, a really big bowl for combining the 2 parts of the batter, and take advantage of Deb’s freezer tip. I’ve made other flourless cakes and boy are they labor intensive. Whereas this one is not only the easiest of its category, it’s one of the easier ones overall. Go for it.)

  48. hey deb! i read your blog all the time and have made many of your recipes. thanks for the inspiration, great writing and photos!

    i just had to tell you about my adventures with this cake! i decided to make it for a good friend who is dairy free as her birthday cake. my grand scheme was to whip up coconut cream as the alternative filling (couldn’t bring myself to use weird soy products, and a fruit sauce filling seemed like it wouldn’t stand up to the cake OR look festive enough…) the cake itself was easy…however, when 10 minutes on high in my kitchen aid + folded in egg whites yielded an only slightly foamy coconut puddle…i ran to the store and bought this coconut bliss ice cream (made with coconut milk, it is surprisingly awesome) and make the whole thing into a delicious, dairy free ice cream layer cake, top dusted with confectioner’s sugar…disaster averted! it rocked, and my friend was amazed. ha! thanks again!!

  49. Janet

    I made this cake last night and it took all of two seconds slash fifteen minutes of assembly if that. It’s the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had! Mostly because I don’t like super rich chocolate cakes. This one was amazing! Thanks so much for the recipe.

  50. patsy

    If you only have 2 circular pans, will the remaining batter wait well (not deflate) while the first two pans bake and cool? Or, would the batter be better made in two batches?

    1. deb

      Yes. I only have two round pans and do all of my cakes that way. I just try to work quickly between bakes, cooling the pans under cold water if I must.

  51. sandra

    15-18 minutes/??? not even close. try 20 minutes at first, inverted one layer which was pure goop under that “dry top”
    so now it will be a 3 layer cake.

  52. sandra

    unfortunately it was
    and unfortunately the three layers are now 2 due to one completely sticking even though i sprayed it everywhere even on the parchment.

  53. Kate

    This cake was a hit, but I found the layers very delicate. The only strategy which worked for me was to use springform pans, spray them completely, add my wax paper circles, spray THOSE, and then dust cocoa all over before pouring in the batter. Then, after baking, I froze the layers on the pan bottoms and, once they were frozen, eased them off with an icing spatula.

    Because I had a no-milk-products mandate, I used a cherry filling which was a combination of homemade cherry-gooseberry preserves, and commercial cherry-gooseberry preserves doctored up with gooseberries. Honestly, it was all a bit much for me — I far preferred the Stout Gingerbread — but my guests praised it.

  54. KZ

    Just wanted to add that this recipe was a HUGE blessing as I worked in a kitchen at a camp and one of the groups that we had in had one person with celiacs. As our tradition, because it was her birthday we made her a cake, but needed a good flourless cake. This is excellent. Everyone enjoyed it (even the guys) and she was so surprised to have someone make her a flourless cake. Thanks!

  55. Hi Deb, I am thinking of baking this for a small company. And I am thinking of doing it as a 6″ cake. How do you think I should go about adjusting the recipe to make it into a 6″ cake. Should I half it? If I half it, I should just use the quantities for the roll cake. Is there any way to bake the layers in two cakes and splitting them into 2 layers each to make a total of four layer? Like adjusting the baking temp and duration?

    Also, is it possible to use the fresh cream to ice the cake too? So sorry for my many questions! I am just so not good at cakes. I have made the roll cake version of this recipe before but it broke, cracked and tor just too miserably……. But I totally adore the deep chocolaty but not overly sweet taste. So I thought I should just give the layer version a shot.

    Thanks and sorry for being so long winded!

  56. Krystal

    I made this cake and it was my first attempt at making a cake that was flourless, used no milk and was 4 layers in size filled with cream. Coincidently it was my first chocolate cake that I’ve made in some months, and it turned out alright and so I’d say that if you were someone who bakes regularly or even ocassionally, you should be fine with this cake. My only mistake I felt was that the only chocolate I could source in a short time was 70% Belgium dark chocolate of which I felt compromised the taste as it was far too rich, so next time I will try and find maybe 48-52% cocao chocolate.

    Mrs Ergül, My tips for you (based on your questions) would be changing from an 9″ pan to a 6″ is all about volume. We know mathematically that if you double the size (area) of an object, the volume is more then doubled (around 2.4x the original volume). Rough estimates though would be drop the portion of the ingredients by a third, minus 5% for error (therefore, your total ingredients should be around 70% of the listed in this recipe). Any leftover can be added to your pans as it’s only a small amount, or simply discard. Making 2 cakes and halving them might not work out so well because with the original quantities Deb provided I used 8″ pans, and each of the 4 cakes once baked were just over have an inch thick. It’d be a waste to make a cake that size into two layers.

    As for the cream, any decorative pieces/icing for a cake can be of your own preference. If it’s fresh cream and not heavy cream (double cream for us Aussies), be sure that it’s whipped or thickened enough not to be runny otherwise it will spoil your cake. In Australia, fresh cream is usually one of the more runnier of cream products, though by definition if your country’s fresh cream isn’t runny, then I’ll let your judgment decide what’s best. Hope that helps! :)

  57. Deb, I was thinking about making this cake for Thanksgiving, but I’m hoping to do some of it ahead of time. Do you think it would be ok to make the cake layers the weekend before Thanksgiving and then fill the whip cream filling the day of?

