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.
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.
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:
- 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.
How to make triple chocolate mousse cake
1: Make the brownie base
Start the chocolate mousse cake recipe by making the cake's base.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Prepare your pan with nonstick spray and parchment paper.
- In a medium saucepan, add butter and chocolate. Warm on medium-low heat. Stir constantly until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
- Then, whisk in sugar. Set aside to cool slightly. (If it is too warm, it will scramble the eggs.)
- Once cooled, whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract to the chocolate mixture.
- 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.
- Spread the batter into the bottom of the prepared pan. Then, bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean.
- 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.
- In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Then, let stand for 5 minutes.
- Place the chocolate in a medium bowl.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cool to room temperature. Stir the mix occasionally. It is normal for the mixture to thicken slightly.
- 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.
- 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.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and butter on medium-high heat. Remove from heat just before it begins to boil.
- Then, place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Pour the heated cream over the chocolate.
- 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.
- Once cooled, spread the ganache over the top of the mousse layer. Place in the fridge until set. This will take about 1 hour.
- Remove the sides of the pan. Then, carefully pull the parchment paper away from the cake.
- Transfer the cake to a serving platter. You can garnish it with whipped cream or fresh berries.
Frequently asked questions
Yes. The mousse needs time to set so that is perfect.
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.
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.
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.
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.