An easy chocolate mousse cake exclusively for chocolate lovers! This decadent chocolate dessert, inspired by the luscious French gâteaux, is the perfect way to celebrate a birthday or any special occasion. And the best part? With a simple step-by-step guide, both beginners and experienced bakers will find it a breeze to create this recipe.
Since you're here, I'm guessing you're a fan of chocolate, so you may want to take a look at my chocolate lovers recipes category which includes desserts like these easy jumbo chocolate truffles made with 3 basic ingredients and a few optionals for extra flavor, these chewy olive oil and tahini chocolate chunk cookies (you have to try them, seriously!) and this summer favorite, fudgy, no-churn chocolate ice cream.
Back to the chocolate cake now!
😍 Why I love this recipe
These are some of the reasons why this is one of the best chocolate mousse cakes you're ever going to make:
✓ DELICIOUS: I won't say much about this, except that it's extra chocolaty and it's intented to satisfy even the most hardcore chocolate lovers!
✓ Moist: The chocolate cake itself is already very moist (recipe based on these moist chocolate cupcakes with Mascarpone frosting) but the syrup provides a different kind of moistness! It also acts as an "insurance" if you happen to overbake it.
✓ Easy: The cakes are made in one bowl, with just a whisk (no mixer needed). They can be baked in disposable aluminum pans (no need to own multiple cake pans) and you don't have to cut them horizontally to create the cake layers (no risk of breaking the cake layers). And the frosting is the same as the cake filling (less work)!
✓ Perfect for beginners: I have increased the amount of chocolate used in the mousse to make it stiff enough so that even a begginer baker will be able to frost the cake without any problems. The extra chocolate also makes it sturdier, meaning that it can hold at room temperature much better than an average mousse cake.
✓ Versatile: Easy enough to be an everyday chocolate cake and so indulgent that's perfect for a birthday cake or any other special occasion.
These are the ingredients you'll need to make this easy layered chocolate mousse cake recipe. They may seem a lot but they're actually not, 😝! The first 5 ingredients are for the chocolate mousse, and the last 3 are for the simple syrup. For the chocolate cakes you'll just need 9 ingredients.
For the eggless chocolate mousse you'll need dark chocolate, cocoa powder, milk, heavy whipping cream and honey. This is basically a whipped dark chocolate ganache. The chocolate should be 55% cocoa (or more) and the cream should be at least 35% fat.
For the chocolate cakes: I use olive oil because it pairs perfectly with the chocolate flavor and offers some healthy fat, but you can use another vegetable oil such as sunflower oil or avocado oil. The cocoa powder should be Dutch processed.
Tip: Using oil instead of butter allows the cake to be soft and tender, even when it's cold. It also counteracts the dryness that the cocoa powder causes.
Garnishes: To make it just a bit more drool-worthy, sprinkle some cocoa powder or grated chocolate on top, or maybe add a few chocolate shavings for decoration. And to make it even more tempting, consider adding a few fresh berries like raspberries or strawberries as a garnish.
With a mirror glaze: The only reason I don't like a mirror glaze is because, in order to cover the cake perfectly, you have to make a lot more than what you actually need. However, it creates a stunning presentation making you look like a MasterChef, so if you want to try it, this chocolate mirror glaze recipe from recipetineats will be great!
With fresh fruit: After you spread the first layer of frosting add a few pieces of chopped fruit such as mango, banana, strawberry, raspberry or cherry. Press them gently onto the cake filling and cover with the second cake layer.
Follow this easy step-by-step guide to make the best dark chocolate mousse cake every time:
Step 1: Preheat your oven, grease the cake pans and line them with parchment paper.
Step 2: Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the wet ingredients and mix with a whisk until you get a smooth cake batter (it will be on the runny side).
Step 3: Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the cakes on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting (no need to unmold them).
Step 4 (make the syrup): Transfer the sugar and the water to a small pot and boil until the sugar is dissolved. Add the brandy, stir well and chill in the fridge.
Step 5: Transfer the milk and the cocoa powder to a small pot and stir until the cocoa powder is completely dissolved. Heat over medium heat until almost boiling, remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate melts completely, then let the mixture cool until lukewarm.
Step 6: Whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Take a small amount of the cream and mix it with the melted chocolate, then pour the chocolate mixture into the bowl with the whipped cream and gently fold with a spatula until combined.
Step 7: Transfer one chocolate cake layer onto a serving plate with the bottom side facing up (it will absorb the syrup better this way). Drizzle with the syrup and spread ⅓ of the chocolate mousse filling over the surface of the cake (don't go all the way to the edges, because the mousse will spread further by the weight of the top layer).
Step 8: Put the second cake on top, drizzle with the syrup and cover the top and the sides with the remaining mousse frosting. Use a spatula to create swirls and peaks for a homemade touch. Optionally, garnish with chocolate curls, cocoa powder, icing sugar or fresh fruit such as raspberries.
Storage: Because of the mousse, this chocolate cake needs to be refrigerated if it's not consumed right away. Take it out of the fridge 30-60 minutes before serving for the best texture.
Tip: Consider making this chocolate cake one day ahead, since it's even better the next day when all the flavors have blended together and the syrup is evenly distributed.
👨🍳 Expert Tips
For extra chocolaty cakes don't add any dairy in the cake batter. Use water or coffee instead of milk or buttermilk to make the chocolate flavor more intense.
