Chocolate Mousse Cake Recipe

This Chocolate Mousse Cake recipe takes some time to put together but the steps are simple and the pay off is huge! With a base layer of chocolate cake, a layer of chocolate mousse, a layer of white chocolate mousse, then covered in chocolate ganache and mini chocolate chips, this is a chocolate lovers dream!

I’m no stranger to making mousse because my husband absolutely loves it! He especially loves a light, airy mousse with a rich chocolate cake or brownie base. Check out his Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse birthday cake from a few years that is still requested often!

A new mousse cake recipe

Recently, I had a request for a copycat of Olive Gardens’ Black Tie Mousse Cake. Since I had never had it before, I had to do a little investigating.

It seems that the Black Tie Mousse Cake has a bit more tang and body to the first layer of chocolate mousse. Olive Garden also uses cake where I used a brownie base in my mousse cake.

The primary concern with this request is that it would be used as the top layer of a 3 tier wedding cake. It would be the layer that the bride and groom cut after sitting on the dessert table, outside, for a few hours.

This meant that the mousse has to be firm enough to hold its’ shape. It also needed to be decorated like the other layers with buttercream on the outside.

After playing around a bit with a simple mousse, I found the right mix of ingredients! According to the bride and groom, I nailed it!

This chocolate mousse cake is delicious and tastes exactly like the Olive Garden Black Tie Mousse Cake!

Chocolate Mousse Cake covered in chocolate ganache with white chocolate drizzled on top. Olive Garden Black Tie Mousse Cake Copycat Recipe

Changes to my chocolate mousse cake recipe

The first change that I made to my original recipe was that I switched to a chocolate cake as the base instead of a brownie base.

I could have used my amazing Chocolate Cake Recipe but I wanted to use something that was a bit more firm and dense. This cake is going to be the only solid layer in this cake so it needs to be strong enough to support the layers above.

I decided to go with Ina Garten’s chocolate cake recipe. This one of the most popular chocolate cake recipes on the internet and for good reason! It is rich and chocolatey and a dream come true!

I made a couple of minor alterations like using coconut oil instead of vegetable oil. This does not give the cake a coconut flavor but it is my preferred oil for baking.

I also added an extra egg yolk to increase the richness a bit and add more stability to the cake.

I have used hot coffee in this recipe but if you don’t have any, you can can just use hot water. The hot water helps to bloom the cocoa powder. By using coffee, the chocolate flavor will be intensified but it is not crucial.

Adding a bit of espresso powder can also help bring out the chocolate flavor!

Chocolate cake, semi-sweet chocolate mousse, white chocolate mousse, covered in chocolate ganache

Making this Chocolate Mousse Cake Recipe

There are multiple steps to making this cake but none of the processes are difficult or time consuming. Most of the time required to make this cake is chilling time.

That is what makes this cake so easy to make in advance. Just do a step at a time over the course of a day at least a day before you plan to serve it!

