Chocolate Espresso Mousse Cakes
"You sound like you are far away…there are lots of fuzzies on the line", my mom said earlier on the phone as I was standing on the edge of the water watching Bailey timidly dip his paws in the cold marsh.
"Well mom…I am far away…and outside and it’s really cold and rainy. That’s probably why".
"I know where you are, obviously but what on earth are you doing outside in the rain?"
"I am taking a taking a trip home"
"This is picture perfect January Parisian weather, mom. It’s cold, it’s damp, I can smell the leaves, the grass and I can hear the silence"
"hear the silence. Your grandma used to say that."
Well, I doubt it was bliss, peace of mind, or calm I experienced then as my feet were getting cold and the dog was looping around his leash from boredom but this moment spent outside did make me feel at home for a short while. Mom advised I got in and made myself some coffee, to which I enthusiastically agreed as I had the perfect slice of cake to go with it. Turned the coffee pot on and plated that one little cake I had saved and sat down in front of the fireplace. Then it felt cozy and warm…all the way down to my chilled bones. The temperatures have indeed dipped quite dramatically for the region and I may be the only crazy out there walking with a smile on my face, happy to bundle up in extra layers. It really put me in a mood for chocolate, coffee-ish and/or nutty desserts.
When a friend called asking if I could make a cake for a dinner party of 8 she was hosting, I don’t think I even asked her preference. I happily volunteered a moist chocolate cake filled with a silky and rich chocolate mousse with a touch of espresso. I also made a pint of latte ice cream for her to plate with it. A couple days later she called as I was putting the layers in the oven and inquired how the cakes were coming along. I drew a blank, my blood froze solid. "Cakes? How many do you need for 8?!!". She figured that since I like to make individual desserts that I would make petits cakes while I thought since she liked larger cakes that she was expecting one tall cake. Hmmm…since two 8-inch layers were already in the oven I said I’d make eight cakes out of that, somehow.
Instead of trying to cut 16 rounds, fit them into rings and fill with mousse, I went on with my original idea, only slightly modified. Once the layers were baked and cooled, I layered them with the mousse, refrigerated until set, cut the cake in 8 servings and cut off the round edge of each slice so they would stand straight on a plate. I decided to skip an icing of buttercream or ganache as the mousse was already rich. I used the trimmed tops of the cakes instead and I broke these into pieces, dried them in the oven, processed them to fine crumbs and coated each individual gateau with those.
One couple could not make it to the party. Their loss, our choco-espresso bliss…
Chocolate Espresso Mousse Cake Recipe:
For the cake:
1 stick (113gr) butter
1 cup (200gr) sugar
1/2 cup (45gr) natural cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups (185gr) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon (5gr) baking powder
1 teaspoon (5gr) espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon (2.5gr) baking soda
1 cup (250ml) warm water
Preheat oven to 325F. Butter two 8-inch round baking pans, sprinkle some flour into the pans, shake it around and tap the excess off. Line the bottoms with two 8 inch circles of parchment paper. Set aside.
In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. On low speed, add the cocoa and mix until incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the bowl with a spatula to make sure they are properly mixed in. Add the flour, baking powder, espresso powder and baking soda and mix on medium-low speed while slowly adding the warm water and mix until smooth. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool to room temperature and unmold the cakes.
Lower the oven temperature to 300F. Level the cakes by trimming the tops off and break them in pieces. Place those on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until dried. Let cool completely and process them until smooth in food processor. Set the crumbs aside.
For the mousse:
6 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup (62.5ml) whole milk
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 stick (55gr) butter
1 egg yolk
1 cup (250ml) heavy cream, cold
In a bowl set over a pan of simmering water (make sure that the bowl fits snuggly over the pan and does not touch the water), melt together the chocolate, milk, espresso powder and butter. Remove from the heat and let cool to lukewarm. Whisk in the egg yolk. In a mixer, whip the cream to medium peaks and fold it into the chocolate mixture.
