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Chocolate Cake Base: Biscuit

Dominique Ansel

Lesson time 13:23 min

A favorite of Chef Dominique's, biscuit is a French-style sponge cake that is light and gluten-free. Learn Chef’s tips for mixing, baking, and cutting perfect biscuit layers that will be used to build a delectable chocolate mousse cake.

Dominique Ansel
Teaches French Pastry Fundamentals
James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Dominique Ansel teaches his essential techniques for making delicious pastries and desserts in his first-ever online class.
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This is a classic French sponge cake. I love this cake because it's flourless-- it's a lot lighter. It's different than any classical American cake. We are going to build our-- what we call our mini me cake-- mini me for miniature meringues. It's a little more intricate, it's a little bit more delicate, and I'm going to show you how to assemble everything together. I'm going to show you how to make our chocolate cake. It's one of the first cakes I actually made for the bakery when we opened seven years ago. So just a few ingredients. Once again, everything's prepared ahead of time. We have our yolks and sugar that we're going to mix into the mixer in very high speed to have something very light and fluffy. I'm going to bring this up and add the sugar little by little. So now we're done with our yolks and sugar. They've been whipping for a few minutes, and as you can see, they'll be like very light and fluffy and it'll be like almost like you're-- like a ribbon. So the texture should be pale, very pale. It goes from this dark yellow to this very pale yellow. And the reason why we're whipping so much is to make this biscuit, this sponge cake, very fluffy and very light. We'll then place this yolk mixture into a larger mixing bowl, which we'll use to mix the rest of the ingredients. So this is our first step. We're now going to make a meringue and then combine everything together. So we now have our clean mixing bowl. Very important-- really, really dry for the meringue. So the meringue is very, very delicate. Those egg whites and sugar-- two simple ingredients. We want to make sure everything is clean and dry before we start. We're going to start with just the egg whites. So make sure there's nothing inside-- no shell, no egg yolks, and you'll have a proper meringue that whips very well. So if there's just even like a tiny bit of water on the side, it won't whip very well. We're going to use a whisk. I always use a mixer-- I don't ever do it by hand. I'll get tired before I can even whip them. So just try to do the same at home. We're going to start with the egg whites with a whisk attachment, and then we'll start adding sugar only when the meringue gets light and fluffy-- when you start seeing this white, foamy texture on the surface. And that's very important, because if you add your sugar too early, the egg whites are going to be too heavy, and therefore you're not going to be able to whip it as well. It's when I start adding my sugar. So little by little. So our meringue is finished here, and what you're looking for is for something that is like very light and fluffy. I always compare it to a shaving foam, so a thick shaving foam-- that's what it should look like. Once you stop the meringue, make sure you don't stop at all. Keep on stirring. We want to prevent the meringue from setting. If you leave it in a bowl and you wait a few minutes, the meringue will be clumpy and will have pieces. So what I do-- I fold the meringue...

The Art of French Pastry

Celebrated for his innovative twists on classic desserts, Cronut® creator and James Beard Award-winner Dominique Ansel has been called the “world’s best pastry chef.” In his MasterClass, Dominique teaches his essential techniques for perfect pastries. Learn baking and more with his precise methods, add classic recipes to your repertoire, and explore texture and flavor inspirations to delight friends and family with your own decadent desserts.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

some tips that usually I don't get from others chefs. explanations about the procedures, not only following the recipe without understanding why it is done that way.

Great class! loved Dominique, easy demonstrations, thank you

I loved this series. Learned a lot in a little time. Strongly recommend.

I will never underestimate the effort required for great pastries and desserts again. Thank-you for the fun.


A fellow student

In case you want to make a white variant of the biscuit, can you replace the cocoa with flour? or would it be better cornstarch?

Betsy L.

This cake was so flexible to use. Like others, I’ve had to hide the scraps. I didn’t have a half sheet pan in the house, so just used pans I had and it was fine. I did get a third disc from this recipe but it was okay...figured if one went wrong, I’d have a backup.

Peter C.

Chef Dominique uses just one sheet pan to make two eight inch rounds. The printed recipe calls for two sheet pans, so does that make 4 eight inch rounds? Also, the amount of cake mixture created by following the printed recipe creates much more volume than what Chef Dominique is working with in the video. The lack of correlation between the video and the .pdf is very frustrating--with baking, amounts are so critical to getting good results. Such sloppiness is unexpected coming from Dominique Ansel who obviously cares about attention to detail.

Michelle L.

flawless chocolate cake, demonstrating many techniques, chocolate mouse, mirror glaze, biscuit etc ..... and meringue drops

Alessa G.

Love Ansel, but you should re-shoot this episode. Those whites were so stiff they were almost dry. You could tell he had a hard time folding them in, and the resulting batter had streaks of unmixed whites...not good for people trying to follow along...

Ramona W.

This picture is before I turned it over...the other side does have more of the skin...cake is very flexible...saving scrapes...had to hide because as we walked by the countertop, we would take just a little's really delicious...I want to have some leftover to make us a little scraps dessert since my main dessert is to give to my surgeons.


I watched the video for technique, but am following the recipe strictly - except I already had 9" cake ring and I'm using that. So far, so good, although I just put the first sheet pan in the oven. I smoothed out that left one before cooking. I have a dinner party in three days so my fingers are crossed...

Howard S.

I had an issue with the biscuit coming out way too light and fluffy. Once cooled and removed from the sheet pans they wouldn't hold together for anything. The batter (if that's what you want to call it) looked more like a souffle consistency. Tasted great though! Tried a couple of times. As others have commented there are a few inconsistencies between the videos and the recipes.

Donald B.

My first attempt today. Using the amounts specified in the workbook I found I had too much stuff for a half sheet pan. I used a great deal of the mixture filling the half sheet pan to near the top edge. That gave a final product about 3/8 in (9 mm) thick. Cooking time maybe 10 min. Still I was able to cut out and handle the two 8 " disks without difficulty. I believe his cakes are more about ¼ " thick from my viewing the video. Using the remaining material I filled a ¼ sheet pan and got a second disk, this one 1/8 " (3 mm) thick. My thoughts if you want two 8" cakes, then cut the recipe by ⅓. I'm hoping someone from Master Class will check this out. Are other students finding the Hub valuable? I'm not.

Felix N.

I didn't like this tutorial. Tried 2 times, and failed both times. There are a few discrepancies between the video and the workbook for example cooking time. Also in the workbook two sheets, in the video only one sheet. I do miss details and a few shots of the oven while it is baking. They are in the workbook but not in the video, and I believe it is quite essential to be able to tell optically when it is underdone, overdone, and perfect. I failed probably because of that. Does he use a silicon mat, or an air-mat, which has holes in it? I would like to get links to exactly what kind of mat he is using.