The potluck-party picnic season is here. Whether you’re headed to a family celebration or just hanging out with friends, finding just the right dish everyone can enjoy is a challenge. I love Fallen Chocolate Cake not only because it’s delicious, but it’s also flourless which means gluten-free.

I know. I just wrote about chocolate cake. My former Black Magic Cake is a two-layer, chocolate-on-chocolate, uber rich, dense, drink-with-a-gallon-of-milk cake. Fallen Chocolate Cake, however, is the opposite. It’s a moist single layer cake with a crackly, crisp outer layer topped with a light, fluffy whipped cream cloud of yumminess. Unlike the Black Magic Cake, it’s gluten-free. But don’t let the term gluten-free scare you away. My editor thought I switched recipes and couldn’t believe a cake this good could be gluten-free.

The Fallen Chocolate Cake recipe appealed to me because it looked cool with all of its cracks, plus flourless cakes fascinate me. After all, can cake really be cake without flour? The only flourless cake I had previously was at a fancy restaurant, and it was absolutely decadent. In my mind, if flourless cakes are served in fancy restaurants they must be worthy even for a foodie potluck.

True to form, I baked this new cake recipe a few hours before the dinner. That either makes me brave or just really trusting. The latter of the two choices is actually the correct answer.

The ingredients for Fallen Chocolate Cake are basic: butter, sugar, semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, vegetable oil, eggs, unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla extract and kosher salt. I used regular table salt in place of the kosher salt and semi-sweet chocolate chips in place of a semi-sweet chocolate baking bar.

The frosting ingredients, however, are not so basic: heavy whipping cream, mascarpone and powdered sugar. I didn’t know what mascarpone was until I made this cake and was quite surprised to find out it’s an Italian cheese very similar to cream cheese. After an exhaustive search of the grocery store in what I thought were all of the obvious places – next to the cream cheese or sour cream — finally an employee cheerfully led me right to it in the fancy import cheese section right next to the brie and feta cheese.

I always write my articles as I follow the recipe so I can note any shortcuts or cautions. In this case, my caution is to follow the instructions carefully and read them in advance. It’s been awhile since I made this cake and as I went down the instruction list step-by-step without reading ahead, I accidently added all of the sugar to the egg whites instead of holding ½ cup to add later. I also forgot how long it actually takes for egg whites to form soft peaks. It takes about three to five minutes, which was enough time to start cleaning up my kitchen counter. The recipe also instructs that the chocolate be melted over a pan of simmering water. Chocolate, however, can also be melted in a microwave. I usually set my microwave for about 2 minutes, stir the chocolate and then microwave it again for another 2 minutes or so until completely melted.

Placing a cake directly on a wire rack is usually recommended for cooling. In this case, the cake stays in the pan when placed on a wire rack and then removed only once it’s cool.

Fallen Chocolate Cake reminds me of a big brownie the way the crust on the top is cracked. The texture is also similar to a brownie – dense, moist and rich – but more elegant. The light texture of the whipped cream topping is a nice contrast both visually and on the taste buds. It’s one of my favorite recipes.

Fallen Chocolate Cake



  • 1/2 cup butter (room temperature) plus extra to grease the pan
  • 10 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate baking bar or chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 6 large eggs
  • ¾ cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar, divided, plus more for pan
  • 2 tablespoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Topping
  • ½ cup mascarpone
  • 3 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1 cup chilled heavy cream

Special Equipment:

A 9”-diameter springform pan


Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly butter springform pan and dust with granulated sugar, tapping out any excess.



Combine chocolate (either chocolate chips or chocolate bar chopped into small pieces), oil, and ½ cup butter cut into 1” pieces in a medium heatproof bowl. Set over a saucepan of simmering water and heat, stirring often, until melted. Remove bowl from saucepan.

Separate 4 eggs, placing whites and yolks in separate medium bowls. If you’re using a stand mixer, place the egg whites in the mixer bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites on high speed until frothy. With mixer running, gradually beat in 1/2 cup sugar; beat until firm peaks form.

Add cocoa powder, salt, vanilla, ¼ cup sugar, and 2 remaining eggs to bowl with yolks and whisk until mixture is smooth. Gradually mix yolk mixture into chocolate mixture, blending well.

Gently fold egg whites into chocolate mixture until incorporated. Scrape batter into prepared pan; smooth top and sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar.

Bake until top is puffed and starting to crack and cake is pulling away from edge of pan, 35-45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cake cool completely in pan (cake will collapse in the center and crack further as it cools).


Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, mascarpone, powdered sugar and heavy whipping cream in a medium bowl until soft peaks form.

Remove cake from pan. Mound whipped cream mixture in center of cake and spread generously across the top of the cake.