Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

filed under: Miscellaneous on January 3, 2011

This is by far the most labor intensive and complicated recipe I have ever made.

But I wanted to try!

I needed to try.

It was me vs. recipe.

I think the recipe won… at least, in the appearance department!


Its supposed to look like this. Click on the video to watch… they make it look so easy!!

(Link goes to Cooks Illustrated website.  I signed up for a free trial and stumbled upon this recipe… I think if you signed up you would find some amazing recipes as well!  I am not sure you can view picture without doing that… so sign up for the sake of all that is good! P.S.  They dont know me, I am just a huge fan of them.  Almost stalker status.)

Its gorgeous!!  Ugh.  Mine sooooooo did not look like that… it just never got the height it should have.

I think it tasted pretty amazing though!

Here is the recipe, followed as closely as I could, from Cooks Illustrated.

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake
Prep Time
50 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
2 hrs
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins

This is by far the most labor intensive and complicated recipe I have ever made.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake
Servings: 10 servings
Author: Amanda Rettke
Bottom Layer
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into six pieces
  • 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped fine
  • 3/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder I used a strong dark coffee
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs separated
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
Middle Layer
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 5 tablespoons hot water
  • 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped fine
  • 1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • pinch salt
Top Layer
  • 3/4 teaspoon powdered gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 6 ounces white chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
  1. You will need a springform pan with 3 inch sides. I added that you can use a hand held mixer in most of the directions, simply because I do not have a stand mixer, but I do believe it is part of the reason I didn't get the height I wanted. If you use a handheld mixer, I would try doubling the recommend mixing times.

Bottom Layer
  1. To begin, heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter interior of pan.
  2. Melt butter, chocolate, and espresso powder in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and cool for about five minutes. Get your egg yolks and vanilla, and whisk them in until incorporated.

  3. With a hand held mixer or stand mixer, beat egg whites and salt at medium speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. Add half of brown sugar and beat until combined, about 15 seconds. Add remaining brown sugar and beat at high speed until soft peaks form when whisk is lifted, about 1 minute longer, scraping down sides halfway through.

  4. With a whisk, fold one-third of beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture to lighten. Now get a rubber spatula and fold in remaining egg whites until no white streaks remain.

  5. Gently pour batter into springform pan.
  6. Bake until cake has risen, is firm around edges, and center has just set but is still soft,13 to 18 minutes.
  7. Transfer cake to wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour. (Cake will collapse as it cools.)
  8. Do not remove cake from pan.
Middle Layer
  1. Combine cocoa powder and hot water in small bowl; set aside.
  2. Melt chopped chocolate in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.

  3. Remove from heat and cool slightly, 2 to 5 minutes.
  4. Using a handheld mixer or a stand mixer with whisk attachment, whip cream, granulated sugar, and salt at medium speed until mixture begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when whisk is lifted, 15 to 60 seconds.

  5. Whisk cocoa powder mixture into melted chocolate until smooth.
  6. Using whisk, fold one-third of whipped cream into chocolate mixture to lighten. Gently fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain.

  7. Spoon mousse into spring form pan over cooled cake and gently tap pan on counter 3 times to remove any large air bubbles; gently smooth top with offset spatula. Wipe inside edge of pan with damp cloth to remove any drips. Refrigerate cake at least 15 minutes while preparing top layer.

Top Layer
  1. In small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over water; set aside for at least 5 minutes.
  2. Place white chocolate in medium bowl. Bring ½ cup cream to simmer in small saucepan over medium high heat. Remove from heat; add gelatin mixture and stir until fully dissolved. Pour cream mixture over white chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, about 30 seconds. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, 5 to 8 minutes (mixture will thicken slightly)

  3. Using a hand help mixer with whisk attachment or stand mixer, whip remaining cup cream at medium speed until it begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when whisk is lifted, 15 to 60 seconds. I actually did this for about 2 minutes to get soft peaks.

  4. Using whisk, fold one-third of whipped cream into white chocolate mixture to lighten. With rubber spatula, fold remaining whipped cream into white chocolate mixture until no white streaks remain.

  5. Gently pour white chocolate mousse into pan over middle layer. Return cake to refrigerator and chill until set, at least two hours.

  6. To serve cake, run thin knife between cake and side of spring form pan; remove side of pan. Run cleaned knife along outside of cake to smooth sides. Cut into slices and serve.



Easy right?

Well, not so much.  But worth it!

