It was Mum’s birthday yesterday, the 24th of October, and like tradition, I was all set to bake her birthday cake! And when I say tradition, it’s a fairly new tradition you seeeee 😛 just a year old, as I began baking about a year back only. So either way, I was pretty excited. A strawberry cake sounded like the perfect treat, and because we don’t get fresh strawberries here, I ordered some fruit pulp online……….BUT, Amazon totally messed up my order, and though that’s a story for the later, that mess-up gave birth to this absolutely decadent birthday cake!
My mother is, just like the rest of us, a chocolate fanatic. She does not like fresh fruit cakes, butterscotch or other fruity-flavoured cakes much, and Black Forest was out of the question, because…..cherries! Ugh…so, I was, in short, in a funk. I needed to bake a cake that wasn’t the regular chocolate cake-ganache version, while at the same time, was easy enough to make. And that’s when I decided…….. Mousse Cake!!!
I found this recipe after hunting through….42 different recipes…..YES, I kid you not! I mean they were all really great recipes, but they somehow did not suit my needs. I am pretty much new with baking, and I didn’t want to try something complicated, simply because I didn’t have time to experiment. I found two recipes that I really liked; one was on Cook Illustrated, the other one was on the Sugar Hero website by Elizabeth LaBau…and while I loved both, the former had a flourless chocolate-only base, while this one had my fav, brownie base. So that’s what I chose of course 😉
I was, frankly, terrified…not of the recipe, that sounded easy enough, but of the process…what if it the mousse didn’t set? What if the cake didn’t unmould? What if…….the doubts in mind, I set about baking….and I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to have executed this successfully. Of course it’s not perfect, of course the edges could be neater, the slices perfect, the finishing glamorous…but to a rank amateur like me, this was like scaling the Everest 😉
The best part was that my cream whipped to stiff peaks, and my mousses were super, super airy and light. Also, the mouses are eggless and absolutely easy to make, so double score on that. The cake is amazingly decadent, rich and very, very doable, granted you plan out well. The dense and fudgy brownie base compliments the mouses so well! I made slight additions to the recipe, like adding some vanilla custard powder to my white chocolate mousse, and some frozen cranberries, and topped off the cake with some chocolate bark, and a sprinkle of fairy dust……… 😛 okay, okay, I meant gold luster dust 😉
The recipe is slightly lengthy, and also, it was originally in ounces, so took me some work to convert.
Chocolate & Vanilla-Cranberry Mousse Cake
For the Brownie layer –
- All-purpose/Plain flour – 3/4 cup (95 gm)
- Unsweetened cocoa powder – 2/3 cup (57 gm)
- Salt – 1/2 tsp
- Baking powder – 1/2 tsp
- Unsalted butter – 113 gm
- Granulated sugar – 1 cup + 2 tbsp (219 gm)
- Eggs – 2 large, room temp
- Vanilla extract – 2 tsp
For the Chocolate Mousse –
- Dark/Semi-sweet chocolate – 255 gm, finely chopped
- Heavy cream – 1 & 3/4 cup (divided use)
- Unflavoured gelatin – 2 tsp
- Water – 2 tbsp
- Salt – a pinch
For the Vanilla Mousse –
- White chocolate – 255 gm, finely chopped
- Heavy cream – 1 & 1/2 cup (divided use0
- Unflavoured gelatin – 2 tsp
- Water – 2 tbsp
- Salt – a pinch
- Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
- Vanilla custard powder – 2 tsp
- Cranberries, frozen – 1 cup (soaked in warm water for 20 mins)
- Honey – 2 tbsp
For decoration –
- Chocolate curls/bark
- Gold luster dust
To make the Brownie:
- Preheat the oven to 350 F/175 C.
- Line a 9-inch cake pan/springform pan with parchment and grease very well. Set aside.
- Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder in a bowl and set aside.
- Cube the butter and tip it into a saucepan, set over medium-low heat. Stir until the butter melts and add the sugar, stirring until butter and sugar melt and dissolve together. Don’t let it come to a boil.
- Remove pan from heat and let it cool until lukewarm.
- Once cooled, add the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition. (don’t add eggs into the hot mixture or they will scramble.)
- Whisk well, the mixture will be grainy at first, but will turn smooth and shiny once the eggs are added. Now add the vanilla and stir it in.
- Lastly, add the dry ingredients in, and stir with a spatula until combined.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and bake it for 25 to 30 mins, until a toothpick/skewer inserted comes out with a few crumbs attached. (the brownie is fudgy, so don’t expect the skewer to be clean, a few crumbs are perfect).
- Cool the brownie layer well before proceeding further.
To make the Mousse Layers:
- Get your pan ready; you will need a 9 or 10-inch pan, with 3 inch sides at least, preferably a loose-bottom or springform pan.
- Before you begin layering, loosen the brownie base off the pan, preferably unmould it, let it cool and put it back in gently.
- Line the inside wall with a 4-inch tall acetate sheet, or a parchment or foil paper strip, ensuring the ends of the strip overlap.
- Start making the mousse; combine the chopped chocolate with a pinch of salt, and 3/4 cup of cream in a microwave-safe bowl.
- Microwave this in 20-sec intervals, stirring each time, until the chocolate has melted and is lump-free and mixture is smooth.
- Pour into a separate bowl, large enough to accommodate the whipped cream. Let cool.
- As the chocolate cools, prepare the gelatin by whisking together the gelatin with some cold water in a microwave-safe bowl. Let it bloom for 10 mins.
- Check the chocolate and stir it to bring it to room temperature. Now microwave the gelatin for 15 secs, until it has melted, and whisk it in with the chocolate.
- In another large bowl, glass or stainless steel, whisk the remaining cream to stiff peaks. You can add 2 to 3 tsp powdered/icing sugar if your cream is not sweet enough. The process will take some time, so be patient, and don’t over beat or the cream will turn to butter.
- Once the cream is light and airy, fold half of it with the chocolate mixture. When no streaks remain, fold in the remaining half.
- Pour this over the brownie layer evenly, pat with a spatula or use the back of a spoon to smooth it out.
- Refrigerate until the mousse layer begins to set (30 mins to 1 hour), and begin working on the vanilla layer.
- Repeat the process as above; melt white chocolate with 1/2 cup cream and salt, let cool, and whisk in bloomed and melted gelatin.
- Whisk 1 cup cream to stiff peaks; add the custard powder and honey once the cream has just about begun to get soft peaks, and whisk it again until stiff.
- Fold in the whipped cream with the white chocolate, add vanilla extract, cranberries and smooth it out over the dark chocolate layer.
- Smooth the top out well, and leave it to set overnight or a minimum of 4 hours.
- To finish the cake, unmould it very gently; start by removing the sides of the springform pan, unhinge the latch and lift off the side. Then gently, remove the acetate sheet/parchment paper from the sides.
- Right before serving the cake, decorate with chocolate curls/barks and some gold dust.
- The recipe calls for use of heavy cream. Now heavy cream is practically impossible to find here, so I use non-dairy whipping cream, Value-Star or Tropolite.
- For melting the chocolate, I used fresh cream (Amul).
- The original recipe had an extra layer of raspberry mousse, and a topping of dark chocolate ganache, chocolate curls and fresh raspberries.
- I don’t have access to acetate sheet, so I used parchment paper, hence my sides aren’t as neat. You may use acetate, or if confident enough, skip.
- The cranberries were an after-thought. The tangy cranberries compliment the white chocolate well, so I like it. You can skip, or add cherries instead.