While tagging along on my mom’s business trip with her coworker, the two of them invited me to join them for dinner the first night. We headed down to the casual restaurant adjacent to the hotel lobby, and the hostess immediately seated us at a table on the patio.
After we finished our entrées, the waiter stopped by and, with a small menu in his hand and a twinkle in his eye, asked if he could tempt us with dessert. We momentarily glanced at each other, grinned, and enthusiastically nodded our heads in unison. He chuckled as he set down the placard.
Minutes later, three spoons and a white plate appeared on our table. The flourless chocolate cake sat in the center, surrounded by fresh raspberries, large droplets of raspberry coulis, and a small scoop of house-made vanilla bean ice cream.
We took turns gently carving out bites, the rich and dense dessert melting on our tongues, yet just halfway through, the other two ladies laid their spoons back on the table and proclaimed themselves done. My eyes widened as I looked at them.
“Are you sure?” I asked. “You mean it? You’re positive you don’t want any more?”
When they both reassured me they were full, I tried really hard not to wiggle in my seat. I may have failed… Because my stomach and brain were both dancing in excitement — the second half of that decadent dessert was all mine!
After returning home from that trip, I scribbled down a note to myself to try recreating a healthier, lightened-up version. It took quite a few tries, but the result was completely worth the wait. This ultimate healthy flourless chocolate cake tastes even better than the one we ate that night — and it’s shockingly simple to make!
QUICK OVERVIEW – HEALTHY FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE
Difficulty: Easy, including for many beginner bakers.
Taste: Very rich and decadent with a deep, strong, bold chocolate flavor — similar to 70-75% dark chocolate.
Texture: Incredibly moist, smooth, and dense with a fudge-like consistency.
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE A HEALTHY FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE
Let’s talk about what you’ll need to make this ultimate healthy flourless chocolate cake. Although it tastes just like classic recipes, the ingredients to make this lightened-up version are a bit unconventional — other than salt and vanilla, that is! — but there’s still a very good chance that you already have all of them.
Unsweetened applesauce. This is the secret star of your healthy flourless chocolate cake! Unsweetened applesauce adds lots of moisture and creates the perfect smooth, dense, fudge-like texture that’s so iconic of traditional flourless chocolate cakes. It also helps keep your lightened-up cake low calorie and low fat!
I’ll cover a bit more about what the applesauce replaces soon, but for now… Just remember that it’s one of the most important ingredients in this chocolate cake.
And no — you won’t taste any fruity flavors in your chocolate cake! I promise. Cross my heart and pinky swear. 😉
Sweetener. Unlike traditional recipes that call for white granulated sugar, you’ll sweeten your healthy flourless chocolate cake with coconut sugar instead. Yup, it’s exactly what it sounds like… An unrefined sweetener that comes from coconuts! However, it does not actually taste like coconuts. It has a rich, caramel-like flavor very similar to brown sugar. You can usually find coconut sugar on the baking aisle, right next to the other sugars.
Tip: If you can’t find coconut sugar, light brown sugar works equally well!
Hint: If you use coconut sugar, then your healthy flourless chocolate cake will be paleo-friendly.
Milk. Just about any type will work, so use whatever you normally keep in the fridge! That’s the beauty of this particular flourless chocolate cake recipe… It’s really easy and customizable to just about anything you already have in your kitchen. No need for a special trip to the grocery store!
Tip: I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk because that’s what my family prefers. If you do the same, or use another non-dairy milk, then your healthy flourless chocolate cake will be dairy free and vegan!
Unsweetened cocoa powder. Along with the unsweetened applesauce, this is the other key ingredient to make your ultimate healthy flourless chocolate cake. It actually provides all of the chocolate flavor!
While many traditional recipes call for chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, or a combination of cocoa powder and either of those, I wanted a cake that was quick and simple to whip up… Which meant avoiding the extra time required to melt chocolate and let it cool — or worrying about mixing the hot melted chocolate with eggs and somehow, accidentally, ending up with chocolate-streaked scrambled eggs.
Since almost all of my brownie recipes depend solely on cocoa powder for their chocolate flavor, I decided to give that a try here as well… And it worked like a charm!
However, without any other chocolate component in this cake, that means the type of cocoa powder you use matters — a lot! For the best results, use regular unsweetened cocoa powder. It’s also called “natural unsweetened cocoa powder,” and it’s light brown in color with a strong flavor. Regular unsweetened cocoa powder is slightly acidic too, with a pH between 5 and 6. (For reference, water is neutral, with a pH of 7, and lemon juice is much more acidic with a pH of about 2. I was a chemist before I became a baking blogger, so I love nerdy science tidbits like this! 😉 )
In comparison, Dutched cocoa powder (sometimes called “special dark” cocoa powder) is darker in color, but it’s also treated with something during the production process that gives it a neutral pH of around 7, just like water. This means it has a different flavor than regular unsweetened cocoa powder, one that’s typically weaker with less pronounced of a chocolate taste, and Dutched “special dark” cocoa powder also behaves differently in baking recipes because of its different pH.
