February 11, 2020

Flourless Chocolate Meringue Cake

A rich, flourless chocolate cake, topped with a heaped chocolate meringue that's crispy on top, and marshmallowy in the center.

4.91 from 30 votes
Yield: 8
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flourless meringue cake


I have had what I like to call a cake crush, on this double chocolate meringue cake by Donna Hay for quite awhile. How could I not? Let’s set aside the obvious allure of chocolate in two forms. The cake sucked me in because of that absolutely gorgeous, cocoa-based, crackly top. Part crunchy, part marshmallow cake topping? Yeah, I want that. I made Donna’s cake and it’s great; I made it into cupcakes too! But ultimately, I wanted to take the idea and go in a different direction.


Chocolate Swirled Meringue Cookies (or Mini Pavlovas)

Around Christmas, I always find myself making meringue cookies which I like to swirl with either melted dark chocolate or a chocolate hazelnut spread. I brought them to one of my daughter’s teachers for Christmas once and she told me her mom made them (sans swirl) and called them sleeping cookies; fitting because they spend the night in the oven!

If I’m making them for guests or for us to have at home, I make them in cupcake form because they dome nicely and the inside has large gaps to stuff in berries and whipped cream. See below!



Flourless Chocolate Cake for a Flourless Topping

So for this cake, here’s what I did: I went for a flourless chocolate base, it was lighter, more flavorful and a dead simple recipe. Plus, it’s gluten-free which makes sense with a meringue, a dessert that is already food-restriction inclusive. And instead of cocoa, I melt some chocolate and swirl it into the top. If you follow me on insta, you’ve seen that his is what I do with my mini-pavlovas (pics up top) and since you’re only need to do a gentle, barely-stir for these, there’s less risk of deflating the meringue anddd it adds more chocolate! Huzzah!




Twice Baked Chocolate Meringue Cake

So here you have it; a flourless chocolate cake which uses dutch process cocoa for a rich chocolate taste. On top of it sits a meringue which is also chocolatey and delicious, but it’s FLOOFINESS (is this a word?) is not compromised. It’s crispy on top, and marshmallow-chewy in the center (take a good look at that slice!). You’ll make a giant silky white meringue, streak it with melted chocolate and dollop it on top. It looks gorgeous like this but when you bake it, it expands and cracks and gets this gorgeous rustic look. This is definitely going to be the cake I bring to events for the awe factor, I hope it will be yours too!


Notes on making Flourless Chocolate Meringue Cake

  • This is a twice baked cake; so you’ll make the cake part and while it is baking, you’ll make the meringue. When the cake is semi-baked, you’ll remove it and while it is still warm, you’ll dollop the meringue on top and return it to the oven.
  • Keep watch of your meringue while it whips. The egg whites will start out foamy and liquidy and gradually get thicker. Add the sugar in a steady stream and then let it keep whipping. It should take about 10 minutes but don’t be so confident to walk away from it. Lift the mixer and check the consistency by turning the whisk upside down – does it hold its shape? It’s done. If it flops, keep whipping.
  • I baked my cake in this standard aluminum pie pan. I think this cake would also do fine in a 8” cake pan. If you use a pie pan that is glass or ceramic baking temperatures can vary, because of the way different materials conduct heat. Since this cake bakes twice at two different temperatures, I’d definitely advocate for aluminum.
  • The cake recipe here is adapted from KAF’s flourless chocolate cake. Essentially, I make two thirds of the cake but with a bit more cocoa. For the meringue, I keep Hay’s sugar/egg white ratio but I omit the cocoa which I traded for melted chocolate.

Recipe for Flourless Chocolate Meringue Cake


Flourless Chocolate Meringue cake

Fudgy flourless chocolate cake with a pavlova topping.
flourless meringue cake
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Yields: 8
4.91 from 30 votes


Flourless Chocolate Cake:

  • cup dark chocolate chopped, 90g
  • cup butter unsalted, 73g
  • ½ cup granulated sugar 100g
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 1/3 cup dutch process cocoa sifted if lumpy, 35g

Chocolate Swirled Meringue:

  • 3 egg whites
  • cup granulated sugar 130g
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • cup dark chocolate chopped 43g


