Chocolate Earthquake Cake

My favorite historical cookbook, American Cake, describes this decadent dessert as “dense and fudgelike.” We thought it was more like a fudgelike cloud. It’s a flourless cake with lots of eggs, which means that after rising in the oven, it will fall and crack while cooling, giving rise to the name, Earthquake Cake. 

I made a couple of changes to the recipe, namely substituting for the sugar which we try to avoid. If you’re like me you’ll experiment with what works for your family, but we were very happy with the results, and I encourage you to try it as written and see what you think.


2 tsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
10 oz bittersweet chocolate, broken into 1″ pieces
1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1″ pieces
6 large eggs
1 C erythritol & monk fruit blend (I use Whole Earth brand), divided use
2 tsp Kahlua coffee liqueur (you can use brandy or rum, but the Kahlua was YUM!)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp confectioners sugar for garnish


1.  Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 F.

2.  Rub the soft butter on the bottom and sides of an 8″ springform pan.  Dust with the cocoa and set the pan aside.

3.  Place the chocolate and butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat, and stir until the chocolate melts, 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

4.  Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in a large mixing bowl and the whites in a separate large mixing bowl.  Set the whites aside.  Beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, gradually adding 3/4 cup of the sweetener as you beat.  Beat until they are pale yellow, 1 to 2 minutes.  Turn off the mixer and pour the chocolate mixture into the yolks.  Beat on low until just combined, 30 seconds.  Add the Kahlua and vanilla, and beat again on low until just combined, 10 seconds.  Set aside.

5.  With clean beaters, beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes.  Gradually beat in the remaining 1/4 cup sweetener, and beat until stiff peaks form, about 1 minute longer.  Turn off the mixer and fold the whites into the chocolate mixture with a rubber spatuala until the whites are well incorporated.  Avoid overmixing to avoid breaking down the egg whites too much.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place in the oven.

6.  Bake the cake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 F, leaving the cake in the oven.  Bake the cake for another 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 250 F.  Bake the cake until the cake smells very chocolately, the top has a nice firm crust, and the cake jiggles a bit when the top is touched, 15-20 minutes.  Turn off the oven, but leave the cake in the oven.  Prop the oven door open 2 to 3 inches and let the cake sit in the turned off oven for 20-25 minutes.

7.  Remove the cake from the oven, and let it cool for 20 to 30 minutes in the pan on the kitchen counter.  The cake will fall as it cools.  Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and remove the sides or bottom of the pan.  Place the cake on a serving plate, sift confectiners’ sugar over the top, and slice while warm.  Optional:  Serve with ice cream and/or berries.

That’s the Chocolate Earthquake Cake…Enjoy!

Adapted from Anne Byrn’s recipe in her book, “American Cake”

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