  58. katie

    I made this for valentine’s day yesterday and it was a disaster! I wanted to just make a 2 layer cake because 4 looks so huge for just 3 of us so I used the cake roll amounts and baked in 2 9in pans. First try: melted chocolate while beating yolks with sugar (this only took me about 5 minutes with hand mixer and they were SUPER pale and thick). while chocolate cooled a bit I beat whites, room temp, and then folded the chocolate into the yolks. Whites were beating and 15 minutes later I just decided they would NOT reach stiff peaks at all. So I threw them out and started with cold whites, this whipped up quickly and nicely. Meanwhile, my chocolate yolks turned into a super thick, pasty hard lump. So threw THAT out. Huge waste :( Once everything was mixed and in the pans it looked like your pics so i was pleased and at 15 minutes the layers were really puffy and dry to the touch- YAY! they cooled on racks pretty quickly and sank down to thin layers and i popped them in the freezer. I made whipped cream using Baileys instead of grand marnier and and hour later assembled but was worried because the cake seemed less than light. It was. Very strange. Dh said it had no flavor even though I used organic 72% dark chocolate for the chocolate and good quality everything! I don’t know what went wrong but this will not be made again lol. I should have made the chocolate peanut butter cake- which I am definitely making soon because it looks way too good.

  59. LincolnSquareMom

    Made this cake 2 weeks ago. It was first attempt at cake from scratch! It took me 3 hours to make, but was worth it! My husband couldn’t believe I made it. I used the roll – didn’t break, just followed Deb’s recipe to the letter, except that I couldn’t find Dutch process cocoa powder, used what cocoa powder I had on hand and didn’t have Grand Marnier so I used 2 tbsp of cocoa and 1 tsp of vanilla – it was amazing – chocolate cake with chocolate filling. I can’t wait to try different combos. Even my 3 1/2 yr old loved this cake and he is not a chocolate person!

  60. Shanti

    You mentioned in the caption of one of your pictures that you only had two cake pans, but made four layers. I’m in a similar situation, with only one cake pan (my children like mud pies, and I don’t exactly trust any baking impliment that has been in the backyard). If I bake the layers one at a time, will the batter that hasn’t been baked yet deflate at time passes? If so, should I make each cake layer as I’m ready to bake it? Or should I just buy 3 more cake pans?

  61. Shanti

    I forgot to mention one very important detail that might be why you haven’t answered yet (since a similar question has been answered above)–my oven has been malfunctioning lately, and it takes a very, VERY long time to cook things. I made your chocolate peanut butter cake in January, and it took and hour or more per layer. So that’s the wait time I’m asking about–will the cake survive it? I’m considering only doing 3 layers, but even that I’m worried about deflating.

    1. deb

      Shanti — It is very hard to say how long it will take to bake in your oven — it sounds like the temperature is very, very off. Do you have an oven thermometer?

  62. Vanessa

    A quick question, Deb — or any one who knows. I have 4, count ’em, FOUR bars of semi-sweet baking chocolate I’d like to use up before buying any more baking chocolate.

    If I use semi sweet in place of bittersweet for this CAKE ROLL recipe, what would be the result? A sweeter cake? Should I remedy this by adding less sugar?

  63. ADM! (for you non spanish speaking folk that’s – AY DIOS MIO!) Wowza, that cake was awesome! It really didn’t look like anything when I took it out of the oven, but at first bite I was in love. It just melts in your mouth.

    Thanks for your reply, I did go with the semisweet

    I added fresh strawberries and used my own whipped cream recipe using mayan hot chocolate in place of cocoa again here. I highly suggest trying that, a brand like Abuelita is easily found in markets across the country. It worked beautifully here and on the chocolate cake (wedding cake recpie) of yours I’ve also made.

    While I love your blog, my diabetic dad did curse it after tasting all 3 cakes I’ve now made from your recipes. S’pose I’ll have to work on a diabetic friendly cake just for him to make up for all the torture :)

  64. Baillie

    I am planning on making this cake for my fiances bday which is on the first night of passover…Is it possible to make the layers of the cake in advance and freeze them and then assemble – I am a little pressed for time s I hope this cake freezes well!
    Thanks!

  65. Cindy

    I have the same time crunch issue as Baillie–do you think it would be possible to make and freeze the layers the night before?
    Thanks!

  66. Jilly

    Deb,

    An 7 Minute Frosting would work for this right? I can’t imagine it wouldn’t, I’m just unsure about textures and such.

  67. You were so right about not rolling this cake! I thought I had it all worked out, planning to roll it up with a towel like I did the last time I made a jelly roll cake. When it had cooled, however, I unrolled it and it cracked and completely fell apart.

    Unfazed, I added sour cream to my frosting to thin it out, and then made sort of a makeshift trifle in a loaf pan. It was absolutely delicious, but I definitely agree that next time I would plan not to roll it!

  68. Sarah B

    Why is this Passover dessert not like other Passover desserts?

    I made this for last night’s seder and everyone was thrilled. One of the children came to tell me that it was the best cake he’d ever had (EVER! Not just at Pesach.)

    For those looking for a non-dairy filling option, I can recommend Nutriwhip. It’s a little like marshmallow frosting. I wouldn’t choose it over whipped cream for flavour or mouth-feel, but it looked great and was very easy to work with.

    Thank you, Deb. Your site is delightful, educational and inspirational.

  69. Danielle

    Just made these as cupcakes! They sank quite a bit (prompting the bf to declare I had done something wrong and tried to prove, using Google, that sunken cakes mean something went wrong. He neglected to factor in the meringue part of the cake and the fact that Deb is never wrong), but it’s nothing that whipped cream can’t fix!

