Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake
I have been tempted by Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake for well over three years now. I’ve seen a variety of recipes in a number of different places and have bookmarked it and doggy-eared it countless times. One day last week, my Chief Culinary Consultant mentioned that it had been awhile since I had made a big ol’ fancy cake. A show-stopper, as it were. Challenge accepted. I sifted through my notes, spreadsheets and cookbooks to see what I might want to bake up, when a page from a long-gone Cook’s Illustrated magazine fell out of a binder. The Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake. It was destiny.
This triple layer cake is the trifecta of chocolate deliciousness. The bottom layer is a flourless chocolate cake… the middle layer is a light dark chocolate mousse… and the top layer is an even lighter white chocolate mousse. The combination of the three is rich, intensely flavorful and silky smooth. It’s a fabulous dessert to pair with coffee and enjoy slowly, lingering over each bite.
This cake is the holy grail for any chocolate lover. It takes a bit of time, but the assembly is relatively easy and absolutely, 100% worth it. You owe yourself this treat!
One year ago: Oatmeal-Raisin Ice Cream
Two years ago: How To Make a Rainbow Cake
Four years ago: Polenta Pizza
Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake
For the Bottom Layer
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, plus extra for greasing pan, (3 ounces )
- 7 ounces (198.45 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- ¾ teaspoon (0.75 teaspoon) instant espresso powder
- 1½ teaspoons (1.5 teaspoons) vanilla extract
- 4 eggs, separated
- Pinch salt
- ⅓ cup (73.33 g) light brown sugar
For the Middle Layer:
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed
- 5 tablespoons hot water
- 7 ounces (198.45 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1½ cups (357 ml) cold heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon (0.13 teaspoon) table salt
For the Top Layer
- ¾ teaspoon (0.75 teaspoon) powdered gelatin
- 1 tablespoon water
- 6 ounces (170.1 g) white chocolate chips, (1 cup )
- 1½ cups (357 ml) cold heavy cream
- Make the Bottom Layer: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan that is at least 3 inches high.
- Melt the butter, chocolate and espresso powder in a large heatproof bowl set over a saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in the vanilla and egg yolks; set aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt at medium speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. Add half of the brown sugar and beat until combined, about 15 seconds. Add the remaining brown sugar and beat at high speed until soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted, about 1 minute longer, scraping down the sides halfway through. Whisk one-third of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining egg whites until no white streaks remain. Carefully transfer the batter to the prepared springform pan, gently smoothing the top with an offset spatula.
- Bake until the cake has risen, is firm around the edges, and the center has just set but is still soft (the center of cake will spring back after pressing gently with your finger), 13 to 18 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour. (The cake will collapse as it cools.) Do not remove the cake from the pan.
- Make the Middle Layer: Whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water in a small bowl and set aside. Melt the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over a saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream, granulated sugar and salt on medium speed until the mixture begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 15 to 60 seconds.
- Whisk the cocoa powder mixture into the melted chocolate until smooth. Whisk one-third of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to lighten. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Spoon the mousse into the springform pan over the cooled cake and gently tap the pan on counter 3 times to remove any large air bubbles; smooth the top with an offset spatula. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes while preparing the top layer.
- Make the Top Layer: In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water; let stand for at least 5 minutes. Place the white chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring ½ cup of the heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and add the gelatin mixture, whisking until fully dissolved. Pour the cream mixture over the white chocolate chips and whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is completely smooth. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, 5 to 8 minutes (the mixture will thicken slightly).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the remaining 1 cup heavy cream at medium speed until it begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 15 to 60 seconds. Whisk one-third of the whipped cream into the white chocolate mixture to lighten. Using a rubber spatula, fold the remaining whipped cream into the white chocolate mixture until no white streaks remain. Spoon the white chocolate mousse into the pan over the middle layer. Smooth the top with an offset spatula. Return the cake to the refrigerator and chill until set, at least 2½ hours.
- The cake can be made up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 45 minutes before releasing it from the pan. Garnish the top of cake with chocolate curls or dust with cocoa, if desired. Run a thin knife between the cake and side of the springform pan, then remove the side of pan. Cut into slices and serve. (For clean slices, dip a sharp knife into hot water and wipe dry between cuts.)
Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!
This cake was fantastic and delicious! I had one issue – the melted chocolate for the middle layer seized when I added the cocoa + water mixture (even though I let the melted chocolate cool for 5+ min). Any ideas on how to prevent this for next time? Thanks
I made this for a friend at work absolutely amazing I used instant coffee instead of espresso powder it was still amazing kind of a bitter sweet taste my boss said it was to die for
Made it, came out perfect!!!
I just sent the recipe to two people that requested it after the first bite! 😊
I have made this recipe for 7 years now. I always go back to it!! It takes some time, so I love to get out all my measured ingredients the day before. I love love love this desert!
I’ve made this at least half a dozen times over the last few years, and it gets rave reviews every time. It’s a lot of work, but so so good. I’ve also made it without the white chocolate layer, and it was still delish.
