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Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake
I wanted to make something extra special for Valentine’s Day, not really because of the holiday itself but more because I’ll take any excuse I can to make something I wouldn’t normally make. Such was the case with this cake. Chocolate mousse is one of my favorite desserts, so this cake was a no-brainer for me. Plus, Valentine’s seemed like an appropriate time to make something consisting of three layers of chocolate. Since I’m pregnant, I figure it’s okay to tell you that I licked the whisks and spatulas several times while preparing this (for those I’m sharing it with – don’t worry, I washed them each time). :)

This cake, upon first glance, seems incredibly involved. When you break down each step, though, it’s really not that difficult. The most annoying part for me was having to wash my stand mixer’s bowl between steps. This dessert starts out with a flourless chocolate cake base. Next comes a layer of chocolate mousse, followed by a layer of white chocolate mousse. The texture of this cake is unbeatable. You’ve got an incredible combination of rich, dense cake, light and airy mousse layers and a crisp bite from the chocolate curls. This cake is the epitome of decadence. It was a struggle not to eat the entire piece when I was done photographing it. If you’re looking to make something special for your valentine, look no further.

One thing I didn’t do that I wish I had done was to dip the knife in hot water before slicing this. I was so excited and didn’t think about it until it was too late. I definitely recommend using that method if you don’t have any cheese wire to use. Your slices will come out looking much neater and smoother if you cut with a hot knife.

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

Yield: 12-16 slices

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake


For the bottom layer:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into six pieces
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
¾ teaspoon instant espresso powder
4 large eggs, separated
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch cream of tartar
Pinch salt
⅓ cup packed light brown sugar
For the middle layer:
5 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1½ cups heavy cream, chilled
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
⅛ teaspoon salt
For the top layer:
¾ teaspoon powdered gelatin
1 tablespoon water
6 ounces white chocolate chips
1½ cups heavy cream, chilled
Shaved chocolate or cocoa powder for decorating, optional


To prepare the bottom layer, heat oven to 325º. Grease a 9- or 9 1/2-inch springform pan. Combine butter, chocolate and espresso in a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Whisk in egg yolks and vanilla and set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites, cream of tartar and salt on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Add half of sugar and continue whipping until combined, about 15 seconds. Add remaining sugar, increase speed to high, and whip until soft peaks form, 1 additional minute, scraping down bowl halfway through. Using a whisk, fold one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in remaining egg whites using a rubber spatula. When no white streaks remain, carefully transfer batter to prepared pan. Smooth top with spatula. Bake cake until it has risen, is firm around the edges and just set in the center (cake center should spring back when gently pressed with finger), 13 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour. Do not remove cake from pan.

While cake is cooling, prepare middle layer. Combine the hot water and cocoa in a small bowl and set aside. Place chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly, 2 to 5 minutes.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip cream, sugar and salt on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, 1-3 minutes. (It helps to chill the mixing bowl before whipping the cream.) Whisk cocoa mixture into chocolate. Using a whisk, fold one-third of the cream into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in remaining cream using a rubber spatula. When no white streaks remain, spoon mousse onto cooled cake. Smooth top with spatula and gently tap on counter to release any air bubbles. Wipe inside edge of pan with a damp cloth or paper towel to remove any drips. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes while preparing top layer.

To prepare the top layer, sprinkle gelatin over water and let sit for at least 5 minutes. Place white chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring ½ cup of cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin mixture until completely dissolved. Pour cream mixture over white chocolate, cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Whisk gently until smooth. Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally (mixture will thicken slightly during this time).

Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip remaining cup of cream on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes. Using a whisk, fold one-third of cream into white chocolate to lighten it. Fold in remaining cream using a rubber spatula. When no white streaks remain, spoon white chocolate mousse into the pan over the middle layer. Smooth top with a rubber spatula. Return to refrigerator and chill until set, at least 2½ hours. Cake can be refrigerated up to 1 day. Allow to sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes before slicing.

To serve, garnish cake with chocolate curls or dust with cocoa if desired. Run a thin knife between the cake and sides of pan. Remove sides and run the cleaned knife along the outside to smooth. Cut using cheese wire or a hot knife, cleaning and drying between each cut.


