This mini flourless chocolate cake is decadent, rich, and ultra-chocolatey. Made in a 6-inch cake pan, it's the perfect fudgy dessert to make for chocolate-lovers.
This is no ordinary chocolate cake! This mini flourless chocolate cake (or torte) is dense and tastes like eating fudge with a fork. Similar to a chocolate soufflé, this 6-inch cake is made with whipped egg white meringue to give it structure and help it rise in the oven. The meringue also forms a crackled, crunchy top that contrasts the fudgy interior beautifully!
The cocoa powder and egg whites take the place of flour in this recipe, making it naturally gluten free! It's delicious and elegant enough to make for Valentine's Day, date night with your partner or gal pals, and other special occasions.
I know making the meringue can be a little intimidating, but I promise this is easy to make! I've included tons of advice and troubleshooting tips for baking success.
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Here are some notes about the ingredients you'll need. Quantities can be found in the recipe card below.
- Chocolate- Use chopped bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate. Don't use milk chocolate since it will be too sweet. Make sure to use pure baking chocolate, not chocolate chips since they are harder to melt.
- Unsalted butter- Unsalted butter gives us the most control over the sodium content and the flavor. It doesn't need to be at room temperature FYI!
- Cocoa powder- Use dutch-processed cocoa powder, which is treated with alkali to reduce acidity. This treatment gives cocoa powder a darker hue and a smoother, deeper chocolate flavor.
- Espresso powder- This ingredient is totally optional, but I highly recommend it! Espresso powder makes the cocoa flavor more complex and intense. And don't worry- you won't be able to taste the coffee at all! Make sure to use a fine espresso powder, not ground coffee.
- Pure vanilla extract- This rounds out the flavor profile of the cake.
- Sea salt- Baked goods need a little salt or they end up being too sweet! Use finely ground sea salt or table salt.
- 3 large eggs- Room temperature eggs are extremely important in flourless chocolate tortes and cakes. The eggs are separated into whites and yolks. The whites are whipped with sugar to make a French meringue, which takes the place of flour, creates the cake's structure, and helps the cake rise. The yolks add fat and give the cake its moist, fudgy texture.
- Granulated sugar- White granulated sugar is used in the meringue and sweetens the cake. Cane sugar and caster sugar also work.
- Sea salt: Finely ground kosher salt or pink Himalayan sea salt can be substituted. Add an additional ¼ teaspoon if the salt isn't fine.
- Vanilla extract: Vanilla bean paste is a good substitute.
Helpful Equipment and Tools
- 6-inch cake pan- Use a regular cake pan, not a springform pan.
- Parchment paper
- 2 large mixing bowls
- 1 small bowl (for the egg yolks)
- Electric hand mixer- You can also use a stand mixer with the whisk attachment.
- Balloon whisk
- Rubber spatula
Step by Step Instructions
Here's how to make the mini flourless chocolate cake! Before starting, preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and line the cake pan with parchment paper.
STEP 1: First, separate the egg whites and yolks. Firmly crack an egg on the rim of a large bowl, and then, holding the egg over the bowl, gently push into the crack with your thumbs, dividing the shell into two equal parts. Let the whites drip into the bowl below, letting the yolk settle in one half of the shell.
Start gently transferring the yolk back and forth between the two shell halves. As you do this, more whites will separate and drip into the bowl. Try to not break the yolk!
Eventually, only the yolk will be left in the shell. Transfer it to a separate bowl and repeat with all 3 eggs. Set the bowls aside.
STEP 2: Add the chopped chocolate and butter to a large bowl and then microwave it at 30 second increments until the chocolate is shiny and mostly melted. Be careful not to burn it! After that, whisk the chocolate and butter together until smooth.
STEP 3: Whisk the cocoa powder, espresso powder, vanilla, and salt into the chocolate. Then, set the bowl aside to cool.
STEP 4: Return to the large bowl of egg whites. Start whipping the egg whites on low speed with your hand mixer. As the whites begin to froth, increase the speed to medium.
STEP 4: After 5 minutes, the egg whites should be frothy. Increase the speed to high and start gradually adding the sugar one tablespoon at a time, waiting 15 seconds between each addition.