First, I love all your recipes. I go between yours and Sally’s Baking Addiction. Question. I am making this for a friends son for his birthday, but he isn’t a fan of white chocolate. I was thinking making a second middle layer with milk chocolate instead and using that for the top layer, but I’m not sure if the gelatin is required for the top layer or not if I do this. What do you think?
Hi Jen, You could just duplicate the second layer and use milk chocolate instead. No need to add gelatin if you do that. Enjoy!
I am currently on a milk chocolate kick. Would it be possible to simply substitute the bittersweet chocolate in the middle ;ayer with milk chocolate without making any other adjustments? Thank you!
Yes, I think that would work without any issues!
Hello. Can I know how long this cake will be stable at room temperature?
I’ve been making your cake for years but this year I need to bring a “pie.” Thoughts on using just the middle and top layer in a pie crust??
I think that would work!!
I make this cake all the time and have been using your instructions rather than that theInstructions in my cooks illustrated magazine. I also use a different more cake like base. It is my go to cake for chocolate lovers’ birthdays. I’ve even made it and added a layer or two of dacquoise. Yumm
Could I replace a little of the cream with half and half? I don’t quite have enough cream to make this recipe and am loathe to buy another carton :). Thanks!!
Hi Meg, If it’s only a small amount, it should be okay.
Decadent! Not difficult to make, but a little time consuming. I will definitely make this again! Thank you Brown Eyed Baker
Thank you for small tips along the recipe. They are really helpful to beginners like me.
I just made this for mother’s day and it got rave reviews from my family. My only issue was the bottom layer which shrunk away from the sides of the pan so I didn’t get the exact picture perfect finish I was hoping for. I was hoping for cleaner sides when I unsprung this from the pan. That being said, it was incredibly delicious and I topped it with some chocolate decorations and chocolate covered strawberries which more than made up for the sloppy sides. And best of all, my mom was happy.
I”be made this cake 3 times before, however made the mousses with a custard base. Loved it. Can I make ahead and freeze, or even make cake layer ahead and freeze it?
Hi Wanda, So glad you’ve enjoyed this cake! Yes, you can freeze either the cake layer or whole cake. Enjoy!
Hello Michelle! Going to make this for a party tomorrow night. I am wondering about the white chocolate layer. Could i use the Bakers white chocolate bar instead of white choc chips? Or a combination of the two?
Hi Juli, I haven’t tried using a baking bar, but I don’t see an issue.
In step 8 you say to bring the 1/2 cup of heavy cream to a simmer, does it need to reduce at all, or just reach the simmer and immediately be removed?
It does not need to reduce, just bring it to a simmer then immediately remove.
Wow! This recipe was very well written and the details and specificity made it easy to follow even though it is a slightly challenging recipe.
I made this for a work bake off competition and many people were extremely impressed.
The softness of the mousse is delicate and delicious the three layers make it unique and beautiful.
The only challenge I had was that after I cooked the bottom flourless chocolate layer, it shrunk a little in the springform pan and so I was concerned about laying the second layer and having it squeeze through the cracks. It seemed to work just fine, but I was nervous when I saw the gaps between the pan and the cake.
I will let you know if I win the contest!
This recipe is definitely a 5-stars. Everyone loved this cake! You just got yourself a new follower. =)
I need to make 200 mini triple chocolate cakes for a petite dessert competition & I’m trying to figure out how I could cut this cake into small circles. I’ve tried freezing it but it seems the moisture from freezing causes the mousse to fall. Any ideas on what would be the best way to make this dessert petite?
Oh my, that’s a tough one! what about scaling up the recipe but making it on a sheet pan so that the layers are really thin? I don’t know if that would fit the bill, but it’s the only thing I could think of!
Can this be frozen ? If so how do you defrost it? If it can’t be frozen, how far ahead can it be made? thank=you
Hi Cindy, I have never tried freezing this, so I couldn’t say for sure. If you do, I would defrost it in the refrigerator overnight. The cake can be made up to 1 day in advance.
Such a beautiful dessert! Can this be made 3 days in advance and placed in the fridge ?
Hi Daphne, Thank you! Yes, this can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated.
I’ve tried it and it’s simply delicious. two friends want me to bake them one cake for Passover. Would you have an idea how much I should charge? Thanks.
Hi Carmen, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Aw that’s really totally up to you – maybe figure out how much you’ll spend on ingredients and then go from there?
Hi! I made your Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake for our book club dessert/going away cake/gluten free cake last nght. One of the ladies said it was the best dessert she’s ever eaten! While it did take some time to make, the directions were spot on and it came together easily. One question: I’m not sure if I overbaked the first layer…what would you say is the correct texture? Mine was a bit like a dense, creamy brownie. Thank you for your website…loving the recipes.
Hi Lisa, I’m so thrilled to hear this was such a hit! I would say that your description of the bottom layer of a dense, creamy brownie is spot-on.
I just baked a bottom cake and it rise well but shrink which is fine. but the center got cracked. Is it supposed to be cracked?
Did you use a springform pan or regular 9×3 pan?
I honestly can’t remember if mine cracked at all or not (mine did shrink). I used a springform pan.
Have you tried freezing the cake? Am making a lot of desserts for a party and it would be great if I could have this in the freezer ready to go.
Hi Valerie, I have not tried freezing this particular cake, but I think it would freeze well.
