A rich flourless cake, this fallen chocolate souffle cake recipe is fudgy yet light. This impressive dessert looks perfectly imperfect. Meaning it tastes perfect, but it looks messy. But that’s the point!
Souffle cakes, also known as fallen cake or sunken cake, are easy to make and ideal for the home baker that stresses when decorating or frosting cakes. They puff up during baking and then the top naturally caves in creating a crackly look.
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This flourless chocolate cake is perfect for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, a birthday, or literally any special occasion if you’re craving something simple and decadent.
Serve topped with a dusting of powdered sugar, cocoa powder, or whipped cream. If you are feeling fancy, you can add creme anglaise, fresh raspberries or sliced strawberries.
📖Why This Recipe Works
First off, this recipe uses two types of chocolate. The combination of melted dark chocolate and cocoa powder creates the richest, most chocolatey flavor.
Next, we add espresso powder. A couple of teaspoons of instant espresso powder enhances the floral notes in the chocolate. You can’t taste any coffee, but it gives the cake a better flavor!
This recipe is flourless which makes this cake gluten-free, but also creates such a light, airy texture!
That is where our whipped egg whites come in. Egg whites are whipped to incorporate air into the batter. The air causes the cake to rise in the oven, then collapse when it’s taken out. This gives it that cracked top and crispy edges.
Bittersweet Chocolate - Use blocks or bars of chocolate that are 65% cacao or higher. The richer chocolate creates the best flavor and texture. I don’t recommend using semi-sweet chocolate chips. They will make the cake much too sweet and the texture won’t be as smooth.
Cocoa Powder - I use Dutch-processed cocoa powder because it tends to have a smoother, more chocolatey flavor. If all you have is regular, that will work too.
Instant Espresso Powder - Espresso powder is used to enhance the chocolate flavor of the cake. Don’t worry. It won’t make your chocolate cake taste even one bit like coffee.
Eggs -This recipe separates the whites and the yolks, except for 1 egg which we add whole. All my recipes use large eggs.
Cream of Tartar - Cream of tartar helps to stabilize the egg whites but is optional.
Unsalted Butter - You can use salted butter, but will want to adjust the amount of salt you add yourself.
You will also need white sugar, salt, and vanilla extract.
See the recipe card for exact quantities.
⏲️How to Make Chocolate Souffle Cake
Before starting on the batter prepare your cake pan and preheat the oven to 325 F degrees.
Butter or grease the inside of your pan and then dust the pan with cocoa powder (my preference) or sugar.
Step 1 - Melt the Chocolate
A double boiler is a two-tiered pan, but you can make one with a small saucepan and a small heatproof bowl set on top. Fill the saucepan with at least 1 inch of water, you don't want the water to touch the bottom of the bowl.
Place the bowl on top of the saucepan and heat over medium heat. You want simmering water, not boiling.
Add the chocolate and butter to the mixing bowl. Stir frequently melted. Remove the bowl from the heat. set aside to cool slightly.
Step 2 - Egg Yolk Mixture
Separate the egg whites and yolks, then place the yolks into a large bowl and the egg whites into another clean mixing bowl, and set the egg whites aside.
Add the whole egg and one-third of the sugar to the egg yolks. Beat on medium-high speed until thickened. This typically takes 5 minutes. The egg yolks are ready when the mixture creates thick ribbons when the beaters are removed.
Add in vanilla, salt, cocoa powder, and espresso powder, then mix again until incorporated.
Slowly add the cooled chocolate to the egg yolks and stir until combined. If the chocolate is too hot the eggs will scramble.
Step 3- Whip Egg Whites
In an electric mixer, use a clean whisk attachment to whip the egg whites with cream of tartar. Gradually add the remaining sugar, then beat on high until medium-stiff peaks form.
Some recipes call for soft peaks but I find that will knock too much air out when folding into the chocolate batter.
Use a spatula to gently fold in half of the egg whites until it begins to incorporate. Add the rest of the egg white mixture, being careful not to over-mix. There may be some white streaks- that is perfectly normal.
