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Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

This triple chocolate mousse cake recipe makes the perfect light dessert. It’s made with a dense chocolate brownie base, cool creamy mousse filling, and topped with rich chocolate ganache.

Triple chocolate mousse cake on a white cake stand with large strawberries stacked on top of the cake.

This mousse cake recipe is inspired by Marcel Desaulniers from The Food Network. It’s similar to my triple Nutella mousse cake but heavier than my strawberry mousse cake.

The chocolate mousse filling adds a cool creamy texture that compliments the dense chocolate cake layer. It’s smooth, velvety, and extraordinarily decadent.

This cake has loads of chocolate from top to bottom. The cool, rich texture makes it great for any special occasion or holiday.

When I came across a chocolate mousse layer cake with ganache on The Food Network, I knew I had to make my own version with one single chocolate cake layer, chocolate filling, and chocolate ganache.


Why this recipe works

  • I found I needed to add a little gelatin to the mousse layer in order to keep it sturdy. I didn’t want it to spread and drip over the edges.
  • You’ll notice I left the ganache semisweet which balances well with the sweet cake and mousse layers.
  • I served this layered chocolate mousse cake with fresh strawberries but I imagine it would be good with whipped cream, ice cream, or other fresh berries.

It truly is a decadent mousse cake and will be a huge hit for any occasion. It came out light, rich, and perfect for Mother’s Day. It’s also great for Valentine’s Day if you have someone special to make it for. Or you could make it for yourself.

slice of triple chocolate mousse cake with fork taking a bite out

What You Need

As the perfect light dessert, this chocolate mousse cake recipe has the right balance of chocolate in each layer. Let’s discuss the ingredients:

Ingredients

  • Chocolate: I prefer to use unsweetened chocolate in the base and semisweet chocolate in the mousse and ganache.
  • Butter: I used unsalted butter in this recipe to avoid making the cake overly salty in flavor.
  • Vanilla: This ingredient adds a sweet, woody flavor to the cake.
  • Cocoa Powder: Dutch-processed cocoa powder has a smoother flavor, which I prefer. You can also use natural cocoa.
  • Gelatin: This ingredient helps to stabilize the mousse layer.
  • Sugar: I use granulated sugar to sweeten this recipe because it dissolves well.
  • Heavy Cream: This adds richness to the flavor profile of the cake.
A close up view of triple chocolate mousse cake sitting on a white cake plate with large strawberries on top of the cake.

How to make triple chocolate mousse cake

1: Make the brownie base

Start the chocolate mousse cake recipe by making the cake’s base.

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Prepare your pan with nonstick spray and parchment paper.
  2. In a medium saucepan, add butter and chocolate. Warm on medium-low heat. Stir constantly until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
  3. Then, whisk in sugar. Set aside to cool slightly. (If it is too warm, it will scramble the eggs.)
  4. Once cooled, whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract to the chocolate mixture.
  5. Then, sift the flour, cocoa powder, and salt into the chocolate mixture. Fold the ingredients in with a spatula until no dry streaks of flour are visible.
  6. Spread the batter into the bottom of the prepared pan. Then, bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean.
  7. Leave the base in the pan. Set it on a wire rack to cool completely. (You can also cool it in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.)

2: Make the mousse

Now, you will craft the cool, creamy mousse that makes up the chocolate mousse cake filling.

  1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Then, let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl.
  3. Then, add ½ cup of cream and 2 tablespoons of sugar to a small saucepan. Bring this mix to a simmer on medium-high heat. Stir to make sure the sugar fully dissolves. Remove from the heat.
  4. Add the softened gelatin to the mix and stir until fully dissolved. Pour the cream over the chocolate, and whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
  5. Cool to room temperature. Stir the mix occasionally. It is normal for the mixture to thicken slightly.
  6. Whip the remaining 1 cup of cream at medium speed with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. This should take about 30 seconds for it to thicken. Then, increase the speed to high and whip until medium to stiff peaks form, roughly 30 to 60 seconds.
  7. Then, spread the mousse evenly over the top of the cooled brownie layer. Place it in the fridge while you make the ganache.