Hi, it was my first time to make this cake for my son’s birthday. I made it into 2 little ones. One with dusting of cocoa powder for topping and the other one with ganache. They turned Out really good. My kids like them. My work was messy n ended up with
hardly visible layers. Need more practice. You did a very good job and thank you very
much for sharing.
Hello Good Day! its a yummy recipe thanks for sharing.i have a question in step 1. when i remove the cake from the oven and let it sit in the wire rack to let it cool down for an hour.i notice the cake begin to collapse and it shrink. it look like a trapezoid shape.want went wrong.thanks!
The bottom layer does shrink in a bit from the sides of the pan, but it should not change shape. As for collapsing in the center, that is normal and noted in the instructions.
My Dear Brown Eyed Baker…Thank you for turning us on to this cake. It just disappears leaving only flavor behind. The flavor is wonderful!! It rivals any high end restaurant. Making it was not difficult and not terribly time consuming and I believe the 2nd time will be quicker. YUM!
Cook’s Illustrated is the best!! They are my go-to for EVERY recipe. But this one is a show-stopper, and one of my favorite recipes to make! It is really easy as long as you have the tools and materials; it just takes time. Thanks for posting the recipe here – now I can pin it for east electronic access!!
Hi Michelle, was googling for vanilla chocolate mousse cake which I love and came upon your recipe. I just got my first Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer and will make this for my first recipe. Since I have seen people have these issues, do you know approx how long you beat the egg whites before they form peaks? in your instructions for the crust it says 30+15 then 1 minute longer so would it be somewhere close to 2 minutes all together before they egg whites for stiff peaks? prob going to make this for New Years Eve for like 20 some odd people lol! just want to make sure I do certain things right preventively:) Hope it turns out well!!!!
Hi Debbi, It all depends on the power of your mixer, but yes, 1 to 2 minutes is generally how long it will take.
Do you need to use the gelitan for the white chocolate part ?
HI Ashley, Yes, you need to use gelatin for the white chocolate layer.
I would LOVE to make this! I am wary though, since I live @ elevation 6035 ft. Baking up here is a real headache… How would you adjust this recipe for altitude?? I think I would sneak some Chambord into the bottom layer! :)
I don’t have a specific conversion for high altitude, but these tips might help! https://www.browneyedbaker.com/high-altitude-baking/
Today I made this wonderful cake for my husband’s birthday. It was awsome. Thanks for the great recipe.
Hi there, I’m wondering how the cake batter for the bottom layer doesn’t just leak out of the springform pan? I know that my pan definitely leaks, because I wanted to use it for a regular cake once, so I filled it with water to test and it all came pouring out. Is this just because I have a crappy pan? I’ve only ever used it to bake cheesecakes with crusts
Hi Vincenza, Your pan should definitely not leak! I would invest in a better springform pan.
Thanks for the response! Any recommendations for springform pans?
You’re welcome! I would recommend this one: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000237FSA/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000237FSA&linkCode=as2&tag=broeyebak-20&linkId=5AB5SEGKXDZOS5X2
Hi! I do not find any temperature stated in your recipe in baking the bottom layer of the triple chocolate mousse cake. May I know at how much degree you baked the bottom layer?
Hi Iris, It is the first sentence in step #1 – 325 degrees F.
This was a great recipe! I made this for my favorite aunt when she came into town -everyone was impressed! The white chocolate layer of mine was pretty soupy, too, when I made it, so I placed it in the refrigerator for 1/2 an hour and it firmed up nicely. After that, I was able to scoop it onto the top. It wasn’t as beautiful as the picture, but it wasn’t horrible looking and it tasted awesome (and I don’t like white chocolate!) Thank you for posting this great recipe!
I thank you for this recipe! Cooks Illustrated has it blocked and require a credit card (for the ‘free trial’) NOPE! Not going there… In any case, I would LOVE to make this! I am wary though, since I live @ elevation 6035 ft. Baking up here is a real headache… How would you adjust this recipe for altitude?? The ingredients are too nice to botch it on ‘trial and error.’
Hi Michelle my comment is about two years late but I hope you’ll respond! I tried out the receipt was lovely but the presentation didn’t turn out as expected. After spooning the white layer the dark chocolate brown layer didn’t stand out. So it looks like white mousse cake! What could have gone wrong ? I let the mousse refrigerate before layering them. Thanks!
Hi Pooja, The chocolate layer may have shrunk a bit, causing the white layer to slip down below.
It was Sunday night when the birthday party was. I spent Friday making the Mousse Cake and I have to tell you it really wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. If any of you reading this think it might be too hard to make, then stop and think again, it’s not, and the ooohs and aaaahs you get from you guests as they tuck into the Mousse Cake are something else. It truly is a magnificently sinful cake.
Thank you so much – Creator.
Turned out beautifully…I made it for Easter. I have even just used your mousse for different things, brownie trifles and without the base. It’s amazing!
Thank you! Great blog btw too. :) Keep it up! xx
Attempting this delicious looking cake for a friend’s birthday. I just finished the first layer and found I had to keep in the oven for 20 or so minutes as it wouldn’t set. Finally pulled it out and let cool for the hour. It appears undercooked in the middle-is that normal? I’m worried I wrecked it before I even got to the second layer. :(
Hi Lise, The bottom layer should be like a flourless chocolate cake… seeming a little underdone should be okay.
