Chocolate-Espresso Mousse Cake Recipe

It’s finally spring in Paris. And springtime is when a young man’s fancy turns to…yup, you guessed it—chocolate.

As the temperature starts climbing higher and higher (although I’m still not putting away my gloves and scarves quite yet…), I realize that it’s time for me to use up all those bits and pieces of chocolate that I have lying around all over the place, tempting me all winter, but which will soon turn into molten blobs if I don’t act fast. There’s chunks leftover from tastings, samples sent to me from companies, and pieces I’ve acquired from my travels here and there.

Served with a cool, tangy scoop of Vanilla Frozen Yogurt, from The Perfect Scoop

So I thought I’d create a recipe for Chocolate Espresso Mousse Cake to use ‘em all up. This is one of my favorite types of ways to serve chocolate in a cake: strong, bittersweet, and creamy-smooth with a soft, luscious melt-in-your-mouth texture that’s so tender it practically evaporates seconds after you take a bite, but the intense chocolate flavors lingers on and on and on. Bliss.


I’m also somewhat of a chocolate purist. Although I should probably change the word ‘somewhat’ to ‘definitely’, since I don’t like a lot of opposing flavors in my chocolate desserts. But chocolate does have an affinity for coffee and espresso, so I’ve combined that flavor in this cake.

What’s that?

You don’t have an espresso-maker? Well, talk to the hand, girlfriend.

Hate to say I told you so, but I did.

The full, roasty flavor of espresso is terrific in this cake, although if you’re one of the very few people that don’t listen to my every word and take my incredibly-helpful advice, you could use very strong-brewed coffee. And if you don’t like coffee, or can’t drink it, you could substitute decaf of a favorite liquor diluted.

What’s that?

You can’t drink liquor either? Then you could substitute another flavorful liquid of your choice, I suppose. Maybe try milk. But after making the cake a couple of times with several variations, there’s only so many half-eaten cakes a guy can have around and still expect to fit into one of those hyper-petit swimsuits this summer that are de rigeur for men or all shapes and sizes to wear on French beaches.

Lastly, since I made this cake a couple of time this week, to use up some le reste (the leftovers), I found it’s quite good served frozen, which naturally got me thinking that big chunks of it would be good embedded in a batch of ice cream. So I tried mixing-in some bits and pieces to my outrageously-good (if I do say so myself…) Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream, of which several batches were sharing double-occupancy in my freezer as well. Even though it was kind of a no-brainer, it was unbelievably good. You mix caramel, chocolate, coffee, and salt…what’s not to like about that?


Chocolate Espresso Mousse Cake

12-16 servings

This cake can be a bit tricky to slice into clean wedges, so I’ve given you a few strategies at the end of the recipe to help. But don’t worry if you don’t get picture-perfect pieces: The best tasting bits of cake are the ones that stick to the side of the knife that you eat yourself, don’t you think? But for safety’s-sake, scrape it off first with a spatula before licking it up. Remember what your mother said would happen if you cut yourself there?

  • 12 ounces (340 gr) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 (100 ml) heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) brewed (extracted) espresso
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup (100 gr) sugar

1. Lightly butter a 9-inch (23 cm) spring form pan and wrap the outside of the pan with aluminum foil, to seal it watertight. Set the cake pan in a larger pan, such as a roasting pan, large enough to make a water bath or bain marie.

2. Preheat the oven to 325 F (160 C).

3. Put the chopped chocolate with the cream and espresso in a large heatproof bowl.

4. Set the chocolate over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring gently until melted and smooth. Remove from heat.

5. In a standing electric mixer, whip the eggs, salt, and sugar and whip on high speed until they hold their shape, about 5 minutes.

7. Fold half of the whipped eggs into the chocolate, then finish with the remaining eggs.

8. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan. Add warm water to the roasting pan so that it reaches half-way up the outsides of the spring form pan, creating a water bath.

9. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the cake is slightly firm, but will still feel soft in the center.

10. Remove the cake pan from the water bath and set on a cooling rack until room temperature.

To serve: Slide a knife along the outside edge of the cake pan to release it from the pan. Release the outside ring of the spring form cake pan. Can be served at room temperature or chilled.

Because the cake is delicate, I slice it with a thin, sharp knife dipped in very hot water and wiped clean before making the next slice. Or you can also use a length of dental floss (unflavored, please…) pulled taut and drawn across the diameter of the cake, to make wedges.

This cake can also be frozen and sliced icy-cold with a hot knife, right out of the freezer. It tastes pretty darn good cold with a scoop of ice cream or frozen yogurt—a great warm weather dessert for summer.

30 comments

  • It’s entirely your fault that I have most unelegantly drooled all over my keyboard at work. I absolutely cannot wait to try this out. Really, what better flavours could you imagine for spring? Or any season, really.

  • Looks delicious! You could also get an espresso to go at a coffee shop and use that, if you don’t have an espresso machine. I’m guessing it could be cold and still be fine. I used to make a similar cake, served with a raspberry sauce drizzled over the top (divine.) An easy way to cut was to use dental floss, stretched tight. Clean cuts, no mess.

    Just don’t use the mint kind.

  • Shall I read to the bottom before I post?

    Quelle idiote!

    I can blame this on 5 hours on the highway in the car yesterday, no coffee this morning, and a lack of sleep.

  • You put bits of that cake in some salted butter caramel ice cream? Genius I tell you.
    I want some. I don’t have my own espresso maker so Im just going to come over real soon.. Be prepared ok?

  • I will make this today instead of doing the things I was supposed to.
    Frozen brownies, cut in small cubes and folded into cheesecake batter before baking make a beautiful slice of cheesecake. Your mousse cake frozen would, I think, give the same result and taste even better. Thank you for the recipe!

