“Lighter than Air” Chocolate Cake

My sister brought this naturally gluten-free cake (no flour) over yesterday to cheer me up. She joked that she brought me a “lighter than air” chocolate cake in hopes that I would feel lighter than air instead of nine months pregnant. HILARIOUS. It is an awesome recipe and it did make me feel better! I will be making this cake for years to come because it was that good!

lighter than air chocolate “Lighter than Air” Chocolate Cake


For cake layers:
12 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
6 tablespoons water
12 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 1/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder

For filling:

2 cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons confectioners sugar, sifted
4 tablespoons Grand Marnier*

* My sister substituted 4 tablespoons cocoa and 1 teaspoon vanilla since she did not have the Grand Marnier with excellent results!

lighter than air chocolate2 “Lighter than Air” Chocolate Cake


To Make cake layers: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease four 9-inch circular cake pans and line bottoms of circles with a piece of parchment paper.

Melt chocolate with water in a small heavy saucepan over very low heat, stirring. Cool to lukewarm.

In your stand mixer, beat yolks, 2/3 cup sugar, and salt until thick and pale for about 5 minutes.  Stir in melted chocolate until combined.  In a separate HUGE bowl, beat 12 egg whites until they hold stiff peaks (clean your beaters).  I use hand held mixer with a very large stainless steel bowl for this-

Add remaining sugar and beat until whites just hold stiff peaks. Fold one third of whites into melted-chocolate mixture, then fold in remaining whites carefully.

Spread batter evenly over four baking pans.   Bake until the cake has puffed and the top is dry to the touch, maybe 16 minutes.  I rotated my cake pans once to ensure they cooked evenly.  Once the cake is done, cool the cake pans on cooling racks for about 10 minutes.

If you wish, sift cocoa powder over top of cake layers.  Then place a piece of waxed paper over the top of the cake pans. Place a cookie sheet over paper and invert cake onto it, gently peeling off wax paper lining. For best results, place all of the layers in the freezer for at least 2 hours or until they are firm enough to be carefully lifted without breaking.

In order to make the filling:  In a clean large bowl, beat cream with powdered sugar and Grand Marnier (or cocoa powder)  until it just holds stiff peaks.

To assemble the cake:

Bring first cake layer out of the freezer (leave the others in the freezer until you are ready for them) and arrange on your cake plate, cocoa side down. Spread 1/4  of filling evenly over the cake layer. Bring the next cake layer out of the freezer, placing it gently over the filling, again cocoa side down. Repeat until the cake is assembled!

Keep cake in the refrigerator until serving time.  The cake layers should thaw after about 2-3 hours of being in the refrigerator and the cake will be ready to serve.

Dark chocolate grated into curls with a vegetable peeler makes for an excellent garnish. OR writing out the word ‘BABY’ with gluten-free chocolate chips is awesome too.

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32 Responses to ““Lighter than Air” Chocolate Cake”

  1. That looks incredible. Great for company, or dinner party. Thank you for sharing!

  2. What a great sister! This recipe and and the ginger cake over at Something in Season are tempting me to experiment with GF cakes. For some reason, I had just assumed they wouldn’t work. I’ll have to start baking some more =)

    I remember well how sooo long those last days are, when all you want is to see your new baby. Hang it there – we’re thinking of you.

  3. I really want some more of this cake. Ben ate the piece I brought home. I should have brought one for me too.
    All I want for breakfast this week is chocolate cake.

  4. Oh and I will forever be calling this cake Baby Cake.
    That is how I’m naming it in my cookbook. =)

  5. She is a great sister! Thanks for letting me share this great recipe, Caroline!

  6. This looks fabulous. I wonder if halving the recipe for 4 4 1/2″ diameter cakes would work and then halving the filling too… thoughts? Or else just halving the filling and making 2 of the 4 layers. Thanks for the recipe!

  7. Natalie, Natalie, Natalie. Do you mean to tell me that your SISTER made that cake! WOW…it looks like it came from a fancy schmancy bake shop! It does look like it was amazingly yummy. I’m impatiently waiting for a special occasion to make that cake! Hoping it made you feel lighter than air. Of course, having that baby would make you feel lighter than air….but I guess that’s beside the point! LOL :D

  8. I love this cake! Perfect for those long days at the end of a pregnancy, when all you want is to be holding the darling.
    I hope all goes well with the birth and look forward to all your posts. I love sorghum flour too. I found early on in my gluten free life that any whole grain flour helped my life far more than the white high glycemic index flour of typical gluten free life.
    Jean Layton- GF momma

  9. Ahh, pregnancy and cake. Yum. I almost want to get pregnant again just for the guilt-free indulgence! :) Enjoy – and I’m looking forward to hearing about the baby. Take good care of yourself!