  70. I made this cake recipe today for my sister’s birthday since she is allergic to dairy products! It turned out to be quite a success but it was nothing like the way it should’ve been- the cake was extremely soft but not super light and fluffy but rather more of a cake-y firm pudding texture that was rather tasty anyway. Also, I used a hand-held KitchenAid electric mixer so it took around 30 minutes of medium-speed beating of the yolks and singing along to old 80’s music to keep me sane. Thank you for once again an amazing recipe!

  71. Lil

    Oh My Goodness!!!
    I just made one solid cake from half the mass and it’s wonderfull, it’s like chocolate-cotton-candy. I would probably eat all of it if my family in law wouldn’t come over tomorrow…
    Dear chocolate-cloud, I hope I don’t eat you tonight ^^

    Big thanks for the recipe

  72. Tweety

    Hello! First time posting. I was thinking of making this cake for my nephew’s birthday party.However, the drive is about 30 minutes. Will the cake hold for the drive? Also, do I need to keep it in the freezer until we eat the cake, or will it hold shape in the refrigerator until we eat it. Thanks!

  73. Jacqueline

    This… was maybe the most delicious thing that has ever gone into my mouth. Definitely all 7 of us partaking agreed that it was the most delicious that chocolate cake has ever been. My little sister (who is now my roommate as well, oh the joy!) made the whole 4 layer version with the coffee flavored whipped cream in between.

    @Tweety, although it is likely too late. I have not had much luck with transporting cakes with whipped cream between the layers – much too slippery. Could you assemble it when you get there? If you’re absolutely determined to try driving it over already put together, I would try inserting several of those bamboo kebab skewers or something through the layers & then pull them out and smooth over before serving. Our leftovers were fine in the frdge overnight, although the outside edges of the cream got a little dried out looking.

  74. Joe

    About how many do you think this will serve? Thinking of making this for a friends birthday next weekend, but their party is guesstimated to be about 20ish? She’s looking for chocolate/coffee flavors and fudge-ey textures/flavors.

  75. Alison M.

    Does this keep okay? I’m making it for a celebration where there will be about as many layers as people, and am worried about how it will keep in the fridge. I’ll probably stabilize the whipped cream with a bit of gelatin, but will it not get soggy? Did anyone have leftovers?

  76. Deb – Love this recipe. Made something like it years ago from Maida Heatter. I have to make something I can freeze. Several people asked about that but I didn’t see a response. Have you frozen this assembled? Obviously the cakes can freeze at least for a few days — but haven’t done whipped cream. Have you?

    1. deb

      I have never tried to freeze it, so I can’t be confident that it would work. I’m leaning against it though; there’s something fairly fragile about the cake because it’s only lifted by egg whites. I fear it would deflate upon defrosting.

  77. Actually – just looked at the old maida heatter recipe (her chocolate book). She often suggests you can freeze. Her recipe was a sponge roll with chocolate glaze but has same ingredients (minus chocolate) and she says you can freeze it. Going to try w/one layer (I have 3 pans anyway) and test it. BTW – heard of you from niece & daughter -we’re all foodies and now all followers.

  78. Tawny Darling

    I am going to make this for passover/hubby bday and wanted to confirm I can add 1 T of instant espresso to the cake batter. This is NOT 1 T of instant coffee, correct?

  79. Joanna

    Help! I want to make this for Seder this Monday evening, but have to work on Monday Can I bake on Sunday(tomorrow) or even start tonight? Is the time required between baking 2 layers at a time (only have 2 9 inch round pans) going to make the batter waiting to be baked “fall” or deflate? Should I leave baked layers in the freezer (or even the fridge) for 24 hours before I assemble or cover at room temp instead? Not sure how quickly the cake gets stale…
    THANKS, Deb and everyone. One last question: WOuld whipped cream flavored with only vanilla work?

    1. deb

      Hi Joanna — I’ve never tried to freeze the cake layers. Theoretically, it should work. Definitely assemble it on the day of, if you can, whipped cream is not the most stable. Anything with whipped cream also needs to be refrigerated.

  80. Joanna

    Hi Deb and All, Made this for Passover last night and it was SOOO good. THANK you for the recipe, for the reviews, and for your additional guidance. Will definitely make again. I used almost double the amount of whipped cream filling and flavored it with vanilla and some cocoa powder, thinking that with kids and grownups at our meal it might be a better for our crowd. All loved it, and I will use for other occassions. THANK YOU again.

  81. Tom

    Just made this and they’re sitting in the pans cooling off right now. I haven’t made a cake like this before and wanted to double check that I got the texture right: is it supposed to come out pretty moist and delicate, not springy like a cake with flour? I’m a little worried that I underbaked it. Not that that would be the worst thing in the world, just curious what the texture for this sort of thing usually is. Thanks!

  82. Sarah B

    A hit for the second year in a row!

    Last year, I layered since there was a birthday on top of the Seder. This year I rolled. The cake cracked, but the roll held together and looked really lovely. I used Nutriwhip for the filling since I needed a non-dairy dessert.

    Thank you, Deb.

  83. Tom

    Cool, thanks Deb! I always lean towards pulling things like this out of the oven earlier rather than later, and sometimes that’s not necessarily a good thing. The cake was fantastic; I’ve never experienced that texture before, ever, and the chocolate taste is so clear. Quote from my chocolate-loving friend who hosted the seder that I made the cake for: “How many angels did you have to kill to make this cake!!??”