This dessert really made me re-think the word decadent.  I have used it many times before, but never really understood its meaning!  One bite of this luscious dessert made groan outloud.  Its that smooth, that fine, that delicate in its complexity.

I thought I was going to swear off baking forever after attempting it, but now I just want to bake more!

And next time I try this, I think I will make it in individual portions… like mini round cakes… it could be so beautiful!

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  • Brittany says:

    This looks 100% worth the effort! It looks so professional and delicious. In fact, it reminds me of those Chocolate Barvarian Desserts we used to buy when I was a child.
    Thanks for sharing! I look forward to seeing more of your recipes throughout 2011.

  • Barbara says:

    Things don’t always turn out the way they look in the photos. (I always think….Photoshop. 🙂
    But if it tastes great, that’s 3/4 of the battle!

  • grace says:

    layered desserts are often such a hassle to make, but what results! bravo, amanda. 🙂

  • Andrea says:

    I think it looks beautiful! Don’t compare, just take it for what it is! I think just the appearance, let alone the taste, should receive an award!

  • MrsCurrie says:

    I have made this several times and found it to be a hit every time! It gets easier each time you make it.

  • Jessica @ Jessiker Bakes says:

    I’ve totally made this before on my blog! So I know what you mean by DECADENT 😀

  • SMITH BITES says:

    and now this? TWO POSTS IN A ROW LIKE THIS ONE??? i think there are rules about forgiving pregnant women, right?

  • naomi says:

    Well it looks like you won the battle! The cake is awesome. I’ve actually made this and it’s yummy! Your rendition is perfect.

  • Shaina says:

    This sounds delightful, Amanda. Who cares what it looks like?

  • bridget {bake at 350} says:

    Geez, girl! Can I come over, like, NOW?!? I’ll have one piece of this and a slice of that cake, please!

  • Darla says:

    I have no words, so…

  • Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction says:

    Wow… That is an amazing cake. I think yours looks pretty stunning. I once attempted a cheesecake recipe that was similarly complicated. I started it around 8pm not realizing that I had to let it chill for a few hours in between each of the three layers. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep that night. And, it cracked on the third layer. Figures.

  • Cookbook Queen says:

    This looks AMAZING!!
    Seriously…If you lived close by, I’d be over for a piece in a hot second.
    Actually, I just booked a flight. I’m on my way. You don’t mind, do you?? 😉

  • Kristen says:

    It looks like it would just melt in your mouth. Delicious!

  • Marcella Vander Eems says:

    I made this for Christmas Day and it was delicious. I did get the height :-). So good. It just is a bit time consuming and you need to wash your double boiler a lot. But so so so good. I recommend to everyone. Delicious.

  • Lexi says:

    These are the times when my dairy allergy is terrible. I want that cake so bad, it looks so delicious. Ah well, such is life.

  • Stylist says:

    Very Nice for the incredible efforts of this dessert — Cooks Illustrated is highly overrated — just a few too many liberties

  • doughmesstic says:

    Your layers are so perfect! I have been on the hunt for this mousse cake – so glad you made it! I used to be a waitress a million years ago, and we served a cake like this. I doubt it was half as good as yours! I intend to make it myself to find out!
    Thanks for the post – you’ve been Stmbled!
    Oh – those peeking baby cookies & cupcakes? TOTALLY stealing that idea! 🙂

  • Ingrid says:

    If this tastes as good as it looks…Well, I’m in trouble! 🙂

  • Guvi says:

    Your pictures are to die for and your sites are amazing! What can I say? I’m speechless!
    I made a similar cake for my daughter’s birthday 2 weeks ago. It’s not the same recipe (it has 3 layers plus the base) and maybe you’d like to take a look at it, because it’s somewhat simpler to make.

  • dining room tables says:

    I love this one! I can’t wait to try this one. Love all the chocolate.

  • Karen Tucker says:

    You crack me up the way you write! It is like enjoying a great conversation with a wonderful friend!!! Thanks!

  • the country cook @ Delightful Country Cookin says:

    hmmmm, that looks delicious! so glad I stumbled upon it – I don’t even have to make it to know it’s good

  • Rekha says:

    What happens if I skip gelatin in white chocolate mousse? Will it not set?

  • Patricia P. says:

    Suppose you don’t like white chocolate – can you sub. with
    something else?

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      Yes, of course.

  • I Am Baker Logo

    Brand new recipes that people find kinda acceptable.