This cake has a pure, real chocolate taste like an expensive, good quality Swiss truffle.
All the chocolate lovers out there just skip this text and scroll down to the recipe! OK, just kidding… please hear me out for a moment…
If you haven’t tried this recipe, then this must be the next cake on your list. I can’t say enough about it. It’s decadent, rich, full of chocolate flavor, creamy, moist and highly addictive! It’s known to have turned some not chocolate fans into hardcore chocolate lovers. It also happens to be my every year birthday cake. Every year. No exceptions. And with my easy method for assembling, making it will seem to you like a walk in the park!
I have to say that this is more of a European style cake, and its pure chocolate taste is the result of two main components.
First there’s the chocolate sponge cake. This type of cake is ideal for this recipe because sponge cakes, made only from eggs, sugar, flour and cocoa, manage to be extra soft and airy. Like little chocolate clouds! Plus, they can absorb syrup really well, trapping it inside their tiny holes, without becoming soggy. In fact, this type of sponge cake demands syrup. So, this is the perfect platform for the chocolate mousse to be on!
Ahh, the chocolate mousse… This is the second main component. It’s made of good quality, real chocolate (approximately 55% cocoa) and cream. These are also the basic ingredients of some good truffles, only in different proportions. With the amount of cream being higher than the chocolate, this mousse balances between dense and fluffy. Three versions of this mousse are also used in my chocolate trilogy dessert, if you want to check it out.
For an extra layer of chocolate and better presentation, a chocolate ganache is poured over this fabulous cake, and some chocolate meringues are crumbled on top of it (feel free to replace them with your favorite cookie or wafer if you don’t want to do this extra step).
About the experience of tasting it… As I’ve said, this cake is the epitome of a chocolate dream. At the first bite you feel a chocolate explosion in your mouth. The velvety mousse starts melting and covering your taste buds making you happy. You start to believe that chocolate was indeed the food of the Mayan Gods. Then, the syrup with a hint of brandy and the ethereal sponge cake, elevate even more this heavenly taste and add some contrast and lightness to the whole experience, just enough to make you want more…
Serve this on your birthday or after a special dinner (I’m thinking porcini mushroom risotto for a main, or a more summery vegetable orzotto with marinated cheese cubes)
This cake has a lot of steps but once you get the hang of it, you will really enjoy making it! Plus, you can make the sponge cake from the previous day. Since the mousse needs to chill for some hours, the thing that works best for me is to make the cake (and meringues) the previous night and make the mousse the morning of the day I want to serve it.
With this cake you don’t have to frost or spread anything with spatulas and piping bags. You just need a baking pan that you’ll bake the sponge cake and later use it as a mold. For more details see recipe below!
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- For the cake
- 5 medium eggs (room temperature, not cold)
- ¾ cups minus 1 tablespoon (125 grams) sugar
- ¾ cup (100 grams) all purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons (25 grams) cocoa
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- For the syrup
- ½ cup sugar
- ¾ cups water
- 1 tablespoon brandy or kahlua (optional, but please use it)
- For the mousse
- 12.35 oz (350 grams) chocolate, 55% cocoa
- 3 cups (720 grams) cream, 35% fat
- 1 tablespoon brandy
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 tablespoons light brown sugar
- For the chocolate meringues (optional)
- 2 egg whites
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons (12 grams) dutch processed cocoa
- For the ganache (optional)
- 5.3 oz (150 grams) chocolate, 55% cocoa
- ½ cup (120 grams) cream, 35% fat
- 1 teaspoon honey or corn syrup
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Line with baking paper and grease an 8 inch (20 cm diameter) cake pan.
- Beat eggs with sugar and salt until they resemble like thick shaving foam.
- Sift together flour, cocoa and baking powder and with gentle motions fold it into the egg mixture (Guys, fold and not stir. Stirring will cause the mixture to deflate).
- Transfer into the pan and bake the cake for 45-50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
- Let it cool. If you refrigerate it for 1-2 hours or even overnight, it will be easier to cut it into layers.
- While cake is baking, make the meringues. In a clean bowl beat egg whites and sugar until stiff picks form.
- Fold in the cocoa powder and with a pastry bag form ladyfinger shaped meringues (or with a spoon shape round ones)
- Bake at 285°F (140°C) for 1 and ½ hours or until dry (time will depend on the size of your meringues).
- Let in a rack to cool and store them in an airtight container.
- Make the syrup. Heat water and sugar and then boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let it cool. Add the brandy and set aside.
- Make the mousse. In the microwaves or in a double boiler melt the chocolate, sugar and 1 cup of cream. When totally melted add the vanilla and brandy. Let it cool for a while (while chocolate is cooling, level the surface of the sponge cake with a knife and cut it into 3 discs).
- Beat the rest of the cream (2 cups) until soft peaks form (don’t beat it to stiff peaks because the final mousse won’t be very well homogenized). With a spatula add the melted chocolate in two stages and fold gently.
- Line the pan/mold with two baking paper discs and the acetate strips (see notes below)
- Scoop one third of the mousse in the lined pan and level with a spatula (mousse may be a little runny but it will thicken in the fridge). Place one cake layer on top and brush with ¼ cup of the syrup. Repeat with mousse, cake, syrup, mousse, cake, syrup.
- Place in the fridge for at least 4-5 hours, and then invert onto a cake stand/plate. Remove the pan and the acetate/baking paper.
- Make the ganache. In the microwaves or in a double boiler melt the chocolate, cream and honey.
- Let it cool and drizzle on top of the cake. The cold cake will help it thicken fast.
- Decorate with crashed meringues (or cookies/wafers).
Cut 2 discs of baking paper the same size as your pan and place them both at the bottom of the pan (the 2 baking paper discs help with easier unmolding when cake is cold).
Cut 1 strip of acetate 4½ inches (11 cm) high and 28 inches (70 cm) long. If your acetate is shorter you can cut 2 strips 14 inches long each. Place it inside the pan to make a mold with tall edges and secure it with some scotch tape or clips. Now you have a mold tall enough to fit your cake!!!
(If you can’t find acetate you can use strips of a sturdy paper along with strips of baking paper. Just line the sturdy paper inside the pan and repeat with the baking paper. Secure them with some clips. This way, the cake touches only the baking paper)
Instead of brushing the syrup, I prefer using an extra large syringe to drizzle it with.
Add the meringues just before cutting the cake, to keep them extra crispy.
Keep refrigerated for up to 3-4 days.
This cake is best eaten slightly chilled.