OF ALL THE LUSCIOUS DESSERTS that we served in my various restaurants, none was ever as beloved as this chocolate mousse cake. It got to the point where I had to have the recipe pre-printed to fill all the requests.
It may look complicated, but all it is is an assemblage of chocolate meringue and chocolate mousse layers, decorated with broken up pieces of meringue and icing sugar.
But oh! the taste and texture are so special: imagine the crunchiness and melt-in-the-mouthingness of meringue and the creamy richness of chocolate mousse, combined – a marriage arranged by the fairies, surely.
EQUIPMENT: you'll need 2 large baking sheets, a large pastry bag (preferably two) and two decorating tips – a 1/2 inch and a 1/4 inch, some parchment paper and a piece of cardboard cut into a 10 by 5-1/2-inch oval (26 x 14 cm).
MAKING THE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE CAKE
Chocolate Meringue Layers
5 egg whites
5-1/2 oz (150 g) icing sugar (one cup, loosely packed)
1-1/4 oz (35 g) plain cocoa powder (1/2 cup)
5-1/2 oz (150 g) white sugar (1/2 cup + 1 TB)
- PREHEAT the oven to 150 C (300 F)
- SIFT the icing sugar and cocoa together.
- WHIP the egg whites at high speed till firm, adding 2 TB of sugar halfway, to give them body.
- ADD the rest of the sugar at low speed.
- FOLD IN the icing sugar/cocoa mixture with a spatula, being careful not to deflate the meringue.
- LINE two baking sheets with parchment paper; attach the paper to the baking sheets with a dot of meringue at each corner.
- USING the cardboard template, draw 3 ovals on the paper.
- FILL a large pastry bag fitted with the larger tip with meringue and pipe 3 ovals in a spiral pattern (as in the photo, above).
- SWITCH to the smaller tip, and pipe all the remaining meringue into straight strips, making sure they don't touch each other.
- BAKE the meringues for approximately 1 hour and 5 minutes. Start watching after 15 minutes of baking: the meringue must not brown. Switch the sheets around if necessary to even out the baking.
- REMOVE the narrow strips as soon as they're done; the ovals will need about 10 minutes more. You can tell they're ready when they no longer stick to the paper. Check the bottom: it must not be sticky.
- YOU CAN prepare the above several days in advance, but they must be stored in an air-tight container so they'll remain crisp.
Chocolate Mousse Recipe
6 oz (170 g) semi-sweet baking chocolate
1/4 cup orange, coffee or mint liqueur (optional)
3 oz (85 g) butter
- MELT the chocolate in a double boiler with the optional liqueur; remove from heat and beat in the butter until the mixture is creamy.
- SET aside to cool until it has reached room temperature. The mixture must not be tepid. (But do not refrigerate!)
4 egg yolks
- MIX IN the egg yolks.
4 egg whites
2 TB white sugar
- BEAT the egg whites until firm, adding the sugar halfway.
- STIR 1/3 of the egg whites into the cooled chocolate mixture to loosen it, then fold in the remaining whites delicately with a spatula. Avoid deflating the egg whites.
Assembling the Cake
- WORK quickly so the chocolate mousse doesn't start to liquefy;
- DEPOSIT one of the chocolate meringue ovals on a clean cardboard oval;
- SPREAD an even coat of chocolate mousse all over the meringue oval (use about 1/4 of the mousse);
- PLACE a second chocolate meringue oval on top;
- ADD another coat of chocolate mousse;
- PLACE the last oval on top; adjust all the layers so they stack as evenly as possible;
- SPREAD chocolate mousse all over the top and sides;
- BREAK UP the meringue strips into finger-size pieces and press them into the chocolate mousse, top and sides (see picture, above);
- SIFT icing sugar on the top;
- REFRIGERATE for at least one hour. The cake is better the next day and it keeps very well for at least 48 hours, in the refrigerator.
Don't wait for a special occasion to try it!
CLICK HERE TO PRINT THE RECIPE (PDF DOCUMENT)