    Anyways, thanks again. It was great. I bet this would be a fairly cute little rectangular layer cake if you cut the six-egg recipe into four instead of rolling it up, too.

  84. Tawny Darling

    I just made this for passover and it was a hit. I’ve honestly never had such a positive response about a dessert before (thank goodness for left overs). Thanks for the recipe, it’s a keeper!

  85. Rosa

    Thanks so much for a great recipe! I made this for Passover, and it was a great success! I put raspberries around the edge, and it looked and tasted delicious. Thanks!

  86. Wes

    Deb, I made THREE of your recipes for Easter dinner and each one was a huge hit. I used your Quiche Lorraine recipe with the additions of bacon, spinach, and Gruyere cheese, made your Dreamy Cream Scones with some chopped candied ginger and Meyer lemon zest, and did not change a WORD of this fabulous cake for dessert. The cake is really incredible — like a cross between mousse and cake, with the best texture and such wonderful deep chocolate flavor. Yummy! My extended family was very impressed and appreciative, and I gave you full credit for my success!

  87. KareG

    Three words: Chocolate Ganash Glaze
    Can be easily put over the top and sides of the cake (omit top whipped cream layer) or on the log….kinda seals in the cream and does a little crackle dance when cut. Yum.

  88. Thank you so much for this recipe! I used it as a birthday cake for a gluten-free foodie when I didn’t want to go with the normal dense flourless chocolate cake. I used whipped ganache and ganache-filled raspberries for decorative touches.

    It was a big hit with both my housemates and the birthday foodie!

    I made a blog post about it [here](http://theextendedkitchen.wordpress.com/2011/11/01/98/) with credits to you.

  89. Hi, I’m planning to make this in a few days for my husband’s birthday. Would it be possible to make the cake, fully assembled, the night before and store it in the fridge?. I’d like to spend the birthday-day with my husband instead of in the kitchen but I’m worried about the whipped cream separating. Thank you!

    1. deb

      The cake doesn’t keep. I mean, the flavors do but whipped cream won’t stay stable for days. It doesn’t separate as much as absorb into the cake and make it soggy.

  90. Thank you so much for the reply, Deb! I took the leap of faith and made the cake late last night. We didn’t eat it til this afternoon and I kept peeking into the fridge to make sure it still looked alright! Luckily, it stayed intact beautifully (maybe thanks to the super cold fridge and cool temps) and we LOVED the cake. I was pleasantly surprised by how well it cut.
    I made 2 layers with cocoa whipped cream for the 3 of us. The birthday boy (my husband) loved it and our 6-yr old highly approves! It is SO good. I will make it again very soon. Thank you for sharing!

  91. Jen

    I have made this many times in the last year, usually using 6 eggs worth, even though a 3 egg fraction would do, and I snack on the leftovesr, sometime with no whipped cream. Without the light whipped cream filling, the cake itself doesn’t seem feel light in the mouth at all (though still delicious,) but together, they both seem light. Melt in your mouth, as you’ve said. This is why it seems heavy to commenters who tried other fillings, I guess.

    For the commenter who asked about a dairy free pareve filling, I haven’t tried it, but my brain says try swiss or italian meringe. Not meringue buttercream, just meringue. (or seven minute frosting which is similar, and you have a recipe for it on this site.)

  92. Amy

    I made this for NYE and it was delicious! My husband and kids loved it. I only made two layers because, well, I was kind of lazy. But it was just four of us, so I figured that would be enough. The major modification I made was I omitted the grand marnier from the whipped cream, and instead iced the cake with a layer of Deb’s brandied bittersweet ganache. I used dark rum instead of brandy because that’s what I had. I put a thick layer of the ganache right on top of the whipped cream, and on the sides of the cake. It only took half the recipe of ganache, and there was plenty leftover for snacking with fruit.

  93. robin

    When do you invert the cake pans and freeze the layers? After the cakes are completely cooled? I tried inverting them after a few minutes, like one typically does with cake, but the layers were completely stuck, even with the pans greased, dusted with cocoa, and with a parchment circle. I’m guessing you cool them completely before inverting? help, please! thanks

  94. Hfg

    I froze the 4 cake layers between wax paper and plastic wrap on Sat night and will serve it on Friday night (6 days later). Has anyone done this and if so, when should I defrost and apply the whipped cream? Do I apply when it is fully defrosted or while it’s thawing? I would prefer to make the whipped cream early in the day on Friday so I don’t have to worry about doing it when company comes, but want it to be great, so would like to hear any suggestions. I hope freezing the layers works.

    1. deb

      Hi HFG — I got your email, too, but I am much quicker to respond here. :) You can add the whipped cream while its thawing. It should be fine. Hope it is well-received!

  95. Hfg

    great, thanks so much for getting back so quickly! So I should take them outof freezer Friday morning, whip/frost them then and then keep in refrigerator until friday night?

    1. deb

      Hi Hfg — That sound like it would work just fine. You can fill them while they’re still frozen and they’ll defrost in the fridge.

  96. Joanna

    Hi! This sounds delicious and I want to make it for a Seder, but I’m not sure it will work for me. I have to make it and assemble it, have it keep in the refrigerator for two hours. Then drive for more than an hour and then refrigerate for 4 hours before dessert. Is this too much time? Will the cake get soggy? And will the whip cream last? I so want to make this but want to be sure it’s not a flop! Thanks so much!

  97. Stacie

    Deb- my cake fell apart! Any ideas why? I baked for about 20 min and the tops where puffed then cracked…froze for over an hour and when I went to stack it, it broke and all my efforts to piece it together failed. Thanks.