Don’t aim for super stiff peaks when whipping the cream, but make sure they are not too soft. If the whipped cream is too soft, the mousse will not set properly. And if it’s too stiff, the final texture will not be silky smooth.

3: Make the ganache

The ganache is like the cherry on top of this delicious chocolate mousse cake recipe.

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and butter on medium-high heat. Remove from heat just before it begins to boil.
  2. Then, place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Pour the heated cream over the chocolate.
  3. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Then, set aside to cool. The ganache is cooled when it is no longer warm to the touch.
  4. Once cooled, spread the ganache over the top of the mousse layer. Place in the fridge until set. This will take about 1 hour.
  5. Remove the sides of the pan. Then, carefully pull the parchment paper away from the cake.
  6. Transfer the cake to a serving platter. You can garnish it with whipped cream or fresh berries.
Slice of three layer mousse cake on white plate with a bite taken out.

Frequently asked questions

Can I make the cake the day before my event and let it sit in the fridge until I serve it?

Yes. The mousse needs time to set so that is perfect.

Can this cake be frozen for a few days?

Yes, it can! Thaw it in the refrigerator a day before serving. Also, slice it cold but let the slices sit at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to serving.

I don’t have a springform pan. Can I make this cake in a regular cake tin?

A springform pan will certainly make things easier but if you really need to use a regular pan, I suggest freezing the cake before you try to turn it out.

Can I use a 9 or 10-inch pan instead?

The recipe was developed to fit perfectly into an 8-inch pan that’s 3-inches tall. Using larger pans will cause the layers to be thinner. The bake time for the base layer will also need to be adjusted.

What can I use in place of gelatin?

While I’ve personally not tested this recipe with anything other than gelatin, readers have successfully use agar powder. 1 teaspoon of agar and 1 tablespoon of water is said to work perfectly

Jen’s best tips

  • You can garnish this chocolate mousse cake recipe with fresh berries (I prefer strawberries!) or whipped cream.
  • Make sure to allow the cake to chill for at least 1 hour before slicing or the mousse will squish out.
  • While the cake is easier to slice when cold, it tastes best at room temperature. Allow the slices to rest on the counter for 30 minutes prior to serving.

More chocolate cake recipes you’ll love

  1. Nutella Cheesecake
  2. Chocolate Pistachio Cake
  3. Irish Chocolate Coffee Bundt Cake
  4. Chocolate Coconut Cake

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Slice of triple chocolate mousse cake on plate with fork taking a bite out.

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

Yield: 16 servings
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 35 minutes

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake is the perfect light dessert recipe. It’s made with a chocolate cake base, cool creamy mousse filling, and topped with rich dark chocolate ganache.

Ingredients

For the brownie

  • 6-ounces (170 g) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (130 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For the mousse

  • ¾ teaspoon gelatin powder
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 6 ounces (168 g) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 ½ cups (360 ml) cold heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

For the ganache

  • ¾ cups (180 ml) heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 9 ounces (252 g) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Instructions

Make the brownie:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly spray the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with nonstick spray. Line the bottom and sides with parchment paper and lightly spray the paper with nonstick spray
  2. Add the chocolate and butter to a medium saucepan. Warm over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until chocolate is melty and smooth. Whisk in the sugar. Set aside to cool slightly. It can be warm, you just don't want it too hot that it scrambles the eggs.
  3. Once cooled, whisk in the eggs and vanilla until combined.
  4. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and salt into the chocolate mixture and fold together with a rubber spatula just until no dry streaks of flour are visible. Take care not to overmix.
  5. Spread the batter evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs.
  6. Leave the brownie in the pan and set it wire rack to cool completely. Or pop it in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.

