Easy Chocolate Layer Cake with Chocolate Mousse Filling

April 19, 2012

in Chocolate, Desserts, Recipes

chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling

This past Tuesday marked my son’s third birthday.

When he was born three years ago, maple sap was still running, which meant snow on the ground, freezing nights, and not a bit of green grass for another few weeks.

This year his birthday came against the backdrop of blossoming trees, greening fields, and returning phoebes – all things we in the Driftless Wisconsin came to associate with the month of May.

I won’t even do the corny thing by pointing out the obvious nature of the passage of time and its impact on the inevitable changes in the children.

I will just show you these:



(Yes, I’ve been known to fix things with duct tape around here, why do you ask?)


Anyhow, let us put the sentimentality aside and move on to more pertinent subjects, such as sugar and chocolate.

Cyrus is 3.

This year, Cyrus had his first dedicated birthday party, complete with his first very own layer cake. Incidentally, this was also the first “grown-up” layer cake I’ve ever made.

In order to concentrate on the party, I decided to not trouble myself with an elaborate photoshoot this time, but this should give you some idea:


This cake was based on my all-time favorite chocolate cake recipe from The Pioneer Woman, which is just a marvelous basic building block for so many different things. This devil’s food cake is light, fluffy, yet rich, and is entirely glorious on its own with Ree’s original frosting, but it can also be embellished to become black forest, Praga (a classic Russian cake), German chocolate, and, in the above case, a lovely layer cake filled with simple (like, totally) chocolate mousse.

Note: You may have noticed that my cake is unusually dark for a cocoa-based cake. This is because I used this ultra-dutched cocoa (I actually ordered it from the Amazon) in addition to the regular dutched cocoa brand that I normally use. As this cocoa is very dark indeed but not very chocolatey-tasting, I only replaced a quarter of all the cocoa called for in the recipe with ultra-dutched.

Here’s the resulting recipe:


1 margaret christine @ notes from maggie's farm April 20, 2012 at 1:45 am

In this entire year of blogging, and some 200 recipes shared, I’ve never had the nerve to visit layer cakes. In fact, I must admit (whispering), I’ve made one layer cake in my entire life, and that was 25 plus years ago.

Maybe I’m due for a cake. I think I’ll try your’s. (a la Black Forest…..my favorite, favorite cake)
I just love seeing your growing babies. Thank you for sharing.
margaret christine @ notes from maggie’s farm recently posted..everyday enchantmentsMy Profile

2 Sofya April 20, 2012 at 10:13 am

I hear you! This is my first real one in over 10 years of cooking.

3 Natasha April 20, 2012 at 9:45 am

This looks amazing. Thanks. I think I’ll have to try it sometime very soon.

4 Liene May 7, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Unbelievable cake! I made it for Lilija’s 5th birthday party this last weekend and it was a hit. My mother-in-law who usually doesn’t like cake, loved it. Dustin (my husband) changed the name for the cake when he found out how much butter, heavy cream and sugar I used. He called it “The Heart Attack Cake.” Thanks for a great recipe! I can’t wait to make more!!!

5 Sofya May 7, 2012 at 5:17 pm

It is indeed something we don’t have often. So glad you liked it !

6 kimg85 September 25, 2012 at 8:52 am

Found this recipe while looking for an easy mousse recipe. Excited to try it but I have a question. About how long does it take for the cream to get to firm peaks? I know with egg whites it’s faster if you bring them to room temp first. Just wondering. Thank you!

7 Sofya September 25, 2012 at 9:54 am

Thay will depend on what you use to whip. With my kichenaid stand mixer it takes 15 min or so. And, unlike the eggs, your cream performs better when cold.

8 Lauren January 9, 2013 at 5:18 pm

I have a question well like 3…1)can i also put a container of a snack pudding cup into the batter? 2) does this recipe yeild a 1/4 sheet cake or would i have to double it? 3) would I be able to use herseys or ghirardelli’s unsweetened cocoa powder since I am not able to find/get dutch process cocoa powder?

Lauren :)

9 Sofya January 9, 2013 at 11:50 pm

1) I don’t see a reason to add the pudding – this is quite good the way it is – but you can always try.
2) I’ve never made a 1/4 sheet cake so I am not entirely familiar with the pan size – your guess is as good as mine (probably better). Although I kinda wanna say double it.
3) Sure, use any cocoa you can find (I say look for alkaline-treated rather than natural).
4) It is also amazing with this buttercream here (see link below) as filling and outside frosting – it’s a huge hit when I make it:


10 Lauren January 10, 2013 at 1:28 pm

ok thank you for your help in answering my questions…and yeah imma double it just incase its better to have more cake then not enough haha. I will let you know how it works out thx you again :)

11 Lisa smith January 17, 2013 at 1:18 am

I just found your sight . Love it! Just looking at a few of your recipes makes me want to try them. Thank you!

12 Sofya January 17, 2013 at 11:13 am

Thanks, Lisa!

13 Lauren February 11, 2013 at 11:04 am

Hello Lauren again well the first time I made this cake well lets just say did not turn out how like i expected it to so I am gonna try it again so…I had bought royal dutch cocoa powder would I be able to use this cocoa powder for all the chocolate it ask for and would it still be as dark as yours or a bit lighter and if I make this recipe for cupcakes how long would I have to back them for? Look forward to hear from you :)

14 Sofya February 11, 2013 at 11:09 am

Like 20 minutes. Mine is dark because of ultra-dutched cocoa, yours will be lighter. What did not turn out?

15 Lauren February 11, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Oh ok and the cakr did not turm out right 1 cause i didnt use dutch cocoa and it didnt taste good

16 Sofya February 11, 2013 at 10:22 pm

Yes, natural does have a way of tasting bitter… Dutch is alcaline-treated, which removes some of the acid/bitterness, I do believe.

17 Kelly August 28, 2013 at 10:08 am

So Excited to try this recipe! My son Kaden’s 17th Birthday is today and I plan on making him a Big Chocolate Cake & homemade chocolate ice-cream to go with it. We are true chocolate Lovers in this house!!!

Really enjoyed looking at other recipes on your site & looking forward to trying many others! Thxs!

18 Sofya August 28, 2013 at 11:44 am

Fun times, Kelly, let me know how it goes!

19 laura September 20, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Have you ever added cherries or cherry pie filling to make this into black forest cake? If so, how?

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