Step 4 - Bake
Transfer the batter to your pan. Use a small offset spatula to carefully smooth out the top. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. You can check with a knife, but I prefer not to damage the top of my cake.
Cool completely before removing it from the pan and transferring it to your serving plate. Dust with powdered sugar or cocoa powder and serve.
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tips
- Use a springform pan. A springform pan makes it so much easier to remove the cake without damaging it.
- Grease and dust the pan. I coat the inside of the pan with butter and sugar or cocoa powder. This adds a little extra flavor and crispiness to the outside of the cake and helps prevent it from sticking.
- Eggs separate easiest when cold but the whites will whip better at room temperature.
- Make sure you use a double boiler to melt the chocolate to prevent it from burning! If you melt the chocolate in the microwave, do so at 50% power to prevent it from seizing up.
- Don’t over-mix. That can cause the cake to be dense. We want it to be light and fluffy so it rises in the oven and falls when you take it out.
- The cake is done when the edges of the cake are pulling away from the sides of the pan. This should take right around 45 minutes, but I recommend checking early, then adding time as needed.
- Cool first. Let the cake cool completely before you remove it from the pan and dig in. It needs a little bit of time to set up in the pan after baking.
This recipe requires a springform pan if you want to serve the cake on a platter. You can't flip the cake onto a wire rack.
To beat the egg whites and egg yolks you need an electric mixer, either a stand mixer or a handheld mixer will work.
his chocolate souffle cake is so creamy and soft in the middle, so I like to store it at room temperature if possible. It will last covered for 2-3 days.
I don't recommend freezing this chocolate souffle cake recipe.
💬Frequently Asked Questions
A souffle is a type of cake, but it’s made using a slightly different process than that of a regular cake. To make a souffle cake, you separate the yolks and whites of the eggs and whip the egg whites to stiff peaks.
This adds air to the batter which causes the cake to rise in the oven, then collapse in the center when it’s taken out. Souffle cakes use very little flour or no flour at all.
The perfect chocolate souffle has a rich, but not too sweet, chocolatey flavor, a slightly dry top, crisped edges, and a soft, creamy interior.
And that, my friends, is exactly what we’re getting in this recipe. It’s a chocolate lover's dream, it so delicious!
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Chocolate Souffle Cake
- ¾ cup unsalted butter plus more for pan
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (65% cacao or higher)
- 6 eggs separated
- 1 egg whole
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar optional
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
- Preheat your oven to 325 F degrees. Grease a springform pan with 1 tablespoon butter, and dust with sugar or cocoa powder. Set aside.
- Melt chocolate and butter over simmering water in a double boiler, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, ¾ cup unsalted butter
- Separate the egg whites and yolks, placing the yolks in a separate bowl and the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment.6 eggs
- In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip yolks, the whole egg, and ¼ cup of the sugar on high speed, until it is pale yellow and falls in a thick ribbon when the beater is raised, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla, salt, cocoa powder, and espresso powder, beat for 30 seconds or until incorporated.1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
- In an electric mixer, using a clean whisk attachment and bowl, whip egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed. Gradually add the remaining ½ cup sugar and increase the speed to high. Continue beating on high until medium-stiff peaks form.6 eggs, ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar, ¾ cup granulated sugar
- While egg whites are beating, add the cooled, melted chocolate slowly to the yolk mixture.
- Using a spatula, gently fold half of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture until it begins to incorporate, it will still have a slightly marbled appearance. Add the remaining egg whites. Do not over mix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, using the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula to gently spread it into an even layer. Bake for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean and the edges of the cake start to pull away from the sides of the pan.
- Allow the cake to cool completely before removing it from the springform pan. Dust with powdered sugar or cocoa powder before serving.
- The top of the cake will fall creating a crackly top. The top should be slightly dry and the interior creamy.
- This cake needs to be baked in a springform pan if you want to serve it on a platter. It can't be turned out on to a cooling rack like a standard cake.
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