Chocolate Mousse was one of the very first recipes I tried to make, way back when I was a middle schooler. Making a quintessentially French dish was an assignment for my French class, so I set off with a copy of Time Life Books: classic French cooking and did my best. Which wasn’t very good. Actually, it was terrible. The recipe called for coffee, which at the time, before I became an avid consumer of the beverage, was a confusing ingredient. Did they mean coffee grounds or brewed coffee. Well, I chose very wrong and went with the grounds, probably because I didn’t know how to brew coffee. It was like eating chocolate with sand in it. Not good. I made it again with brewed coffee and it was a revelation. The texture was like silk, the taste of the chocolate was so rich and luscious, unlike anything I’d every eaten. It was like a very distant cousin to chocolate pudding, but altogether superior. I was so proud that I’d made something this delicious. It was one of the first times I was excited about a school assignment and it set me off on more baking adventures.
When Fanny sent me her book, I flipped through it, saw her Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake and I knew it was the one I would make. This recipe is traditional in that it uses uncooked eggs; whipping both the whites and the yolks separately and folding them into the chocolate. The result is glorious. For those who are squeamish about using raw eggs in a recipe, you can find pasteurized eggs, which are deemed safe to eat without cooking. I used fresh eggs from my neighbor’s chickens and it was not only exquisite, but I am also still here to talk about it.
Fanny’s recipe was pure and simple, which is a lovely thing in a day of over complicated recipes, but I decided to add a bit of coffee flavor to the Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake, to recreate the flavor of my childhood memory.
Chocolate Sponge Cake
- 1/2 cup (65g) all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 1/2 cup (113g) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Coffee Soak for Baked Cake Layer
- 2 tablespoons BREWED coffee
- 2 tablespoons simple syrup
- 200 g dark chocolate finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/4 cup water or use coffee or a coffee flavored liqueur, like Kahlua
- 3 eggs separated
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 100 g dark chocolate finely chopped
- 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon Kahlua
- Cocoa powder for dusting
- For chocolate sponge: Preheat oven to 325°F. Line an ungreased 8-inch Cake Pan with parchment paper.
- In a bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder (I use Droste) and salt.
- In a stand mixer, whip the eggs with the sugar until pale and when you pull the whip out of the foam it creates a ribbon that sits on the surface for a couple of seconds before blending in. Mix the flour into the egg foam, using the whip (I do this by hand, as you'll see in my instagram video) on low speed.
- In a small bowl, put about 1/3 a cup of the batter. Mix in the oil and vanilla to the small bowl of batter. Fold that mixture into the large amount of batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
- Remove from oven, allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pan, remove the cake from the pan and cool complete.
- Once the cake was cool, I cut the cake in half, so I had two disks of cake, because I wanted a smaller ratio of cake to mousse. Fanny used the whole cake.
- For the coffee soak: Mix together 2 tablespoons BREWED coffee and 2 tablespoons simple syrup. To make your own simple syrup, bring 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water to a simmer and cook until sugar is dissolved.
- For chocolate mousse: Combine the dark chocolate, butter and coffee in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, to make a double boiler. Turn off the heat and gently stir until smooth. Allow to cool slightly.
- In a stand mixer, whip the egg whites until foamy. Add the sugar and continue whipping until the whites are medium peaks form (see my meringue video on instagram for a diagram of medium peaks). Transfer to another bowl.
- Using the same bowl, whip the egg yolks until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Slowly add the chocolate mixture.
- Fold the whites into the chocolate mixture in 3 additions.
- Whip the heavy whipping cream to soft peaks. Fold the cream into the chocolate mixture.
- Pour the mousse over the cake in the springform pan. Shimmy the pan to make sure the mousse settles flat in the pan. Allow to set for several hours or overnight.
- For the ganache: Heat the cream and Kahlua in a pan, turn off the heat and add the dark chocolate. Swirl the pan so the chocolate is submerged and allow to sit for 3 minutes. Gently stir until smooth. Pour the mixture over the cake. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes, but you can do this a day ahead.