Place one cake layer in a springform pan, top with the mousse and place the second cake layer on top. Refrigerate until the mousse is firm, about one hour. Run a knife dipped in hot water around the edge of the cake and unmold. Use a long knife to cut the cake into 8 slices and make sure to dip it in hot water and wipe it clean each time to get clean cuts. Trim the ends of each slices to obtain triangles. Coat each piece with the reserved cake crumbs.
Serve with ice cream or some whipped cream if desired.
Anonymous January 19, 2009 um 8:10 am
Oh, my! Chocolate & coffee is one of my favorites flavour mixes and these mini cakes look so good… I love the triangular shape you gave them.
Beautiful photos, as always!!!
Christy January 19, 2009 um 8:20 am
Ohhh…your cake looks great!!! What a great idea to process the crumbs and cover the cake with it—-minimising waste is one of my new year’s resolution so that’s one trick i’m definitely putting up in my sleeve. I bet your friend was very happy with the result!!
Mélanie January 19, 2009 um 8:44 am
This is so beautiful!!! I love the chocolate decor and the line of cake crumbs. You always have great ideas to make you pictures stand out. I’m not a huge fan of chocolate cakes (yeah… how weird is that?!?), but right now I’m just craving for one piece of this…
Botacook January 19, 2009 um 9:34 am
Whaouh ces gâteaux-mousses sont hyper décadents! J’adore le mélange chocolat-café, c’est divin! Du coup, tu nous présentes là une recette diablement appétissante!
Nina Timm January 19, 2009 um 9:43 am
Aaaahhhh, a delight for the eye, once again!
Anonymous January 19, 2009 um 9:57 am
Beautiful! And as others have said, chocolate and coffee is my favorite combo! This is truly luscious!
Rosa's Yummy Yums January 19, 2009 um 9:57 am
What an awesome dessert! That flavor combo is to die for and the presentation is beautiful!
Anonymous January 19, 2009 um 10:15 am
I love sipping a hot drink and eating some sweet on rainy days. There is something really nostalgic about it.
I have just recently stumbled across your blog and your recipes are truly inspiring and very beautiful to look at. This cake looks wonderfully delicious.
Anonymous January 19, 2009 um 10:56 am
Hear the silence was what my Mum used to say also. WHat lovely pictures and thoughts. As always the best blog on the net for food.
Dharm January 19, 2009 um 11:29 am
Oh my!!! These look just amazing! I’d always wondered about the dryish coating of crumbs on cake exteriors and now I know. Coffee and Choc is such a lovely mix. I just posted a Coffee-Choc-Cointreau creation I made for my moms birthday – but nowhere near as stunning as yours!
Anonymous January 19, 2009 um 11:33 am
Qu’il a l,air gourmand ce cake….:)
The Blonde Duck January 19, 2009 um 11:41 am
Those look great! Stopped in from Abby Sweets to say hi!
Aimée January 19, 2009 um 12:06 pm
Ah, Helene, I love the presentation here. I’m trying to avoid sweets right now, but this cake is emblazed on the back of my eyelids. I can’t escape!
Anonymous January 19, 2009 um 12:27 pm
I put a little chocolate in with my espresso every afternoon.
Now it’s time to put a little espresso in my chocolate cake.
This looks so divine.
Cannelle Et Vanille January 19, 2009 um 12:32 pm
I love the cool weather Helen. It makes our "jobs" so much easier right!
You are so ingenious and resourceful. They must have love your individual little gateaux. Lucky friends!!!
The Italian Dish January 19, 2009 um 12:41 pm
What a clever presentation. These looked incredible, as usual! You have one lucky friend!
Gretchen Noelle January 19, 2009 um 1:21 pm
My eyes got big just by reading the title. These sound delicious just at the name, and then seeing them practically pushes me over the edge!
Mary January 19, 2009 um 1:22 pm
That was some quick thinking! I like damp cold weather too and this would be perfect to come inside to!
Anonymous January 19, 2009 um 1:27 pm
Definitely time for chocolate…this looks delectable!
Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy January 19, 2009 um 1:35 pm
I like the way you used the extra cake to make an interesting covering – I first saw the image and couldn’t see the filling, and now I know why 🙂
Anonymous January 19, 2009 um 1:59 pm
These are so cute! I love the way you reused the cake trimmings to cover the cake. I bet it reall let the espresso flavor shine through!
Your plating is a delight for the eyes!
Ash January 19, 2009 um 2:06 pm
This looks so good! I adore chocolate moose cake!
LizNoVeggieGirl January 19, 2009 um 2:09 pm
Love the story and the CAKE!!! 😀
Darius T. Williams January 19, 2009 um 2:10 pm
Navita (Gupta) Hakim January 19, 2009 um 2:30 pm
u sure are clever…err…enterprising…:)
love the presentation…
may i ask how did u make those lovely feather looking decor on the cake
Anonymous January 19, 2009 um 2:34 pm
That sounds delicious! I’m not a big fan of really chocolatey desserts normally, but I do like chocolate and coffee. I loved the crumb coating, too…that sounds much more appealing to me than a rich frosting. It seems like a pretty easy recipe, as well, so I might have to try it out. 🙂
Anonymous January 19, 2009 um 2:35 pm
A beauty! Well, beauties!!
I love how you made something so scrumptious and yet so attainable for the home cook. I know I’ll be making this one soon!
lynda January 19, 2009 um 2:39 pm
These are just the right little bite for chilly afternoon with something warm to sip. Your commentary made me remember fall in upstate NY…a lot like that. I love your posts.
Manggy January 19, 2009 um 2:39 pm
Aww! If the couple had known they’d be getting a Tartelette treat they would have speedily arrived at the doorstep! I love the velvety surface– and done without an airbrush too! Awesome!
Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen January 19, 2009 um 2:40 pm
I’ve just discovered your site. It’s fabulous, but I may be biased because j’adore anything and everything that’s French. This dessert is to die for and your photos look good enough to eat. Takes me right back to France and their gorgeous Patisserie shops. I’ll be back for more.
southern daze January 19, 2009 um 3:07 pm
Your cleverness never fails to amaze me! What a drool worthy dessert and as always, your photography is stunning.
Bridget January 19, 2009 um 3:12 pm
Oh, wow….those sound and look incredible. (I think I say that on every post…I need to vary my comments a little!) 🙂 YUM!
Anonymous January 19, 2009 um 3:17 pm
Ok, so we are coming in town next week end and clearly we want, no "need" this!! Maybe with a touch of your caramel grand art?!Yes, consider this an official order for our favorite pastry kitchen in town. Hope you both are doing wonderful. We miss you!
Deeba PAB January 19, 2009 um 3:23 pm
WAY TO GO Helen…something more achieveable for me this time & in my most fave flavour, coffee! This is so totally yum & love the way you turned a high cake intp indiv ones. Pretty!!
Anonymous January 19, 2009 um 3:26 pm
I really like this! I also like how you adapted to the changed requirements – this looks very elegant and very delicious.
ana dane January 19, 2009 um 3:29 pm
what a good idea for individual desserts with a minimum of effort. (and i say from now on, if you’re bringing the dessert, you get to decide how it’s going to served!)
can i come to the next dinner party?
Helene January 19, 2009 um 3:38 pm
Navita: the chocolate decor is tempered dark and white chocolate. I spread some dark chocolate on a parchment paper and then dragged some white chocolate across with a small spatula. Because the white chocolate is dragged and not piped, it looks in some pieces like the dark chocolate is out of temper but it is a combination of the decor itself and the light reflection on the plate.
Thank you everyone!
Char January 19, 2009 um 4:12 pm
absolutely divine looking – I love how you plated them – little works of art
Nic January 19, 2009 um 5:29 pm
Once again you show such ingenuity, they look awesome!
Jen Yu January 19, 2009 um 5:30 pm
Ha ha ha! I thought you were ALWAYS in the mood for some chocolate 😉 You are always the clever one. I like how you made these little cakes from one big one. Who got to eat the rounded trimmings? Your friends are lucky to have you! xxoo
Rita January 19, 2009 um 5:42 pm
I love the chocolate and coffee combo,anyway it comes.