I have made this cake twice. The first time it went well, the second time the bottom layer significantley shrunk toward the middle. Why? I saved the day by using a pastry bag to pipe the chocolate mouse all around; but I think that the flourless cake should not have shrunk as much while the cake fell, which I expected.
Thanks in advance for any help
Congratulations on your bundle of joy!
What temperature should the bottom layer be baked at?
Thank you! :) The bottom layer should be baked at 325 degrees F (in step #1).
Hello! I made this cake a couple days ago and it was absolutely fantastic. Everyone loved it. The only problem I had was that the bottom layer shrunk while cooling, and ended up not being visible when I added the mousse. Do you know how to prevent this? Thank you!
Hi Agostina, Mine did the same thing in some spots, I don’t know that there is a way to prevent the shrinkage.
Hey! I am in Europe and will attempt to make this cake, but I can’t find the powdered gelatin…. Do you know how many of the leaf gelatin I need to use to be equivalent to the 3/4 in the recipe?? Thanks
Hi Brit, Unfortunately, I do not know :(
It’s such a beautiful and delicious dessert! Thank you for the recipe it’s amazing!
I made it today and everyone was in heaven :)
I made this today for New Year’s Eve. I’m hopefuls to will set up well but the white layer doesn’t look nearly as smooth as yours. How did you get that smooth consistency? Maybe I overwhipped the cream?? Thanks, you are my go to source for desserts!
Hi Amy, Without actually seeing yours, it would be hard to tell what might have gone wrong. It is possibly to over whip cream, though, which makes it curdle a bit.
Curious about what pan you used. Cooks Illustrated calls for a 9.5 inch pan with sides at least 3 inches high (odd size!). You call for a 9X3 pan. Did it all fit in the 9 inch pan? What brand did you use?
Yes, it did fit in the 9-inch pan. I used a Parrish Magic Line pan.
Turns out, for me, anyway, the cake shrinks a bit as it cools, leaving a gap between it and the pan. So I built a collar of waxed freezer paper to finish construction. Crushed candy cane garnish is definitely the way to go, I discovered! Pretty and sparkly in low light, and a nice crunch and zing to contrast the rich smooth cake.
I’ve made this a couple of times, and to get around the shrinkage of the bottom layer when layering on the mousse, I butter a long piece of parchment and encircle the bottom layer, between the cake and the sides of the pan, like the collar for a soufflé. When the sides of the springform are removed, I peel off the parchment . The layers should be neat and distinct.
Michelle, thank you for the recipe. Can’t wait to try it this holiday season. Is the 7oz chocolate measured by weight or volume? Thank you.
Hi Angie, By weight.
Your cake looks gorgeous. I made this recipe last night. We will have it tonight for my mother’s birthday. I was just wondering how you got the white chocolate mousse layer so flawless? Mine does not look at silky smooth as yours.
Sounds great. Wanna make it for my sisters bday .I have a doubt though… Can I use semi-sweet chocolate instead of bitter sweet? Will it be too sweet ? TIA :)
Hi Mitch, You can sub semisweet chocolate. Sweetness tends to be a matter of personal preference, in my experience. If you typically don’t find yourself saying that things are too sweet, you’ll probably be okay :)
I just finished making the bottom layer and I need help! My cake layer completely pulled away from the sides of the pan, a lot, and I am not sure now how the second layer will go on without it leaking down the sides. Any advice? Thanks!
Hi April, Mine pulled away a bit as well. When you make your second layer, it might seep in that gap, but should still set just fine.
This cake looks wonderful! Two questions – the flourless cake recipe I’ve used from your site (which was phenomenal) did not have added sugar – is it necessary to add the 1/3 cup sugar in the bottom layer? Second, has anybody tried halving the recipe for the top two layers? I know it might not look as nice, but I’m baking this for two and it seems to be a rather heavy cake.
Hi Sammy, The bottom layer will be quite bitter without any added sugar; that’s personal preference, really – if you’re okay with it, than you can omit the sugar. I haven’t tried halving any of the layers.
Just made this for my husbands birthday. Was a little bit more involved than most cakes I make, but SO worth the effort! It came out looking beautiful and the husband LOVED it!!! Success :) thank you!!
Hi! I made this for my moms bday today and the first 2 layers looked amazing but the white chocolate layer turned out lumpy…super lumpy….I don’t know what I did wrong :( do you think it’ll still taste good??
I am so glad ive came to this site to find this beautiful chocolate recipe , I’ve been looking a chocolate cake recipes for ages and I think I finally found it , My crush asked me to make him a chocolate cake and I really want to impress him with this one .. I will give it a try and see how it goes , I hope It turns out just like the pictures above … Thank you so much
This is my husband’s favourite cake. I made this for fathers’ day and he said it is way better, in looks and taste, than the store bought. Thanks!
Just made this mousse cake & popped it in the fridge ! Fun & easy, hope it tastes as lovely as it looks.
