Cakes & Cupcakes

Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake

December 17, 2019

A rich and decadent dark chocolate mousse cake makes the perfect showstopper for your next holiday party or dessert buffet. Ultra […]

A rich and decadent dark chocolate mousse cake makes the perfect showstopper for your next holiday party or dessert buffet. Ultra chocolatey and super moist, this seven layer cake is a chocolate lover’s dream!

This post is sponsored by Ghirardelli. As always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Browned Butter Blondie possible. 


The countdown in ON bakers! Just one week until Christmas Eve and I for one have been baking up a storm. I am here for any reason to bake up all the pretty sugar frosted cookies, Christmas morning cinnamon buns, and let’s not forget the cranberry quickbread. Christmastime is my favorite time of the year, mostly because I can bake with abandon and there are always takers for warm cookies or peppermint studded brownies fresh from the oven. So if you haven’t already lined up exactly what you plan to serve at your holiday dessert table, allow me to gently nudge you in the direction of this seven layer dark chocolate mousse cake.


You heard that right. Seven layers! This chocolate lover’s cake is piled high with four layers of rich, decadent cake and a silky, ultra chocolatey mousse. Topped off with a final layer of dark chocolate ganache and sugared cranberries, this pretty little cake just screams holiday show stopper. I don’t know where you plan to be on Christmas Eve, but I want to be wherever this cake is being served!


If you’ve been following along here for awhile, you know that my love for all things chocolate runs deep. Thank goodness chocolate is here to stay. We can always count on chocolate for those occasions when you need a dessert that really shines. This seven layer number is pretty much the definition of merry and bright if you ask me and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.



To make this dark chocolate mousse cake, we’ll need to prep a few parts and pieces in advance. Making a layer cake takes a bit of planning but assembling this seven layer beauty is like a thing of Christmas magic.

First we start with our deep, dark chocolate cake. I’ve adapted my recipe for Extra Dark Chocolate Snack Cake to pour into four, six inch cake pans. To make the cake we start by mixing Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet Cacao Baking Chips with hot water and freshly brewed espresso. Ghirardelli’s bittersweet chocolate chips are my go-to for just about anything that requires chocolate. With their luxuriously deep flavor and smooth texture, Ghirardelli’s baking chips are hard to beat. You could substitute semi-sweet baking chips in this recipe but I much prefer the slightly more mellow, less sweet flavor the bittersweet chocolate imparts.

While the chocolate cools, we combine the yogurt, milk, oil and eggs. The addition of the greek yogurt and a generous pour of whole milk guarantees a soft crumb every time. After adding in the dry ingredients we’ll mix in the melted chocolate and espresso until just barely combined. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and bake for a scant 25-30 minutes.



While your cakes are baking, we’ll prepare the chocolate mousse. This recipe for rich, smooth chocolate mousse is about as easy as they come. There are no eggs or gelatin in the recipe but it keeps it’s form well and provides a light and fluffy filling that is sturdy enough to hold together the chocolate cake layers. To make the mousse we’ll start by melting more of Ghirardelli’s 60% Bittersweet Cacao Baking Chips {told you I use it pretty much ALWAYS!}. Combined with a bit of cocao powder and hot water, this chocolate mixture is then folded gently into freshly whipped cream. Be weary of over mixing the mousse here. We don’t want to knock all the air out of the whipped cream so mix until just barely combined. This mousse is a dreamy dessert all on it’s own but paired with the extra dark chocolate cake, it’s pure heaven!



For best results, chill the mousse in the fridge while you wait for your cake layers to reach room temperature. It’s tempting, I know, but don’t even think about assembling your cake until the layers are completely cool to the touch and your mousse is slightly chilled. First, start by using a cake cutter or a large, serrated knife to slice the tops off of the four cake layers so they are nice and even.  To assemble this seven layer wonder, start by placing the flat side of the first cake layer on a cake plate or pedestal. Follow with about 3/4 cup of the chocolate mousse, spreading to the edges and leveling it flat with an offset spatula. Continue with remaining cake layers and mousse checking to be sure they are stacking straight up and down and are level across the top. Be sure to reserve about a 1/4 cup of the mousse to spread around the outside of the cake, almost like a crumb coat. Return the cake to the fridge to set for a bit before covering in smooth, chocolate ganache.



It’s no surprise that with just two ingredients in the recipe, quality is key. Using a good {make that great!} dark chocolate is pretty much mandatory. For this simple ganache I use Ghirardelli’s 60% Bittersweet Baking Chips which is the perfect match for the sweetness of the cake and mousse that it enrobes. Just pour hot heavy whipping cream over the top of the baking chips and allow them to melt for 2-3 minutes before stirring. The ganache will come together effortlessly and will be smooth and shiny… the perfect finale to our seven layer chocolate mousse cake. Just be sure to wait until the ganache has reached room temperature before pouring it on top of the cake. You can use an offset spatula to smooth it around the sides of the cake evenly, or for a more rustic look, let the ganache simply drip down the sides.


I’ll be the first to say that chocolate deserves center stage at any holiday dessert buffet and this dark chocolate mousse cake will certainly draw a line of eager chocolate lovers with plates in hand. Since Christmas Eve is the perfect time to get our fancy on, we’re topping this cutie cake with sugared cranberries and rosemary sprigs. Quite possibly the easiest cake topper ever, the cranberries and rosemary trees add that little sparkle that the year’s most special night deserves. And don’t think for a second that they’re too hard to too fussy to make. Quite the opposite. All you need is two ingredients and a cup of cranberries. You can find all the details here in my post about How to Make Sugared Cranberries and Rosemary Sprigs. They’re so pretty you’ll want to add them to your cakes, cupcakes, even your cocktails!



