This is a dreamy chocolate chiffon cake! With real chocolatey flavour from natural cocoa, this cake is moist and super fluffy. It tastes fabulous dusted with icing sugar, frosted with chocolate buttercream or glazed with chocolate ganache.
Hello everyone! Time for another update on one of my favourite kinds of cake, chiffon cakes! And in particular, chocolate chiffon cake is what I just can’t get enough of!
Surely, that’s because I am a chocolate lover though ironically, I don’t ever post enough recipes on chocolate.
Honestly, can I confess that I was never quite satisfied with the chocolate chiffon cake recipe I had here on the blog? It’s not because it didn’t taste good, because it does!
But because the recipe requires an ingredient, chocolate emulco, which is kind of like an intensely flavoured chocolate paste.
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I like to use it, and as long as it’s in supply, I usually don’t hesitate to add it to any chocolate cake recipe that I feel needs a bold boost of chocolate flavour.
But the thing is, chocolate emulco isn’t available to many of my readers, especially overseas. And some of you may not like to use artificial flavourings in your bakes as well.
So I felt the need to re-think my chocolate chiffon cake recipe to make this just as delicious as ever without the need for pastes or flavourings.
It took quite a few test runs, but I’m happy to say I’ve finally nailed it!
Now I’m super excited to run this recipe by you guys. And, keeping my fingers crossed, I’m feeling so hopeful and positive that you’ll love how this chocolate chiffon cake turns out!
Why this chocolate chiffon cake is amazing!
Let’s dive into why you would want to make this chocolate chiffon cake:
- Rich chocolatey flavour, of course! This isn’t one of those cakes that taste of chocolate, but fall just a little short of chocolatey. The not-so-secret secret is to add just a dash of instant coffee because we all know how coffee makes chocolate cake taste even more chocolatey! But even better, I’m going to share how to bloom your cocoa to get the most flavour out of it!
- Cotton-soft, airy, bouncy and super fluffy! I don’t know how else to say it, but you’re going to be literally eating air in a delicious, cottony cake! This chocolate chiffon cake is so light, a slice or two is not going to make a dent in your tummy.
- Ultra moist and tender crumb. Nobody likes a dry cake, and chiffon cakes in particular, can turn out dry if the recipe ratios are just a little off. Of course, other factors can dry out a cake too (over-whipped meringue, too long a baking time, etc). All these variables aside, this recipe is as good as gold, and will always give you an ultra moist and tender crumb.
Chocolate chiffon cake is simply irresistible for breakfast and tea.
It tastes delicious on its own, dusted with some confectioner’s sugar and served with sliced strawberries. Or chocolate-dipped ones, for the chocoholics out there!
If you are thinking of making a celebratory cake with a chocolate cake, look no further!
Ingredients for chocolate chiffon cake
Chiffon cakes have two parts to making the batter.
- The meringue which is a stiffly beaten mixture of egg whites with sugar, and sometimes stabilised with cream of tartar.
- Then, there’s the rest of the ingredients that make up a thick batter made with eggs yolks, liquids (water / milk / juices / extracts), sugars, oil and flour.
For the meringue
- egg whites
- cream of tartar
For the batter:
- cake flour (Don’t have any? You can easily make cake flour from scratch!)
- baking soda
- natural cocoa powder (eg. Hershey’s cocoa, NOT Dutch-processed cocoa)
- instant coffee granules or powder
- egg yolks
- vanilla extract
Making the Perfect Chocolate Chiffon Cake
Part 1: Make the cocoa mixture (‘blooming’ the cocoa powder)
Because I was intent on omitting chocolate emulco, I really wanted to find ways to intensify the chocolate flavour.
I had read about ‘blooming’ cocoa powder, and how it helps release flavour trapped in cocoa particles. I just had to try this!
When cocoa powder is “bloomed” it’s mixed with a hot liquid, stirred well to break up any lumps, and then left to sit for a minute or two. The cocoa powder dissolves, which thickens the liquid and releases flavor particles within the powder. (Source: The Kitchn)
To bloom cocoa powder, heat up the milk (or water) in a small saucepan over low heat. Once the milk is hot, but before it comes to a simmer, stir in the cocoa powder to dissolve it.
The cocoa mixture will thicken a little. After blooming the cocoa, stir in instant coffee granules and oil and mix to combine well. Then set it aside to cool.
Part 2: Make the batter
- Steps 1 & 2: In a large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until thick and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Steps 3 & 4: Stir in the cocoa mixture and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
- Steps 5 & 6: Add the sifted flour mixture in 2 additions. Stir with a whisk until all the flour is incorporated. The mixture should be thick, smooth and free of lumps.
Whipping the meringue to ideal stiffness
Okay, so next we’re going to whip up the meringue. But first, what is the ideal stiff peak stage?
The ideal stiff peak stage is somewhere between medium and firm stiffness.
If you’ve been baking chiffon cakes, you’ll know that getting the meringue at the ideal stiffness is crucial to the final texture.
And it can sometimes feel a little tricky, even challenging to get right at first. So here are some tips for how you can recognise the right stiffness for your meringue.