  98. Hfg

    Wanted to let you all know that I froze the layers (see above post) until Friday, then frosted each layer (while frozen), put together the cake and kept it in the refrigerator until Friday night – and the cake was fantastic!! Will do it again now that I know I can do it in advance.
    On another note, just in case the frozen layers would not have worked out, I decided to make the cake roll on Thursday night. The chocolate sheet cake looked great and I rolled it up in a towel until Friday afternoon. When I gently unrolled the towel, the cake was all stuck to the towel and totally fell apart! Should I have used parchment or waxed paper instead (?) or maybe I should have put a greater amount of cocoa on the towel, or posslibly sprayed the towel with Pam? Not sure what went wrong, but then I mixed the crumbs with the whipped cream and it became too thick…probably should have just layered the crumbs with the whipped cream in a trifle….
    Anyway, thank goodness the 4 layer cake worked and tasted fabulous!!
    Thank you Deb!

  99. celesul

    I made this for a seder. It was a huge hit! The cake received applause, thumbs up, recipe requests, and netted me a (joking) marriage offer! I suspect I will get many requests for it in the future. My dad helpfully cleaned off the cake platter (with my dad, who needs a dog? Dogs can’t eat chocolate anyway…). It also looked gorgeous.

    I’ll admit, it wasn’t my favorite of the pesach desserts, although it was good. I adored your raspberry coconut macaroons and the amaretti cookies. Every now and then I make a cake or cupcakes because they are so incredibly pretty, but every time I remember that I’m just not a huge fan of cake. This was much better than most cakes though, and everyone else absolutely adored it.

  100. Stassia

    Hi Deb,

    I was thinking of making this cake for someone who can’t stand chocolate – is it possible to make it lemon poppyseed instead, without sacrificing the quality of the cake?

  101. cathy

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I cannot bake to save my life. Every cake flops, whenever I try to bake slices, sweet foods it is a disaster. You have given me an answer to my prayers. I fed 18 people at a party with this cake and they were begging me for more. I no longer feel like a consistent failure! Fabulous!

  102. Joanne

    I made this for our housewarming party on Saturday night and it was just divine! I only had two cake pans as well so baked them, took them out, cleaned the pans and relined them and then baked the rest of the batter. I had to use my largest pot to beat the egg whites in, it’s the only thing that would fit! I also smeared cream all over the cake as my layers had rough edges (I used cognac with the cream which tasted great) and decorated it with strawberries on top. Thanks for such a great recipe!

  103. Kieran

    “…none of the heft of your typical flourless chocolate cake (although I love them, they are so often like gigantic truffles…”

    I know what you mean. I once made a flourless chocolate cake from a recipe a friend gave me and brought it to a party. The guests called it a brownie, gave me intense, skeptical stares when I said, “Technically, it’s a cake.”, and chatted behind my back to their friends about how ridiculous it was that I was claiming it to be a cake.

  104. Nadia

    Hi Deb
    First off, thanks for the recipie, the cake sounds divine. I’m planning to make this for a friend’s birthday but with a few modifications – I’ve only got two springforms so I figured I’d divide the batter in two instead of four and then split the cakes in order to get four layers. Do you think that would work or are the layers too fragile (even when frozen)?
    Also I’d like to spike half the batter with instant coffee powder and maybe use your mascarpone frosting from the tiramisu cake instead, because it was just that awesome…do you think that would work?
    Love from Switzerland!

    1. deb

      Hi Nadia — These cake layers won’t divide horizontally easily, so I don’t recommend using only two pans. You can, however, bake half the batter in two pans, remove the cakes, wash the pans, and cook the remaining layers. I only have two 9-inch pans and did exactly that. The cake is souffle-like and it will sink as it cools; this is why I don’t imagine it will be easy to divide. The other additions, however, sound wonderful. Can I come over?!

  105. Nadia

    Thanks for the quick reply! I made four individual layers and though I lost one after freezing them (I guess stacking them on top of each other wasn’t a good idea, the one on the bottom ended up smashed!) I still had a fabulous three layer cake with fantastic frosting, it was a big sucess :)

  106. Olivia

    Has anyone tried making this with Stevia instead of sugar? Just wondering how it turned out? I am diabetic and trying to watch my sugars…..

    1. Robyn

      Yes! I’ve successfully frozen the layers (individually wrapped in cling wrap with the baking paper still attached) for 24-48 hours. I then just frost with whipped cream directly from the freezer before a dinner party and find that it is perfectly defrosted by the time it is served about 2 hours later.

  107. Kristine

    Olivia – If it helps, I did this recipe with Splenda just yesterday. It turned out great with just replacing the sugar cup for cup with Splenda. The layers cooked very quickly for me – just 14 minutes – though I’m not sure how much of that was my oven or cooking with a sugar substitute (I know Splenda can sometimes mess with cooking times). It seems like the layers didn’t shrink as much as Deb’s did. The cake tasted good, but had a very slight diet-y aftertaste. (But I’m sensitive to that kind of thing. My diabetic parents LOVED it, though.)

  108. Hi Deb,

    Made this last night, and while it was delicious, I had a lot of trouble I was hoping you could shed some light on. For one, my chocolate turned into a frosting-like paste, not a liquid I could fold into the yolks. I had to add almost a quarter cup of water for it to be foldable. Then, and possible for that reason, the cakes crumbled and tore, rather than slipped out of their pans, and refused to hold a layer shape. I couldn’t even handle them. Was this the extra water? The lack of freezing? Thanks for the response!

