A light and not-too-sweet chocolate layer cake. The recipe has many steps, but it is easy to make. Use good-quality baking chocolates like Callebaut, Scharffen Berger or Valrhona, and a cake leveler; and plan to make the cake ahead of time. A show-stopper of a dessert! —Viviane Bauquet Farre
For the cakes
1 1/4 cups
unbleached all purpose flour
Dutch process cocoa – sifted
large eggs – at room temperature
1 1/2 cups
unsalted butter – melted and slightly cooled
strong coffee – cooled to room temperature
For the milk chocolate mousse, white chocolate frosting & garnish
Place the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Whisk until well blended.
Place the eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk at high speed until very pale, thick and ribbony (about 2 minutes). Slowly add the sugar and continue whisking at high speed until soft peaks form, another minute.
Add half the flour/cocoa mixture to the whipped eggs. Fold in carefully. Add the melted butter and fold in carefully. Fold in the remaining flour/cocoa mixture, taking care not to overmix.
Divide the batter equally into the prepared molds. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until the cakes have risen and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature before un-molding.
Cook’s note: The cakes can be prepared up to 24 hours ahead. Cool to room temperature, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before assembling the cake.
To make the milk chocolate mousse: Place the chocolate pieces in a double boiler. Melt the chocolate over simmering water, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool until just warm to the touch.
Place the heavy cream, chocolate liqueur and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip at medium speed until thick, taking care not to overbeat or it will turn to butter. Pour the melted milk chocolate into the whipped cream and fold until well blended. Transfer to a container, cover and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.
To make the white chocolate frosting: Place the white chocolate pieces in a double boiler. Melt the chocolate over simmering water, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool until just warm to the touch.
Place the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip at medium speed until thick, taking care not to overbeat or it will turn to butter. Pour the melted white chocolate into the whipped cream and fold until well blended. Transfer to a container, cover and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.
To assemble the cake: Un-mold the chocolate cakes and cut in 4 even layers, about 1" thick (I use a cake leveler, it makes the job infinitely easier!). Place one layer of cake in the center of a serving platter. Line the rim of the platter with plastic wrap (this will keep the rim clean as you apply the frosting). Using a pastry brush, soak the cake with one quarter of the coffee and Cognac. Top with a third of the milk chocolate mousse and spread it evenly over the whole surface of the cake. Top with another layer of the chocolate cake. Repeat soaking with the coffee and Cognac, and spreading the milk chocolate mousse 2 more times until you have 3 layers. Top with the last layer of chocolate cake and soak with the remaining coffee and Cognac. Finish by applying the white chocolate frosting, first on the top, then on the sides. Save a little frosting for piping if desired: pipe a rim around the top edge. Remove the plastic wrap lining the platter and pipe the remaining frosting around the base of the cake. Loosely cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.
When ready to serve, shave the bittersweet chocolate using a vegetable hand peeler over the cake and around the rim of the platter.