Chocolate Mousse Cake with three layers of chocolate is a chocolate lover’s dream (plus it’s gluten free)!
This Chocolate Mousse Cake is the ultimate dreamy, decadent dessert everyone will go crazy for! A fudgy flourless chocolate cake is topped with ridiculously creamy chocolate mousse then crowned with silky rich chocolate ganache. It is INCREDIBLE. This chocolate mousse cake recipe requires a few steps but is easy to follow with detailed step by step photos, tips and tricks for one of the most stunning desserts of your life! This chocolate mousse recipe also gets major points because it is best made ahead for a stunning, stress-free dessert every time.
Chocolate desserts are always a crowd pleaser and perfect for the holidays! Some of our decadent, hypnotic, must try favorites include: Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse, Chocolate Éclair Cake, Chocolate Raspberry Cake, Chocolate Lava Cakes, German Chocolate Cheesecake and Turtle Brownies.
Chocolate Mousse Cake Recipe
I am so excited to bring you this Chocolate Mousse Cake recipe! If I could pick only one dessert to eat for the rest of my life, I think this would be it. It’s rich, chocolaty and decadent without being too heavy – just SO creamy and plain heavenly. I cannot wait for you to taste it, love it, share it and start a new tradition with this recipe!
The bottom layer is dense and fudgy, the chocolate mousse layer is silky smooth, cool, creamy and airy and beautifully complements the fudgy cake. The adorning dark chocolate ganache is intensely flavorful, smooth, chocolate perfection.
Because this Chocolate Mousse Cake recipe is comprised of three parts, there are a few steps and a few dishes, BUT I promise it’s worth every second! Here’s what makes this Chocolate Mousse Cake recipe such a masterpiece:
Bottom Layer: Flourless Fudge Cake
The bottom layer of the Chocolate Mousse Cake needs to be sturdy enough to hold up to the mousse and a richer texture than a fine crumb cake in order to complement the mousse – enter flourless chocolate cake. Flourless chocolate cake is dense like brownies, gluten free and mind blowing rich and chocolaty. Plus, it only requires a few ingredients including bittersweet chocolate, butter, eggs and brown sugar.
This flourless cake recipe is from Cooks Illustrated Best Ever Desserts Magazine and is made by melting the chocolate and whisking in the egg yolks. This recipe sets itself apart from others because the egg whites are whipped separately to lighten the cake, while still providing the needed structure.
Middle Layer: Chocolate Mousse
This chocolate mousse is to live for. It’s rich, silky, airy and SO chocolaty – as in 12 ounces of chocolate goodness. Mousse is French for ‘froth’ or ‘foam’ AKA airy – but don’t let the French name fool you! If you’ve been intimidated by making mousse before, I’m sharing the absolute easiest way I’ve found to create mousse that is fool proof!
To make the mousse, you’ll chop the chocolate in your food processor then stream in hot heavy cream and process until smooth. To this heavenly chocolate, you will fold in whole eggs, whipped egg whites and whipped heavy cream to create an airy, luscious mousse. This recipe sets itself apart from others because it is stabilized with gelatin to ensure it doesn’t drip over the cake but maintain its beautiful shape.
Top Layer: Chocolate Ganache
This Chocolate Ganache Recipe is pure chocolate decadence yet is deceptively easy to make! Chocolate Ganache (pronounced geh-Nahsh) also sounds fancy because it is French, but it simply means chocolate melted into hot cream. You only need chocolate, heavy whipping cream, a splash of corn syrup, a microwave, and 5 minutes to make this fool proof, easy ganache recipe.
This ganache is decadently divine and marries all of the layers of the Chocolate Mousse Cake together. This ganache sets itself apart from others because it is made all in the food processor (SO easy!), but you are welcome to make it in a bowl as well.
Ingredients for Chocolate Mousse Cake
Don’t let the decadence of this Chocolate Mousse Cake fool you into thinking it requires special ingredients. In fact, most of them are pantry staples! For this recipe, you’ll need the following:
- Butter: Unsalted butter so we can control the amount of salt in the recipe.
- Chocolate: Primarily bittersweet chocolate to prevent the cake from being too sweet with just a hint of semi-sweet chocolate. You will want to use baking chocolate bars found in the baking aisle opposed to chocolate chips. You will need 21 ounces bittersweet baking chocolate and 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate in this recipe.
- Eggs: I recommend using pasteurized eggs since this is a no-bake dessert (more info below on eating raw eggs).
- Vanilla extract: Pure vanilla extract will deliver the best flavor.
- Salt: Enhances the chocolate flavor and rounds out the flavor of the dessert.
- Sugar: I use a mixture of light brown sugar and granulated sugar in this Chocolate Mousse Cake recipe. Brown sugar to keep the fudge cake extra moist and granulated sugar in the mousse.
- Cream of tartar: Helps stabilize whipped egg whites, prevents sugar from crystallizing and acts as a leavening agent in the flourless chocolate cake.