I know what you mean by listening to the silence…It is so difficult to capture it most days.
cindy* January 19, 2009 um 6:17 pm
i can’t get enough chocolate and espresso! great innovation and lovely presentation 🙂
dulzura magica January 19, 2009 um 6:18 pm
Wow those look just decadently delicious beautiful presentation!
tara January 19, 2009 um 6:35 pm
So gorgeously presented. The combination of visual textures – the smooth, the delicate, the spongy. It looks wonderful. I, like many others, adore chocolate and espresso. How wonderful this would be for a Valentine’s treat.
By the way, I emailed you today; I thought I’d leave a note here just in case!
Philo aux fourneaux – Blog culinaire January 19, 2009 um 7:38 pm
The Duo Dishes January 19, 2009 um 7:53 pm
Chocolate with a kick. Great!
Anonymous January 19, 2009 um 7:58 pm
An absolute delight! The presentation is top notch and so are the flavor combinations!
Esi January 19, 2009 um 8:32 pm
Chocolate espresso mousse is one of my favorite things and added to a cake makes it even better, I’m sure!
[email protected] January 19, 2009 um 8:52 pm
Dewi January 19, 2009 um 9:04 pm
Quick thinking too, I would have gone PANIC! No..no… c’est Helene, panic is not in her vocabulary.
Snooky doodle January 19, 2009 um 9:48 pm
WOW YOU RE FANTASTIC ! YOUR CRATIONS ARE SO NICE ! I LOVE THE WAY YOU SERVED THESE. I LL MAKE IT TOO:) NICE IDEA
Hayley January 19, 2009 um 10:27 pm
I am so jealous that your friend has you in her life. What I would give for all those incredible treats you create. This is no different, beautiful!
Anonymous January 19, 2009 um 11:07 pm
If only you delivered…sigh…
Beautiful in flavors and food stylism! Keep it up!
Jo January 20, 2009 um 12:14 am
Oh wow, I simply, simply love the presentation. Gorgeous.
Joyce January 20, 2009 um 1:40 am
EEKS- I so want a piece of this cake. That this comment is short and sweet before I eat my keyboard!! xoxo
Anonymous January 20, 2009 um 2:59 am
These are absolutely beautiful!
Anonymous January 20, 2009 um 3:44 am
Great writing and great recipe Tartelette. Where will you stop? 🙂
My mouth is watering as i’m writing this. I gotta try this!
That Girl January 20, 2009 um 4:57 am
I love espresso in chocolate cake, and I’m sure the mousse is even better.
Anonymous January 20, 2009 um 6:13 am
These look like the daintiest little sea creatures.
Cakebrain January 20, 2009 um 7:20 am
What a gorgeous presentation! I love your ways with chocolate, Helen!
Meeta K. Wolff January 20, 2009 um 10:27 am
wonderfully decadent – mousse – choc and coffee a dream!
Patricia Scarpin January 20, 2009 um 12:05 pm
What a wonderful idea, Helen! I love how imponent and noble they look.
You certainly did a great job here – and your solution to the problem would have made MacGyver proud. 😉
Y January 20, 2009 um 12:35 pm
Their loss indeed! I love the idea with the crumbs. Might borrow that some time, if you don’t mind! And I could certainly eat two helpings of that delicious looking cake!
Cherie January 20, 2009 um 12:56 pm
You must have some very happy friends. Chocolate and coffee? Sounds like perfection to me!
Cindy January 20, 2009 um 1:43 pm
Lori January 20, 2009 um 6:24 pm
Very nice. I like the chocolate and white chocolate waves. Very pretty. Sure wish I could try one of your desserts! Always so inviting.
Anonymous January 20, 2009 um 9:49 pm
A wonderful combination. Would love to know how you make the latte ice cream too – that sounds fantastic.
Hilda January 21, 2009 um 12:35 am
J’imagine bien cette conversation surtout parce que Paris me manque beaucoup aussi. But you’re killing me here, another cake I have to wait to make and eat until I’m done with this incubation. I love love love the presentation.
NKP January 21, 2009 um 12:44 am
I love chocolate and espresso together.