  109. deb

    The chocolate mixture should be tight at first, which is why we mix in the egg whites in parts. In the first third, you’re almost mixing it, it’s hard to fold. But after that, it should be lighter and loosened enough that you can fold the second third in. By the last part, it should be easy-peasy.

  110. Karen

    Hi Deb,
    This looks perfect as a birthday cake for my mom, but I’m nervous about mixing the chocolate and water together in the first step. I thought the result of that was always the chocolate seizing?

  111. Robyn

    Do you let the cake cool in the pan before turning it out and freezing? Also, is there any reason why not to use disposable foil cake pans?

    1. deb

      Emilie — You can do it, but it’s not really that kind of cake. It collapses a bit and the sides won’t be even, the top won’t be flat.

  112. Sharon

    Hi Deb,
    I wanted to try your lighter-than-air chocolate cake for Pesach. I only have 8″ round pans. How would you suggest I bake it?
    Thanks, and happy Pesach.

  113. Ariel

    I used a microwave to melt the chocolate today and it worked fine. I’m having a hard time staying out of the kitchen when all I want to do is eat this cake!

  114. Ellen

    I prepared this as a birthday cake on the first passover seder. The layers came out PERFECTLY! It’s amazing that egg yolks, sugar and salt would make such a fantastic cake batter (using a free-standing electric mixer). I used passover non-dairy whip topping because I needed a pareve cake. Wow, the presentation is amazing, and the taste enjoyed by all. I decorated with a couple strawberries cut in a fan. I would suggest in future, that 4 layers is not needed; 2 layers make an outstanding cake, and 3 layers would be more than enough (I could freeze 1 or 2 layers for another time). Of course real whipped topping would be much better, but what can one do with a passover birthday? It was a gluten-free, nut-free, lactose-free cake, and suited all who had food allergies and intolerances, with the exception of being low-cholesterol; oh well, can’t please everyone. Thank you Smitten Kitchen for this recipe–its a keeper.

  115. Kathy

    I made this for Passover and it was a hit! Even the chocolate haters enjoyed it. Very light and perfect to eat after hours of eating heavy foods. I am making it again this weekend. I did improvise on the filling. I made a paste of cocoa,, vanilla, a splash of Grand Marnier with a bit of H2O and added it to the whipped cream. There was a hint of the Grand Marnier, not too overpowering. I also sliced strawberries and kiwi and decorated the cake for a festive/colorful feel. Do you think I can make it on Saturday to serve on Sunday? I am worried about it getting too mushy or collapsing since it is so light. Thanks!

    1. deb

      Kathy — It should be fine. The main thing that happens is that the whipped cream starts to unwhip itself and absorb into the cake. But, it won’t be very noticeable after only a day.

  116. Kathy

    Or … what do you think if I made the 4 layers on Saturday, covering and keeping them in the pans at room temperature and then doing the filling and assembly on Sunday?

  117. tish

    Trader Joe’s has heavy whipping cream in shelf stable (non-refrigerated) boxes… i have started getting them and keeping in my pantry, for just such an occasion, as emergency cake/filling! THANKS for this and the roll cake recipe and photos!

  118. Beth @ The Furry Bird

    Delicious cake! I made this for my daughter’s birthday party and got so many compliments I was a little embarrassed. An across the board hit! I assembled the cake the night before and refrigerated until about an hour before serving. Instead of whipped cream I used a whipped butter cream frosting … it’s a little warm here so I needed something that would hold up in the sun … but otherwise I followed the recipe exactly and it was ridiculously easy. Thanks for yet another incredible, stupid easy, recipe.

  119. Iris

    This is the perfect cake! Since I first made this a few years ago, I’m not allowed to make anything else for my boyfriends birthday. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

  120. I am thinking of making a chocolate ombre cake similar to the chocolate and caramel ombre cake on BBC good food (sorry- I didn’t want to leave a link because then my comment would get spammed). However, most recipes I have seen used food coloring or mixed batters together to get the colors they wanted (ie. make a chocolate batter and a vanilla batter and then mix them together for the middle layer, creating a chocolate cake that isn’t really that chocolatey).
    The plan I made up for my cake is to have a dark chocolate layer (planning on using your everyday chocolate cake), a milk chocolate layer, a yellow cake layer (I will have to add a tiny bit of cocoa powder to this to make it slightly darker), and a white chocolate layer. However, I have been having trouble finding a milk chocolate cake that is lighter in color than the dark chocolate layer would be. This would be the perfect cake for the job, however, I am a little worried that it’s structure isn’t as sturdy as the other cakes. It would only be holding up one other cake layer (the dark chocolate layer).
    Do you think this cake would be able to hold the weight in a layer cake? Also, it appears that it has a different texture and crumb than a standard cake. Would this just be weird when paired with 3 cakes with a more “standard” crumb?

  121. Vina

    This is now my go-to cake recipe! I have several wheat sensitive friends and know a few coeliacs, and when you google “Gluten-free” you rarely get a good recipe without a ton of expensive flour substitutes (which rarely hold together without some binding agent, which is also expensive on minimum wage). We also like to party a lot so cake is a regular thing.
    I made this for my SCAnniversary last November, and it was hoovered up! I covered it in Betty Crocker icing and sprinkles (with a toy unicorn on top, because they were dubbed “unicorn vomit”..). It was rich without being too heavy, and deliciously moist. And best of all: wheat and gluten free!