  • Preheat oven to 325. Butter and line an 8 or 9" round pan with parchment paper.
  • In a bowl, melt together butter and chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds. When the wafers are almost all melted, remove from heat and stir until mixture is smooth.
  • Whisk in the sugar, salt and vanilla.
  • Add the eggs and whisk until smooth. Add the cocoa and mix.
  • Pour batter into prepared pie pan and bake for 18 minutes.
  • When you have about 10 minutes left on the baking time for the cake, begin whipping the egg whites in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer. When whites are frothy, add the sugar in a slow and steady stream.
  • Turn mixer to high, add the salt and vanilla. Let it whisk until thick and glossy and you have stiff peaks, toward the end add the vinegar and cornstarch.
  • Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between every 30 seconds. While the chocolate is still melty but cool, pour it into one side of the meringue, with a spatula, fold it in in 3-4 big folds, leaving big streaks of chocolate.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and raise oven temperature to 350 F.
  • Gently dollop the meringue onto the cake. If you need to spread it a bit, do so very cautiously so as not to overmix the chocolate. Return cake to oven and bake for another 20 minutes.
  • Let cool and serve at room temperature.

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Recipe Reviews

  1. This recipe was a disaster for me. I have made it 2x. Both times the cake part was an ooey gooey mess with some liquid oozing out of it. There was no way of getting it off the parchment paper and onto a plate and then when cutting it and serving it in pieces was unmanagable. I was so embarrassed in front of my friends. I have a “Dessert Queen” reputation to keep up and this blew it!

  2. I made this recipe as cupcakes, both as mini and full size but they were a bit dry (but not burnt)
    What is the cooking time for cupcakes? Should it be shorter. I couldn’t find it anywhere on the page.

  3. I’m so excited to try this today. Thoughts on using black dutched cocoa if it’s all I have on hand?

  4. 5 stars
    I’ve made this recipe 5 or 6 times now for various parties and people love it every time. It’s so incredibly good!

  5. 5 stars
    Mine looked fully baked through when I took it out to put the meringue on and yet somehow it still was delicious after the second bake. My guests loved it so this is a keeper!

  6. 5 stars
    I’ve been eyeing your recipes for a year or so but haven’t gotten around to trying any until today. It’s my husbands birthday so I decided to whip this up as a surprise to him. I was a bit nervous because I’ve made flourless chocolate cake before and it was so BITTER (I think it was the cocoa powder I used; I used Ghirardelli brand dutch processed this time). It also used beaten egg whites and it just ended up collapsing on me and being very dense.

    This, however, was spectacular. It’s dense but in a brownie sort of way. It was not bitter, and it was so easy to whip up quickly. I love the fudginess of the cake and the marshmallowy-ness of the meringue. Such perfectly complimentary textures and flavors. My husband and I loved this cake and I’ll be making it again for sure.

  7. 5 stars
    Just made this and it’s out of the oven and looks amazing. Of course, I don’t know yet if it’s any good but it looks and smells amazing. Too bad I can’t share photos with you!

  8. Will it be possible to make this recipe in a cupcake form? Are there any changes in the recipe that need to be made?

  9. 5 stars
    Ooooh boy was this yummy! Everyone who tried it really enjoyed the flavor and texture combination, plus it looks so pretty and impressive. Thin slices as it is rich…might add a hot fudge or salted caramel drizzle on the bottom next time when serving. There will be a next time!
    A few tweaks below:
    *added a dash of espresso powder after chocolate and butter were melted to bring out chocolate flavor
    *used 1/4tsp cream of tartar with egg whites before whipping instead of vinegar & cornstarch (I didn’t have any vinegar)
    *used a 6” round pan that was 3” high and dolloped the extra meringue into cupcake liners and baked them off (those cupcake ones were very good too!)
    *took an extra 10-15 minutes after topping as my meringue was thick.

  10. Which dark chocolate do you typically use? Any certain brand or percentage of cocoa and do you use a bar? Sorry for all the questions, but I have been looking at this recipe for a while and I am ready to give it a try for Christmas.

  11. Hi there! This looks amazing. How do you serve it with the paper clipped to the sides? Can you lift it out of the cake pan and slide it onto a cake plate? Do you trim the paper? How do you get slices out with the tall 8″ sides? Thanks for any tips!

    • You’d take off the clips once it cooled down (they might lift a bit of the meringue off but it will be tiny bits only). Then you lift the cake out by pulling the parchment paper up and out of the pan. You can use an offset spatula to loosen the bottom from the parchment then transfer it to a plate. Hope that helps!