I found this website by accident and it just opened to this recipe. Thank you so much!!!! I made it for my family and friends at a party and they all really loved it. they want me to make it again for a birthday. I added some sliced strawberries to the top and melted chocolate in a swirly random design, just for decoration. The strawberries made it even more decadent.
You rule. I’m gonna make every cake on this website. THANK YOU
silly..I got it. Thanks for the nice recipe. A nice cake is in my fridge now. ;)
Did I miss the egg yolks part for the bottom layer? It seems missing..
I tried making the first layer, and when it cooled, it collapsed like you said. But, even the sides did as well so they are no longer touching the sides of the pan. Thus, when I pour the second layer over, it spills onto the sides. Now when I look at the cake from the outside, it looks like two layers instead of 3. How do I prevent this from happening next time?
Hi Thuy, If you can see from the pictures, my lower layer shrunk a bit, too. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal, though.
Everything went fine until the last layer, when my mixture curdled on adding the whipped cream to the white chocolate mixture. I tried it twice and the same thing happened both times. Any suggestions for what I might have done wrong?
Hi Liz, I can’t imagine why it would curdle at that particular point. The only thing I can think of is that the white chocolate mixture is too hot so it essentially breaks down the whipped cream.
I just made this cake last weekend for my boyfriend’s birthday – oh man, was it ever a hit! This cake is so delicious, and also beautiful! Even his grandma was raving about it! Yay!!
So I made this cake, went smoothly. Did anyone else notice the egg yolks and vanilla never make a reappearance? I checked twice…will this effect the cake?
Hi Sarah, They are added at the end of step #2 (last sentence). Unfortunately, yes, the elimination of the egg yolks will definitely affect the outcome of the cake.
I didn’t put in the eggs with vanilla and it turned out fine. However, I don’t know if it will taste any different.
I just finished making this an hour ago, I just can’t to show this to my friend’s birthday celebration at the 20th! Resist. The. Temptation. Gaaaaah!
Why doesnt the middle layer has gelatin in it? Would it stay firm ?
Hi Amna, It can set up just fine with whipped cream, it sets up nicely, like a firm mousse.
Just made this cake and can’t wait to taste it! I currently have it uncovered in the fridge as it settles. However once umnolded and cut, how would you store the remainder of the cake in the fridge? Uncovered, plastic wrap, etc?
Hi Ally, I would store leftovers either wrapped with plastic wrap or in an airtight container.
Hi Michelle, thanks for sharing this recipe. I have two questions- For the top layer, I’d like to make a lighter chocolate mousse instead of white chocolate. Can I use the same recipe as the middle layer but switch out to milk chocolate? This cake is a gift so I need to transfer it from the springform bottom base to a cake box base. Any suggestions on an easy way for removal from the base? Thanks for your help!
Hi Tina, I think you could do a milk chocolate layer on top without an issue. As for separating the cake from the base of the springform pan… I would recommend a large round spatula, like this one: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000237LPC/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000237LPC&linkCode=as2&tag=broeyebak-20. I have one and it’s perfect for things like this.
Michelle , thanks so much for your quick reply!
That spatula is awesome and will be of great help. I’ve decided to follow the lighter mousse top layer recipe with the milk chocolate chips. I want the top layer to be airy. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Thanks again.
Michelle, I had to come back here to post how great this cake turned out. The only change I made to the recipe was to use milk chocolate chips in place of white chocolate. I made this cake as a gift for a dinner party of 10 and every single person LOVED it. I received very high praise. I only regret not tasting it myself. I’ll have to make it again just for me soon! Thanks.
All i can say is Sweet jeebus! I made this for Valentine’s day and followed your directions which were perfect. On top of the steak dinner we had a slice which put us into a food coma. Each bite was so rich and creamy that my taste buds were doing summersaults! I’m still immobilized on the couch 12 hrs later. My wife is breastfeeding our 7 week old and this dessert must have went into the milk…..she slept 9hrs straight…. thank you, thank you!!
Now we need to invite friends and family to get rid of the dessert. It’s too much for two. Any idea how long it can last in the fridge? Should it be covered?
Hi David, I’m so glad you both (three!) enjoyed it! You can keep it in the fridge for about 4 days. Yes, it should be covered.
I want to make this for Valentine’s day, but I’d rather do individual ones – any tips on how to reduce the recipe successfully and what size tins/ramekins would work best?
Also – is it possible to make the white chocolate layer with whipped cream instead of the gelatin, as per the middle layer? I’m a vegetarian so won’t be using gelatin…
Hi Rebecca, It would really depend on the types of pans and what size you are using as to how to scale the recipe. I have not tried making the white layer without gelatin, so I can’t say for certain how it would set up.
Looks delicious …but i have a question…. how does d middle layer sets u used gelatin for d third layer but nothing for d middle …is whipped cream enough to set it wont it be a little runny
Yes, it will set like a mousse, not runny at all.
Yummy i love chocolate mousse, thanks for sharing this recipe.
Made this earlier. The base was fine, but the middle layer turned out liquidy. I beat the cream but didnt whipped into peaks, but i just continue and proceed onto the top layer. Is it ok? Will it be still harden the same as usual? Pls help.
