Inspired by the old-school, ultra-rich, mousselike chocolate cake that usually called for a whole pound of chocolate, half a dozen eggs and lots of butter, this enlightened rendition has deep bittersweet chocolate flavor and dense melt-in-your-mouth texture. No one will guess it's healthier. The secret is excellent natural cocoa powder and good-quality bittersweet chocolate, preferably with 70% cacao. Although the cake can be eaten once it's completely cool, it comes out of the pan much easier and even tastes better if it has been chilled at least overnight.

Alice Medrich
Source: EatingWell Magazine, January/February 2011


Recipe Summary

3 hrs
Nutrition Profile:


Ingredient Checklist
Candied Orange Peel (optional)


Instructions Checklist
  • Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch cake pan (1 1/2 to 2 inches deep) with parchment paper and coat the sides of the pan with cooking spray. Put a kettle of water on to boil for Step 6.

  • Place chocolate and cocoa powder in a large bowl.

  • Combine flour, 2/3 cup sugar and salt in a small heavy saucepan. Whisk in just enough of the milk to form a smooth paste. Mix in the remaining milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to prevent burning (especially around the sides and bottom edges of the pot), until the mixture begins to bubble. Boil gently, stirring constantly, for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes (the mixture will get very thick and then you may notice that it thins ever so slightly as the starch cooks). Scrape the hot mixture immediately over the chocolate and cocoa. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. The batter will be very thick. Stir in egg yolks and vanilla.

  • Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating on high speed until the egg whites are stiff but not dry.

  • Gently fold about one-fourth of the egg whites into the chocolate batter to lighten it. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites until no white streaks remain. Scrape the batter into the cake pan, smoothing the top.

  • Set the cake pan in a larger baking pan and place on the oven rack. Pour enough boiling water into the baking pan to come a third to halfway up the side of the cake pan. Bake until the surface of the cake is slightly crusted and springs back when gently pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. (The cake will still be quite gooey inside.)

  • Meanwhile, to prepare candied orange peel (if using): Using a vegetable peeler, remove zest from oranges in 1 1/2- to 2-inch-long pieces. Cut the pieces into very thin strips, about 1/8 inch wide. Cook in a small saucepan of boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain. Bring more water to a boil and cook the orange peel for another 5 minutes. Drain.

  • Bring sugar and 1/4 cup water to a simmer in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the orange peel, cover and simmer for 3 minutes. Transfer the syrup and peel to a bowl. Cover and chill overnight.

  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer the orange peel to paper towels to drain before using.

  • Remove the pans from the oven. Transfer the cake pan to a wire rack and cool completely, about 2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight before serving.

  • To serve: Soak the blade of a thin knife in a cup of very hot water until warm. Slide the knife around the sides of the pan to release the cake. Place a piece of wax paper on top of the cake. Invert a plate over the wax paper and invert the pan onto the plate. Remove the pan and peel away the paper liner. Place a serving plate over the cake and turn the cake right-side up again; remove the wax paper. Dip a sharp knife in hot water and wipe it dry before cutting each slice. Serve with Candied Orange Peel, if desired.


Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Equipment: 8- or 9-inch round cake pan, 1/2-2 inches deep; deep baking pan large enough to hold the cake pan; parchment paper

Cocoa powder comes in two styles: natural and Dutch-processed. Dutch-processed cocoa has been treated with alkali, or "Dutched," to neutralize the natural acidity of cocoa, while natural has not. For this recipe, we prefer the taste of natural cocoa powder, although either type can be used.

To bring an egg to room temperature, submerge it (in the shell) in a bowl of lukewarm (not hot) water for 5 minutes.

When egg whites are beaten to “soft” peaks, the whites will still be soft enough to curl over when a beater is turned upside down. The whites are considered “stiff” peaks when they remain stiff and upright.

Nutrition Facts

164 calories; protein 3.4g; carbohydrates 29.4g; dietary fiber 2.5g; sugars 23.9g; fat 6.1g; saturated fat 3.2g; cholesterol 31.1mg; vitamin a iu 82.5IU; folate 10mcg; calcium 32.6mg; iron 0.5mg; magnesium 15.6mg; potassium 92.2mg; sodium 48.6mg; added sugar 23g.

