This nearly flourless French Chocolate Cake is dense, full of rich chocolate flavor and yet surprisingly light in texture. It’s an elegant dessert choice for chocolate lovers.
French Chocolate Cake is truly unique. It’s somewhat rustic but completely refined at the same time. An almost flourless cake batter results in a dense, almost fudgy cake, but the texture isn’t heavy at all. Au contraire! It is light and lovely and unlike any other cake in my collection.
This is a great special occasion cake that is sure to impress. Over the years I’ve baked it for everything from a teacher appreciation luncheon, to a 4th of July BBQ, and as a luscious chocolate treat for Valentine’s Day. Chocolate just always works.
What is French Chocolate Cake
This recipe for French Chocolate Cake calls for just enough flour to give the cake some structure, but unlike flourless cakes, it slices well and has a nice crumb to it. The cracks on the surface of the cake are not imperfections. They are the result of the beaten egg whites in the batter that rise during the baking process to create the light top crust. Egg yolks are added to the batter separately to create a more dense, fudgy chocolate interior. It is delicious served with a simple dusting of powdered sugar but a scoop of vanilla ice cream is a natural fit. Especially in the summer months.
- Granulated white sugar
- Bittersweet chocolate – I use a Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar broken into pieces. I don’t recommend using extra bittersweet chocolate (above 70%) for the best flavor.
- Semisweet chocolate chips – For the semisweet chocolate, I use chocolate chips since I always have them in my pantry and they melt so easily. Choose a nice quality brand like Nestle or Ghirardelli.
- Unsalted butter
- Pure vanilla extract
- Eggs – You’ll need 5 large eggs.
- All-purpose flour– Spooned and leveled.
- Salt – Just a pinch.
- Confectioners’ sugar – For decorating the finished cake.
How to Make French Chocolate Cake
- Break the chocolate into pieces and place them in a large, heavy-bottomed pan along with the cubed butter and all but 3 tablespoons of the granulated sugar.
- Cook over low heat until the chocolate and butter have melted, and the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the vanilla, and leave the mixture to cool slightly.
- While the chocolate mixture is cooling, separate the eggs.
- Beat the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer until foamy. Add the salt and beat until the mixture becomes puffy and white and you can see peaks when you pull the beaters out. Sprinkle reserved sugar over egg whites, and beat until stiff and glossy and set aside.
- Beat the egg yolks into the slightly cooled chocolate mixture, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add the flour and beat just until combined.
- Beat ⅓ of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture and then carefully fold in the remaining egg whites with a spoon or rubber spatula.
- Carefully pour the batter into the prepared 9-inch springform pan (see Tips section below) and bake for about 35 minutes to 45 minutes in a preheated 325 degree F oven or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
To ensure there are no air bubbles in your cake batter, tap the pan several times on your kitchen counter before baking. This will force any air bubbles in the batter to come to the surface.
How to Remove Cake from a Springform Pan
After baking, set the pan on a wire cooling rack. Remove just the sides of the springform pan and allow the cake to cool completely on the base. Once cooled, run a knife along the edges to gently separate the cake from the base and use a spatula to help lift and move it to a serving platter.
Tips for Success
- Allow your eggs to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before starting. If you forget, don’t fret! Just place whole eggs in a bowl with warm (not hot!) water and let them sit for about 5 to 10 minutes.
- To line your springform pan, you can purchase pre-cut parchment rounds or cut your own parchment paper. To ensure the cake will release from the pan, coat the parchment paper and the sides of the pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- To properly measure your flour, spoon it into your measuring cup and level it off.
- If the cake doesn’t seem to be rising evenly, rotate it about halfway through the baking time.
- For the best, dense fudgy result, be careful not to overbake this cake. It will continue to cook a bit as it cools on the base of the springform pan.
- For a fun decorative touch, use a cake stencil to create a pretty pattern on the top of your cake with confectioners’ sugar.
The quality of this cake will be best within the first 24 to 48 hours after baking. To store leftovers, cover the cake with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 4 days. To freeze, wrap the completely cooled cake in a layer of plastic wrap and then wrap it again in aluminum foil and freeze for up to 2 to 3 months.
More Chocolate Recipes You’ll Love
French Chocolate Cake
- ½ cup granulated white sugar divided
- 4 ounce bittersweet chocolate baking bar
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- ¾ cup unsalted butter cubed
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 5 large eggs at room temperature, separated
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour spooned and leveled
- dash of salt
- 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9-inch springform cake pan with parchment paper and spray the paper and the sides of the pan generously with nonstick cooking spray.
- Set aside 3 tablespoons of the granulated sugar. Break the chocolate into pieces and place them in a large, heavy-bottomed pan along with the cubed butter and remaining sugar. Cook over LOW to MEDIUM-LOW heat until the chocolate and butter have melted, and the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the vanilla, and leave the mixture to cool slightly.
- While chocolate mixture is cooling, beat the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer until foamy. Add the salt and beat until the mixture becomes puffy and white and you can see peaks when you pull the beaters out. Sprinkle reserved sugar over egg whites, and beat until stiff and glossy. Set aside.
- Beat the egg yolks into the slighly cooled chocolate mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the flour just until combined.
- Beat ⅓ of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then carefully fold in the remaining whites with a spoon or rubber spatula. Carefully pour the batter into the prepared pan, and tap the pan gently to release any air bubbles. Place the pan on a baking sheet.
- Bake for about 35 minutes to 45 minutes, until well risen and the center feels almost set, but not completely. If the cake appears to rise unevenly, rotate after 20 to 25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, set the pan on a wire cooling rack, and remove the sides only. Do not attempt to remove the cake from the base before it's completely cooled as this cake is very fragile.
- Sprinkle the completely cooled cake with confectioners' sugar. Remove from base, carefully peel off parchment paper and move to a serving platter.
Adapted from Allrecipes
This post was originally published on March 7, 2012. It has been updated with new text and images.