Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberries
Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberries

Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberries

Adapted from Sharon Kurtz

This intensely moist and fudgy cake is filled with chocolate mousse and fresh raspberries, then iced with rich chocolate frosting. With its four towering layers and striking appearance, it's perfect for extra-special occasions. Our thanks to Sharon Kurtz of Emmaus, PA, who took top honors with it at the Great Allentown Fair; and subsequently at the national 2010 Great Cake Contest, sponsored in part by King Arthur.

1 hr
25 to 50 mins
3 hrs 15 mins
one 8" or 9" layer cake
Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberries - select to zoom
Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberries - select to zoom
Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberries - select to zoom
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  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease two 8" round pans at least 2” deep (and preferably 3” deep); four 8" round pans at least 1 1/2” deep; or three 9" round pans. If you have parchment rounds, line the pans with parchment, and grease the parchment. Note: If your pan assortment doesn't include any of these particular combinations, you can bake the cake batter in batches; the unbaked batter won't suffer while awaiting its turn in the oven.

  2. To make the cake layers: Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. In a large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients in the order listed: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, cocoa. If any of the ingredients look clumpy, especially the cocoa, press them through a sieve.

  3. Combine the oil, buttermilk or yogurt, boiling water and vanilla in a medium bowl or large measuring cup. Add to the dry ingredients and beat at medium speed for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the batter is smooth.

    Chocolate Mousse Cake – Step 3
  4. Scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix on medium speed for another minute, or until smooth.

  5. Divide the batter among the prepared pans. The total weight of the cake batter will be about 50 ounces (1417g). To ensure your layers are all the same size, divide the batter's weight by the number of layers you're baking, and weigh the amount into each pan. For two deep 8" layers, use about 25 ounces (709g) batter in each. For three 9" layers, use about 16 1/2 ounces (472g) in each pan. For four shallow 8" layers, use about 12 1/2 ounces (354g) batter in each pan.

  6. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes for two 8” pans; or 25 to 30 minutes for four 8" pans or three 9" pans, until the cake just begins to pull away from the edge of the pan, and a tester inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs.

    Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberries – Step 5
  7. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool for 15 minutes. Run a table knife around the edge of each pan to free the crust, and turn the cakes onto the rack to cool completely. While the cake layers are cooling, make the filling.

  8. To make the filling: In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, cream cheese, 3/4 cup (85g) of the confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and salt, mixing at medium-low speed until smooth.

    Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberries – Step 7
  9. Melt the chocolate; a minute or less in the microwave should be sufficient to soften the chips enough that you can stir them until completely melted and smooth. Add the melted chocolate to the bowl and mix on medium-high speed for 1 minute, or until a bit lightened and fluffy.

    Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberries – Step 8
  10. Whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar with the Instant ClearJel. Beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form, then add the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Beat just until the cream is stiff; guard against over-beating, which will turn the cream grainy.

    Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberries – Step 9
  11. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture; scrape the bowl, and stir to combine any sticky residue. Finally, fold in the chocolate mini chips, if you’re using them.

    Chocolate Mousse Cake – Step 10
  12. Split the cake layers horizontally if you've baked two deep 8" cakes; trim any domes off the tops if you've baked three or four individual layers.

    Chocolate Mousse Cake – Step 12
  13. Place the first layer on a serving plate (line the edges with strips of waxed or parchment paper to keep the plate clean), and spread it with one-third of the filling (1 cup; 7 5/8 ounces; 216g). Cut 1/2 pint of raspberries in half lengthwise (rather than around the circumference), and place them over the filling, covering its entire surface. Repeat until all the layers are stacked; place the last layer bottom-side up for a flat surface on top.

    Chocolate Mousse Cake – Step 13
  14. Once the layers are assembled with filling and raspberries, place the cake in the refrigerator or freezer for at least 30 minutes to firm it up. This will make frosting the cake much easier since the layers are less likely to slide around and chilling helps prevent the cake from shedding crumbs as you frost. While the cake is chilling, make the frosting.

  15. To make the frosting: In a large bowl, beat together the shortening, butter, and salt.

  16. Sift the confectioners' sugar and cocoa through a strainer to remove any lumps, and gently beat into the butter mixture alternately with the milk. Add the vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes, or until fluffy.

    Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberries – Step 15
  17. To finish the cake: For the best-looking cake, do the frosting in two steps. First, spread a very thin layer of frosting around the sides and across the top; this is called a crumb coat. You should actually be able to see the cake through the frosting in spots, it’s that thin. Refrigerate the cake for 20 minutes to let this layer set up.

    Chocolate Mousse Cake – Step 16
  18. Once the cake is chilled, use the remaining frosting to coat it thoroughly and evenly; our cake styling guide offers six pro-style options for "styling" your cake, including a classic look with swoops, and more. 

    Chocolate Mousse Cake – Step 17
  19. Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve. Garnish with fresh raspberries just before serving.

    Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberries – Step 18
  20. Storage information: Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days; freeze for up to a week.

Tips from our Bakers

  • To make the cake in advance: The entire cake can be made ahead and frozen, tightly wrapped, for up to a week. (Don't add the fresh raspberry garnish on top if you're going to freeze the cake.) Thaw cake overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

    Cake layers, frosting, and filling can all be made up to three days ahead, and the cake assembled just before serving. Store the layers, well wrapped, at room temperature; refrigerate the frosting and filling in airtight containers or tightly covered bowls. When you're ready to assemble the cake, remove the filling and frosting from the fridge and warm at room temperature until soft enough to spread easily.

  • Substitute 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter for the shortening in the frosting, if desired. If the weather is particularly hot, shortening will help stabilize the frosting.

  • When making the frosting, use natural cocoa for mild, milk chocolate-type flavor and lighter color. For darker frosting with richer, more assertive chocolate flavor, use Dutch-process cocoa.
  • Substitute 1 cup (227g) hot brewed coffee for the water in the recipe, if desired; this will enhance the cake's chocolate flavor without adding any coffee flavor of its own. Alternatively, add 1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder to the batter along with the other dry ingredients.

  • Looking for a gluten-free version of this recipe? Find it here: Gluten-Free Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberries.