Italian Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe (2024)

Recipe from Cusina e Butega

Adapted by Florence Fabricant

Italian Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe (1)

Total Time
45 minutes, plus cooling
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Just east of Bologna, Italy, the walled city of Ferrara is known for la torta tenerina, a kind of chocolate cake with an almost creamy interior and a thin, crisp crust. It’s a simple confection, and even still, it’s said that every baker and home cook has his or her own recipe. This version comes from Eleonora Masiero and Ennio Occhiali atCusina e Butega, a combination bakery and restaurant. —Florence Fabricant

Featured in: Flourless Chocolate Cake Finds an Ancestor in Italy

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Yield:4 to 6 servings

  • 7tablespoons/100 grams unsalted butter softened, plus more for pan
  • ½cup/60 grams confectioners’ sugar, sifted, plus more for dusting
  • 4ounces/113 grams 70 percent “top quality” dark chocolate
  • 2extra-large eggs, separated
  • 2tablespoons/20 grams potato starch
  • tablespoons/40 grams superfine sugar

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (6 servings)

337 calories; 23 grams fat; 14 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 7 grams monounsaturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 29 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary fiber; 21 grams sugars; 4 grams protein; 33 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Italian Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch cake pan. Line bottom with parchment.

  2. Step


    In a large bowl, using a mixer or by hand, beat the 7 tablespoons butter with the confectioners’ sugar until smooth and creamy. Melt chocolate in a pan on top of stove. Pour warm chocolate over the butter and sugar mixture and beat until smooth. Whisk in egg yolks one at a time. Stir in potato starch.

  3. In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in superfine sugar and continue beating until firm peaks develop. Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture.

  4. Step


    Scrape the batter out of the bowl, and spread it in the pan. Bake for 18 minutes. Cake will rise and top will look dry and a little crackly. Remove pan from oven, place on a rack and allow to cool completely, about 2 hours. Cake will sink a bit.

  5. Step


    Unmold cake, peel off parchment, then invert onto a serving dish so the crackly surface is on top. Generously sift confectioners’ sugar over the top, then serve.



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Cooking Notes

Katherine Canipelli

After reading several comments here and given only large eggs on hand, I adjusted the recipe: 5 oz chocolate, 3 eggs, plus a tablespoon of almond paste creamed into the butter/sugar, in a springform pan, baked for 21 minutes until small cracks were visible in the top, cooled for 2 hours+. Although the top edges cracked off when I plated the cake, the dusting of powder sugar spiffed it up for presentation. The cake was moist and easy to cut/serve with a dollop of creme fraische.

Terry B.

I used arrowroot instead of the potato starch and it turned out great. I do need to work on my egg-separating skills, though.


For those having trouble finding potato starch - if you make this in early Spring you will find lots of potato starch in the Passover section of your regular supermarket. Potato starch is used in many Passover recipes, since they cannot have regular flour.


This was great! I used a spring form pan as someone had suggested which made everything easier. I only have one bowl my stand mixer though so next time I will beat the egg whites and sugar first, transfer to a new bowl, the begin creaming the sugar etc etc so that I can add the egg white INTO the chocolate mixture. Easier to transfer and easier to fold in.


The fragrance is so intoxicating I opened my front door awhile to torture the neighbors ;)


I learned this method in a cooking class with Jacques Pepin: Pour the egg into your hand and let the white drip through your fingers. You'll never break a yolk this way, and it's fast.


I made this with corn starch and it tasted great. This is now in regular rotation in our chocolate crazy house


Based on the comments, I made a parchment sling so I could lift the cake out of the pan without having to invert it and risk damaging the lovely, crispy top of the cake. It was absolutely wonderful. Even my friend who hates flourless cakes loved it.


For 2 eggs, you should be able to use large in lieu of extra large.
Here's a handy egg size conversion chart:

V. baccari

I had to bake this twice in two days. It is amazing very light and perfect. However, some tricks that proved helpful. I used a square pan and before removing it I did freeze it. The first cake upon removal all the edges fell off (I did use a paper bottom to help remove it). And yes, as someone else said the quality of the chocolate counts.

V. baccari

superfine is easily made in a food processor.