For perfectly whipped cream: have the cream very cold and store the bowl and the beaters for 5 minutes in the freezer.
A large syringe or oil baster will help you drizzle the syrup more evenly and quickly. Otherwise, a brush will do the job.
If the chocolate mousse is very stiff during frosting, let it rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Don't spread the chocolate filling all the way to the edges. Leave some empty space, because it will spread out by the weight of the top layer.
How to cut the cake into even slices: First cut the cake in quarters (first cut it in half and then cut each half in the middle). After that, cut each quarter into 3 slices, so that you end up with 12 even pieces.
Yes, chocolate mousse cake should be refrigerated because most mousse needs to be stored in the fridge, otherwise it can go bad. For this reason it's not advisable to eat mousse cake that has been left out overnight, especially if the weather where you live is warm.
Why is it so difficult to cut even slices from a cake?
It's not always easy to cut even slices from a cake, mostly because of its round shape. An easy method is to make a cross and cut the cake in quarters, then cut each quarter into 2 or 3 even pieces. This way you can cut any cake into 8 or 12 even pieces with ease!
If you tried this easy Chocolate Mousse Cake Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below. I love hearing from you!
Easy Chocolate Mousse Cake Recipe 🍫🎂
- 1 electric mixer
- 2 8-inch round baking pans (I use aluminum foil pans)
For the chocolate cake:
- 1 ¼ cups (155 g) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (50 g) cocoa powder (Dutch processed )
- 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- 1 ¼ (250 g) light brown sugar (not firmly packed. You can also use white caster sugar.)
- ½ cup (112 g) olive oil (extra virgin )
- ¾ cups (180 g) water or coffee (I use a shot of espresso coffee and fill the rest with water.)
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the syrup:
- ⅓ cup (65 g) white sugar
- ½ cup (120 g) water
- 1 tablespoon (15 g) brandy or cognac
For the chocolate mousse:
- ¾ cups (180 g) milk
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (Dutch processed )
- 14.1 oz (400 g) dark chocolate (55% - 70% cocoa, chopped)
- 2 tablespoons (42 g) honey ( or maple syrup)
- 1 ½ cups (360 g) heavy whipping cream (35% fat, very cold)
Make the cakes:
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).Grease two 8-inch (20 cm) cake pans and line them with parchment paper (if you don't own two 8-inch pans, use aluminum foil disposable cake pans or bake the cakes the one after the other).
- Transfer the flour, the cocoa powder, the baking powder, the salt and the sugar in a medium bowl and mix well. Then, add the oil, the water/coffee, the eggs and the vanilla and mix with a whisk until you get a smooth mixture (it will be on the runny side).
- Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared pans (eyeball it or use a scale and pour 15oz / 425grams of batter into each pan).Bake for 35-37 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Transfer the cakes on a wire rack and let them cool completely before frosting (no need to unmold them).
Make the syrup:
- Transfer the sugar and the water to a small pot and boil until the sugar is dissolved. Add the brandy, stir well and chill in the fridge.
Make the chocolate mousse:
- Transfer the milk and the cocoa powder to a small pot and stir until the cocoa powder is completely dissolved. Heat over medium heat until almost boiling, remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate melts completely, then let it cool until lukewarm.
- Whip the heavy cream with a hand mixer (or a stand mixer with the whisk attachment) until stiff peaks form. Then, take a small amount of the whipped cream and mix it with the melted chocolate. After that, pour the chocolate mixture into the bowl with the whipped cream and gently fold with a spatula until combined and you can no longer see white streaks. Refrigerate the mousse until needed.
- Assemble the cake:
- Transfer one cake layer onto a serving plate with the bottom side facing up (it will absorb the syrup better this way). Drizzle the surface with ¼ cup (60 ml) of syrup. Then, spread ⅓ of the chocolate mousse filling over the surface of the cake (don't go all the way to the edges, because the mousse will spread further by the weight of the top layer).
- Put the second cake on top (bottom side facing up), and drizzle with ¼ cup (60 ml) of syrup. Using an off-set spatula, cover the top and the sides with the remaining frosting/mousse.Leave the frosting smooth or create swirls and peaks for that homemade touch. Optionally, garnish with chocolate curls, cocoa powder, icing sugar or fresh fruit such as raspberries. Add white chocolate shavings for contrast.
- Consider making this chocolate cake one day ahead, since it is even better the next day when all the flavors have blend together and the syrup is evenly distributed.
- This chocolate mousse cake needs to be refrigerated if not consumed right away. Take it out of the fridge 30-60 minutes before serving for the best texture.
- To eliminate the alcohol from the syrup, add the brandy from the start and boil the syrup for 2 minutes. Otherwsie, you can also omit it.
- For the chocolate: You can use couverture, bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate. As long as it's real chocolate (no chocolate melts) and it says that it's 55% cocoa or more, you're good to go.
- Pros: the chocolate mousse will have a creamier, softer and fluffier texture.
- Cons: it may be harder to frost the cake (the mousse should be cold) and it will not hold as well at room temperature, especially on a hot day.
*This article has been updated with a new, much easier and more chocolaty recipe. The original chocolate mousse cake was made with a chocolate sponge cake which is more elaborate to make. It is also more airy, but lucks the intense chocolate taste that the current recipe has.