Did I lose you? Too much science-speak??
In regular terms…
Dutched “special dark” cocoa powder earned its name because it has a darker color — not because it has a darker or richer flavor. It yields a different texture in baked goods and has a blander, more muted taste. It’ll actually make your flourless chocolate cake taste less rich and chocolaty — not more!
So stick with regular natural unsweetened cocoa powder for the best healthy flourless chocolate cake!
Tip: I use Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder the most because it’s affordable, easy to find in almost every store where I live, and has a great rich and strong chocolate taste.
No butter? That’s right — this flourless chocolate cake is made without butter! I alternated between using oil (because it’s just so quick and easy!) and melted stick-style vegan butter (because of family and friends’ dietary needs!).
Regardless of which option you choose, you merely need 1 scant tablespoon… Unlike traditional recipes that call for anywhere from ½ cup to 1 full cup of butter. That small amount really helps keep your healthy flourless chocolate cake low fat and low calorie!
No eggs? Yup! This healthy flourless chocolate cake is made without eggs. I initially tried using them, but I found the cake had a much better moist and fudgy texture when I opted for unsweetened applesauce instead. (It was also easier to overbake the egg version, which was a bit surprising and frustrating!)
So in this recipe, the applesauce replaces the eggs and most of the butter… Creates an extra fudgy texture… And makes your healthy flourless chocolate cake vegan and much faster to whip up! I call that a win-win-win-win. 😉
No melted chocolate? Right again! This flourless chocolate cake is made without melted chocolate — semisweet, bittersweet, or 100% unsweetened. It’s also made without chocolate chips. You just need unsweetened cocoa powder, so it’s even faster and easier to make than traditional flourless chocolate cakes!
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST HEALTHY FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE
Now that you’ve assembled your ingredients, let’s cover how to make this healthy flourless chocolate cake. It’s quick and straightforward to whip up, but I still have some tips for you to make sure you end up with the best possible taste and texture. So let’s start with…
Measure the cocoa powder correctly. Picture me waving a big, chocolate brown flag and shouting this from the rooftops… This is SO crucial — and quite possibly the most important step in making this entire chocolate cake!
Too much cocoa powder will dry out the batter and make your cake crumbly or dry, rather than moist and fudgy. It’ll also make your cake taste bitter.
So for the best flourless chocolate cake taste and texture — indulgently rich and very fudge-like — be really careful when measuring your cocoa powder. Use this method (and my special fork trick!) or a kitchen scale (← that’s the one I own!). I promise this cake is 100% worth taking just a few extra moments to measure correctly!
Sift the cocoa powder. Much of the time, cocoa powder tends to be rather lumpy and clumpy straight out of the container. For a really smooth and luxurious cake texture, sift your cocoa powder prior to using — but after measuring!
Gradually fold it in. Please… Pretty, pretty please… Promise me that you will not try using a stand mixer or hand-held mixer to make this flourless chocolate cake. Those create a mushroom cloud of cocoa powder that flies up and out of your bowl. (Trust me… You’ll be coughing and spluttering and wondering why in the world you ever thought a mixer was a good idea in the first place.)
Instead, use a spatula or a fork (my favorite trick — it’s faster and more efficient!) to gradually stir in the cocoa powder by hand. It takes more time, but it’s less messy — and it also ensures that all of the cocoa powder makes it into your cake. 😉
And yes, gradually. Not all at once! If you add the entire amount of sifted cocoa powder to the bowl at the same time, it’ll reform clumps as you fold and stir… Which then ruins the work you just did sifting it.
I know, I know. It’s not exactly the most fun thing in the world, to slowly stir in all of that beautifully sifted cocoa powder bit by bit, but I promise the luxuriously smooth and fudgy texture of your flourless chocolate cake is totally worth it in the end!
Or use the “well” method if you’re short on time. This is a shortcut — but it requires a critical eye! Instead of gradually folding in the sifted cocoa powder, you can add it to a large bowl, make a well in the center, and pour the contents of the other bowl inside. When you stir, some of the cocoa powder will begin to form small clumps, so once the batter appears ready, look closely and smear out any teensy tiny cocoa powder lumps along the side of the bowl.
Tip: It usually takes an extra two minutes or so of gentle stirring to smooth out those pinpricks of cocoa powder, so be patient and thorough!
Line the pan with foil. Wax paper turns soggy and clings like crazy (even when coated with cooking spray!), and parchment paper doesn’t like to lay flat (no matter how many times you crumple and smooth it out) and yields rough, jagged edges that make your cake resemble a sea urchin or anemone.
But foil is a winner! It’s easily pressed and smoothed into place, and it also makes it really convenient to lift your cake out of the pan when you’re ready to slice and serve it.
