This rich chocolate mousse cake without gelatin (a.k.a. chocolate torte) is full of chocolate and so decadent like a creamy Swiss truffle.
All the chocolate lovers out there just skip this text and scroll down to the recipe! OK, just kidding… Before you read the recipe for this luscious pure chocolate mousse cake - torte, please hear me out for a moment...
These kind of cakes are also known as Torte, and I don't know about you, but when I hear the word "torte" images of velvety, airy mousse and fluffy, moist sponge cake come to mind.
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 the whole thing, 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 (and no eggs!). You can think of it like whipped chocolate ganache...
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 this triple chocolate mousse dessert with whipped cream, just in case you want to check it out.
And the chocolate ganache...
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.
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…
It may seem that this recipe 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. You can also use a springform pan.
Here's the mold I made for a dark and white chocolate cake. Just trim the acetate sheets at the same height as the cake for easier unmolding! (See the recipe at the end for more details)
If you like this chocolate torte, then you'll probably also like this (easier) Mocha, caramel, and peanuts mousse cake!
Otherwise, if you just want the traditional two-layer cake with a simple buttercream frosting, you SHOULD try this fluffy pistachio cake with rosewater buttercream!!!
Rich chocolate mousse cake recipe (no gelatin)
- 1 Stand mixer
- Cake baking pans
For the sponge 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
For the syrup:
- ½ cup sugar
- ¾ cups water
- 1 tablespoon brandy or Kahlua
For the mousse:
- 12.35 oz (350 grams) dark chocolate 55% cocoa, chopped
- 3 cups (720 grams) heavy cream, 35% fat, very cold
- 1 tablespoon brandy
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons light brown sugar, honey or maple syrup
For the ganache (optional):
- 5.3 oz (150 grams) dark chocolate 55% cocoa, chopped
- ½ cup (120 grams) heavy cream, 35% fat
- 1 teaspoon honey or corn syrup
- crushed chocolate meringues or cookies (optional)
- Make the sponge cake (you can do this up to 2 days ahead and keep refrigerated):Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and line with baking paper and grease an 8 inch (20 cm diameter) cake pan.Sift together the flour and the cocoa powder.Transfer the eggs and the sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer and whip on high until they resemble like thick shaving foam.Fold (not stir) the flour mixture into the egg mixture with gentle motions, using a spatula.Transfer the mixture into the pan and bake the cake for 45-50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Let it cool completely, level the surface and cut into 3 layers (you can refrigerate it for 1-2 hours or overnight, for easier cutting).
- Make the syrup (you can do this up to 2 days ahead):Transfer the water and the sugar to a small saucepan and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let it cool. Add the brandy and set aside.
- Make the mousse (you can do this the previous day):In the microwaves or in a pot over very low heat, melt the chocolate, the sugar, and 1 cup of cream. When the chocolate is melted completely, add the vanilla and the brandy and let it cool for a while.Transfer the remaining 2 cups of the very cold cream to the bowl of your mixer and beat on high until soft peaks form. Add the melted chocolate in two batches and fold gently with a spatula.
- Assemble the cake: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 (this will be the top of the cake once you invert the pan).Place one cake layer on top of the cream and brush with ¼ cup of syrup.Repeat with the mousse, the cake, the syrup, and again with the rest of the mousse, the cake, and the syrup.Place in the fridge for at least 4-5 hours or overnight.
- Make the ganache:In the microwaves or in a double boiler melt the chocolate with the cream and the honey and let it cool until lukewarm but pourable.
- Decoration:Invert the cake onto a cake stand/plate. Remove the pan and peel off the acetate/baking paper.Pour the ganache over the cake and help it spread with a spatula, if necessary.Decorate with crushed 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 the cake is cold).
Cut 1 strip of acetate 4 ½ inches (11 cm) high and 28 inches (70 cm) long. If your acetate is shorter you can cut 2 strips. Place it in 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)
***If you don't want to use the acetate strips method, you can use a 10-inch springform baking pan. This will result in a wider and shorter cake. You will cut the sponge cake into two layers and divide the mouse into two layers also. 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.