Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake
So… continuing with our anniversary month theme…
As a kid I always looked forward to my birthday. There would be cake and ice cream and of course… presents. Since I really liked games, on almost every one of my birthdays I would get some type of board or card game or even some electronic hand held game that would keep me busy for hours on end. A few games I could get my brothers or sister to play with me for a few weeks, but after a short while the game would be boxed up and put on the shelf in the closet. When the closet got too full they would get moved out to the garage into a storage cabinet there. Most of the games I got on my birthdays ended up in the garage at some point but there were a few favorites that I always kept in the house. Monopoly was my all time favorite game for most of my childhood. Most of the time I would set up the board for four players and play the game from start to finish by myself. Now, this is tricky because you have to be fair to each non-existent player. Each piece had to have the same advantage as every other piece on the board and that was difficult when one piece would land on a property that another piece needed to acquire in order to complete a monopoly. I always felt bad when this would happen but I had a strict set of rules that could not be broken. If any “players” piece landed on a property and it had the financial ability to purchase that property it would have to do so. This kept the game fair for each piece. There was no property trading allowed between pieces either, like some people do, and no loans or IOU’s allowed at all. Even though I kept the game fair for every piece I have to admit I always hoped the Scottie dog would win the game.
One year a month or so before one of my birthdays my mother asked me what I would like as a gift and I simply said “a game… any game… except Monopoly”. I mean I already had that game so why would I need another one. A few weeks passed and for some reason my mother asked me again what I would like for my birthday. Apparently she must have forgotten she had asked me prior… or maybe she was just trying to check that I hadn’t changed my mind, who knows? Well, I hadn’t changed my mind, so I repeated “a game… any game... except Monopoly. When my birthday actually rolled around, sure enough there was one gift that was the perfect rectangular shape and, to me, obviously a board game. I opened my other gifts first so I could save the best for last. I am pretty sure I don’t need to finish this story; I am sure I don’t need to tell you how I peeled the wrapping paper off to expose the top of the box, eager to see what game it was; I am sure I don’t need to explain how I tried my best to keep a smile on my face when I saw the game that I got was… Monopoly.
A good number of years later, I decided to clean out the garage storage cabinet so I could clear space for all of the jigsaw puzzles that were now being stored (and taking up way too much space) in the bedroom closet. I decided that I would take everything out of the cabinet and sort it into three piles. One pile of games I would keep, one pile for games I could donate to the thrift store, and one pile of games that were so worn out that they needed to be disposed of (Marie Kondo would be so proud). The first game I pulled out was Life, with it’s rainbow colored spinner wheel, plastic cars and plastic “people” pegs, then came a very faded Parcheesi game and a Chinese Checkers game (in the original round, tin case) that, surprisingly, still had all the marbles. I pulled out a game of Yatzee, a game of Kismet (which is exactly the same as Yatzee except the dice are color coded), and the game that to this day I never knew how to play: Risk. That’s not to say I didn’t pull that game out often as a kid, setting the “world map” board on the ground then taking the small wooden blocks (the original game had hundreds of small blocks representing the armies) pouring them all onto the board just to make pretend roads, or bridges, or towers, or simple geometric patterns, then meticulously separating each color and stacking them neatly back into their plastic boxes for storage.
Truth is I always wanted to play Risk, but it seemed too much like geography, so I couldn’t be bothered, besides there were no chutes or ladders, so how much fun could it have been really? Other games in that cabinet were Sorry, and Trouble, which, I think was the first game I had that featured the Pop-O-Matic system. Honestly, the best part of playing that game was pushing the clear dome and seeing the dice dance, hearing the sound and feeling the “pop”. Game after game, I pulled out… Bumpershot, Bing Bang Boing, Mille Bornes, Headache (another Pop-O-Matic game), Bowling Dice, Which Witch? Battleship, Masterpiece, Hands Down, and of course, the duplicate Monopoly game I received on my birthday many years before (the original Monopoly set, long since gone). Even though a normal person could have completed this task in way under an hour, I spent the better part of the day taking each game, opening it up, looking at the pieces, looking at the instructions, the board, the dice, the cards, everything really. Some games I played once more, other games I just sat with for a while. These were my old friends, my pals, my comrades… and I took my time saying goodbye to them. I decided that I would bring the Monopoly game back into the house and maybe play it once more that evening so I set that game behind me, on the roof of the car. The games I decided to keep, I put neatly back into the cabinet, the games I was donating I put into boxes so the thrift store could come pick them up, and the rest of the games I carried to the waste cans at the back of the house. Now the only thing I had left to do was carry the puzzles from the closet out to the garage and put those into the cabinet and my task would finally be completed. Now here is where distractions can mess me up a bit. You see I can be easily distracted and by a great many things in fact. On that day I think the television was on and that was enough to get (and hold) my attention, derailing me for a few hours. While I was watching TV, enjoying Get Smart or I Dream of Jeannie, or some other equally fantastic show… my mother told me she had to run to the store, I probably nodded or mumbled something inaudible, but certainly didn’t give it another thought. So what, she had to go to the store, what did I care?