- Heavy cream: The cream needs to be very cold so that it whips up properly and creates a light and fluffy mousse.
- Powdered gelatin: Make sure to buy unflavored powdered gelatin. It is a common baking ingredient and can be found next to the packages of Jell-O and pudding at your grocery store. The gelatin gets dissolved in some water before being mixed into the mousse to add structure.
- Corn syrup: Makes the chocolate ganache extra smooth, keeps it flexible when it sets and keeps it shiny even after being refrigerated.
CAN YOU EAT RAW EGGS?
The chocolate mousse uses raw eggs which are not recommended for those with a compromised immune system, are pregnant or elderly due to the risk of salmonella. If you fit any of these categories or would like more peace of mind, I suggest using pasteurized eggs. Pasteurized eggs are just a little more expensive but pasteurization destroys any potential bacteria and viruses so they are completely safe to eat raw.
The FDA says: “For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served — like Caesar salad dressing and homemade ice cream — use either shell eggs that have been treated to destroy Salmonella, by pasteurization or another approved method, or pasteurized egg products.”
CAN I USE CHOCOLATE CHIPS?
Set yourself up for success by using baking chocolate in this Chocolate Mousse Cake recipe. Baking chocolate is cooled, hardened chocolate liquor with a high percentage of cocoa butter because it’s intended to be baked with and therefore melts beautifully for the cake, mousse and ganache.
If you need to use chocolate chips, ONLY use Guittard or Ghirardelli brand chocolate chips. Most other chocolate brands contain less cocoa butter and will not melt as seamlessly and can leave you with stubborn chocolate pieces AKA they’re not suitable for melting. When selecting chocolate, check the label for cocoa butter; the higher the percentage of cocoa butter, the better the chocolate chips. This translates into the tangible qualities of richer flavor, aroma, and better melting ability.
CAN I USE HALF AND HALF INSTEAD OF CREAM?
No, do not substitute the heavy cream for half and half in this recipe. Heavy Cream is always the best option for melting chocolate because the higher the fat content of the cream, the richer and more stable the finished melted chocolate/ganache will be. Heavy creamy is also needed for whipping, half and half will not work.
Do I have to use CORN SYRUP?
I highly recommend using corn syrup in the ganache, it makes A HUGE difference in the final product. Just remember the purpose of ganache:
- To make the ganache extra smooth
- Keep the ganache shiny even after being refrigerated
- Keep the ganache flexible when it sets
Without corn syrup, your ganache will not boast these qualities.
How to Make Chocolate Mousse Cake Recipe
Step 1: Make the Bottom Cake Layer
Melt the chocolate and butter together. You can either do this in a double boiler on the stove (by placing the chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl, set over a boil of simmering water, and stirring until melted and smooth). Or you can do this in the microwave (by heating the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until the chocolate and butter are melted and smooth).
To the melted chocolate mixture, add the vanilla and egg yolks.
Beat together egg whites, cream of tartar and salt using a stand mixer. Add the brown sugar, then beat until soft peaks form. Soft peaks means when you remove the whisk, a peak is just starting to hold and then droop after a second. Using a rubber spatula, fold the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture in thirds until no white streaks remain.
Turn the chocolate cake batter into a 9.5-inch springform pan and bake until done. Let the cake cool completely. The cake will collapse slightly as it cools which is normal.
Once the cake has cooled, temporarily remove the springform pan. Snuggly encircle the cake with parchment paper that reaches about 1 inch above the edge of the springform (you can tape the parchment to itself.) Re-place the springform pan and re-clasp. This will prevent the mousse from running over the sides of the bottom layer.
Step 2: Chocolate Mousse (Middle Layer)
Add unflavored gelatin to a microwave safe bowl then pour cold water over top; let stand for 5 minutes then microwave for 15 seconds; set aside to cool.
Finely chop chocolate in a food processor. With the processor running, gradually pour hot cream through the feed tube and process until chocolate is melted and smooth. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and refrigerate. Once room temperature, whisk in 2 whole eggs.
What if I don’t have a food processor? I love completing this step in my food processor because it takes minutes, but you can also complete it without a food processor. Add heavy cream to a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave until just boiling, about 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and add chopped chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then whisk vigorously until chocolate is melted and smooth.
While you’re waiting for the chocolate to cool before adding the eggs, beat 1 cup heavy cream and sugar in a bowl until soft peaks form. Turn the mixer to low and slowly pour in the gelatin mixture. Mix until combined then increase the speed to medium and continue mixing until stiff peaks form; set aside.
Add 4 egg whites to the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip until stiff peaks form.
Gently gold one third of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture at a time. Fold in the whipped cream until completely combined.
Pour mousse over cooled cake. Chill for 2 hours up to 24 hours, until ready to top with ganache.
Step 3: Chocolate Ganache (Top Layer)
Add heavy cream to a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave until just boiling, about 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and add chopped chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then whisk vigorously until ganache is melted and smooth. Whisk in corn syrup.
Pour ganache over chilled mousse and spread into a smooth layer. Chill for at least 45 minutes or until ready to serve.