  • You’ll start off by making the cake base. There is very little mixing required so you can have the cake in the oven in 10 minutes or less. Make sure that the cake is completely cooled before moving on to the chocolate mousse.
  • Get the cake leveled and in a springform pan and wrapped with acetate BEFORE you start to make the chocolate mousse. The mousse sets up pretty quickly so you want the cake to be ready for the mousse layer.
  • Start on the chocolate mouse by putting the finely chopped chocolate and the cream cheese together in a bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds and then stir. Microwave for another 20 to 30 seconds and stir again. The mixture should be completely melted now.
  • Soften and dissolve your gelatin in the water and then whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Add the gelatin and the powdered sugar to the whipped cream and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.
  • Now fold about 1/3 of the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate mixture. Fold until most of the cream is incorporated and then add another 1/3 and fold again. Add the rest of the cream and fold until completely mixed together.
  • Pour the mousse on top of the cake and spread it out so the top is as smooth as possible.
  • Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes (or longer if you need to do something else!)
  • Now let’s move on to the white chocolate mousse.
  • First, take 1/2 cup of the heavy cream and heat it up. Don’t do what I did and heat the entire 1 1/2 cups! I wated the first batch because I wasn’t paying attention!
  • Add the softened gelatin to the hot cream cream and stir. Pour the hot heavy cream over the white chocolate and allow the chocolate to melt. Stir until smooth.
  • Whisk the remaining heavy cream to stiff peaks and then fold in the same way that you did with the chocolate mixture above.
  • Pour the white chocolate mousse over the chocolate mousse, spread until as smooth as possible on top and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • Once the mousse cake is completely cooled, make the ganache. Heat the cream and pour it over the finely chopped chocolate. Cover with a plate or lid to trap the heat and allow to sit for 3 to 5 minutes. Stir until you have a smooth mixture. Sometimes it takes a while for it to come together. Allow the ganache to cool until it is still spreadable but not a liquid.
  • Spread about 1/3 of the ganache on top of the cake and smooth it out as much as possible with an offset spatula. Refrigerate until firm.
  • Stir the ganache often but keep it on the counter until it is firm enough to spread like a buttercream. Mine took about 45 minutes. Spread the ganache on the sides of the cake and smooth it out with an offset spatula. Press a handful of mini chocolate chips into the ganache all the way around the cake. You can just do around the bottom of the cake like I did in the photos or you can cover the whole cake. This is totally up to you!
  • Refrigerate the cake again and contine to stir the remaining ganache until it is thick enough to pipe. Put a decorative tip into a piping bag (I used a Wilton Open Star Tip 1M) and pipe a design around the top edge of the cake. Store in ther refrigerator for up to a week. Allow to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving.
Chocolate Mousse Cake recipe, Olive Garden Black Tie Copycat recipe with chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, white chocolate mousse and chocolate ganache.

Substitutes in this recipe

There are a few things that can be substituted in this recipe if needed.

Do I have to use coffee in the chocolate cake?

As stated above, in the cake preparation section, you can use hot water instead of coffee if you don’t have coffee or choose not to use it.

Can I substitute milk or half and half for the heavy cream?

Some people have asked if they can use whole milk, almond milk, or half and half to make the mousse recipes used in this cake. The answer is no. The mousse needs the extra fat content that is in the heavy cream. The other types of dairy will simply not whip up the way heavy cream will.

Can I use chocolate chips in this Chocolate Mousse Cake recipe?

YES! I have made this mousse cake with bars of baking chocolate and also with chocolate chips and it works with both. This is great news if you only have chocolate chips in the house and don’t want to run to the store!

If you do use chocolate chips, make sure that you chop them small before attempting to melt them.

Chocolate chips usually have a lower amount of cocoa butter than higher quality chocolate and they also have emulsifiers and stabilizers to help them retain their classic chip shape. Because of these ingredients, the chips will resist melting.

If you chop them into small pieces before melting to make the mousse and ganache, they will melt faster and easier.

I have actually found that using chocolate chips in mousse makes for a more stable mousse but the taste will be different than if you use a higher quality chocolate meant for baking.

For taste, I prefer Ghirardelli.

Chocolate ganache, white chocolate mousse, semi-sweet chocolate mousse and chocolate cake.

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Chocolate Mousse Cake

Recipe by Tanya OttCourse: DessertCuisine: GeneralDifficulty: Intermediate


Prep time


Cooking time


4 hrs 30 min






  • For the Chocolate Cake Layer
    Slightly adapted and reduced from Ina Garten’s recipe
  • 110 grams (1/2 cup plus 6 Tablespoons) all-purpose flour

  • 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar

  • 37 grams (6 Tablespoons) dutch processed cocoa powder

  • 1 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 120 mL (1/2 cup) buttermilk (or 120 mL milk – any kind – plus 1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar)

  • 60 mL (1/4 cup) coconut oil, melted and cooled

  • 1 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 120 mL (1/2 cup) hot coffee

  • For the Chocolate Mousse Layer
  • 120 grams (3/4 cup) semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped

  • 113 grams (half of an 8 ounce block) cream cheese, full fat, at room temperature

  • 1 teaspoon unflavored granulated gelatin

  • 1 Tablespoon cold water

  • 2 Tablespoons boiling water

  • 240 mL (1 cup) heavy cream

  • 25 grams (1/4 cup) powdered sugar

  • For the White Chocolate Mousse
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored granulated gelatin