The next morning I left the house and started walking to school as usual, but as I started to walk down the hill it became clear to me that I had forgotten one important thing from the day before, which was to take my Monopoly game off of the hood of the car and bring it inside. The thing that triggered this memory was a single yellow piece of paper I saw in the street, which turned out to be a 100 dollar bill from a Monopoly game. As I got farther down the hill I started to notice more Monopoly money in the gutters, little red and green houses scattered in the street, the board, which was torn and had tire tracks on it, and the box itself which had been obliterated by being run over by who knows how many cars. I found chance and community chest cards on the sidewalk and I even found a few of the silver pieces near the curb. I imagine the box, obviously unnoticed by my mother as she started on her way, clung to the top of the car until the perfect speed was reached, then maybe just a little bump in the road was enough to send it flying off the roof of the car, scattering the contents all over the road. I’m not sure my mother ever really noticed any of this happening, or if she did, basically she didn’t care, because she never said anything to me when she got home… or if she did and I was still watching TV, I certainly didn’t hear her. Anyway, the rest of the day at school I kept seeing kids carrying Monopoly money around and one kid even found the Scottie dog, so all in all, I secretly felt I made a bunch of kids happy that day, by sharing one of my old birthday gifts with them… so it all worked out in the end.
So, since this is our blogs anniversary month I thought I would make something fun and new to share with you. I thought it should be something that looks good and maybe it could be a little bit more complicated than our usual fare and I found a perfect candidate from the boys over at Sorted. You can see learn about these guys at Sortedfood.com or on their YouTube channel Sortedfood. This is a triple chocolate mousse cake and I think it’s great for any kind of special occasion. Three layers of what essentially amount to (almost) nothing more than chocolate, butter, eggs, and whipped cream. This dessert is incredibly rich and decadent so a little goes a long way. The original recipe says it serves 8, but I would say it serves more like 10. While this mousse cake is not really that complicated to make, the amount of time just waiting around does add up. The whole process will take about 5½ to 6 hours to complete, but again most of that is waiting for the base and mousse layers to chill in the refrigerator. You definitely don’t want to have a lot of other commitments on the day you need to make this so choose a day that’s kind of quiet. The thing is though, when you present this at the table for whatever celebration your celebrating… there is a pretty nice “wow” factor, and that’s always a nice feeling. You can make this cake a day before you need to serve, keeping it covered in the refrigerator. Another note I have before you decide to make this is to be sure you make it on a cool day. Making this in the heat of summer (unless you have air conditioning in your kitchen) is a bad, bad idea. I don’t say it often enough, but you should also really read through the recipe, at least once, so you have an idea of what to expect. You’ll actually find it’s not as complicated as it seems, but knowing ahead of time how it goes together is very helpful.
Here is what you’re going to need in the way of equipment: a kitchen scale for sure, as almost all of the ingredients are by weight in this recipe. You will also need a 9-inch springform pan and a roasting pan that is big enough to hold that springform pan. We are going to bake the first layer in a water bath so you will also need some aluminum foil to cover the pan to prevent water from getting inside during the bake and a piece of parchment paper is needed for the bottom of the pan. For extra insurance against leaking you can also wrap the pan in a slow cooker bag as well. There is a fair amount of mixing bowls needed for this recipe and while you only need a good whisk to whip the heavy cream to soft peaks in the later part of the recipe, you can do that with an electric or stand mixer if you want. Below is the recipe and there I will elaborate a little on some of the instructions but if you’re a confident baker - you can scroll to the bottom of the post and use the view/print recipe button for the standard recipe.
So, let’s make this mousse cake already…
Approximately 5½ - 6 hours – mostly inactive
Special Equipment Needed:
9-inch springform pan
slow cooker liner bag (or Reynolds turkey bag)
roasting pan, large enough to hold the springform pan
For The Base
12 ounces dark (70% cacao) chocolate, finely chopped
3½ ounces water
2½ ounces light brown sugar
2½ ounces caster (superfine) sugar – see note
5.25 ounces unsalted butter, cut into ½ cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature, well beaten
enough hot water for water bath
For The Mousse Layers
2 teaspoons powdered, unflavored gelatine
2 tablespoons water
3 cups heavy whipping cream, divided into 1-cup and 2-cup portions, keep the 2-cup portion cold.