STEP 5: Continue whipping the egg whites for about 15 minutes. The meringue will go through three stages: frothy (5 minutes), soft peaks (10 minutes), and stiff peaks (15 minutes). The final meringue should be glossy and stand up straight with a slight bend on the end as pictured below.
STEP 6: Set the bowl of meringue aside, and then whisk the egg yolks into the chocolate mixture until well combined.
STEP 7: Fold the meringue into the chocolate mixture with a rubber spatula in 3 additions. Carefully fold, trying not to overmix and deflate the meringue. Fold until there are no white streaks left.
STEP 8: Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth out the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with a few moist crumbs.
Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan for about 20 minutes. Remove it from the pan, cut into 6 slices, dust with powdered sugar, and enjoy!
Expert Baking Tips
- Use clean bowls and utensils. Even the smallest bit of residual oil can prevent meringue from getting stiff peaks. Make sure everything is clean and dry before you start.
- Use room temperature eggs. Room temperature eggs will whip better. Take them out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before you start baking.
- Make sure no yolk gets in the egg whites! Egg whites won't stiffen up if any yolk gets in them, so be super careful to not break the yolk while separating the eggs.
- Gradually add the sugar. Add the sugar a couple tablespoons at a time so that it absorbs into the egg whites and prevents a gritty texture.
- Add cream of tartar. If you struggle to get the meringue to stiffen, add ¼ teaspoon of cream of tartar. The acid stabilizes the egg whites and creates fluffy, pillowy meringue.
- Don't overbake. To maintain the mini torte's fudgy texture, don't overbake it! Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with a few moist crumbs.
Flourless chocolate cake is typically served with a dusting of powdered sugar or cocoa powder. It's extra delicious with a dollop of homemade whipped cream and a handful of fresh berries.
You can also top it with vanilla ice cream, frosting (brown sugar buttercream or lavender buttercream would be so tasty and unique), a drizzle of caramel or chocolate sauce, or chocolate ganache for an extra decadent treat.
Storage and Freezing
This is a small cake, so I doubt you'll have any leftovers! But if you do, store them in an airtight container or tightly wrapped with plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 4 days. I don't recommend refrigeration because it can dry the cake out.
You can freeze the cake whole or in slices. Wrap individual slices or the whole cake in plastic wrap. Then, freeze it in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months.
When you inevitably crave a slice, wait for it to thaw on the counter for 2-3 hours.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can definitely make a mini flourless chocolate cake ahead of time! It tastes best the day it's made, so consider making the batter ahead of time rather than baking the entire cake. Follow the instructions all the way through to pouring the batter in the cake pan. Then, cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
It's totally normal for your cake to sink after you take it out of the oven. The egg whites help the cake rise kind of like a souffle in the oven and then fall, creating a crinkly, cracked top.
You can! You can split the batter into two 3-inch pans or ramekins to make individual chocolate cakes. The bake time will need to be reduced, so watch the pans carefully while they're in the oven.
Because of the butter and chocolate, this cake is not dairy free. You can try making it with vegan butter and chocolate if you need it to be!
More Small Batch Recipes to Try
Mini Flourless Chocolate Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F or 180°C. Line the cake pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- Separate the egg whites from the yolks by cracking an egg on the rim of a large bowl. Let the whites drip into the bowl and then place the yolk in a separate small bowl. Repeat with the two remaining eggs and set the bowls aside.3 large eggs
- Add the chocolate and butter to a large, heat-proof bowl. Microwave at 30 second increments until the chocolate is mostly melted. Whisk together until smooth.¾ cup bittersweet chocolate, 6 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Whisk the cocoa powder, espresso powder, vanilla, and sea salt into the chocolate mixture. Set aside to cool.⅓ cup dutch-processed cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon espresso powder, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon sea salt
- With an electric hand mixer on medium speed, beat the egg whites in the large bowl until foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar and beat on high speed until a meringue with stiff peaks forms. Set aside.½ cup granulated sugar
- Once the chocolate mixture has cooled, whisk in the egg yolks until fully combined.
- Gently fold in the meringue in 3 additions. Try not to overmix, but mix until there are no white streaks of meringue remaining.
- Gently pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth out the top.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with a few moist crumbs.
- Let the cake to cool for about 20 minutes in the pan on a wire cooling rack.
- Remove the cake from the pan, sprinkle with powdered sugar, slice, and enjoy.