Fail Whale Sweetness

I love chocolate cake. I’ll shoo away a three-layer cream monster anytime for a very basic, intense chocolate cake; it took me years to find the perfect recipe. People seem to believe that chocolate cakes have to be extremely sweet, but they really don’t have to be. This recipe of mine is adapted from a recipe for small molten cakes, and I’ve done it so many times, in so many different occasions, that it has become almost a classic. I made it this weekend for a geeky birthday (which, to make a long story short, we ended up not attending), hence the decoration..

225g butter (room temperature, cut into pieces)
350g dark baking chocolate* (cut into chunks)
6 eggs (room temperature, medium-large)
90g granulated sugar**
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar***
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
some flour (50-100g)

[*Note: the chocolate should be as pure as possible - pick chocolate with at least 50-60% cocoa]
[**Note: I mostly use granulated white sugar, but if you go for brown sugar, it will give the cake a slightly more chewy texture]
[***Note: if you don't have this, you can either leave it out and beat the egg whites very stiff, or substitute it with a bit of lemon juice]


1) Preheat the oven to 200°C; butter your cake mold and put aside.

2) Melt the chocolate and butter into a bowl suspended over a saucepan of simmering water; make sure you mix it with a wooden spoon from time to time, as the butter is more like to melt faster than the chocolate. When done, put aside and let it cool completely. (This is an important step; if you are in a hurry – though you never should be when baking – you can place your bowl into a sink full of cold water.)

3) Separate the yolks from the egg whites. Place the yolks and 90g of sugar into a bowl and beat (by hand or with an electric mixer) until pale and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract and add the chocolate & butter mixture.

4) Add the flour to the chocolate mixture. I usually do it by eye – just make sure you add it in batches and possibly sieved so that no granules form in your batter.

5) Now it’s time to whip the egg whites! Start on medium speed then gradually add first the cream of tartar until soft peaks form, and then the tablespoon of sugar (both will help stabilize your egg whites). Keep whipping until stiff.

6) Add the egg whites to the chocolate batter. Do so in small batches with a spatula, folding it in without over-mixing. The batter should feel elastic and will get lighter in color.

7) Pour the batter into your prepared mold and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.


decorate it whichever way you want – I made a failwhale, just because.


  • Yeah! Thx for the posting and the recipe (: The cake looks really awesome and cute.

  • thank you! after some practice, shaping marzipan is not too difficult. and the recipe is really easy to do (you can also make it a grown-up favorite by adding some ground coffee in the chocolate…yumyum!)

  • Considering the amount of butter and chocolate in this recipe it’s a cake that definitely has to be shared with many many friends :) Since there are some birthdays to be celebrated in November I’ll make it soon & go for the coffee option!
    What size was the baking pan you used? 35x25cm-ish?

  • I used an 18x24cm pan (approx. 5cm in height), the batter was enough to also (almost) fill a 10×24 “kastenform”. I’d suggest to fill your preferred pan and use the rest of the batter for mini-cakes (in a muffin form, 10-15min). and yes you’re very right – you need lots of friends, and it’s perfect for birthdays! <3 coffee <3

  • okay, thanks! :)
    I don’t have a muffin form here (yet) – which is very sad. But my sister will probably bring one next week! No loaf pan either. What we have here is a 26 cm springform pan and a 35×25 baking pan ;) if it’s that much dough I guess it will easily fill the bigger pan anyway. yay!

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