6 ounces dark (70% cacao) chocolate, finely chopped
6 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
For Garnish - optional
½ ounce dark (70% cacao) chocolate
½ ounce white chocolate
Start by preheating the oven to 300°F with the rack in the center position.
Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with a piece of parchment paper and place the pan into the bottom of a slow cooker liner bag, gathering up the excess bag, pulling and twisting it tightly around the outside of the springform pan. Twist the excess and tie it into a knot, keeping the top of the bag as close to the upper lip of the pan as possible. Wrap the outside of the pan, tightly, in a double layer of aluminum foil for extra protection. Set a large kettle or pan of water on the stove to heat. You will pour this water around the cake pan in your roaster to fill it half way, so the amount of water you need will depend on the size of your roaster.
For the Base:
Place the 12 ounces of dark chocolate in a medium sized mixing bowl and set aside.
In a small saucepan, stir together the 3½ ounces water and both sugars. Set the pan over high heat and bring to a boil.
As soon as the sugar mix boils, remove the pan from the heat and add the cubed butter. Stir the butter into the sugar mixture until completely melted, then stir in the vanilla extract.
Pour the hot sugar/butter mixture over the chopped chocolate and let it rest for about 5 minutes so the chocolate can soften, then stir it until well combined.
Let the chocolate mixture cool an additional 5 minutes, then while stirring constantly, slowly pour in the beaten eggs and mix until smooth and well combined.
Now, scrape the batter into the prepared springform pan and place into the center of the roaster pan. Add enough hot water to come about half way up the sides of the springform pan. Carefully transfer it to the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes then remove the springform pan from the water bath, remove and discard the foil and bag liner from the pan and place the pan in the refrigerator for 2 hours until cold and set. Do not remove the sides of the pan at this point, we still have two layers to go!
For the Mousse Layers:
Sprinkle the gelatine into the 2 tablespoons of water and allow it to sit for 5 minutes.
Pour 1-cup of the heavy cream into a medium sized saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. While the milk is heating place the chopped dark chocolate into a medium sized mixing bowl and the chopped white chocolate into a separate mixing bowl.
When the milk is hot, remove it from the heat and stir in the bloomed gelatin mix.
Next, divide the hot cream equally between the two bowls of chocolate and let them sit a few minutes to soften, before stirring together. You can microwave the bowls in short bursts of 5 to 10 seconds at a time, if the chocolate has not fully melted.
In another mixing bowl, whisk the remaining 2 cups of cold heavy cream to soft peaks. A stand mixer or electric mixer can be used in this step if your not confident in your whisking skills.
Take ⅓ of the whipped cream and divide it equally between the two bowls of chocolate and use a rubber spatula to fold it into the chocolate. This will loosen the chocolate some and make it easier to carefully fold in the rest of the cream without losing too much of the air.
Divide the remaining cream between the two chocolate mixtures and carefully fold it in. You want to keep as much of the air in the cream as possible as this it what makes it light and… well… airy, so be gentle here.
Pour the dark chocolate mousse over the cooled chocolate cake and lightly smooth the top with an offset spatula to level, then place it back in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set. Be careful when putting this middle layer in so as not to get chocolate onto the sides of the pan otherwise the white chocolate layer won’t look as nice. I speak from experience here…
After 30 minutes, remove the chilled mousse cake from the refrigerator and carefully spoon over the white chocolate mousse, again, gently smoothing the top, then refrigerate for another 2 hours, at least.
When ready to serve remove the cake from the refrigerator, carefully remove the side of springform pan then transfer the cake to a serving platter. Grate or shave dark and white chocolate over the top as desired, and serve. Now, that sounds easier than it actually is I will admit, especially if you don’t have a fancy cake transfer spatula thingy. So here are a few tips: Take the cake from the refrigerator and allow it to warm slightly, about 15 minutes or so before trying to take the ring off. Use a small thin knife (an offset spatula works great if you have one) and warm it in some hot water, dry it off, then carefully slide the knife along the side of the pan to loosen the cake sides before you undo the spring. This should help keep the sides of the cake looking nice. To remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake, again use a very thin knife and slide it between the parchment paper and the cake to loosen the two. Then use your knife to slightly lift one edge of the cake so you can grab the parchment and slowly work it out from underneath, using your knife to lift the cake as needed. Alternately leave the parchment paper on and remove it as you slice the cake, piece by piece. Honestly, removing this bottom parchment paper is a chore, and when I make this again (and I will) I will devise a different method of lining the pan.
Allow the cake to rest at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes before serving for best texture and refrigerate any leftovers, covered with plastic wrap.
Superfine sugar can be made at home by processing regular granulated sugar in a food processor for 30 to 45 seconds or until the consistency of fine sand. Process more sugar than what is called for - then measure for the recipe.