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Culinary Arts

Chef Dominique Ansel’s Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

Written by MasterClass

Feb 8, 2019 • 3 min read

James Beard Award-winning Pastry Chef Dominique Ansel has shaken up the pastry world with innovation and creativity at the heart of his work. Chef Dominique’s decadent chocolate cake is a wonder to behold—and will make a fantastic cake to use as a showstopper at your next dinner party. But like most things in life that are worth doing, it takes a lot of time (and a large bowl!) to prepare. As Chef says: “This layer cake takes days of prep time and a lot of work to make, but it makes for a beautiful cake and a delicious one that will wow your friends.”

Don’t let the effort or cook time scare you away: This cake is full of different textures; it’s rich, intricate, and very delicate. It’s just the type of cake that Chef Dominique grew up with and now wants to share with you.


What Are Traditional Chocolate Cake Ingredients?

Chef Dominique’s cake is a French-style cake, as opposed to denser American-style cakes with buttercream frosting). Traditional American chocolate cake is made of:

  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Heavy cream
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Vanilla extract
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder

Chef Dominique’s inventive take is different—it’s made of thin layers of delicate gluten-free spongecake and silky smooth chocolate mousse, all enrobed in a slate-black chocolate mirror glaze in place of chocolate buttercream frosting. It’s served chilled, rather than warm, so when you build the cake, you won’t need to preheat the oven. You won’t be using the traditional cake pan or stand mixer, either.

Recipe: Chef Dominique Ansel’s Chocolate Cake Recipe

Ingredient Checklist

Serving 1 slice, Serves 1 8-inch cake

  • 1kg biscuit
  • 500g rum syrup
  • 1kg dark chocolate mousse
  • 500g dark chocolate mirror glaze, rewarmed
  • 170 Mini Me’s
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving


  • Cardboard cake circle
  • 8-inch cake ring
  • 1 sheet acetate, cut at least 2 inches wide (at least the height of the cake you want to make) and 26 inches long (the circumference of the cake ring, plus a bit of extra to overlap)
  • Pastry brush
  • 2 large offset spatulas
  1. Place the 8-inch cake ring on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan and line the inside with the sheet of acetate.
  2. Place the first circle of chocolate cake in the bottom of the ring on the sheet pan and brush lightly with half the rum syrup. Press the cake with your fingers while you’re doing this to ensure that the cake is not soaked but damp and lightly moistened with the syrup.
  3. Using a ladle, pour half the mousse over the cake, pressing the top gently with the bottom of the ladle to make sure the mousse is even.
  4. Place the second cake layer gently over the mousse, then brush again with the remaining rum syrup.
  5. Pour the remaining mousse over the cake and press again to make sure the top is even. Transfer the assembled mousse cake, on the sheet pan, to the freezer. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.
  6. Remove the sheet pan from the freezer and lift off the cake ring. Peel away the acetate. Using 2 large offset spatulas, transfer the mousse cake to a wire rack set in a rimmed sheet pan.
  7. Once the glaze is ready, position it over the center of the cake and immediately pour it all on, allowing gravity and force to cover the cake fully in the glaze. Quickly, while the glaze is still liquid, use an offset spatula to smooth the top and sides of the cake, if necessary. Let the cake stand until the glaze sets completely.
  8. Using the offset spatulas, transfer the cake to a cardboard cake circle. Holding the bottom of the cake firmly with one hand, use a paring knife to trim the glaze from the bottom so it’s even and clean. Place the cake on a serving plate or cake stand at room temperature.
  9. Arrange the meringues all over the top and side of the cake so the tips are pointing outward. Eat immediately within 1 to 2 days.

To Serve

To serve, slice the moist chocolate cake into thin wedges. Place a slice on a serving plate and place a small, thumbnail-sized scrap piece of flourless chocolate cake next to the cake. Make a quenelle of ice cream, or use a scoop, and place the ice cream on top of the cake scrap to prevent it from melting and sliding around the plate.

Tip: The finishing touch of adding the baked meringue drops is optional. If you use the meringue drops, make sure to twist them a tiny bit when you add them to the cake to ensure they are set firmly in the glaze and won’t fall off.