This sublime French flourless chocolate cake, also known as La Bete Noire or Black Beast, is dark, decadent and out of this world delicious.

This easily could be the Best Chocolate Cake Recipe in my repertoire. I’ve been making it for nearly 2 decades and it’s never failed to get rave reviews and recipe requests. When you need the ultimate chocolate dessert guaranteed to impress, THIS Flourless Chocolate Cake is it!!!

A rich, decadent slice of La Bete Noire

Why You Should Make this Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe

  • This is my absolute favorite flourless chocolate cake recipe.
  • It’s my go-to dessert recipe for special company!
  • When friends ask for a tried and true dessert for entertaining, this is the recipe I share.
  • Chocoholics will love the double dose of chocolate: the cake and the ganache topping.

Unlike the others (and, yes, I’ve shared a lot of flourless chocolate cakes), this one starts with a hot simple syrup which is incorporated into the melted butter and sugar before the eggs are added. La Bete Noire is truly exquisite, smooth, creamy and perfect for any chocoholic.

Decadent Chocolate Desserts are the ultimate way to end a dinner party, celebrate Valentine’s Day, or any special holiday! Serve a wedge of this la bete noire with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream, chocolate shavings, berries or all three. Bookmark or pin THIS rich and dreamy flourless chocolate cake for your next, impossible to ignore, chocolate craving!

The Black Beast on a white cake stand

Frequently Asked Questions

I served this at a bridal shower I helped host last month. A chocolate dessert was a must! The bride-to-be wasn’t shy about sharing her life goals when she was in elementary school. Her dreams were to be a chocolate taste tester or the president of the United States. Turns out she’s neither, yet, but a talented, gracious young woman establishing her career as an attorney.

With her affection for chocolate in mind, I turned to my absolute favorite flourless chocolate cake or la bete noire for our brunch grand finale. It’s definitely perfect for a special occasion dessert!

Why is Sugar Syrup Used in This Recipe?

It gives the cake a wonderful custard-type texture.

Why is a Water Bath Needed to Make a Bete Noire?

The steam that a water bath produces in the oven keeps the cake extra moist. It also helps stabilize the baking temperature and allows for gentle baking.

How Should You Serve a Slice of this Black Beast?

It should chill for at least 4 hours so the cake is well set before serving time. But it needs to come out of the refrigerator about 2 hours before serving to enhance its silkiness.

Serve a slice of any super-rich dessert with a dollop of whipped cream and berries. The light, creaminess of the cream is a nice contrast to the dense chocolate cake.

How Should You Slice this Flourless Cake?

For a clean slice, use a hot knife. I like to dip my very sharp knife in very hot water, then dry it off to slice. Wipe it clean, and repeat dipping and drying as needed.

Can Bittersweet Chocolate Be Used Instead of Semisweet Chocolate?

Yes, these two types of chocolate are almost always interchangeable. If you love dark chocolate desserts, try bittersweet chocolate in this recipe.

Overhead shot of a slice of La Bete Noire on a white plate

Tips for Making La Bete Noire

The name, la bete noire, is French for “the black beast,” but in 1844 this phrase meant an insufferable person, adversary, devil, or enemy, not a chocolate cake. Nowadays, you’ll see this phrase on dessert menus, referring to a rich, dense flourless chocolate cake. Beastly delicious, I’d say!

  • Different from most other flourless chocolate cakes, this bete noire incorporates a simple sugar syrup as a sweetener.  Sugar and water is simmered until the sugar dissolves; it’s as easy as that!
  • PRO-Tip: If you’re careful, it’s super easy to use the microwave to gently melt the chocolate mixtures. It’s safest to decrease the power to 50% or just use 30, then 15-second intervals, stopping and stirring to avoid overheating the chocolate. Plus, it’s OK to stop when there are just a few teeny pieces of unmelted chocolate in the bowl. Let the residual heat finish the melting process instead of risking overcooking and ruining the chocolate.
  • La bete noire, like most of my cheesecakes, is baked in a water bath. This helps the cake to bake at an even temperature and the added humidity keeps the cake moist. PRO-Tip: Make sure to wrap the exterior of the pan well with foil to prevent any water from seeping in from the water bath into the springform pan.
  • Cool the cake completely before adding the ganache, then refrigerate 2 hours or longer before serving.
  • Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and berries or use a vegetable peeler and a chocolate bar to make shavings. A little more chocolate never hurts, either! Bon appetit!

Ingredient Notes:

Check your pantry and refrigerator for these staples: Sugar, Butter, Eggs. Plus you may need to purchase:

  • Semisweet Chocolate – I prefer using bars of chocolate instead of chocolate chips. The quality is better. I keep a stash of Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate bars on hand.
  • Heavy Cream – with 36-40% fat, it gives a delicious richness to desserts and is perfect when sweetened and whipped to garnish.
  • Whipped Cream, Shaved Chocolate, and/or Berries to garnish

Helpful Tools:

More Amazing Chocolate Desserts:

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This post was first shared in July 2010. Text was updated in 2021.

The Black Beast | The BEST flourless chocolate cake--pure bliss

La Bete Noire AKA The Black Beast

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Yield 12

A dense, luscious flourless chocolate cake adapted from Bon Appetit.

Ingredients

For cake:

  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) butter, diced
  • 18 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 6 eggs

Ganache:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

Garnishes:

  • Sweetened whipped cream, shaved chocolate and/or fresh berries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 10-inch springform pan. Line bottom of the pan with a parchment round; butter parchment. Wrap 3 layers of heavy-duty foil around the outside of the pan, bringing it up to the top of the rim. Combine 1 cup of water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Stir till sugar dissolves, then simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Gently melt the 9 tablespoons of butter and the 18 ounces of chocolate in the microwave. Whisk till smooth. Whisk sugar syrup into chocolate, and cool slightly. Add eggs to chocolate mixture and whisk till well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place cake pan in a large roasting pan. Add enough hot water to roasting pan to come halfway up sides of cake pan.
  3. Bake cake until the center is just set about 50 minutes. Remove from water bath; transfer to rack. Cool completely in pan.

For ganache:

  1. Heat cream in microwave till hot. Remove and add chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Pour over top of cake while still in the pan. Gently shake pan to distribute ganache evenly over top of cake. Refrigerate cake in pan until ganache is set, about 2 hours.
  2. Carefully run a knife around pan sides to loosen cake; release sides. Serve wedges with sweetened whipped cream and fresh berries or shaved chocolate.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 342Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 87mgSodium: 37mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 3gSugar: 36gProtein: 5g

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