  12. Since the original KAF recipe calls for an 8-inch cake pan, could this recipe be made in a 6-inch cake pan? It looks wonderful, and I’d like to make it tomorrow for a birthday. Thanks!

    • Hi Kate! There won’t be enough room for both layers in a six inch; the reason I used less than that full recipe but kept the 8″ pan is because we have the thick layer of meringue on top.

  13. This was delicious! However my meringue top deflated and crumbled in as it cooled after baking…did I do something wrong? The very center was marshmallowy but the edges were very dry and flaky. Did I overmix the chocolate into the meringue to cause this?

    • It usually deflates once it’s pulled out of the oven, from the texture description I think you got it spot on: it should be crispy at the edges and like a marshmallow in the center.

  14. 5 stars
    Very delicious! Found this recipe not too long ago and couldn’t hold out on making it for too long. I used plain chocolate chips so I’m sure it would be even better with dark chocolate! It was easier than I thought as well. Thanks for sharing this!

  15. 5 stars
    WOW this was such an incredible and simple recipe, and the chocolate swirled in the meringue looked so fancy. Got loads of compliments on it when I brought it to a gathering yesterday – thank you Sam!!!

  16. 5 stars
    Phenomenal!! Love how this recipe turned out. It stayed good for a couple days, too. Huge Buttermilk by Sam fan here.

  17. 5 stars
    This recipe looks fabulous! I’d love to make it, but cannot have dairy. Can the butter in the cake be replaced with coconut oil, or non-dairy butter?

  18. 5 stars
    This was really good – easy to put together and looked really fancy. I will say to use dark chocolate. I just had semi-sweet and it was a bit too sweet for my taste. If I make it again, I’d look for 70% cocoa or higher.

  19. 5 stars
    I made this a year ago for my chocolate-loving girlfriend’s birthday. I was in a pinch as my original cake plan fell through AND this website was down, but I DMed Sam on Instagram and within 15 minutes she had sent me a link to this recipe. It was beautiful as well as DIVINE, and received high ratings from our farm coworkers after cake time at lunch. Will be making again!

  20. Hi Sam, this looks delicious! I just want to clarify – does the cake itself use 3 whole eggs, or just the yolks? Based on the written recipe I would have assumed whole eggs, I’m just a little confused after reading one of the comments that made it sound like you’re supposed to use the yolks for the cake and the whites for the meringue. Thanks!

    • Stefan, it’s as written: the cake uses two whole eggs, the meringue uses three egg whites. You’ll have 3 leftover egg yolks from the meringue (make my egg yolk cookies!)

  21. Hi, I’m going to try and make this beautiful looking cake I live in Australia and am assuming this is an American recipe and therefore uses American measurements. Also, do you think you could make this cake in a springform cake tin?

    Kind regards

  22. 5 stars
    I made a half recipe of this and it was perfect. The chocolate swirl in the meringue gave it fantastic flavor and it had a nice crunch on the outer shell. The cake layer was rich and chocolatey without being too sweet or heavy. I see this being made often in our future.

  23. LOVE this recipe and the incredible photography. If my execution is half as good, I’ll be content. I’m looking at making the recipe to night. I have all of the ingredients except for the dutch process cocoa. Can I sub out regular cocoa powder?

  24. Hi Sam- I just found your website and I am in love. I want to make this cake for Passover- two days from now. My schedule is pretty busy for the actual day. . .have you had any success in making this in advance? If it is only good on the day of, and I make it early in the morning, how would you recommend storing it throughout the day so that the meringue top does not get damp? Thank you! I can’t wait to try some of your other recipes!

    • Hi Jacklyn, happy you found me! I think it probably tastes best warm and have not made it in advance. The earliest would be the morning of, I think it keeps okay at room temperature in an airtight container.

      • Thanks for such a quick reply! I have already shared your site with a few friends. I hope you have a great day!

  25. Just made this recipe, haven’t even tried it yet as it’s still cooling, but the cake bubbled out the sides and the top cracked all over. Is this normal or is the cake shot?

      • Thanks for the quick reply! It was an 8″ pan, probably 2-3″ tall. The top cracked while cooking then when it cooled the top flattened out completely. It tasted fantastic but I must have done something wrong with the meringue, even though it looked perfect when I put it in the oven 🙁

  26. 5 stars
    This cake was phenomenal Not only can I not wait to make it again, it’s definitely made me thinks of a hundred other ways I can use this technique!

