We like to make this special dessert, which layers dark, milk, and white chocolate mousse cake, for extra festive occasions. Since the mousses are already quite rich, we skip the chocolate cake base for an all-mousse experience.
A Short History of Commercial Chocolate-Making
While the history of chocolate cultivation is long and complicated, the modern history of making commercial chocolate products begins at the end of the 19th century. Prior to this date, chocolate was generally consumed mixed with milk as a liquid beverage (aka hot chocolate). In 1847, British chocolatier J.S. Fry and sons developed a paste made of sugar, chocolate liquor, and cocoa butter and molded it into the world’s first commercial chocolate bar.
In 1876, Swiss Chocolatier Daniel Fry partnered with Henry Nestle and ushered in the next great innovation in chocolate making. By adding powdered milk to Fry’s recipe, they created the world’s first milk chocolate bar. Throughout the early part of the 20th century, innovation in the chocolate industry continued as chocolatiers developed techniques to make chocolate bars sweeter, chewier, and more melty (at just the right time — in our mouths).
Like so many great dessert items, white chocolate emerged from a glut of an industrial product. After World War I, Nestle was faced with a surfeit of powdered milk. What is a corporation to do? Clearly, turn it into something edible and tasty. In its simplest form, white chocolate consists only of cocoa butter, milk, and sugar. The cooca butter is a byproduct of the cocoa powder production process so, all in all, white chocolate is a stupendously efficient food.
More Fancy Cakes
In the mood to whip up something for your next celebration? Here are some of our favorites.
Useful Tools For Making This Dark, Milk, and White Chocolate Mousse Cake
Triple Chocolate Extravaganza: Dark, Milk, and White Chocolate Mousse Cake
- 7 inch ring mold
- candy thermometer
- parchment paper
- acetate paper
- stand mixer
- small icing spatula
- 1 oz dark chocolate
Dark Chocolate Mousse:
- 10 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate coarsely chopped
- 10 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
- 5 large eggs
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
- 1/ cup plus 1 tbsp water
Milk Chocolate Mousse:
- 9 oz milk chocolate finely chopped
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp espresso or water if you don’t like the strong flavor of coffee
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
White Chocolate Mousse:
- 9 oz white chocolate baking chocolate, not white chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp water
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 5 strawberries
- Place your 7-inch ring mold on a cake card and line the mold with a 4-inch tall acetate strip. If you don’t have a 7-inch ring mold, you can use an 8 or 9-inch springform pan lined with acetate paper for a larger, flatter cake.
- First, make the base for the dessert. Trace a 7-inch circle on a piece of parchment paper. Turn th eparchment upside down on a baking sheet and tape the edges to the baking sheet so tha tthe paper doesn’t curl. Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe dish and microwave in 20-second increments until just starting to melt. Spread the chocolate evenly over the circle with your icing spatula. Place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to fully harden. While the chocolate hardens, make the dark chocolate mousse.
Make the dark chocolate mousse recipe:
- Create a double boiler by placing a large metal bowl over a small saucepan water on low heat. Add the dark chocolate and butter to the bowl and stir frequently until the chocolate is almost fully melted. Remove the bowl from the heat and continue stirring into the melted butter until it is completely smooth.
- Using the metal bowl from your stand mixer, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until well blended, then whisk in the water. Set the bowl over the simmering water and stir constantly to prevent the eggs from scrambling, until the mixture reaches 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Remove the bowl from the heat and return to your stand mixer. With the whisk attachment, beat eggs on medium-high speed for 3 to 4 minutes until they have a texture like soft whipped cream.
- Fold one quarter of the eggs into the warm chocolate. Then fold in half the remaining eggs until nearly blended. Then, add the rest of the eggs and fold until fully incorporated, being sure to incorporate any chocolate stuck on the sides of the bowl and at the bottom of the bowl. Set aside.
- Remove the chocolate disk from the refrigerator, unpeel the parchment paper and place the chocolate disk on top of your cake card. Place the ring mold on top of the chocolate disks. If the chocolate breaks, don’t worry. Just reassemble in the mold. It won’t be visible when you’re done.
- Scrape the dark chocolate mousse into the mold, filling the mold about half-way full. If you have any extra mousse, put remaining mousse in an airtight container and store in refrigerator for snacking! Use an offset spatula to smooth the top of the mousse. Return the mousse to the refrigerator and let set at least an hour before proceeding.
Make the milk chocolate mousse recipe:
- Place the milk chocolate and espresso in a large mixing bowl over the saucepan of simmering water on low heat. Stir until the chocolate begins to melt, then remove from heat and continue stirring until the chocoltae is fully melted. Set the chocolate aside and let cool to 85-90 F while you whip the cream.
- Whip the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer, using the whip attachment, on medium speed until just thickened and fluffy. The cream should barely hold a shape and be pourable, and not stiff. Scrape the cream into the bowl of chocolate and use a rubber spatula to fold carefully but quickly until the two are well incorporated. Immediately scrape into the pan on top of the dark chocolate mousse. Smooth the top of the mousse. Let set for at least an hour before proceeding.
Make the white chocolate mousse recipe:
- Place the white chocolate and water in a large bowl over the saucepan of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate just begins to melt, then remove from heat and continue stirring until the chocolate is fully melted. Stir in the vanilla extract. Set the chocolate aside and let cool to 85-90 F while you whip your cream.
- Whip the cream in the bowl of the stand mixer, using the whip attachment, until very soft peaks are formed. Scrape the cream into the white chocolate mixture and fold gently to combine. Immeidately scrape the white chocolate mousse into the pan on top of the milk chocolate mousse. Smooth the top of the white chocolate mousse filling with a palette knife and let the cake layers set at least 2 hours and up to overnight before serving.
- Remove the cake from the refrigerator and remove the ring mold. With the acetate paper on, sift cocoa powder to thoroughly coat the top of the cake. Place the cake on the serving plate and remove the acetate paper from the sides of the cake. Decorate the top with fresh berries. You can also add white chocolate curls or a white chocolate ganache drizzle for some extra drama.
- Serve immediately, using a sharp knife dipped in hot water to slice cleanly.
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