Andy in Iowa

This cake is delicious!!
I am not sure why, but the texture I ended up with was quick to disintegrate. I used Scharffen Berger 70% cacao bittersweet dark chocolate/ potato starch/ extra large eggs. Measured exact weight of dry ingredients.
Alas! Baking.
The final result, though, was worthy of further trial & error!!
I recommend serving this with red berries & a dollop of whipped cream or tiny ball of vanilla ice cream. And a snifter of cognac...


Potato starch is usually found in the gluten-free baking section, which may or may not be included in a general gluten-free section, or within the regular baking aisle. Many health food stores also carry it.


I’m not sure if anyone else had this happen — and it didn’t really affect the end result — but the “batter” looked nothing like any other batter I’ve ever made. The beaten egg whites didn’t lighten the chocolate/egg yolk/sugar/butter mixture in the same way I’d experienced with other flourless cakes. In fact, it looked like so odd and un-uniform that I didn’t have high hopes for the cake at all. It cooked in the 18 allotted minutes and after resting 2 hours it was fine!


I have always used a 9 inch springform pan without parchment.

corinne mauri

I am surprised not to see a recipe for the torta Caprese , well known in southern part of Italy. uses ground almond meal and chocolate , eggs, butter, sugar.

italian flourless chocolate cake

I doubled the recipe using a 9” springform pan. Baked for about 25 minutes. Cracks should form on top and internal temp about 150 degrees. Served with homemade whipped cream. Big hit!


Potato starch is available at Japanese grocery stores in California.


Used a 6 inch pan instead of an 8 inch pan. Halved the recipe, still. Asked for 18 minutes. Came out perfect, not crumbly at all and fully cooked. Served with whole cream and sliced strawberries, and was eaten by two people in one sitting :)

C Cramer

This has become by far the most frequent dessert in my house and is a pleasure to make. I use a tart pan and have no problem at all. I use tapioca starch instead of potato (fodmap diet) and it’s lovely. Enjoy!


Isn't potato starch considered low FODMAP? I have the Monash University app and up to 3/4 of potato starch shouldn't cause any issues.


Is this cake supposed to be only about 1/2” high?!!

Laura Thake

Disappointed. Supposed to bring this cake to a party, with as tiny as it is, shrinking from the sides of an 8" pan, it doesn't look like much, and I'm back to the recipe lists for something else. My husband will eat it, no doubt, but the time and ingredients are frustrating.


can i leave it out of the refrigerator overnight?


Why doesn't the NYT correct this recipe, "You might also find using a spring-form pan will make it easier to present this cake?" I like to serve new dishes so I switched from my usual and loved flourless chocolate cake for Passover to this one. I had saved the recipe from when it first appeared in the NYT newspaper in 2016. I had a lot of trouble getting the cake out of the pan even with the buttered parchment paper. We liked the cake, but spring-form is what I'll use next time.


I was short on chocolate chips, so I used some cocoa powder and a bit of half and half as well, which worked fine. Next time I’ll add some chili powder, cinnamon and cayenne for a bit of a kick to cut through the dense sweetness. Delicious cake though, and excellent texture.

Michelle S

This was marvelous! If you think flourless chocolate cake is too much like a pudding this cake is for you. Two things to note. The first is that the baking time took quite a bit longer than in the instructions. My husband is a baker, so our oven is calibrated. Give it at least 25 minutes and then start checking. Second, I used an 8 inch Daddio’s cake pan with parchment paper in the bottom and it came out of the pan perfectly. I did use a good amount of butter to oil the pan. Making again!

MJ Lee

This was my first attempt at flourless cake, and it was disappointing. As others have pointed out, this cake crumbles when you cut into it. Eating crumbs is not much fun. For me, the cake was not sweet enough, and even pairing it with vanilla bean ice cream couldn’t rescue it from the blahs. Also, so much butter left an oily taste on my tongue.


Delicious (coming from a chocoholic household :)). Followed the recipe with very tiny changes : used the same amount of arrowroot in lieu of potato starch, added a Tsp of amber rum and tiny amount of Nescafe (coffee opens up chocolate aroma). Baked for 20 minutes. Oh and I did not have super fine sugar so used confectioner's sugar in both the cake and egg-white. Decorated it with fresh raspberries. The cake is best eaten the same day. And yes, the quality of the chocolate is paramount!!


I serve it with homemade whip cream flavored with amoretto.


I have a question about the butter measurement, is it 7 tbsp or 100 grams because those are not equal? Thank you!

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Italian Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe (2024)


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