  122. Rebecca Lucille

    I felt I must write and just say, I love you. Truly! Your cookbook was the last cookbook I purchased before me and my son were diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I heard your interview on NPR and, though I had too many cookbooks already, felt I must have yours. I said, “goodbye”, to you and your cookbook after diagnosis, and “hello” to the Paleo world. In the Paleo world, even their desserts are “healthy”!!! I am not Paleo by choice. And I am not giving up sweets. I have already given up grains and dairy. Imagine my surprise when I searched and searched for appropriate desserts and came up with very little until — I found your post about passover and desserts. OH MY! I will be forever grateful and so will my seven-year old. Thank you.

  123. Lauren

    I found this site/recipe a few years ago when searching for Passover friendly desserts. I have made this cake every year since and can’t wait to make it again this coming week for Passover! It’s always requested now and it’s pretty easy to make. Instead of using grand mariner, I use Chambord, and also add frozen raspberries to the top of the cake and use the juice in the frosting. It turns the frosting a tint of pink and tastes soo good.

  124. I’m in Denver and this looks like a finicky recipe but I really want to try it for passover! Any suggestions for high elevation adjustments? I usually can figure it out with cakes with flour, but feeling nervous on this one…

    1. deb

      Heather — I haven’t done any high-altitude baking so I cannot give any solid advice. I’d Google around — there are many online tip sheets for baking at high altitude that will let you know what needs to be tweaked. Good luck.

  125. Ginny

    Thanks for the recipe! I made this recently… It was wonderful and I got a lot of complements!
    Allison M. mentioned/asked back in March 2011 about stabilized whipped cream… I used stabilized whipp cream. This is what is used in Chinese birthday cakes. It holds it shape really well. There are a number of ways to make stabilized whipped cream. You can use unflavored gelatin or cornstarch and add flavoring. Or you can use flavored instant pudding or gelatin (probably would want to decrease you sugar to compensate). Lots of posts/recipes for stabilized whipped cream on the web… For Chinese birthday cakes the whipped cream frosting tends to not be very sweet … Maybe 2 tablespoons powdered sugar to one cup whipping cream. This goes great with this cake and holds up well too.

  126. fran

    Thanks for this recipe! one suggestion: Where you talk about inverting the cake, you say “while gently peeling off waxed paper lining” . I believe you mean parchment lining. It is confusing to say waxed paper, because it sounds like you mean the waxed paper that is between the cake and sheet pan at this point, rather than the parchment that you lined the cake pan with (which is of course on top after inverting). I think this is why a few people couldn’t understand this step.

  127. Kmac

    I just used this recipe for the fourth or fifth time to make the most perfect and delicious black forest cake, and wanted to say “THANK YOU, SK!” for this recipe. So many other choc sponges were attempted and turned out terribly before I found this one which works every time and is soooo delicate and delicious.
    For those asking whether it freezes and whether you can ice the sides – my answer to both is yes! I bake the batter in two parts and cut the layers in half to yield 4 layers, so they are super thin, and then freeze between waxed paper sheets for at least a day (or up to a week) before assembling into black forest cake: ie, making the sour cherry/Kirsch sauce, layering everything with that and about 1l stiffly-whipped cream, and decorating the fully iced cake with cream and Dutch choc sprinkles all over and maraschino cherries on top of the rosettes I pipe around the edges. You can see why this can’t all be done in one day!
    Also, I found that the fully iced cake keeps perfectly for days in the fridge.
    Finally, twice I even made this recipe for a diabetic b’day girl with Splenda instead of sugar, which also works perfectly.
    Happy baking everyone :)

  128. Dana

    I really question the necessity of the water in the chocolate in this recipe. The chocolate would stay nice and smooth on its own without it. My batter turned out lumpy no mater how much I tried to mix it.

  129. Priscila

    Just made this yesterday as a new years dinner dessert. As it was really light, it worked perfectly. My cakes did deflated big time, but they keept their fluffy texture. Thought I have a big freezer I could not fit the cakes separated so I freeze 2 and refrigerate the other 2, and switch, so they were semi frozen when I got in the car. Then I had to travel over an hour to my brother’s house, in full summer heat (I’m from Chile) and assembled it with the whipped cream and raspberries on top when we arrived. I had no problems and everyone was crazy about it.

    1. deb

      I haven’t tried it; I’m not positive they’d defrost with the best texture because the balance between the crisp edges and soft inside might get lost. It would still taste good, however!

  130. Michele

    I made this cake for the first night of Passover 2015. It was not difficult, but it was expensive, and required many pans and mixing bowls. I had to clear out space in my freezer and then figure out how to stack the baking sheets (I fashioned terraces using boxes of frozen butter). Throughout the process, I continually thought, “If everyone does not unequivocally say this is the best cake they have ever tasted, I will never make it again.”
    … looks like I’m making it again. :)

  131. I made this for my son’s Passover birthday last night (with the cocoa and vanilla variation of the filling) and it was the hit of the Seder! No one could believe that it wasn’t store-bought and that there was no flour in it. My son loved it and thanked me repeatedly (no small occurrence from a 12 year old). Needless to say, he didn’t feel deprived at all. I think it will definitely find a permanent place on our family’s Passover table. The only thing I might change is to increase the filling recipe by 1/2 so that there’s plenty left for the cake even after we all eat right out of the bowl. Thanks for saving Ethan’s birthday!

