Tenerina Cake—It’s Gluten-free and Chocolate

A slice of chocolate cake on a piece of paper.

Tenerina is the most delicious chocolate cake I have ever eaten. Bake it one time, and it will become your favorite dessert for every special occasion. It makes a perfect treat for either a formal or an informal dinner.

Have it for breakfast; there’s no better way to start off the day than with chocolate. Dust tenerina with powdered sugar and serve it with a scoop of ice cream. Your guests will ask for a second serving.

This cake is served in restaurants all around Italy. At first, you may not be tempted, but if you try tenerina, you won’t be able to live without it. With only a few ingredients the secret is in the baking. It looks easy to make, so follow my suggestions for the right texture; otherwise, you will bake a delicious chocolate cake, just not tenerina.

A slice of tenerina cake on a piece of paper.

Tenerina, the perfect dessert that’s gluten-free 

This is a truly simple delicacy that’s gluten-free. If you combine all the ingredients evenly and beat the eggs until fluffy and light, you don’t need any flour.

Use a springform cake pan

Don’t turn this cake upside down like you do other cakes; it will fall apart.  So, bake the tenerina cake in a springform cake pan, a 9-inch (22cm) diameter is the perfect size. 

A tenerina cake in a pan on a marble table.

The most important part of the Tenerina cake recipe 

Baking this cake is a little tricky. If you bake it too long, it will get hard and dry. On the other hand, a shorter baking time makes the cake too soft, gooey, and impossible to slice. Follow my advice, and you won’t make any mistakes. 

What you need to do

This cake looks like a meringue which enshrines a moist creamy core (a sort of brownie without flour). When you slice it, you will break a crispy crust and the knife will sink into a rich chocolate fluffiness: a blast of chocolate oozing into your mouth. It tends to flatten after baking, but this is ok.

Be careful to:

  • Divide the egg yolks from the whites, but make sure no yolks get into the whites;
  • Whip the egg whites to very stiff peaks;
  • Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until super fluffy and light;
  • Gently combine the ingredients so as to not deflate the batter;
  • Cook as instructed, neither too long nor too short;

Tenerina cake: no flour, plenty of chocolate

Tenerina, a dark chocolate flourless cake, comes from Emilia-Romagna. It is commonly quite flat but contains neither flour nor baking powder. It is full of chocolate. A truly mouthwatering delicacy, tenerina is exceptionally moist inside and as crunchy as a meringue outside. Are you drooling yet? 
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Keyword chocolate tenerina cake, italian tenerina cake, no flour chocolate cake, tenerina cake
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • 200 gr of dark chocolate 
  • 100 gr of butter cut in pieces
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 150 gr of sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp of milk
  • (extra) 40g of flour
  • Powdered sugar for garnish 
Servings 8 people


  • Finely chop the chocolate and put it in the top of a double boiler or what we call a “bain-marie,” a stainless steel or ceramic bowl that sits over a bigger pot of hot boiling water so that the steam or indirect heat melts the chocolate. 
  • When the chocolate is completely melted, add the pieces of butter and stir carefully with a wooden spoon until a smooth liquid form without any clumps; 
  • Remove the pot from the bain-marie and let it cool down while stirring occasionally; 
  • In the meantime, crack the eggs and carefully separate the yolks from the whites; put them into two big mixing bowls. Make sure there aren’t any yolks in the whites; otherwise, they won’t whip up properly;
  • Add the same quantity of sugar in both bowls; 
  • Beat the yolks and sugar with an electric whisk for about 3-4 minutes until the mixture doubles in volume;
  • Pour the melted chocolate into the whipped yolks; 
  • Mix with the electric mixer at low speed or with a hand whisk for a few seconds until even and smooth; 
  • Add lukewarm milk, a little at a time;
  • Whip the whites with the sugar and a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. To test this, turn the bowl upside down (they won’t fall out if beaten enough); 
  • When they are white and compact, fold them into the chocolate mixture a little at a time with upward movements in order to not deflate the whites.
  • Move the egg whites only as much as necessary; don’t stir; 
  • Transfer the mixture into a buttered, floured springform pan (or you may line it with parchment paper); lightly smooth over the surface with a spatula; 
  • Pre-heat the static oven to 350°F (176°C) and bake for 35-40 minutes. Only check its doneness a few minutes before the cooking time is over; 
  • During baking, the cake will appear to rise; if it turns golden brown, take it out of the oven fast and put in on a lower rack; 
  • When the crispy crust starts to form on the surface, after about30-35 minutes, do the toothpick test (don’t open the oven before that). Remember that tenerina cake is a very moist cake, so if it comes out moist, that’s OK! The surface should be dry; check a few parts of the cake;
  • If it seems too gooey, bake it a few minutes more; 
  • When the surface cracks (it should look like a cracked meringue), your cake is ready. Take it out of the oven and let it cool down completely. Garnish it with plenty of powdered sugar and/or unsweetened cocoa powder. A combination of the two will result in a burst of chocolate.  

How can you store tenerina cake?

Tenerina cake stays fresh for up to 3-4 days in a cake container at room temperature. It can be refrigerated and frozen. If frozen, defrost it for a few hours at room temperate before eating. 

A slice of Tenerina cake on a plate.

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