Bake low + slow. This is the method I use to make my brownie recipes, and it worked like a charm for this healthy flourless chocolate cake too! You’ll bake it at 300°F for a longer period of time, which means that the edges don’t turn dry, crumbly, or crispy by the time the center finishes baking all the way through, like they often do at higher temperatures. That ensures the best, fudgiest texture imaginable throughout the entire cake!
Cool, chill + be patient. This is very important too! Let your cake cool completely to room temperature on the counter, then cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Just like with cheesecake, chilling helps it set and creates the ideal moist, dense, and fudgy texture. I recommend refrigerating for at least 8 hours, but if you have the time, I found this flourless chocolate cake tasted best when chilled for 24 hours. It requires a bit of planning ahead, but the flavor and texture are truly superb!
FAQS ABOUT THE ULTIMATE HEALTHY FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE
Is this ultimate healthy flourless chocolate cake gluten free, vegan, paleo, low calorie, or clean eating?
Yes — to everything! Because it’s flourless, it’s naturally gluten free. It’s made without eggs, butter, or dairy, so it’s completely vegan as well. As written, this chocolate cake contains no refined sugar, so it’s clean eating and paleo. It’s low fat too!
Can I substitute something else for the unsweetened applesauce?
If you can’t find unsweetened applesauce, then sweetened applesauce would be the best option. I haven’t tried anything else, so I can’t vouch for the results of other alternatives.
Can I use a different milk?
You sure can! Just about any milk will work, including both regular dairy ones (fat free, low fat, etc) and non-dairy (almond, cashew, soy, etc).
What’s the best cocoa powder to use?
Regular unsweetened cocoa powder! I use Hershey’s the most. See the “unsweetened cocoa powder” header in the “Ingredients to Make a Healthy Flourless Chocolate Cake” section above for more info!
Can I use special dark cocoa powder?
I don’t recommend it. Dutched and “special dark” cocoa powder have a different acidity level, which affects the taste and texture of your flourless chocolate cake. See the “unsweetened cocoa powder” header in the “Ingredients to Make a Healthy Flourless Chocolate Cake” section above for more info!
How will I know when this flourless chocolate cake is done?
The center of your cake should look set and no longer wiggle substantially when you shake the pan. If you lightly touch the cake’s center and top edges with your finger, they should feel soft yet firm — not sticky or wet. If your cake deflates and noticeably pulls away from the sides of the pan within 10 minutes of removing it from the oven, that’s a good sign!
My cake tastes bitter, and it’s a bit dry. Why’s that?
There was probably too much cocoa powder in the batter. It’ll cause both of those issues. See the “measure the cocoa powder correctly” header in the “How to Make the Best Healthy Flourless Chocolate Cake” section above for more info!
What happens if I try to serve it before it’s chilled for 8+ hours?
Your cake won’t be as moist and fudgy, and you may notice a slight apple flavor in the background. I know it’s really hard to wait that long before slicing and serving, but it makes a big difference in both the taste and texture of this flourless chocolate cake. If you can wait 24 hours, that’s even better!
How should I store this flourless chocolate cake? And how long does it keep?
Store it in the refrigerator tightly sealed in plastic wrap (this is my favorite kind because it clings much more tightly than other brands, so it keeps baked goods fresh longer!) and foil or inside of an airtight container with plastic wrap covering the exposed edges. It should keep for at least four days, if not longer!
Ready to dig in? And when you make your own, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amyshealthybaking IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your ultimate healthy flourless chocolate cake!
The Ultimate Healthy Flourless Chocolate Cake
- Preheat the oven to 300°F. Completely line a 6”-round cake pan with foil, folding the excess over the top rim, and coat with cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the oil, vanilla, and salt. Stir in the applesauce. Stir in the coconut sugar until thoroughly combined. Stir in the milk. Very gradually and carefully stir in the sifted cocoa powder by hand. (Do not use a mixer!)
- Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Bake at 300°F for 55-65 minutes, or until the center appears set. (See Notes!) Cool completely to room temperature in the pan; then cover the cake with plastic wrap, ensuring that it fully touches the top surface of the cake, and chill for at least 8 hours (see Notes!) before lifting it out of the pan by the foil, slicing, and serving.
View Nutrition Information + Weight Watchers Points
You may also like Amy’s other recipes…
♡ The Ultimate Healthy Carrot Cake
♡ The Ultimate Healthy Chocolate Cupcakes
♡ The Ultimate Healthy Red Velvet Cupcakes
♡ The Ultimate Healthy Chocolate Truffles
♡ The Ultimate Healthy Chocolate Bundt Cake
♡ Healthy Vanilla Bean Cake
♡ Healthy Flourless Chocolate Chunk Brownie Bites
♡ Healthy Practically Flourless & Extra Fudgy Brownies
♡ …and the rest of Amy’s healthy chocolate-flavored recipes!