Day 1 – make the chocolate cake layers.
Day 2 – make the mousse and assemble the cake.
Day 3 – make the meringue, frost the cake, burn the meringue.
Day 4 – serve the cake.
I don’t suggest making it all in one day because you need each step to SET UP. This is definitely a cake that should not be rushed. If you make this dessert you will be loved by all.
For the Cake – Day 1
Makes Two 9” Layers
½ Cup Cocoa Powder
½ Cup Cold Water
½ Teaspoon Salt
2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
2 Tablespoons Instant Espresso Powder
2/3 Cup Margarine
1 2/3 Cups Granulated Sugar
2 Large Eggs
2 Cups Sifted All-Purpose Flour
1 Cup Buttermilk
1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
Preheat oven to 375°.
Spray two 9” round cake pans with Pam for baking and line each pan with a parchment paper round. Spray the parchment paper as well.
In a small bowl sift together the cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda. Mix in the espresso powder. Slowly add the water and blend together with a small whisk. Blend together until it come to a very thick consistency. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer beat margarine to soften. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time and, when completely incorporated, add the cocoa mixture with the mixer on low. Beat until blended. Add the flour and buttermilk alternately in thirds, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat in the vanilla.
Divide evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 30 – 40 minutes. Test for doneness with a wooden skewer. When the skewer is inserted into the middle of the cake and comes out clean the cake is done.
Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Remove the layers from the pans by inverting onto a wire cooling rack. Cool completely before proceeding.
For the Mousse – Day 2
12 Ounces Bittersweet Chocolate, Chopped, or Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Chips
½ Pound Unsalted Butter, Cut into 1” Pieces
2 Tablespoons Instant Espresso Powder
8 Large Eggs, Separated
1 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
2 Tablespoons Dark Rum
½ Cup Superfine Granulated Sugar, Divided
1 Cup Heavy Cream
Melt the chocolate, butter and espresso powder in a double boiler over simmering water. Stir to combine thoroughly. Set aside to cool.
In a large heat proof bowl beat egg yolks with vanilla and dark rum. Whisk over simmering water until eggs are warm and thick. Egg mixture should form a ribbon as it is lifted with the whisk and falls onto itself. It will be the consistency of a sabayon. Set aside to cool.
Combine the cooled chocolate and egg mixtures. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment and set on medium low speed, beat the egg whites until foamy. Increase speed to high and gradually add the sugar less two tablespoons. Beat until stiff but not dry. Mix one quarter of the egg white mixture into the chocolate and egg mixture to loosen it up slightly. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites. In a clean bowl of an electric mixer beat the heavy cream on high until it just begins to foam. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue to beat the cream until thick and soft peaks form. Very gently and thoroughly fold the cream into the chocolate mixture. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the mousse for one hour before proceeding.
Line a 9″ x 3″ round cake pan with plastic wrap leaving several inches of overhang. Using a very long serrated knife, slit the cake layers in half horizontally. (You will be using 3 of the 4 split layers. The extra layer can be frozen and saved for a later use.) Place one of the layers into the pan. Top with half of the chocolate mousse. Evenly spread the mousse to the edge of the cake. Place the second layer of cake on the mousse and top that with the rest of the chocolate mousse evenly spreading to the edge of the cake. Top with the third layer of cake and gently press down on the top layer. Bring the sides of the plastic wrap up to cover the cake and refrigerate the cake overnight.
For the Meringue – Day 3
Finish The Cake
Remove the cake from the refrigerator and pull back the plastic wrap. Place a serving dish over the cake and carefully invert the cake onto the serving dish. (You can use a 12″ cake board in you like. If using a serving dish be sure it has at least a 12″ flat center. This makes it easy to frost with the meringue.)
Frost the sides and top of the cake with the Italian Meringue being sure to have an even flat layer of meringue on top of the cake. With a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, make a concentric circle of stars on top of the cake and go around the bottom edge of the cake making one circle of stars as in the photos below.
With a kitchen blowtorch (available at Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table) carefully and evenly burn the meringue. If your cake is on a cake board be careful to NOT catch the board on fire.
Refrigerate the cake for at least 6 hours but overnight is best.
Let Them Eat Cake – Day 4
I love chocolate and this is the chocolate dessert to end all chocolate desserts. It is not super sweet, not heavy and definitely not one of those cakes labeled as “Death By Chocolate”. It is much more subtle and sophisticated.