Per the directions in step #6, you do need to whip the cream to soft peaks. Without doing so, the cream will remain too much of a liquid. It will not thicken on its own in the refrigerator.
I want to try this, but I am not a fan of espresso or coffee anything. Is it ok to just leave it out completely or should I substitute something else for the espresso part of the cake? I am looking to make this on Saturday. Thanks!
Hi Laurie, You actually cannot taste it at all in this recipe. Coffee (and espresso powder) often act as chocolate “boosters” – they help to enrich and deepen the chocolate flavor in baked goods. I am not a coffee drinker myself either, but I always include it in chocolate recipes that call for it – you can’t taste it and it makes a big difference.
OK, I will trust you on this one! lol
Michelle, I never got back to you on this, but I made it and loved it. So did everyone else. One thing though, I couldn’t find espresso powder, where do you get it? I was at a large local Pittsburgh grocery chain and they have a large coffee aisle, but no luck. Thank goodness for me that the head of the bakery dept was coming down the aisle and I asked for help. I ended up getting and using instant coffee. I would rather stick to directions for next time…
Hi Laurie, I either get it from a local Italian grocery store (Labriola’s), or I order it from King Arthur Flour. So glad you loved the cake!
A last minute question! Would microwaving the chocolate be ok?
Hi Lauren, Yes, but be sure to microwave at 50% power and stir every 30 seconds.
This recipe is amazing! I was looking for a special treat for Christmas day and am so glad I found this!
I admittedly went a little heavy on the chocolate, roughly 20grams ( .7ounces) more than what is stated by the recipe.
I also didn’t do the flourless cake bottom layer. Instead I made an Oreo base: crushed Oreos until fine crumbs and mixed with coconut oil. Enough to make a 2.5cm (1inch) thick layer. I simply added teaspoons of coconut oil until it was sticky. Perfect!
Thankyou again for sharing this!
I’ve taken this one as inspiration a few times and substituted the layers with authentic mousse, the original one seemed to come out more like a truffle filling – it was fantastic either way :) And a looker, too.
I didn’t have time to read through the other comments so sorry if this question was asked before. Can i use a different chocolate cake recipe for the bottom or is this recipe necessary to hold the other layers right?
Hi Zainab, I would strongly encourage you to use this recipe and then tweak if you see fit. It’s a fabulous flourless chocolate cake, not just a regular chocolate cake, and it really goes with the two additional mousse layers.
thanks. I’ll definitely take your advice then. I want to try this for friday :D
Hi.. Is it ok to place some foil at the bottom of the pan before making the base? Because ill be making this on holiday and planning to transfer it into the cake box.
You could do that, although since there is a base to the springform pan, I’m not sure what difference it would make. Can’t hurt, though.
Hi, I’ve also been thinking of this cake for a long time…any ideas as to how it would transport? How long can it be left at room temperature, do you know? will it turn into a puddle if made and transported in any but wintery weather? thanks
Hi Rosalyn, It all depends on how long you have to travel. If you’re going an hour or less, I think it would be fine. Longer than that, and you might want to consider transporting it in a cooler. It won’t turn into a puddle, but you don’t want it to get too soft.
Does unsweetened cocoa powder work?
Hi Amy, Yes, you can substitute unsweetened cocoa powder, the flavor will just be a tad different.
Made today with unsweetened powder and was delicious!
errmm….can u pls show me the video?
I made this one today but not sure if I miss where the eggyolks and vanilla should be put, coz i think it is not mentioned where to put but just to set it aside. Anyway, I made a perfect one and my hubby loves it so much. Thanks Michelle.
Hi Vener, They are in step #2.
I’m planning on making this dessert on Thanksgiving. Do you think it would be possible to make the bottom layer (the cake layer) the day before and then make the other two layers the next day? I won’t have a lot of time to bake on Thanksgiving so I’m trying to do some of it the day before if possible. Thanks so much!
Hi Jessica, I think you could do that without a problem. Enjoy!
Dear Michelle, I urgently need your help: I decided to make this cake for my friend’s birthday which is tomorrow. I’ve just made the second layer and it turned out quite liquid (what I mean is that it does not have the usual, rather thick cream consistency). Have I done something wrong? Can I redeem it anyhow? Thanks in advance!
Hi Katherine, It should definitely be the consistency of thick whipped cream, at the very least. Unfortunately, I’m not sure what could have happened along the way, it’s so hard with all of the different variables that go into baking.
hey, I’m thinking of making this cake for a christmas potluck; its got such visual appeal I’m sure it’ll knock their socks off! =). I was wondering, where do you get your powdered gelatin? I’ve seen the squares before, do you know how many squares you would need for your recipe?
Hi Sarah, I buy the powdered gelatin in the baking aisle – the brand name is Knox. A box of it has four envelopes of powdered gelatin inside. I have never seen squares of gelatin, so I’m unsure of how much you would need :(
I agree with all of the comments. I originally found this recipe, too, in Cook’s Illustrated several years ago. It is most definitely my “go to” holiday recipe or when I just need a dessert that is off the charts and has a stunning presentation as well..