Make the mousse:

  1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water, let stand for 5 minutes. Place chocolate in a medium bowl. Add ½ cup of the cream and 2 tablespoons of sugar to a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Stir to make sure the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Remove from heat; add the softened gelatin and stir until fully dissolved. Pour the cream over the chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
  3. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. The mixture will thicken slightly.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a handheld electric mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup cream at medium speed until it begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to high and whip until medium to stiff peaks form, about 30 to 60 seconds.
  5. Use a whisk to mix ⅓ of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Use a rubber spatula to fold the remaining whipped cream into the chocolate mixture until no streaks appear.
  6. Spread the mousse evenly over the top of the cooled brownie layer. Refrigerate while you make the ganache.

Make the ganache:

  1. Heat the cream and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from heat just before it begins to boil.
  2. Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl and pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside to cool until the ganache is no longer warm to the touch.
  3. Spread the ganache over the top of the mousse layer and refrigerate until set. About 1 hour.
  4. Remove the sides of the pan and carefully pull the parchment paper off the cake. Transfer the cake to a serving platter and serve with whipped cream or fresh berries.

Notes

This recipe was updated! Everything is the same except for the base layer. I updated the base so it no longer requires melting chocolate with hot water. Too many readers had difficulty with this. You'll still get the same rich chocolate base without all the hassle. The base is from my Nutella Mousse Cake.

If you'd like to make the original cake base, you can find it here -> Original Mousse Cake

Cocoa powder: Dutch-processed has a smoother flavor but natural cocoa can also be used.

Cake pan: If you don't have a springform pan, you can use a regular 8-inch round cake pan that's 3-inches tall. In step 3 of "make the ganache", place the cake in the freezer for 1 hour. Once it's firm enough to unmold, place a sheet of parchment paper over the top then set a cutting board or large plate over the paper. Flip the entire assembly over so the cake can release from the pan. Remove the pan and use the same method to flip the cake upright onto a serving platter.

Serving the cake: The cake slices best when well chilled. Once sliced, allow the slices to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. This allows the layers to soften slightly, making the mousse & ganache extra silky.

Make ahead tip

  1. The cake will keep for up to 3 days stored in the refrigerator.
  2. The cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 401Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 90mgSodium: 93mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 2gSugar: 30gProtein: 4g

The nutrition information provided is for convenience and as a courtesy only. It is not guarantted to be accurate because nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator and input the exact ingredients you used in the recipe.

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Mitr

Sunday 12th of September 2021

made this a second time - made the updated recipe - the brownie layer turned out very hard. What could have gone wrong? Still tastes amazing. Thank you

Jen Sobjack

Tuesday 14th of September 2021

It's a dense fudgy brownie base that will harden upon refrigeration. After you slice the cake, allow the slices to set out for about 30 minutes before serving. They will soften as they come to room temperature.

Jo

Saturday 11th of September 2021

Love the recipe! Gonna try it. Quick question - can I use chocolate powder instead of coarsely chopped chocolate for the brownie batter? and if so, how much quantity of chocolate powder?

Jen Sobjack

Tuesday 14th of September 2021

Unfortunately not. Real chocolate is required for this recipe.

Kathleen Klingshirn

Saturday 4th of September 2021

Gorgeous photo. Ready to try but wonder how to make smaller portions look as pretty. My fussy dinner party guests tend to not want a large or full slice. So advise, have you ever made the cake, cut out small round and covered with mousse and ganache. I was thinking using small 5 oz serving containers. Thanks. Enjoy your blog. K

Jen Sobjack

Tuesday 7th of September 2021

I've never reduced the size of this cake but if you try it, let me know how it goes. Enjoy!

Nosheen

Thursday 19th of August 2021

Hi - oddly enough I can’t find unsweetened chocolate where I live. How can I adapt recipe using semi sweet or dark chocolate (for the brownie base)?

Jen Sobjack

Thursday 19th of August 2021

You can use semisweet chocolate instead but do expect the brownie base to be a tad sweeter than intended. I don't suggest reducing the sugar because it not only sweetens the recipe but also adds moisture. Reducing it can affect the final texture of the baked brownie.

Kelly Price

Monday 26th of July 2021

Just finished making this! Haven’t tried it yet but I can imagine that it’s amazing. My mousse seems softer then it should be (I think cause I messed up and added all the cream and sugar then had to take some out as the recipe states) but it turned out beautifully!

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