With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, trust me when I say this dark chocolate mousse cake is worth making time for this coming Christmas. It’s as pretty as it is delicious and I’m guessing there won’t be a single crumb left over by the time Santa stops by. Wishing you and yours a magical Christmas full of love, laughter and of course, lots of chocolate. I’m counting each of you on my list of blessings this year. Happy baking and happy holidays!

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Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake

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  • Author: Browned Butter Blondie
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hours 25 mins
  • Category: Cake


A rich and decadent dark chocolate mousse cake makes the perfect showstopper for your next holiday party or dessert buffet. Ultra chocolatey and super moist, this seven layer cake is a chocolate lover’s dream!



For Chocolate Cake

  • 1/2 cup Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chips
  • 1/4 cup hot freshly brewed espresso
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup full fat greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, plus one egg yolk, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder, Dutch process
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

For Chocolate Mousse

  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 4 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 3/4 cups Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chips
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • 2 TBSP granulated sugar

For Ganache

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chips


For Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease four six inch cake pans with non-stick cooking spray and line bottoms with parchment paper circles.
  3. Place the bittersweet chocolate in a small bowl and cover with hot espresso and hot water. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, milk, canola oil, eggs and vanilla. Whisk to combine.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt on low speed until well combined.
  6. Put mixer on low speed and slowly add the yogurt mixture.
  7. Mix on medium speed for just 30 seconds until well combined.
  8. Unwrap the chocolate and hot espresso mixture and stir until smooth.
  9. Slowly pour the melted chocolate into the mixer and mix on low speed until incorporated.
  10. Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape down sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula to be sure batter is well combined.
  11. Pour batter evenly into the prepared pans, weighing each pan using a kitchen scale to be sure they are equal.
  12. Bake on center rack of the oven for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  13. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before removing the cakes from pans. Cool completely before assembling the cake layers.

For Chocolate Mousse

  1. While cake layers are baking, make the mousse.
  2. In a small bowl, dissolve the cocoa powder with the hot water and set aside to cool slighty.
  3. In a medium bowl set over a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips until smooth and shiny.
  4. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
  5. Once chocolate has cooled a bit, add the heavy whipping cream to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
  6. Add sugar and whisk on high speed until firm peaks form.
  7. Stir together the melted chocolate and dissolved cocoa powder.
  8. Add half of the whipped cream to the chocolate mixture and fold gently to combine.
  9. Add the remaining whip cream and continue folding with a rubber spatula until fully incorporated.
  10. Do not over mix.
  11. Chill the mousse until the cake layers are cool enough to assemble.

For Ganache

  1. Heat heavy whipping cream over medium heat until it begins to simmer. Do not boil the cream.
  2. Place chocolate chips in a heat safe bowl and then pour the hot cream over the top.
  3. Let stand for 2-3 minutes and then whisk together until smooth.
  4. Allow ganache to firm up for 10-15 minutes before pouring over the chilled cake.
  5. Use an offset spatula to spread the ganache over the top and down the sides of the cake, spreading evenly.
  6. Garnish cake with sugared cranberries and rosemary sprigs if desired.


Cake should be chilled until ready to serve.
May be served cold or remove the cake from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving for a softer mousse layer.


















  • Reply
    March 27, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    Hello! How long does this cake last in the fridge after it is assembled? I hope to make it 1 day in advance for a dinner party.

    • Reply
      Heather Mubarak
      March 27, 2023 at 9:05 pm

      A day ahead is perfect! Enjoy!!

  • Reply
    November 19, 2022 at 12:28 am

    If I make this in 3 6inch pans, how long is the baking time?

  • Reply
    Elizabeth Olsen
    March 4, 2022 at 5:32 pm

    I am baking this for 12 people- which “scale” should I select up top 1x, 2X, 3x? Thank you!

  • Reply
    May 21, 2021 at 2:28 pm

    Is it possible to reduce the amount of sugar in the cake?

    • Reply
      Heather Mubarak
      May 24, 2021 at 5:47 pm

      I have only made this recipe as written. I always recommend following a recipe as directed the first time you bake it before making any alterations. Hope you enjoy it!

  • Reply
    April 28, 2021 at 6:13 pm

    Can I use Belgian chocolate 55% dark choc instead of ghirardelli

    • Reply
      Heather Mubarak
      April 30, 2021 at 4:22 pm

      Yes, that should work! Enjoy!!

  • Reply
    April 1, 2021 at 6:55 am

    Can I use buttermilk instead of Greek yogurt?

    • Reply
      Heather Mubarak
      April 2, 2021 at 2:38 pm

      Yes, that will work!

  • Reply
    August 31, 2020 at 8:05 pm

    Any substitute for Greek yogurt? For example, milk?

    • Reply
      Heather Mubarak
      September 1, 2020 at 8:34 pm

      I have only made this recipe using Greek yogurt. You could substitute sour cream or even full fat plain yogurt. I would not recommend using milk.

  • Reply
    Jwala Anna Salim
    June 8, 2020 at 4:37 pm

    I don’t have dutch processed cocoa powder.Is it okay to use natural unsweetened cocoa for the same?

    • Reply
      Heather Mubarak
      June 8, 2020 at 7:22 pm

      Yes, but keep in mind the flavor won’t be quite as dark and rich. Enjoy the cake!

  • Reply
    Herb Zedian
    May 4, 2020 at 1:50 am

    Howdy just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different internet browsers and both show the same results.

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