Step 4: Garnish
Remove springform pan and parchment paper. Garnish with raspberries, shaved chocolate if desired and serve.
Do I Have to Use a Springform Pan?
A springform pan is very helpful to stabilize this Chocolate Mousse Cake but it can be made without one. To make this recipe without a springform pan, bake the cake in a parchment lined greased 9-inch cake pan. Let cool completely then carefully transfer to a cake platter. Snuggly encircle the cake with a few layers of parchment paper that reach about 3 inches above the top of the cake. Tape the parchment to itself. Make sure the parchment paper is sturdy enough to hold up to the mousse.
Tips for Making a Chocolate Mousse Cake
- Use good quality chocolate bars. The chocolate is the star of the show, so be sure to invest in some good quality chocolate baking bars. I recommend Ghirardelli 60 percent Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate. Any other chocolate is likely to produce drier results.
- Use bittersweet chocolate. If you use all milk or semi-sweet chocolate in this recipe the cake will be far too sweet.
- Gently melt chocolate. Whether you melt the chocolate for the fudge cake layer in the microwave or double broiler, do it gently/gradually so the chocolate doesn’t break, separate or scorch.
- Cool chocolate until barely warm. Once you’ve melted the chocolate over the makeshift double broiler, cool it until it is barely warm – not hot and not cold. Too warm and the eggs will scramble, too cool and the chocolate will seize up when you add the other ingredients.
- Separate eggs when cold, but whip at room temp. Eggs separate easiest when they are cold straight out of the refrigerator, however, egg whites will whip more easily when they are room temp. So, separate the eggs first and then let the egg whites sit at room temp for several minutes before whipping.
- Whip eggs whites in a clean bowl. Egg whites will not whip effectively if there is residual fat in the mixing bowl or bowl beaters, so make sure you are using very clean, dry equipment.
- Don’t over-bake bottom fudge cake. A toothpick will NOT come out clean in the center of the fudge cake when it’s done. The cake is meant to walk the fine line between gooey and fudgy. The cake is done when the center reads 200°F on an instant-read thermometer.
- Fudge cake will shrink and cave. This is completely normal for this type of cake so don’t be alarmed.
- Gently fold egg whites and whipped cream into mousse. Gently folding instead of stirring will keep the mousse light and fluffy and prevent the eggs from deflating.
- Let each layer chill. This triple Chocolate Mousse Cake recipe requires some patience, but it’s vital that you let the fudge cake layer cool completely after it’s done baking. Then, the cake should be left to chill in the fridge after the first mousse layer has been added, and so on.
Recipe Variations to Try
- Try a different base. Don’t want to bake a chocolate cake? You can try using an Oreo crust in place of the chocolate cake layer. Obviously, this will drastically change the texture of the bottom layer. To make an Oreo base, finely grind 20 Oreos (with filling) in in a food processor. Add ¼ cup melted butter and pulse until well combined. Press Oreo crumb mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of the springform pan. Bake crust 5 minutes at 350 degrees F. Cool on a wire rack.
- Add peanut butter. Peanut butter and chocolate is always a winning combo! Try making a Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse Cake for something a little different.
- Add chocolate curls. I topped this cake with raspberries but chocolate curls would be another lovely addition.
- Add caramel. Try drizzling the dessert with salted caramel.
- Strawberry sauce. Try serving with homemade strawberry sauce.
- Add coconut. Try topping the ganache with toasted coconut.
Can I Prep a Chocolate Mousse Cake in Advance?
Yes! This Chocolate Mousse Cake is a wonderful make-ahead dessert that actually gets better the longer it’s refrigerated. You can make this cake up to 48 hours in advance and it will still taste fabulous!
You can also make the fudge cake base 24 hours ahead of time, tightly wrap in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. I don’t recommend making the mousse ahead of time due to the gelatin because it needs to be added directly on top of the cake.
How to Store Chocolate Mousse Cake Recipe
This Chocolate Mousse Cake must be stored in the fridge. You can store the cake in the springform pan with plastic wrap on top until ready to serve or store it directly on a serving plate, covered. Chocolate Mousse Cake will last up to 4 days.
Can I Freeze This Cake?
Yes! You can absolutely freeze Chocolate Mousse Cake! Tightly wrap in plastic wrap followed by double layers of foil. Freeze for up to two months. When ready to enjoy, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, do NOT attempt to heat it in any way.
Looking for More Easy Chocolate Desserts?
- Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake
- German Chocolate Cupcakes
- Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Pies
- Chocolate Lava Cakes
- Chocolate Fondue
- Chocolate Eclair Cake
- Chocolate Peppermint Cake
- Chocolate Raspberry Cake
- Chocolate Caramel Peanut Butter Fudge
Want to try this Chocolate Mousse Cake RECIPE?
Pin it to your Dessert or holiday Board to SAVE for later!
Find me on Pinterest for more great recipes! I am always pinning :)!
©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com
Carlsbad Cravings© Original