Chocolate Cloud Cake

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

On days when I want the warmth of the hearth rather than the hurly-burly of the city streets I stay in and read cookbooks, and this recipe comes from just the sort of book that gives most succor, Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax. The cake itself (which was the dessert I made for last New Year’s Eve dinner) is as richly and rewardingly sustaining: a melting, dark, flourless, chocolate base, the sort that sinks damply on cooling; the fallen center then cloudily filled with softly whipped cream and sprinkled with cocoa powder. As Richard Sax says, “Intensity, then relief, in each bite.”

Notes9-inch springform cake pan


Cooking MethodBaking



Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionCooking for a date, Formal Dinner Party

Recipe CourseDessert



Taste and TextureChocolatey, Creamy, Rich, Sweet

Type of DishCake, Chocolate Cake, Dessert


  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 eggs: 2 whole, 4 separated
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Cointreau (optional)
  • grated zest of 1 orange (optional)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Cointreau (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder for sprinkling


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

  2. Line the bottom of the cake pan with baking parchment.

  3. Melt the chocolate either in a double boiler or a microwave, and then let the butter melt in the warm chocolate.

  4. Beat the 2 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks with l/3 cup of the sugar, then gently add the chocolate mixture, the Cointreau and the orange zest.

  5. In another bowl, whisk the 4 egg whites until foamy, then gradually add the remaining sugar and whisk until the whites hold their shape but are not too stiff. Lighten the chocolate mixture with a dollop of egg whites, and then fold in the rest of the whites. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35–40 minutes or until the cake is risen and cracked and the center is no longer wobbly. Cool the cake in its pan on a wire rack; the middle will sink as it cools.

  6. When you are ready to eat, place the still pan-bound cake on a cake stand or plate for serving and carefully remove the cake from its pan. Don’t worry about cracks or rough edges: it’s the crater look we’re going for here. Whip the cream until it’s soft and then add the vanilla and Cointreau and continue whisking until the cream is firm but not stiff. Fill the crater of the cake with the whipped cream, easing it out gently toward the edges of the cake, and dust the top lightly with cocoa powder pushed through a tea-strainer.

  7. You can make this into an Easter Nest Cake by folding 7 ounces of melted chocolate into the cream topping and dotting with sugar-coated eggs instead of the cocoa. Leave the Cointreau out of both the cake and cream.


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I have never met a chocolate dessert I did not like. This one did not disappoint!

This cake is good, but I think that the orange zest is too dominating, and next time I'll try it without the zest.

I agree with Curlykid that this is a recipe a novice like us could make with great success. It went down really well in my house as the family was surprised at how it wasn't overly sweet but still hit the spot! Lovely!

I am like a super-novice-don't-let-me-in-the-kitchen-I-once-forgot-the-eggs-in-boxed-brownies AND YET I made this cake and it came out DELICIOUS. My two notes for other novices: 1) The whipping of the egg whites takes A LOT longer than I thought. Like my arm almost fell off, I got a little dizzy, 25 minutes longer. But keep going. You'll get there. 2) I was really scared of "folding" the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. I didn't want to mix too much, but it was looking really chunky. Try to mix the two in as few folds as possible - don't worry about what it looks like going into the pan. It looks amazing when it comes out! One last thing - the heavy cream topping is yummy, but a bit much. You could easily half the recipe, or ditch it entirely for a dark melted chocolate drizzle. Thank you Cookstr for helping me get over my fear of baking!!!


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