David Lebovitz's Orbit Cake Recipe | Cook the Book

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I couldn't figure out why David Lebovitz's flourless chocolate cake was called orbit cake, so I asked him. The official explanation is that the lightly cratered cake looks like the surface of the moon. But the real reason, as he explains on his blog, is that the editor of Room for Dessert, where the recipe originally appeared, thought that the original name lacked, shall we say, finesse. (The original name: chocolate idiot cake.)

John Scharffenberger loves this cake and includes it in The Essence of Chocolate because it places the flavor of good chocolate front and center. With only four ingredients, the recipe really is idiot-proof, and the resulting cake is almost like a ganache pudding, just solid enough to slice.

Recipe Facts

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 105 mins
Chilling Time: 2 hrs
Total: 3 hrs 50 mins
Serves: 12 to 14 servings

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  • 14 tablespoons (7 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes, plus more for the pan

  • 10 ounces 62% semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

  • 5 large eggs

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • Whipped cream to serve


  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9 by 2-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

  2. Place the butter and chocolate in the top of a double boiler set over gently simmering water. Whisk occasionally until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.

  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Gradually whisk in the melted chocolate mixture, and continue whisking until thoroughly combined.

  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place the pan in a larger baking pan, and cover the top of the cake pan with foil. Add enough very hot water to the baking pan to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan, and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until the cake has set. To test, touch the center of the cake lightly with your fingers: the surface will be slightly tacky, but your fingers should come away clean.

  5. Carefully remove the cake pan from the water bath and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.

  6. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigereate for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

  7. To serve, run a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen the sides. Warm the bottom of the cake pan with a hot towel or over a gas burner, moving the pan constantly to heat the bottom evenly and loosen the cake. Invert onto a serving plate. Peel off the parchment paper.

  8. Cut into thin slices and serve each slice with a dollop of whipped cream.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
296 Calories
20g Fat
27g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 14
Amount per serving
Calories 296
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 20g 25%
Saturated Fat 12g 58%
Cholesterol 99mg 33%
Sodium 32mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 27g 10%
Dietary Fiber 2g 5%
Total Sugars 24g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 25mg 2%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 142mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)