Naked Chocolate Mousse Cake

Three decadent layers of homemade chocolate cake are layered with a fluffy chocolate mousse in this cake that's perfect for a celebration. Even without frosting, you won't be able to get enough!

When I was on the cusp of graduating from college, I was torn.

The majority of my soul did NOT want to move to DC. I had grown up there, my parents were still there, and I was opposed to being too close to the 'rents and feeling like I was still on a leash. I wanted to go to San Diego! Or Denver! Or Phoenix! Adventure!

...but, then there was the fact that most of my friends were moving to DC and I didn't want to up and leave all of the relationships I had formed during my 4 years of college. And I had interned in DC and had a job offer there... it was hard to pass up. So, I begrudgingly moved into an apartment in Arlington, VA with two girls, Megan and Lexi.

Lexi and I hit it off immediately after spending the first night in our (furniture-less) house drinking wine and eating pizza on our floor while talking about boys, and I quickly grew enamored with the DC area. Lexi and I have experienced so much together - and I have come to know how much she LOVES chocolate. So, for her birthday potluck, this was the perfect thing to make for her!

Humorous side note/warning: I didn't let the mousse refrigerate long enough, and the cake was VERY UNSTABLE on the 3 block walk to the party. I was precariously balancing the cake layers on the plate as I walked as quickly but steadily as I could, when an elderly couple sitting on the curb called at me.
Woman - That cake is so beautiful!
J - Haha, thank you! I write this baking blog called Scones & Patron and I'm going to this potluck and the cake is very unstable and -
W - You have made such an impression that strangers would call out at you! Nice job! Beautiful!
J - Thanks, well I best be going -
W - Oh my! You have chocolate on your legs!
J - Haha, yeah, I know, I've spent all day baki -
W - You've abandoned all decorum! I love it! You show your passion so well!

If she had prevented me from delivering this cake safely, there would have been hell to pay. Next time you're inclined to stop a stranger carrying a cake on the sidewalk, please consider the stability of the cake in question first. Thank you.

Naked Chocolate Mousse Cake

To make this cake, you will need:
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 t baking powder
- 1 t baking soda
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- Pinch salt
- 4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup low fat buttermilk
- 1/4 cup coffee
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup canola oil
- 3 eggs
- 1 t vanilla extract

Chocolate Mousse Filling
- 4 eggs, separated
- 3/8 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream, cold
- 8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 t vanilla extract
- Pinch salt

First, preheat the oven to 325 and spray three 8" pans with baking spray. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper circles.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Put the chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Pour the hot brewed coffee on top and let set for 3 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Add the buttermilk and combine.

Combine the sugars and oil in a large bowl and beat until well-combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until smooth between each, then stir in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture one-half at a time, stirring just until no streaks of flour remain. Split the batter between the three pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in pans.

To make the mousse, Combine 1 cup of the cream, the egg yolks, 1/8 cup granulated sugar, and the vanilla extract in a small saucepan (or the bowl of a double boiler if you're legit and have a real one - I do not). Heat water in the bottom of the double boiler until it reaches a simmer, and whisk the egg yolk mixture constantly until it thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon. Add the chopped chocolate and continue whisking until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Add the egg whites to a medium bowl and beat on low speed until frothy. Stream in the granulated sugar and salt, then turn the beater up to high speed. Beat until stiff peaks form, about 5-7 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to fold the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture.

Add the remaining cup of heavy cream to a medium bowl and mix on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to finish the mousse. Cover the mousse with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. I took this time as an opportunity to go drink beer with some of my guy friends while we watched vintage Justin Bieber music videos. Try not to be TOO jealous.

Once the cake and mousse have cooled, carefully remove the cake layers from the pans. Place one layer on your serving dish, top with half of the mousse, then another cake layer, then the remainder of the mousse, and finally the last cake layer. You're ready to serve!

If you're not serving this cake right away, I strongly recommend refrigerating it to preserve its structural integrity. It's hard to resist, though, so it definitely won't last long! Happy celebrating, friends!