OH MY GOD! I made this cake for a visiting Aunt that is a self-proclaimed chocoholic. It took me 3 days….by choice…one for each layer, but it was the most amazing chocolate concoction that I have ever eaten. All you could hear at the table were OOO’s and AHHH’s. Will def make again! maybe for Christmas!
I just got down preparing this cake for my husband’s birthday today. In frig cooling as I type. Everything seemed to go smoothly until the whit chocolate layer. It seemed rather liquidy after folding in the whipped cream. Don’t know if I over whipped the cream. I did let chocolate mixture cool to room temp for 8 minutes, so I don’t think it was that. The Knox gelatine was freshly purchased so shouldn’t have been old. I whipped up some more heavy cream and added it to the mixture. It did “thicken up” a bit more, but now I’m kicking myself for doing that extra addition because it seems a little too airy. Maybe the liquidy white chocolate mixture would have hardened fine after the 2.5 hours of cooling. Oh well, we will see when I break it out after dinner tonight. I would be interested in hearing your comments on the consistency of the white chocolate layer after the whipped heavy cream is added. Many thanks!!!
Hi Susa, The white chocolate mousse layer was pretty much the same consistency as the regular chocolate mousse layer; they were not much different at all. I hope you still enjoy the cake!
First, let me apologize for all the typos in my initial e-mail. Guess, I shouldn’t try to type such a long message via my iPhone. I didn’t even spell my name correct – yikes.
Second, and importantly, my husband (and I) absolutely loved the cake!!!!! He was really impressed and even bragged to his mother about it (yeah for me)! I am still not sure what happened to the white chocolate layer such that it was not initially the correct consistency, but adding the additional whipped heavy cream did not detract at all. The cake did not separate from the pan as smoothly as your picture looked but not too bad. I am excited to try this a second time to see if I can improve on the physical appearance. This really is a decadent cake and would be fabulous for the holidays.
I’ve just prepared it (all along the afternoon) and it was so worth it!! It’s the first time I make a fancy cake like this and it turned out amazing, thanks!!
hi :) I’m thinking of doing this for my special recipe in my cooking class. But the allotted time is only for 3 hours. Do you think I can make the base cake before hand? Also, I have no more time to practice this recipe. Do you have some tips so my mousse will be perfect like yours? :D thanks!
Hi Bea, Yes, you could make the base ahead of time. Best of luck to you!
This is absolutely gorgeous and I am considering making it for a friend’s birthday except there is one problem…she is allergic to eggs. Do you know of a good substitute? I’ve used applesauce before but I don’t think that would mesh well with chocolate mouse.
You’re right, I definitely wouldn’t go the applesauce route. Since the egg is only used in the flourless chocolate cake, and not either of the mousse mixtures, you might be able to get away with a substitution. I would ask your friend if there is an egg substitution she routinely uses in cakes or baked goods. Do keep in mind, however, that the egg whites need to be whipped and folded, which is an important part of the texture. So you would need to substitute for the yolks and the whites separately.
Instead of doing this last minute cake prep as you show (out of fridge 45 minutes early, then take out of pan when ready to serve), have you ever taken the cake out of pan several hours prior to serving it, plating it then and serving much later? Do you think that would work?
Hi Elana, I think you could do that without a problem at all.
I would like to do the same, put on cake plate then travel for about an hour. Would I need to refrigerate? Do you serve cold?
Hi Tracy, You would be okay transporting it an hour if it is already chilled. You should refrigerate it once at your destination if you won’t be eating it immediately.
Do you serve cold?
One more question. I have not used that type of pan before. Do you leave the bottom of the pan on while you serve? I am assuming you just leave it.. Thanks!
Yes, you can leave the bottom in place for serving. Enjoy!
Omg I made this a couple years ago at Christmas. Cook’s Illustrated never disappoints. I love that you use a lot of their recipes. I know I can trust you as a cook! Keep up the great blog, Michelle! Oh, and Duke is so cute I wanna eat him up!!
One of the best cakes I have ever had added a thin crisp chocolate cookie layer under a cake similar to this one. The textural difference added a great deal to the cake. Even without that layer this looks great.
Did you add the thin crisp chocolate chip before or after baking?
Also did you put it before adding the cake mixture or on top of the cake? And which cookies did you use?
You’re killing me. 7 months pregnant & had to go dairy-free, ’cause anything animal dairy gives me coughing fits. And many woman who’ve been pregnant know what a coughing fit can do to other pregnancy side effects… (Ouch.)
This recipe was great timing, I had to make a choc mousse cake this weekend and I can tell you this recipe is a winner!! It was delicious, everybody loved it. Thanks Michelle!!!
Wonderful chocolate cake! If I could take a large bite right now…….:(
I absolutely love the look of this! Now I just need a special occasion to make it for! :-)
This sounds like it would take a but of time, but it seems so totally worth it. I would love to be eating this right now. It looks beautiful.
This looks amAZing!!! Going to have to try it soon!
I’ve been searching for a recipe for this for months, and I finally found it! Gorgeous! Thanks heaps for the recipe, can’t wait to try it!
