Chocolate Mousse Cake {Birthday Celebration}

While the majority of you were off celebrating your fathers last weekend, I was having a birthday! [woohoo] Every few years my birthday and Father’s Day overlap and cause funny little arguments within my family. Silly little competitions such as where we are going for dinner and if it should be called Father’s Day dinner or Madeline’s Birthday dinner. This year, I kind of won and got to choose the place and the title, but I won’t go rubbing it in anyone’s face.

I like to say that my dad wouldn’t be celebrating Father’s day without my birthday, which would be true…if I wasn’t the youngest of three kids.

Remember when Kinects were cool? It was clearly a while ago since my autocorrect is telling me that i’m spelling “kilt” wrong. Also, why am I wearing the same shorts as my brother and a collared shirt? I look like a boy, good job little Madeline.

Every time I thought about my birthday this year, I kept thinking about what kind of cake I wanted. When I was a kid, all I wanted was Baskin Robbins ice cream cake. A mint chocolate chip ice cream cake. Or better yet, Dairy Queen! They had this ice cream cake that had little chocolate cookie crumbs sandwiched in between a layer of chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Sadly, the Dairy Queen’s around here are long gone, I’ll just have to save that for my trip to Minnesota next week!

This year I wanted to make something new and a little more challenging then usual. Challenging was definitely right. The exterior of the cake looked pretty mouthwatering but the inside, oh the inside was a mess. Luckily, I’m a firm believer in taste over presentation so things turned out okay.

That beautiful chocolate cake was ideally supposed to have three thin layers of cake, separated by a chocolate mousse, and then topped with a chocolate ganache. Unfortunately, I found out that I’m apparently not so hot at cutting multiple layers of a cake out of one 9 inch cake. The bottom layer turned out perfectly, but the next two fell apart a little bit…next time I think I’ll make just two layers of cake so that they are thicker and easier to cut/handle, instead of trying to make tiny 1 inch layers.

Regardless of my mini failure at perfection, I still think this cake warrants being shared so I share with you the recipe in hopes that you’ll give it a shot and come back and tell me how you kicked that recipes butt. This cake was the perfect summertime celebration cake. As much as I love a good chocolate cake covered in a chocolate buttercream, when it is as hot as it is in the valley, you need something cool.

Note: The recipe said that this cake serves 8 people, which was very frightening. Seven of us ate about 1/3 of it. So if you plan on making this, invite over lots of people! Or eat it all yourself, no judgement.





I hope that you all had a lovely time with your family, appreciating how great it is to have people who support you and your crazy ideas.

Happy Father’s Day. Happy Birthday.

Happy Happy Happy!



Fair warning, I spread out making this cake over two days so that I wasn’t spending hours in the kitchen.

Chocolate Mousse Cake {Birthday Celebration}


    For the Cake:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup brewed coffee
  • For the Mousse:
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 1 tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon powdered unflavored gelatin
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablspoons sugar
  • 1 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped - or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 5 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 2/3 cups heavy cream
  • For the Ganache:
  • 4 oz of dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


    For the Cake:
  1. Heat oven to 350ºF. Butter a 9inch pan and dust with cocoa powder, tap out excess.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add in the eggs, vanilla, melted butter, buttermilk, and coffee. Mix until fully combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until cake tester comes out clean, about 35 minutes.
  3. Let cake cool for 10 minutes in pan on a rack, then unmold cake from pan onto a rack and let cool completely.
  4. Using a long serrated knife, cut the cake into 3 equal layers (or try two if you're nervous about making the layers too thin). Place one layer on a work surface and stamp out a round with an 8 by 3 inch pastry ring (can be bought at Sur La Table). Using a 7 inch cake ring as a stencil (or free hand it like me) cut eh remaining two cake layers into 7 inch rounds. Set aside.
  5. For the Mousse
  6. In a small bowl, sprinkle cold water over the gelatin and let stand to soften.
  7. Meanwhile, in a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 1/2 cup of sugar.
  8. In a saucepan, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, the milk, the vanilla beans and seeds, chocolate, cocoa, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat and whisk to blend the chocolate together. Whisking constantly, gradually pour the hot milk intot he egg mixure to temper it. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook, stiring for about a minute. Do not boil! Remove from ehat, and stir in the gelatin until smooth. Straight through a find strainger into a large bowl. (If using vanilla extract, stir in the vanilla extract here). Let stand at room temperature until cool to the touch, about 15 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, beat the heavy cream to medium peaks. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  10. Fold a dollop of whipped cream into the cooled chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold in the rest of the whipped cream until the mousse is completely combined.
  11. To Assemble:
  12. Spoon about 1/3 of the chocolate mousse over the 8in cake layer in the ring. Gently center one of the 7 inch grounds on top. Carefully pour another 1/3 of the chocolate mousse to cover the cake. Center the third cake round on top. Pour in enough of the chocolate mousse so that it comes all the way to the top of the ring. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until set, at least 4 hours, or overnight. After the cake has set, take out of freezer and pour ganache (instructions below) on top and quickly smooth out with a knife.
  13. To unmold cake, wet a kitchen towel with hot water and ring it out, then wrap it around the ring for a minute to warm the mousse, then slide the ring off. Place the cake int he fridge for 2 hours to come out of a freeze, then serve!
  14. To Make The Ganache:
  15. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a saucepan, combine the cream and salt and bring to a simmer, then pour over the chocolate. Let it stand for 30 seconds, then whisk together until smooth. Place in the fridge, whisking every 15 minutes until it stiffens.


Recipe from The Sono Baking Company Cookbook

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