  27. 5 stars
    This is seriously maybe my favorite dessert to make now. I’ve made it probably three times and love it every single time. It’s a hit for guests if you’re not sure what to make! So easy!

  28. This looks amazing!!! Thinking about making this over the weekend and topping with berries or a drizzle of berry sauceb or cream- would that weigh the cake down too much in your opinion? Thanks for such an amazing recipe- looking forward to making it!

  29. 5 stars
    This recipe was the best discovery! So easy. So delicious. So pretty. I’ve made it twice and both times everyone wanted the recipe.

        • Hi Ally! I am thinking that because there’s no leavening you might not need to make adjustments to the ingredients. The oven temperature/time might need adjustment, if you usually adjust for cakes by raising the temperature by 10 degrees F I’d do it here too. And I would look for doneness by eye – if the meringue is firm to the touch and dry outside it’s done.

  30. This looks delicious! Would it be possible to make without the sugar or with a different sweetener?

  31. Hi again! So, the second time I made this wonderful recipe, the meringue didn’t set up. But I was afraid that if I were to leave it in the oven any longer, the fudgy, rich flourless base might dry out—so I removed it from the oven with the meringue undercooked. Now, my guess is that either I didn’t beat the eggs stiff enough, or I over-spread when I dolloped it on the cake, OR that we ate it too fast straight out of the oven and didn’t give it time to further set, lol. Or all three of those things. If this were to happen again, do you think I’d be okay leaving it in the oven a bit longer to crisp up the topping a bit or is it certain to dry out if I were to do that? Thank you!

    • Hi Chemin! I think that it should definitely feel crunchy on top right when you take it out of the oven (a light touch and it should feel firm). The inside might need to take a bit of time to set. If by ‘overspread’ you mean made it a thinner layer on top this shouldn’t have affected it either, if you mean you over-mixed the chocolate in it this could be an issue as perhaps the added liquid in the chocolate affected the drying out process. It’s definitely possible the egg whites weren’t beat enough though and that would be my guess. And I think you can leave it in the oven a bit longer without it compromising the bottom too much.

  32. Hi! This looks amazing! Can you tell me what thre baking times would be if you do cupcakes?

  33. 5 stars
    This recipe was perfection. My husband who’s not even a chocolate lover (…I know) said it was the best thing I’ve ever made and asked when I can make it again. Between the two of us, we devoured the entire thing as soon as it cooled. Honestly, I’m proud of our restraint! A spectacular recipe that really wows. Thank you for sharing!!

  34. I’ve been wanting to make this for sometime now but keep putting it off. I think it’s time lol. Would I be able to make this cake recipe into cupcakes? If so, How would the baking time adjust? Thanks so much! Looooove your recipes !

    • Tara, I have been thinking about this myself recently. In the post you’ll see I did that with Donna Hay’s but I definitely felt they dried out. I haven’t tried it with this meringue cake recipe but, if I did I might do ten and then another ten minutes (for a total of twenty). The goal would be to half-bake the cake and to crisp the meringue so check and touch it to see if it needs more time.

  35. 5 stars

    Just made this for Passover (I needed something with no flour and I had extra egg whites) and it was delicious! I was a bit worried about the cake being undercooked but it ended up fudgy and chocolaty. I highly recommend.

  36. Hi this looks fantastic and would love to make it. I’m in Australia and not sure what dark chocolate wafers are. Are the cookies?? Thankyou

    • 5 stars
      Hi, the cake turned out so goood, I don’t want to share. Want to wholeheartedly thank those strangers with great recipes who make our days chocolatey

    • Lisa, thank you so much! The wafers are small disks of chocolate. Guittard makes some good ones but I don’t know if they sell them in Australia. In any case, a bar of dark chocolate chopped will also do. Excited for you to make it!

      • I cannot wait to try this. 2 questions – how do you think pasteurized egg white (in a carton) would do? And do you see any issues with halving the recipe and baking in a smaller pan?

        • Well since you need the yolks for the cake too, might be best to use whole eggs? I don’t know how the carton ones work, I have heard they don’t whip up as well. And yes, you can halve it and bake it in a 6″ pan, bake time will be less.