  132. Ruthie

    Do you think I can make the 4 layers in disposable aluminum tins successfully? If so, how would you modify the amount of time in the oven? (I have a feeling the answer is no…)

  133. I’ve made this cake twice now, for friend;s birthdays. It is surprisingly easy to make (providing you have an electric whisk!) and on both occasions I’ve had to make it ahead of time and freeze it. It works great, so here’s my process.

    2-3 days ahead of schedule, make the 4 layers (2 at a time because I only have 2 pans, the batter is happy to wait on the counter top between bakes). Stack the layers in the freezer with grease-proof paper (and cocoa) between all layers.

    1-2 days before, whip up the filling and apply to the layers. remove one layer at a time from the freezer and work relatively quickly. return to freezer.

    On the day or up to 2 days before, make up about 16oz of chocolate ganache, let it cool to room temperature, remove cake from freezer and cover with the ganache – at this point you can decorate it. I’ve done one that was topped with different coloured candies and the last one I sprinkled gold dust on there and some store bought chocolate decorations – pop the whole thing into the fridge to harden the ganache, which helps lock in all the moisture and slow down the rate at whichthe cake defrosts.

    On the day, light the candles and serve! Don’t be surprised to hear cries of “Best Cake Ever!” or “I must have this recipe!” because it really is an AMAAAAZING cake.

    Thank you Deb!

    P.S. I’d be confident freezing them for longer before completing the process.

  134. Kathleenwa4

    You’ve done it again and made me look like I can bake! This cake was a huge hit last night. I halved the recipe and made two layers. Still fabulous, impressive and celebratory. It was seriously so easy!!! Not sure what all the fuss is about because for me it was a breeze following your directions. I kept expecting something to go wrong but nothing did. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This will be made many times for celebrations to come! Sooooo good!!!! My friends loved it and could not stop raving about it. Yay! Oh, I used spring form pans and that made it super easy.

  135. Priscilla Madore

    Help Deb! I’m searching your entire blog site for a lactose free cake recipe that doesn’t involve gingerbread. I’ve followed your blog for years, and now I’m married to a man that has suddenly come down with lactose intolerance. Horrible! I did get some lactose free milk, so maybe it’s not so bad, but still. Heavy cream and cream cheese are out. Please help.
    Priscilla Madore

    1. Robyn

      Try whipped up coconut cream. It’s totally dairy free and I think the flavour would work with the chocolate here (although it does taste distinctly coconut and not like whipped cream). There are various “recipes” on the web for which brands of coconut cream are best and you don’t need to add any/much sugar, so it might even be healthier!

  136. Calvin

    Hi! Would it be wise to swap the bittersweet chocolate for white chocolate?
    As well as substituting the whipped cream layers with white chocolate ganache?

  137. Elisa

    I would like to make this cake but my ride is about 1 1/2 hours long. Perhaps if I place in a cooler and pack so it does’t move, it should stay good….. toughts?

  138. Amy

    Deb, This looks like an easier version of Maida Heatter’s Sept. 7th Cake, which I’ve made several times (and was my initiation into using a pastry bag :). My question is–the layers on her cake collapse to about ¼” thick–why don’t your layers collapse more than just a little sinking? You use less whipped cream for the filling–is it that? In both cases, it seems the main ingredient in the cake is air, so I don’t understand the difference in outcome. Many thanks for this recipe–it will be the perfect (required) chocolate addition to my friend’s seder. Happy Pesach!

    1. deb

      Amy — Funny, I have all her books (love her) but don’t know this one. From Googling, it looks like a different cake, or a different approach — filled with cream and frosted? And the layers look sunken, just like mine. Again, I can’t compare what I haven’t made, but these have edges that keep their height and the sinking centers in the middle, like you see here.

  139. I made this for my own 30th birthday… Nothing like making your own birthday cake. It was incredible. I got a bit scared while melting the chocolate, as obviously adding the water made it quite solid, but after mixing it thoroughly (don’t be shy) with the fluffy egg whites it turned out to be the most beautiful, airy dough/batter. The end result was incredible. I fancied more fruit, so I added strawberry slices into the layers, decorated the cake with mixed berries and decadently smothered chocolate ganache on the outside- then stuck chocolate fingers around the outside for stability. Kept it in the fridge overnight to let it set a bit – Everyone was completely and utterly in love. I shall make this cake again and again. The best thing-It’s naturally gluten free so everyone could enjoy it. Win!!! Thanks Deb.
    Here’s a photo:

  140. krithikap11

    I’ve been searching for a light chocolate sponge style cake and this fits the bill perfectly, since I don’t have a tube pan that most chiffon cakes seem to need. I’m looking for a simple cake with no frosting. I’m thinking about baking half the cake in a springform pan and eating it as is. Or maybe sprinkling some cocoa powder or powdered sugar on top. Would that work?

    1. deb

      These layers are very thin, it may not be exactly what you’re looking for. The edges are a little thicker. The flavor and texture is unparalleled, but this cake is more often used like this than the way I show here.

      1. krithikap11

        Thank you for the quick reply! Is this cake not meant to be thicker? I thought if I baked two layers worth of batter in one pan it’d give me a decent height cake. Do you have a recommendation for a sponge style cake? Something that’s light and fluffy?

  141. Robyn

    This remains one of my favourite recipes for when I want to take a birthday cake that will also serve as a decadent dessert for adults. Everyone raves about it and I’ve had several people ask me for the recipe. Cannot recommend enough.
    One question – I’ve frozen this for up to 2 days before since that allows some making ahead. But do you think it would freeze for longer? A few weeks?