I had a question – I put instant espresso powder on the shopping list, and, when noting the price, hubby came home and asked if I could just use the real ground espresso that we keep on hand.
What are your thoughts?
Anonymous January 21, 2009 um 2:37 am
Looks fantastically delicious Helen! Congrats on getting nominated for best overall foodblog. You have my vote:-) I’m glad we’re weren’t nominated in the same category (I’m in best new blog)
Mallory Elise January 21, 2009 um 4:28 am
wow! those are quite unique 🙂 bravo!
Helene January 21, 2009 um 4:46 am
Natashya: I usually get the tiny tiny container of instant espresso powder (on a budget too) but I often subsitute with a good strong shot of espresso. Make it strong and add 1-2 tablespoons to the milk as you get it hot.
Marc: I voted for you too 🙂 dorks that we are…
Anonymous January 21, 2009 um 5:02 am
Hey neighbor! And why did we not get any this time?!!
Just wanted to take this opportunity to tell readers that Helen has been nominated in TWO categories of the Food Blog Awards: best food blog-Chef and best food blog-Overall….
Yeah!! Go vote!! Not only is she an awesome friend and neighbor but a skilled and talented blogger.
P.S: no, she did not give me extra macarons to come tell you this!
Anonymous January 21, 2009 um 6:19 am
I am catching up on blog reading after the holidays (hmmm it’s almost February!) but just wanted to add my 2 cents that these petit cakes are just fabulous to look at and I bet wonderful to eat also!
Anonymous January 21, 2009 um 6:26 am
Love the image of the marsh on a chilly day! The cake & your idea to present it are perfect and it sounds so delicious. I'm always wondering what to do with extra cake crumbs and have been throwing them out. Horrors!
Kris Ngoei January 21, 2009 um 9:37 am
Totally love the mousse cake, especially the photos. Beautiful!!
Helene January 21, 2009 um 2:20 pm
babycakes: for the latte ice cream, I used my cinnamon ice cream recipe and added 1 teaslonn espresso powder dissolved in one tablespoon hot water to the batter.
Julie: you may not have received a macarons payment for saying this but I fear you are going to ask for it anyway…much obliged!
Thank you for your kind words!
Thank you everyone for stopping by!
Maria January 21, 2009 um 2:31 pm
Once again, everything looks beyond amazing here! My birthday is coming up, this would be my dream cake!
Anonymous January 21, 2009 um 2:58 pm
What a beautiful item! Your post was a joy to read, too.
I love how you dried, crumbled and then re-introduced.
Photo’s are gorgeous, too!
Anonymous January 21, 2009 um 3:16 pm
In trying times like these I love the fact that you really on staple ingredients and turn up some gorgeous little cakes, making use of every last crumbs (no pun intended).
Thank you for the inspiration!
montague January 21, 2009 um 5:04 pm
chocolate and coffee… talk about meant to be 😉
Anonymous January 21, 2009 um 5:28 pm
Love the pairing of chocolate and espresso! I bet the ice cream addition was perfect with these.
Amazing plated dessert!
Irene January 21, 2009 um 6:04 pm
Wow, this looks amazing! Good luck with the book and make sure to take some time for yourself in the madness!
MyKitchenInHalfCups January 21, 2009 um 9:06 pm
One couple couldn’t make it to the party, oh such a shame ;0)
I have a few places in this world where I love listening to the quiet and I consider those very heavenly places.
Silviapi January 21, 2009 um 9:12 pm
Melissa de la Fuente January 21, 2009 um 11:08 pm
(excuse me while I pick my jaw off of the floor) How exquisite! How perfect and I love hearing about your process…..latte ice cream TOO!? Be still my beating heart….*sigh*
Anonymous January 22, 2009 um 12:51 am
A chaque fois ca me fait le meme effet: siderant!!
Cynthia January 22, 2009 um 3:02 am
It’s still January so technically I’m not too late 🙂 Happy New Year. How’s the book coming along?
Helene January 22, 2009 um 4:56 am
Thank you everyone! I am very happy that these baby cakes are so well received!
