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.
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.
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.
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
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 cup (60 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.