  • Shawnda

    Lovely cake! I only have 1 mixer bowl now and it kills me to have to wait 2 hours for the dishwasher to finish :)

  • Natalie

    This cake is absolutely gorgeous! I’m not a big chocolate person but I’m definitely bookmarking this for the next time I have to make a cake for someone who is :)

  • Anna @ hiddenponies

    Wow, this looks a-MAZ-ing!! Now I’m itching for a special occasion to try this…Valentine’s Day will find me still in kitchen-reno progress, but I’m sure another “occasion” will come up soon :)

  • Rachel

    Oh my goodness. This cake looks divine! It’s going on my menu ASAP.

  • Rebekah @ Making Miracles

    That cake is gorgeous! :)

  • Blog is the New Black

    Triple chocolate…. LOVE!

  • Liz

    Oh, I made this last week…and I think my family would like me to make another soon! Yours looks fabulous!!!

  • Shanon

    OH MY GOSH. This looks absolutely fantastic. I love the photos..your chocolate curls are awesome (I always fail miserably with trying to make mine…). I can only imagine what this might taste like.

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    I made this cake a while back and looove it!

  • Lauren at Keep It Sweet

    This would make an incredible Valentine’s Day dessert! Beautiful and decadent!

  • Kayle (The Cooking Actress)

    Goodness gracious, that looks so delicious! I love chocolate mousse too and now I want a piece!

  • Kelsey

    This looks divine, Courtney. The first picture is just perfect.

  • CulinarilyCourtney

    This is such a beautiful cake. I am just imagining adding a little coffee flavoring to this–Mmmmm.

  • Josie

    This was amazing, and I’m so glad you had it on hand for our dessert emergency :) Miss you already!!

  • Sonya

    Thanks, I finally found my birthday cake ;))

  • myfudo

    Festive! This is what Valentine’s is all about, this is indeed the perfect cake…Yummy!

  • kelly

    The instructions mention using cream of tartar but it is not listed in the ingredients. is this needed? quantity? thank you :) Looks amazing! can’t wait to try!

    • Courtney

      Thanks for catching that, Kelly! It’s just a pinch, and I’ve updated the recipe to reflect that.

  • Rayna

    This cake looks so rich and I bet its amazing! This is going on my must-bake list

  • Jaclyn

    This looks amazing I’ve been looking for a good triple chocolate mousse cake. You’re pictures are also amazing, can I ask what kind of camera and lens you use?

    • Courtney

      Thanks so much, Jaclyn! I use a Nikon D90 with an inexpensive 50mm lens. I hope to upgrade one day, but it gets the job done for now.

  • Cornelia

    Nom nom! Love it, have to make this my self and thanks for sharing a great post:)

  • Winnie

    Amazing and very delicious looking cake!

  • Laura

    Thank you x 1,000,000 for sharing this recipe. I think it may be one of the most perfect things I’ve ever tasted. So good!

  • Karen

    I made this for my husband for his birthday today. It was a great success. Very rich and chocolatey. I’m a little surprised that *I* made something so amazing! Was great with a few fresh strawberries.

  • Sofia

    OMG!! Looks soooo good!!! I’m making this cake on thursday! We have a small dinner party.
    I love presentation in my food, Im always trying new ways to make simple food look stunning!!! This cake looks amazing the way it is, but I don’t have a big springform pan, can I use individual springform pans? If so, how many do you thing I will need???


    • Courtney

      Sofia, I think individual cakes would be so pretty! I honestly have no idea how many, though. Maybe eight? Sorry I can’t help more. If you try it in the individual ones, please let me know how they turn out!

  • christine

    I made a variation of this yesterday and it was amazing. Instead of the white chocolate mousse layer, I just whipped some cream (by the time the third layer rolled around, I got a bit lazy). It was really, really great and my guests loved it!

  • kelly

    holy chocolate, batman! this looks phenomenal! I may just make this for Valentine’s Day this year. It’s not only gorgeous, but chocolate mousse is one of my favorite desserts :)

  • Courtney

    Hm, I never had that problem. My guess for the bottom layer would be that the brown sugar didn’t get incorporated thoroughly, but I’m not sure just 1 tablespoon of sugar would do that to the middle layer. Sorry, I’m really just not sure.

  • Nic Nicblog

    @Laura: Make sure you purchase “cane sugar” to use for baking. All of the off-brand and store-label stuff (i.e. the cheap sugar) is sugar beet sugar and that stuff is basically useless when it comes to baking as it leaves a very distinctive (and horrible) gritty texture in everything it’s used in.

  • Courtney

    I’ve never kept it longer than that, but it’s probably okay. My guess is that the mousse will start to lose it’s airiness after too long.