Thanks for taking the time to stop by!
Sara January 22, 2009 um 4:58 am
These are gorgeous, I love the chocolate decorations.
Anonymous January 22, 2009 um 7:32 am
It’s breathtakingly delicious…thanks for sharing.
Sunshinemom January 22, 2009 um 3:33 pm
How did I miss this?! Guess my reader is getting overcrowded! How beautiful your cake looks, Helen! The texture is so good – mouthwatering and great pictures!!
Anonymous January 23, 2009 um 2:27 am
This looks like the perfect dessert.
Celeste January 23, 2009 um 2:48 am
WOW…chocolate + espresso + mousse = 3 of my very favorite things! I MUST try this! It looks wonderful!!!
Sunshinemom January 23, 2009 um 4:47 am
Forgot! Not too late however – Congrats on your getting nominated in two categories for the 2008 Food Blog Awards!! Yippie – I voted:), and was proud to see my nomination there – Best of luck! Would love to see that badge on your site!
Anonymous January 23, 2009 um 4:48 am
fantastic looking cake, Helen!
Vanillaorchid January 23, 2009 um 1:37 pm
Your desserts are alway beautiful.
Fifi Flowers January 26, 2009 um 4:56 am
Decadent Chocolat! Yum… I’d volunteer to lick the bowls clean!
You make it all look and sound easy, my friend!
Alexandra January 27, 2009 um 6:05 am
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous January 29, 2009 um 1:19 am
I made your cake,!!!!
Followed your recipe but doubled up everything as was making it for a big group of people
Awesome cake!! I have a picture of it if you’d like me to send to you
Also, can I post my picture and a link to your recipe on my blog (it’s very new, not much traffic). But asking for permission
Helene January 29, 2009 um 8:23 am
That makes me so happy you tried it!
Yes, go ahead and post, that is no problem! Send me the link please!
Michelle Rittler February 5, 2009 um 3:40 pm
I came across your blog after seeing its inclusion in Gera’s list. Your photos are amazing! I’m looking forward to seeing what else you whip up!
Anonymous November 10, 2009 um 8:29 pm
WOW, I made this cake a couple weeks ago and it is AMAZING. Your whole site is truely yummy and beautiful!
How far in advance can I make this cake and keep it in the refrigerator or freezer? I'm having a big dinner party next weekend and while I would tyically make this the night before I wont have the luxury this time. Can I make it three nights before and refrigerate or can I freeze? thanks!!! You really are the BEST. 🙂
Unknown December 3, 2009 um 7:38 pm
One question. The cake came out fantastic. But, the mousse didn't seem to firm up enough where it stayed put between the layers. Any idea what might have gone wrong? I added some gelatin to my mousse which did the trick.
Great recipe though – thanks!
Angela January 29, 2010 um 11:58 pm
I absolutely love your writing and your photography, absolutely stunning and delicious 🙂 This recipe looks like it could rock many socks, wonderful!
Anonymous March 10, 2010 um 5:03 am
I'm not sure when you will get this, but the mouse sounds to die for so I decided to use it with my favourite 3 layer dark chocolate cake wiht a ganache topping, and this is for a dinner party on Thursday (I'm doing the whole thing from appies to dessert…) and I was hoping to cut down on the day of work (I do have a 9-5 to go to still…) so I Was wondering if the mouse layers will still be good if I layer the cake the night before the dinner party.
Any experience or wisdom you can impart would be GREATLY appreciated!
Anonymous March 10, 2010 um 8:13 pm
What a slip! I really did mean to say that the MOUSSE sounded lovely, not the mouse.
I did also want to extend my apologies for the very short intro – I have been reading your blog for about 5 months now and look forward to it. There are such beautiful photos and inspiring recipes that I have started to spend more time in the kitchen – THANK YOU!!
All the best…
suma July 28, 2010 um 2:32 pm
Hi Helen! Came in here through Deeba's and I musty say you have a truly wonderful blog, dunno how many recipes I have bookmarked today!!
This dessert is gorgeous and loved the idea of coating the cake with cake crumbs…