You only need 3 ingredients and 15 minutes to bake this magical chocolate cake

I've made this recipe on repeat over the years, and it's never failed me — not even once

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published January 6, 2022 2:29PM (EST)

Best Chocolate Cake (Mary Elizabeth Williams)
Best Chocolate Cake (Mary Elizabeth Williams)

In "Quick & Dirty," Salon Food's Mary Elizabeth Williams serves up simplified recipes and shortcuts for exhausted cooks just like you — because quick and dirty should still be delicious.

Please don't make any resolutions of the swearing off chocolate and butter variety, because I'm about to change your life.

The flourless chocolate cake is one of the greatest feats of baking magic ever invented. It's a chic little showstopper, the kind of thing that makes people go, "It's so rich, I can only have a teensy slice," but you're like, "I'll be the judge of that, thank you." It's exactly the right dessert to chase away the winter blahs, a cake that feels festive when the weather says otherwise.

There are as many varieties of flourless chocolate cake recipes out there as there are brownie recipes, and you'd be hard pressed to go wrong with any of them. I discovered mine several years ago. (For the record, my colleague Ashlie Stevens' gingerbread cloud version will knock you out.)

RELATED: 5 tips for buying better butter at the grocery store, according to an expert

I had recklessly offered to host a friend's bridal shower before remembering that her mother was the Ina Garten of her social set, a woman famed for her stellar parties and fantastic food. I fussed and fretted over the entire menu, but this recipe from London's River Café somehow wouldn't stop calling my name. A streamlined version of the restaurant's famed chocolate "nemesis" cake, it seemed like it would be either very good or very weird.

I can't tell you a single other thing I made for that party, but the bride's mother became a lifelong friend that day. It was definitely the cake.

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I've made this recipe on repeat over the years, and it's never failed me — not even once. This cake is a chocolate lover's platonic ideal — fudgy and intense, but not too sweet. From bridal showers to New Year's Eve, it's perfect for celebrating with an intimate group of friends — and it goes down exceptionally well with a glass of champagne.

One word of warning: This is a very simple recipe, but it's also very ingredient and technique specific. There are only 3 ingredients, so pick out the butter, chocolate and eggs you really love.

Yes, you really have to whip the eggs for 5 minutes; you really have to use a bain-marie; and you really have to cover it in foil and then remove the foil. Look, this recipe is so good that if it called for you to do a little dance, I'd strongly advise you to do it. This one's absolutely worth it.


Recipe: 15-Minute Chocolate Cake

Inspired by "Italian Easy: Recipes from London's River Cafe"

Yields: 12 servings (or maybe 8, no judgment)
Bake Time: 15 minutes


  • 1 pound of chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids, broken up into pieces (I like Lindt.)
  • 2 1/2 sticks of butter (I'm fond of Kerrygold.)
  • 6 eggs, organic if possible


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Generously butter a 10-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. (No springform pan? You can do this in a cake pan of the same size, but it will be trickier to release.)
  3. Set a medium pan of water to simmer. You'll be whipping your eggs in a bowl over this water, so fill it about halfway.
  4. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir, then microwave in 15 second intervals until completely melted. (You can do the melting over a simmering bowl of water thing, if you're inclined; but I never have, and I wouldn't ask you to try.)
  5. Break all of the eggs into a bowl large enough to fit over the pan of water. Place the pan over the water and beat the eggs until they just start to thicken, about 1 minute or so.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and beat the eggs another 4-5 minutes, until they're very light and foamy.
  7. Meanwhile, pour your hot water into a roasting pan.
  8. Fold half of the eggs into the chocolate mixture to combine, then fold in the remainder.
  9. Pour the batter into your springform pan, then cover with a lightly buttered sheet of foil. Gently place the springform pan in the roasting pan, so the water comes about halfway up the sides.
  10. Bake for 5 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes.
  11. Remove everything from the oven. The cake should be a little wiggly in the center. Remove it from the roasting pan and allow it to cool completely.
  12. Unmold and dust with confectioners sugar, or serve with whipped cream and fruit.

More of our favorite recipes involving chocolate: 

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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Cakes Chocolate Desserts Baking Flourless Cake Food Quick & Dirty Recipe