If the meringue is under-whipped, your chiffon cake will lack volume and not rise as much, producing a denser crumb.
If over-whipped, the whites will form clumps when you try folding into the batter.
This will also make it harder to break down. Because it takes more effort to incorporate, there’s a tendency to over fold.
The bad news is that we’ll overwork the batter, causing the meringue to lose volume. Thus, resulting in a denser cake as well.
In fact, even if you manage to fold without losing too much air, an over-whipped meringue is one of the most common reasons why chiffon cakes turn out dry.
How do we recognise that? When you lift some meringue with the whisk (flick away excess), it should hold a firm shape from the base towards the tip, and droop over just a bit. Basically, it looks a bit like a small hook at the tip.
A finger test is equally effective. Use your index finger and sweep up just a little meringue, like how you would try to pick up sauce on your finger. You’ll see the same half-curl or hook at the tip if its at the ideal stiffness.
Part 3: Step-by-step whipping of meringue and mixing
When whipping up meringue, make sure your mixer bowl is dry and grease-free.
- Step 1: In a dry and grease-free mixer bowl, add egg whites and sprinkle cream of tartar over it. Whip on medium speed (speed 4 on my Kitchen Aid) until it starts to turn frothy.
- Step 2: Add sugar, bit by bit, and continue to whip until stiff peak stage.
- Step 3: Lift the whisk. When the meringue holds its shape and curls just a bit at the tip like a little hook, it is at the ideal stiffness.
- Step 4: Fold in 1/3 of the meringue into the batter, very gently using a whisk.
- Steps 5 & 6: Fold in the next 1/3 of the meringue, again keeping it gentle and consistent in motion.
- Steps 7 & 8: Fold in the remaining meringue until well incorporated. The final batter should be light and smooth, without any visible streaks of meringue.
Part 4: Fill the pan and bake
Gently pour the batter into the tube pan from one position, letting the batter spread to fill the pan.
Level the surface with an offset spatula. Then give the pan a few taps on the counter to minimise air pockets in the batter.
Bake on the lowest rack in the preheated oven at 170°C (336°F) for anywhere between 40 to 50 minutes, or until just done.
DO NOT open the oven door, even if it’s just to take a quick peek. Only do so about 5 minutes before the end of baking, to test if done.
The cake is done when a skewer inserted into the centre emerges comes out clean.
And don’t worry if you see a bit of cracking on the surface of the cake as it bakes. It’s perfectly fine!
That cracked top is going to be on the bottom when you serve it, anyway because chiffon cakes are served ‘upside-down’.
Part 5: Inverting and cooling
Immediately invert the pan over a slim bottle neck once it is removed from the oven. Allow it to ‘hang’ until completely cooled.
To remove, run an offset spatula gently around the sides of the pan. Invert the cake to free it from the sides of the pan. Then run the spatula around the base to release the funnel.
Chiffon cake is served ‘upside-down’. Dust with confectioner’s sugar sifted over the cake, and serve with sliced strawberries for a delicious tea treat.
Tips for Getting the Perfect Chiffon Cake Texture
1. Use the right pan
Chiffon cakes are best baked in a chiffon tube pan without non-stick coating.
This is because the batter needs to cling to the sides of the pan as it rises, which is what gives the cake its height and airy crumb. The best pans are made of aluminium with a removable base.
Baking in dark-tinted pans will give you a darker cake crust, while non-tinted or light-tinted pans will yield a lighter crust, in general.
Be careful as dark-tinted pans could also be non-stick, so avoid these for chiffon cakes.
Do not grease the pan, for the same reasons that you would not bake in a non-stick cake pan.
2. Use the appropriate pan size
In order for the cake to rise straight and tall, use the appropriate sized pan. When the pan is filled with batter, it should not be more than 3/4 full.
3. Have ingredients at room temperature, including eggs
Cold egg whites do not whip up as well, so it won’t trap as much air as egg whites at room temperature.
When blooming cocoa, remember to allow it cool to room temperature before incorporating it into the rest of the batter.
4. Whip meringue to the ideal stiffness
I’ve covered this above, so you’re good to go!
5. Sift powdered ingredients together
Mix powdered ingredients like flour, baking soda or baking powder (or both) and salt. Then sift together.
This will give you a smoother and finer cake crumb and enable the cake to rise evenly and uniformly.
Remember the cream of tartar is for whipping up the meringue, so do not add it here.
6. Do all your mixing, stirring and folding with a whisk
For those of you who are married to your spatulas, it’s time to break up! Seriously, I’m not kidding.
Okay, you can probably get away with mixing and stirring with a spatula, but I strongly recommend folding with a whisk. In baking school, we were encouraged to fold all our meringues with whisks!
I’ve simply found that the meringue will incorporate more easily and thoroughly, with minimal loss of volume due to the inherent shape and structure of the whisk.
It also helps reduce or eliminate air pockets in the batter, so you won’t get those big gaping holes in your chiffon cake.
7. Invert the chiffon pan once out of the oven
Once removed from the oven, immediately invert the pan over a bottle neck once it is removed from the oven.
Or if you have tube pan with ‘feet’, invert the pan over a cooling rack. Allow it to ‘hang’ in this position until completely cooled.
