Chocolate-Espresso Mousse Cake Recipe

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

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 somewhat of a chocolate purist and like cakes with the clean, pure taste of good dark chocolate. That said, this creamy cake benefits from a jolt of coffee. But if you don’t like coffee, or can’t drink it, you could substitute decaffeinated. To go alongside, a scoop of vanilla ice cream is nice. But Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream is maybe even better.

Chocolate Espresso Mousse Cake
Print Recipe
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 (340g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream
2/3 cup (160ml) brewed espresso or strong coffee
5 large eggs, at room temperature
pinch of salt
1/2 cup (100g) 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 325º F (160ºC).
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.


  • April 23, 2007 5:54am

    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.

  • April 23, 2007 8:08am

    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.

  • April 23, 2007 8:11am

    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.

  • April 23, 2007 8:33am

    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?

  • Linda H
    April 23, 2007 9:11am

    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!

  • April 23, 2007 9:13am

    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.

  • April 23, 2007 10:03am

    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.

  • Johnny
    April 23, 2007 10:26am

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

  • Eye_carl
    April 23, 2007 12:05pm

    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?

  • April 23, 2007 12:17pm

    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.

  • April 23, 2007 2:52pm

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


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

  • April 23, 2007 3:00pm

    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!

  • Connie
    April 23, 2007 3:54pm

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

  • Connie
    April 23, 2007 3:55pm

    oh and thank you for the recipe.

  • April 23, 2007 5:47pm

    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.

  • April 24, 2007 12:24am

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

  • Eyal
    April 24, 2007 5:28am

    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.?

  • April 24, 2007 6:21am

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

  • April 24, 2007 10:29am

    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.

  • good enough cook
    April 24, 2007 11:58am

    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.

  • April 25, 2007 12:34pm

    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.

  • April 25, 2007 2:19pm

    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,

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

  • May 2, 2007 12:42pm

    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).

  • Olivia
    July 5, 2010 7:57pm

    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!


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