I’ve had this one bookmarked for several years, too! Maybe it’s time to finally get around to making it…
Beautiful cake, this happens to be our absolute favorite! Love this recipe and love that its a Flourless cake. Would you mind if we make this cake and post it? Warmly, Anna and Liz
This is a recipe that I just love. I made it for my daughter’s birthday when you first posted it. It was loved by all. The only changes I made was to use agar-agar for the mousse layers
Can you please tell me how you incorporated agar agar? What amount did you use for each layer?
I love that you accepted this challenge, this looks amazing!
I’m in trouble with this one as I absolutely HAVE to make this! Our local European Patisserie has a made this for years but I am Celiac and it is not an option as they use flour. Guess who is one happy little camper now with a recipe and 4 days off work to test it??? THanks!
Beautiful cake!! It looks so amazing. Ahhhh! Love this!
Oh, isn’t it the best when a recipe you’ve ripped out and kept for a long time finally happens? It looks great!
I have seen and admired this cake from the magazine – and you did a perfect job! It’s a chocolate lover’s (me) dream come true!
That’s a show stopper for sure!!! Now I just need an excuse to make it ;)
I made this about 3 years ago for my mom’s birthday cake. It was absolutely amazing. One of the best things I have ever eaten. Your layers look great!
Looks yummy and amazing!
Oh my goodness. This is one of my favorite things ever and I have not even tried it yet. I just know, because, well, triple chocolate. Going on my list for the next time I need to make a showstopper!
Oh I’m so making this! Love mousse cakes! Question though; I’ve used heavy cream and it doesn’t whip at all. Are you sure the recipe doesn’t call for heavy whipping cream?
Hi Yana, Yes, I am positive the recipe does not call for heavy whipping cream. I whip heavy cream all the time and have never experienced an issue. If it doesn’t work for you, for whatever reason, I’m sure you could use heavy whipped cream as a substitution if you need to.
Always a great one and sure to make everyone happy! But it is so pretty it would be hard to cut into. But I would!
I LOVE that there is no Cool Whip in this, because I was looking for it. Cool Whip makes me sick and there are so many yummy looking recipes that have it. I can’t wait to have an occasion to try this. It looks really Thanksgiving-y!
I made this a couple of years ago for my birthday. It was amazing!!!! I think I will have to make again soon!
Oh goodness, it looks simply irresistible! Thank you for another gorgeous recipe!
I my husband is always asking for some kind of mousse but I never venture on making it! This makes me want to give it a try!
This is simply gorgeous! Every layer looks delicious and perfect!
I’ve made this recipe a few times, and it is The Bomb. If you really want to wow someone, this is the way to go. It not only looks beautiful, it tastes just as good as it looks. Your photos are fantastic, Michelle!
Do you have any idea if substituting agar-agar for the gelatin in the top layer would work? I know it does for some recipes but in others it tends to just make a mess (ex: every time I try to make agar-agar marshmallows).
Hi Erin, Unfortunately, I’m not sure about a gelatin substitute, as I’ve never heard of agar-agar.
I tried using agar agar for the top layer and it did not work out well – the texture was kind of gritty. It was probably user-error, since I hadn’t tried it before, but I ended-up scraping off the top layer and going back to the original recipe. Seems perfect now. Otherwise, this was a really easy recipe to make, from start to finish. Can’t wait to try it later today for Thanksgiving!
I made a cake like this once and it totally rocked my world! This is lovely!
Destiny! This is beautiful! Love the contrasting layers!
Very happy to see this recipe. It looks perfect for my gluten-free daughter. I think I will make it and bring it to her when I visit her at college! I’m sure her suitemates will be happy to share.
Would it be wrong to have a chocolate shake with this? I am on a mission to overdose on all things cacao.
I love that you posted this! This is one of my favorite desserts to get at restaurants, and I attempted it once (making up my own recipe) and it wasn’t a success. Definitely going to try this recipe…soon!
What a great dessert for a dinner party – such a show stopper!
Challenged accepted, I loved that. This recipe might be a bit over my capabilities but as you mentioned some things are worth the extra effort, so I will give it a try.
that is sooooo temting… and it looks sooo beautiful too… the colours of teh cake and the colours on teh cup.. wow!!looks awesome..:)
Oh, girl! Just beautiful! I love making this dessert from Cook’s Illustrated! It always receives rave reviews. I even ran out of white chocolate chips once and decided to double-up on the chocolate middle layer once and then just used my cream whipper to put fresh whipped cream on top with a dusting of cocoa. Everyone loved it! The one thing new bakers need to keep in mind is that the bottom layer will shrink a little from the pan sides once cooled. This is totally normal with this recipe. Thanks for sharing, Michelle!
This really is a show stopper with all of those creamy, luscious layers! Beautiful dessert!
Any of the layers unto themselves sound amazing! The three together – wow, over the top and knowing that it’s a CI recipe, you just KNOW you’re in for a real showstopper! Also very impressed by how super neat the layers are and the total clean cuts on the slice. Nice!
When the recipe starts with Triple Chocolate I start to get a creepy smile on my face! Beautiful cake, great job on it!
I have the Cooks Illustrated cookbook (I call it my red cooking bible) and every time I open it, I find myself looking at this exact recipe! It’s totally on my cooking bucket list. Your’s look even more beautiful than I imagined!
Flawless layers, what a gorgeous cake!