How to store chocolate chiffon cake
Chocolate chiffon cake will keep well for up to 3 days at room temperature, when stored in an air-tight container placed in a cool and dry area.
If you’re planning to bake and freeze, you’ll be happy to know that this cake can be frozen for up to two months.
Once the cake is completely cool, wrap it loosely, but completely sealed, in several layers of cling wrap so as not to damage its shape.
Wrap in a final layer of aluminium foil, and place in the freezer.
Thaw out the cake at room temperature for 2-3 hours.
And that’s all there is to this delightful cake! Enjoy!
Here are more chiffon/sponge cakes to inspire your next bake:
- Hazelnut Chiffon Cake with Cinnamon and Mixed Nuts
- No-Fail Pandan Chiffon Cake
- Black Sesame Chiffon Cake – A Japanese-Inspired Treat
- Vanilla Chiffon Cake + Tips for the Perfect Chiffon Bake!
- Coffee Chiffon Cake
Tried this recipe? I’d love to see! Remember to share your pics on Instagram and tag @foodelicacy or #foodelicacy.
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Cotton-Soft Chocolate Chiffon Cake
- 80 g cake flour
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 95 ml milk or water
- 25 g cocoa powder eg. Hershey’s cocoa, NOT Dutch-processed
- ½ tsp instant coffee granules
- 60 ml vegetable oil
- 5 egg yolks
- 50 g caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the meringue:
- 5 egg whites
- ½ tsp + ⅛ tsp cream of tartar
- 85 g caster sugar
- 1 tsp confectioner’s sugar
- Preheat oven to 170°C (338°F). Position an oven rack to the lowest in the oven.
Bloom the cocoa:
- In a small saucepan, heat milk over low heat until hot but not simmering. Stir in cocoa powder, a little at a time, with a whisk until dissolved and free of lumps. Stir in instant coffee granules.
- Add the oil, and stir to combine well. Allow the cocoa mixture to cool to room temperature.
Make the egg yolk-cocoa batter:
- Meanwhile, have a 20-cm (8-inch) chiffon tube pan ready. DO NOT GREASE.
- Sift together the cake flour, baking soda and salt.
- In a separate, large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until thick and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the cocoa mixture and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
- Add the sifted flour mixture in 2 additions. Stir with a whisk until all the flour is incorporated and no streaks of flour are visible. The mixture should be thick, smooth and free of lumps.
Make the meringue:
- Fit an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. In a dry, grease-free mixer bowl, pour in egg whites and sprinkle cream of tartar over.
- Whisk on medium speed (speed 4 on my Kitchen Aid). When the egg whites become frothy, add sugar bit by bit in a steady stream. Whip until stiff peaks form. This may take 5 to 7 minutes, depending on your mixer and speed.
Fold the meringue into the egg yolk-cocoa batter:
- Add ⅓ of meringue (whipped egg whites with sugar) to the egg yolk-cocoa mixture. Fold in gently with a whisk until well incorporated.
- Add another ⅓ of the meringue and again, fold in gently. Add the remaining meringue and fold in gently. The final batter should feel light, and have no visible streaks of meringue.
- Pour into the chiffon tube pan from one place, and let the batter spread to fill the pan. Smooth and level the surface with an offset spatula. Give the pan a few taps on the counter top to minimise air bubbles.
Baking and cooling:
- Bake on the lowest rack in the oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until done. DO NOT open the oven door. Only do so about 5 minutes before the end of baking, to test if done. The cake is done when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Note: A bit of cracking on the surface of the cake as it bakes is perfectly alright!
- Immediately invert the pan over a bottle neck once it is removed from the oven. Allow it to ‘hang’ until completely cooled.
- To remove, run an offset spatula gently around the sides of the pan. Invert the cake to free it from the sides of the pan. Then run the spatula around the base to release the funnel.
- Chiffon cake is served ‘upside-down’. Dust with confectioner’s sugar sifted over the cake, and serve with sliced strawberries for a delicious tea treat.
1. Use the right panChiffon cakes are best baked in a chiffon tube pan without non-stick coating. Do not grease the pan.
2. Use the appropriate pan sizeIn order for the cake to rise straight and tall, use the appropriate sized pan. When the pan is filled with batter, it should not be more than 3/4 full.
3. Have ingredients at room temperature, including eggsCold egg whites do not whip up as well, so it won’t trap as much air as egg whites at room temperature. When blooming cocoa, remember to allow it cool to room temperature before incorporating it into the rest of the batter.
4. Whip meringue to the ideal stiffness
5. Sift powdered ingredients togetherThis will give you a smoother and finer cake crumb and enable the cake to rise evenly and uniformly.
6. Do all your mixing, stirring and folding with a whiskThe meringue will incorporate more easily and thoroughly, with minimal loss of volume due to the inherent shape and structure of the whisk. It also helps reduce or eliminate air pockets in the batter.
7. Invert the chiffon pan once out of the ovenOnce removed from the oven, immediately invert the pan over a bottle neck once it is removed from the oven. Or if you have tube pan with ‘feet’, invert the pan over a cooling rack. Allow it to ‘hang’ in this position until completely cooled.