  10. I tried this cake this past weekend. I took it on my scrapbooking retreat. Everyone loved it. Some tried it out of curiosity…wanting to know what GF cake tasted like. They had a second piece. Thanks for sharing.

  11. I couldn’t figure out where the cocoa powder for the layers was to go, so I added it to the yolk mixture.

    This was a perfect summer treat for the 110 degree heat. I made this for my sister and her family tonight. Even after being stuffed from a good dinner, and many groans of chocolate cake, everyone ate their slice of cake.

    I don’t expect the leftovers to last long.

  12. I have just recently been diagnosed and this is JUST what i needed. I am celebrating my one year anniversary and wanted something sweet to make for my sweety. This was perfect. Next time i think i may add some fresh fruit for an added twist.


  13. I just dusted the cocoa powder over the top of the cooked cake layers before I transfered them at the end…probably could just omit it.

  14. My Mom made this cake for my 21st birthday and it was wonderful!!! Thanks for the recipe!

  15. I made this cake while recovering from a clogged milk duct. It was all I hoped it would be:rich, creamy, chocolatey. I couldn’t eat much of it in one sitting, but my kids devoured it. Thanks Caroline and Natalie for sharing.

  16. [...] duct. (Too much information perhaps, but bear with me, it gets better, I promise.) This cake from Gluten-Free Mommy, seemed just the thing to brighten my mood. Natalie says her sister, Caroline, brought her this [...]

  17. Just had to say your cake picture pops up on page 2 when you do a google image search for “chocolate.” Congrats!

  18. This is such an amazing recipe – thanks for sharing! (My pleasure linking to it – thanks for your sweet comment too.) Great blog Natalie :-)


  19. [...] to Gluten Free Gobsmacked’s Gluten Free BBQ event.  I think I will also bring my favorite gluten free chocolate cake to this virtual BBQ because it looks like everyone’s coming!  If you have a favorite gluten [...]

  20. I’ll try this when I get better with cooking!

  21. [...] with a homemade gluten free birthday cake at home today. (I have to beat last year’s hit, Lighter than Air Chocolate Cake, made by my sister, Caroline.) He had his very festive pirate birthday party (complete with [...]

  22. Hi I was just wondering…how would I veganize the recipe? it looks sooo good…

  23. [...] Smitten Kitchen posted a version that is layered rather than rolls, which is such a smart idea. Gluten Free Mommy has a picture of this cake that looks amazingly like a regular chocolate layer [...]

  24. My daughter made this cake from your recipe and it is THE BEST we have ever tasted (GF or non GF!)

    Thank you so much for this site. Here in the UK we find GF selections very limited or very expensive.

    But this cake…. oh, this cake…. my diet has gone to hell in a handcart! I am going to link to your site over on my blog if I may?

    Once again, many thanks for such a brilliant site!

  25. this looks so heavenly! i’m going to make it this weekend for a dinner party i’m hosting. i’ve recently been diagnosed with celiac AND i’m pregnant – i have a feeling i’m going to be making this cake a lot in the near future. thanks so much for sharing the recipe!!

  26. Lovely pictures!!
    And of course lovely cake too!!!!!!!

  27. [...] on the agenda was a Flourless Chocolate Cake from Gluten Free Mommy (http://glutenfreemommy.com/lighter-than-air-chocolate-cake/). Followed it almost to a tee. Didn’t have 4 cake pans lying around my house so I thought [...]

  28. One of the best cakes I have ever made. I have been gluten free and a chef/baker for over 15 years and this cake is now my favorite. I changed the inside mousse with some instant coffee and cover it with melted chocolate glaze. I really love your site and have tried tons of your recipes. Thank you for sharing all your amazing thoughts and creations. I am now a gluten free mommy too.

  29. OMGosh!!! I made this cake today and it was awesome… Thank you so much…

  30. [...] “Lighter Than Air” GF Chocolate Cake Posted: March 22, 2011 | Author: Sarah | Filed under: Gluten-Free, Simple Recipes | Tags: "Lighter Than Air" Chocolate Cake, flourless torte | Leave a comment » I stumbled upon this photograph today while looking for examples of gluten free chocolate cake.  This “Lighter Than Air” Chocolate Cake seems to be a flourless torte.  It looks entirely delicious and I wish it was currently in my kitchen.  Perhaps I’ll try to make it later.  The recipe is here. [...]

  31. This looks delicious! I am getting prepared to put my 2 yr old son on a gfcf diet. Can I use something other than heavy cream for the frosting?? I need something casein free. Thanks! :)

  32. I too am wondering about the 2 TBSP of cocoa powdered mentioned in the recipe. Was that for dusting or for the cake itself?

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