  • Ah, the problem of too much chocolate. The only problem I have of that sort involves not the cupboard but my waistline. And you’ve already got me eating the ice cream.

  • There’s nothing like leftover chocolate to motivate you to make something with it. I recently used up my leftover chocolate on two kinds of chocolate gelatos . Unfortunately, this left me with a house devoid of chocolate (sorry, Easter bunny) so I just ordered 6 pounds last Friday.

  • Hi David, Thanks for the recipe. I’m always excited when you post a recipe here. It’s like a gift from above!

  • David, speaking of left overs I have these chocolate covered nesspresso beans from Coffee Bean, what do you think, fold them into the caramel ice cream?

  • Darn it, and I just finished a batch of that salted-caramel ice cream last night! Guess I’ll have to suffer and whip up another one… ;)

    It was FABULOUS, by the way. I made half normal and half with espresso. I can’t even begin to imagine how good it would be with chunks of this cake.

  • Then you could substitute another flavorful liquid of your choice, I suppose. Maybe try milk.

    :D

    You’re too wonderful. (and the recipe sounds fantastic!!)

  • Kevin: Very little scares me anymore (except maybe that video on your site!)

    Melissa: For someone that doesn’t have enough room in her apartment for a real ice cream maker, you sure have enough room for all that ice cream…where’s it all going??

    dddg: I guess I should correct that.
    It should read ‘horse milk’

    Just made a batch of Dark Milk Chocolate Ice Cream to fold more cake scraps in to. Gotta get rid of that milk chocolate before the heat blast arrives too!

  • I can just see you fanatically getting rid of chocolate before the heat ………but please you still eat chocolate in the summer.

  • oh and thank you for the recipe.

  • Uh, I don’t think the cake is going to make it to being put in that fabulous ice cream…at least in my house it wouldn’t. :D That looks delicious. Can’t wait to make that and the ice cream.

  • Question — since it has espresso in it, it would be okay to eat this for breakfast, right?

  • David,
    should the eggs be separated; so whipping the whites, stirring the yolks in the melted chocolate (after it was removed from the heat) and then folding whites, etc.?
    Thanks.

  • Nope. Just whip the eggs as indicated by the recipe.

  • Um, where do you think?? Into my belly! If you can figure out a way to fit an ice cream maker in there too, please do let me know.

  • In my world, “leftover chocolate” is an oxymoron.

    And a kitchen where “leftover chocolate” jostles for space with “half-eaten cakes” and the freezer contains “several batches” of salted butter caramel ice cream?

    I think if I lead a very, very good life, when I die I will find myself in David’s kitchen.

    That cake sounds amazing.

  • espresso – check
    liquou if needed – check
    Standing Mixer……shit

  • Heaven! Pastry kitchen is not my forte, but this cake -or should I say mousse? But is it possible for a mousse to be cooked/baked and still retain that moussey feeling? – is heavens. Both to cook and to eat. Easier to serve when served from the fridge. Thanks. I will definitly be serving this in my restaurant.

  • Mr Lebovitz sir, I was hoping for a little culinary advice. I have been cheating on my Valrhona Guanaja recently with a Green & Black espresso chocolate and I was wondering if it might be suitable to use in this cake or would that be a coffee step too far? (I may be asking the wrong person here.) The bar costs the bones of 5 euro per 150g so it would be a costly experiment. Also, could you advise on a suitable ice-cream partner for a salted cashew nut caramel brownie? It’s been feeling a little lonesome.
    Thanking you in advance,
    Laura.

    P.S. Amazon just sent me an e-mail recommending your new book I may have to treat myself.

  • Dude. YUM. And guess who just happened to get a bright and shiny little commercial espresso machine for her farmguy’s birthday? Wait. That came out wrong. And guess who is thinking that now that she has found a source of milk right down the road that goes from cow to jar to her refrigerator (read: several inches of heavy cream floating on top of the milk) that she just might need that ice cream maker you recommended a while back for her birthday? Along with a copy of your new book of course. Tempting. Very tempting. All your fault of course. Well, I guess not the local milk (god that stuff is good).

  • 2 pesty questions! whip or paddle attachment on the mixer? should the cake be crumbly or did I overbake? the taste was fantastic, the texture not so good!Please help?????

  • Hi Brenda: In step #5 it says to ‘whip’ the eggs, so you should use the whip attachment. Normally the cake is moist and smooth so it’s possible you overbaked it. You can fold those chunks of crumbly cake into your next batch of ice cream. Yum!

  • I thank you for the reply. So whip means whip…..got it, duh! I froze some for an ice cream “mix-in”, cubed the rest of it, put them in paper cups to bring to my office. They are GONE!

  • Hi David, I just tried making this cake. It’s been baking for an hour and so far, there is a thin crust-like layer on the top. But below that, it is just liquid… what did I do wrong? Is it the elevation or something like that? :(

  • Christin: Since I don’t know you’re elevation, I can’t answer that. But usually only baked goods with leavening have problems at various elevations.

    Barbra at Serve It Forth did a post about the cake and she had the same results as show in the post. Check out DL’s Chocolate Cake with Crème Fraîche

  • I was browsing the Internet for an expresso cake in December. When I came across this chocolate mousse one, I knew it was a winner. And it was.

    But there was a problem. I am only 12 (13 now) years old, so I had my parents help me.

    We made the cake without much difficulty, and when it came out of the oven, I was dying to try it. But we let it chill for a while. That night I had some family over to come try this cake. The next day, I brought some to school, and the last slice of cake didn’t even make it to my mouth. My friends ate it.

    The next time I made it, I followed your advice and froze it. Boy – it was even better that time when it was frozen!

    Loved this cake! I can’t wait to make it again!