Reviews (11)

Read More Reviews
21 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 16
  • 4 star values: 3
  • 3 star values: 1
  • 2 star values: 1
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 5 stars
Absolutely Devine! I made this before as a surprise for my mother's birthday and I liked it so much that I went on to make it for mine and my friends as well. I didn't have bittersweet chocolate (can't buy it where I live in China) so I used a mix of milk and dark chocolate. It turned out absolutely amazing! I've tried a couple variants (different candied fruits) but I still like the orange the best. I found that the syrup makes more than necessary so when I make it again I plan to add more orange peels to balance it out a bit. This recipe is absolutely delicious creamy super rich and incredibly satisfying. I was a bit skeptical at first because I wasn't sure that the portion sizes were large enough but they are just right. Intense chocolate flavor and well worth the time and effort! Pros: Rich Satisfying Creamy Decadent! Cons: Slightly hard to make Read More
Rating: 5 stars
06/24/2017!!! I loved this!!!! This was so delicious. Amazingly delightfully spoon-and-plate-lickingly good! No one will ever guess that it is reasonably healthy. Wow! It tastes like you bought it at a high-end pastry shop. If you or your guests are chocolate fans you HAVE TO make this!!!! It's one of the best things that I've ever made. A couple tips: if you can find them bittersweet chocolate chips will make your life easier so you don't have to chop up the chocolate. Use good quality chocolate. Bittersweet isn't the same as semisweet. If you do use semisweet you'll probably want to cut down on the sugar. I used Camino organic bittersweet chips and they were fantastic. If you want the cake to have the right height: 1. beat the heck out of the egg whites. They need to be STIFF. It will take several minutes. 2. Make sure to fold not stir in the eggwhites. If you're not sure how to do either of these just google it. I used a 9" pan and it rose to the top of the pan and looked just like the photo. The cake is VERY intense rich and chocolaty. I cut it into 8 pieces but I think at that size it was almost too intense. I'd suggest that you stick to what the recipe says and cut into 12 pieces. The piece will be small but very satisfying. Then if anyone wants more they can go ahead (One of my guests left about 1/4 of her piece and then threw it in the garbage. I wanted to cry!) I lined the bottom AND the sides with 2 pieces of parchment paper that hung over the sides Read More
Rating: 5 stars
creamy rich and chocolatey I happened upon this recipe and boy am I glad. It's a little time consuming but there are shortcuts. I pre melted the chocolate (whole squares not grated) in the microwave. Just enough to be moveable not totally melted. Then I added the cocoa with a little instant coffee. From there I added the hot liquid and it melted it the rest of the way. I also used a springform pan. It worked fine. I left the cake in the fridge overnight and tried a piece the next day with a little whipped cream. I didn't do the orange part of the recipe. I just did the cake. I usually have a lindor dark chocolate truffle once a day but now I think I'm going to have a thin slice of this. I'm also going to cut and freeze all the pieces and take them out as I need them. This is an awesome cake for so little calories. I also didn't add the rest of the sugar when I did the egg whites. It was sweet enough. Perfect chocolate fix. Maybe I'll experiment with it a little more when I make it again. DEEEELLLIIISSHHH. Read More
Rating: 2 stars
came out really thin? What did I do wrong? The cake looked perfect the only problem was that it came out really flat and thin? About 1/5 of the height of the cake in the picture. Read More
Rating: 3 stars
A little too much chocolate. Mine did not come out nearly as pretty as the picture. The flavor was really intense. I didn't make the candied orange peel which would have probably been a nice contrast. Pros: A small serving size is very satisfying. Cons: Labor intensive almost too chocolatey Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Uh-Maze-Ing I've made this 3 times now most recently for a Valentine's Dessert night with my girlfriends. Each time guests can't believe that this is a light recipe. It tastes extraordinarily decadent and rich and is worth the time to make. Slicing can be an issue. Instead of using a knife dipped in hot water try a long string of floss. Hold it taught and it cuts right through without damaging the cake. Pros: Rich Smooth Delicious Show Stopper Cons: Takes time but worth the effort Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Great super rich vven taking short cuts with recipe! We loved this cake. I took a couple of shortcuts and it still came out great. First I made this in a cheesecake springform pan without the water bath around it ( these pans would leak) so it would be easier to get out of the pan without inverting. Baked fine without the water bath around it and came out of pan. Secondly I did not do the sugar flour mixture in a pan as I thought I might burn it. I melted the chocolate in a double boiler and added the sugar and milk right to it in the double boiler. Thirdly I did not make the topping but thought I might serve it with thaws frozen raspberries. S all in all I made the recipe easier and it was rich and delicious. Pros: Delicious Cons: None Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Fabulous! I just love this recipe! I've made it many times with a few twists but the original has always been the best. This cake is very rich & flavorful. I'm coming up on my 2yr anniversary of losing 65lbs and this dessert has been a go-to since its so delicious and satisfying I don't have to deny myself chocolate & sweets. I can be happy with just 1 piece something i can't say for many desserts! Pros: chocolate lovers dream Cons: Takes a little time to make Read More
Rating: 5 stars
So rich and delicious So beautiful. A little fiddly but worth the effort. I made it for my chocolate loving husband's birthday cake. It looked great until we cut it and it was difficult to serve but I didn't have a hot fine knife. Otherwise delicious and definitely saving this recipe! Pros: Very moist rich special Cons: Difficult to cut Read More