  • 1 Tablespoon cold water

  • 1 cup white chocolate, finely chopped

  • 360 mL (1 1/2 cups) heavy cream, divided

  • For the Ganache
  • 360 mL (1 1/2 cups) heavy cream

  • 240 grams (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped

  • 120 to 240 grams (6 to 12 ounces) mini chocolate chips, depending on how much of the cake sides you wish to cover

  • 40 grams (2 ounces) white chocolate, melted


  • To Make the Cake
  • Preheat the oven to 350° F/176°C. Butter or spray one 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pan or one 6-inch x 3-inch round cake pan for a tall cake. Line the bottom with parchment paper.
  • Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix the dry ingredients on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. With the mixer still on low speed, slowly add the coffee and mix just until combined, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula once or twice. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly prodded. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack lined with parchment paper and cool completely.
  • If the cake has a dome at all, level it with a knife or a cake leveler to ensure a completely flat top. Line a springform pan that is the same size as your cake with a tall sheet of acetate. Place the cake inside the acetate lining and ensure the acetate fits as snuggly as possible around the sides of the cake.
  • To Make the Chocolate Mousse
  • Heat the cream cheese and semi-sweet chocolate in the microwave until the chocolate is melted and you can stir them into the cream cheese making a smooth mixture.  Use no more than 30-second bursts of heat, stirring in between. Cool for 5 minutes.
  • While that is cooling, soften the gelatin in the 1 tablespoon of cold water for about a minute. Stir in the 2 Tbs. of boiling water.  Stir until the gelatin is dissolved.
  • In a small mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form.  Add the dissolved gelatin and the 1/4 cup of powdered sugar.  Beat until stiff peaks form.
  • Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate cream cheese, 1/3 at a time, until it has all been folded in.
  • Spread the chocolate mousse evenly over the chocolate cake in the springform pan and put it in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the next layer.
  • To Make the White Chocolate Mousse
  • Heat the first 1/2 Cup of the heavy cream to almost boiling.  While you are waiting for the cream to heat, soften the gelatin in 1 Tablespoon of cold water.  Once the cream comes is bubbling around the edges of the pan, pour in the softened gelatin and stir until it is dissolved.  Pour the hot cream with dissolved gelatin over the chopped up white chocolate.
  • Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
  • Beat the remaining 1 Cup of heavy cream until stiff peaks form in the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer.
  • Fold the whipped cream into the white chocolate mixture, 1/3 at a time, until it is all been folded in and smooth.
  • Spread the white chocolate mousse over the chocolate mousse layer and place the cake back in the refrigerator to chill overnight.
  • To Make the Ganache
  • Chop up the semi-sweet chocolate and put them in a mixing bowl.
  • Bring the 1 1/2 cups of Heavy Cream almost to a boil and pour it over the chocolate. I like to place a plate or lid on the bowl to keep the heat in.
  • After about 3 to 5 minutes, stir until the chocolate is completely melted and you have a smooth bowl of chocolate ganache. If the cream doesn’t seem to mix in completely, just keep stirring. It will incorporate into the chocolate.
  • Cool until the ganache is still pourable but not liquid.  While this is cooling, run a sharp knife around the edges of the springform pan and then remove the outside rim.
  • Carefully transfer the cake from the bottom part of the springform pan to a cake plate.
  • Spread 1/3 of the ganache over the top layer of the mousse.  Put it back in the refrigerator.
  • Cool the remaining ganache until you can spread a thin layer on the sides of the side without it running off.  This took mine about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Press the mini chocolate chips into the ganache on the sides.  Put back in the refrigerator.
  • You should have about 1/3 of the ganache left.  Let it cool until it has thickened enough to pipe, probably another 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Melt the 2 ounces of white chocolate and drizzle across the top of the cake.  Fill a pastry bag with the remaining ganache and pipe it around the edges in the design of your choice.
  • Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
  • To slice the cake making clean cuts, run a sharp knife under very hot water for a moment, quickly but carefully make a cut for the first slice.  Run the knife under the hot water and dry it in between cuts. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.


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  2. Amazing production, Tanya! I once did something a bit similar but one of my problems is that the separation between the layers was not straight and beautiful, it turned out a bit wavy. I think I did not do a good job leveling the mousses.

    I am also in awe that you could do such a perfect job icing the cake, it is no small task to add a layer of ganache icing to a mousse cake and get the perfect result you did!


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