Culinary Arts

Chocolate Cake Finishing: Assembly & Presentation

Dominique Ansel

Lesson time 20:56 min

Learn how to assemble the cake, coat it with a stunning, slate-black mirror glaze, and top it with mini meringues for a finished dessert as intricate as it is whimsical.

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 kind of cake is the cake I love. It's the French style cake. It's very shiny and it's very beautiful. This cake is going to be frozen, and then we're going to pull it, glaze it, and decorate it. When you look into it, you can actually see your reflection. I really want you to bring this to your next party and let this be the showstopper for everyone. We now have everything ready to build our chocolate cake-- our chocolate our chocolate mousse, and I'm going to show you how to assemble everything together. So timing is very important. Make sure you make your chocolate mousse when everything else is ready. We're going to start with a simple half sheet tray with parchment paper on the bottom. What I like to use to build my cakes is actually a cake ring. I think they are a lot more flexible than a regular cake pan. I always use acetate roll inside the cake ring. So this acetate roll is about the same size of the cake ring right now, but you can also build it higher if you like. That's why I like to use cake rings, because it's fairly flexible. So this roll is placed inside the ring, and then I just cut the right size. This piece if acetate inside is going to help me unmold the cake very easily so it won't stick to the cake ring. So this kind of cake is that cake I love. It's the French-style cake, with a very light, thin sponge, and a light chocolate mousse. So it's very different than classic American cake. The classic American cake will have a denser cake and buttercream. For this style of cake, you'll have to work a few days ahead of time. Once you're done with it, put it in the freezer, unmold it, and then finish it. So there's a lot of different textures that goes inside the cake. It's a little more intricate. It's a little bit more delicate. And it's the kind of cake I grew up eating. So now for the build of the cake. We've placed our cake ring and our acetate on the side of the ring. We're going to place our first chocolate sponge inside the cake ring, and push it all the way to the bottom. So this should fit perfectly, since we'll cut it in the inside of the cake ring. Then next step, what I'm going to do here is to actually soak the sponge with some rum syrup. So this is a fairly easy syrup, it's a simple syrup. It's an equal part of sugar and water, and then this one was spiked up with a little bit of rum. Make sure you put enough rum so you can actually taste it. If you don't want any alcohol, you can also flavor it with orange blossom, a little bit of water, which work perfectly as well. So what I do here is I just dip the brush in the syrup and I gently dab the sponge to make sure that it's moist enough. So I start from the outside, and I always go towards the center. You'll be able to find the recipe for this soak in the workbook. So you don't necessarily have to soak this cake. It's actually pretty moist by itself. But I like to add a little syrup that is flavored...

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.

Dominique is a great instructor. His explanation of his techniques if cogent and hard to mess up. I knew nothing about him and very, very little experience with pastries. This class was wonderful.

It's very good. I gained an understanding of what's involved in a bakery... especially the effort that goes into these creations..

Amazing classes. I will keep coming back to this Masterclass to practice these techniques, increase my skills, and develope baking creativity. Thank you Ansel.

This was my favorite class so far! The techniques and recipes are wonderful and creative -- and I love Dominique!!


Ramona W.

Wow! I did it!!! The only concern that I had was that the written recipe shows a timeline that can be for over 3 days....for example the mousse sets up and doesn't pour....I had to remake it to get it to pour into the cake mold was a little bigger in diameter, so my overall cake is thinner and only 1 row of mini me's around the edge. This doesn't matter because it serves more people and they didn't notice! This is definitely a show stopper! The flavor is also a show stopper...the rich creamy chocolate mousse, with a little hint of rum in the thin cake layers and the crunch of the mini me's makes every bite heaven!

Stella C.

Delicious and beautiful cake. A couple of days to make it but totally worth it!

laura J.

Is the use of copper pans over stainless beneficial to the cooking process?

laura J.

I am not sure the cake would be made in the first round of chocolate, I would be eating it with my good.

Ines S.

This is an amazing cake! If lust has a flavor and taste, this for sure is one of its many expressions. What a rich delicacy! Can´t tell what I love the most from this recipe: the delicious biscuit, the perfect mousse, the vibrant and tasty glaze or the mini me´s. Each one on their own has a joyful flavor and texture; all together, are delirium in your palate, a most decadent combination. I did it in small dome shapes, each one of them differently finished.

tessa S.

Thank you Dominique Ansel for your amazing master class! Excited to keep learning !

Vivienne Y.

Hello Everyone, I'm wondering if anyone could share some insight to three questions I have: 1. GELATIN - What is the equivalent of gelatin powder if I were to use gelatin leaves? I seem to have produced a thinnish glaze. I used 8g of gelatin leaves, i.e. 4 sheets. I thought Chef said there were details on leaves in the Workbook, but I'm not sure I saw anything there. 2. MOUSSE - I seemed not to have the mousse slide down to the side of the cake, so that after being frozen, there was a distinct biscuit layer on the girth. I noticed Chef Dominique's side was completed coated with mousse, even though his biscuit tucked very tightly against the acetate. The glaze wasn't exactly pretty, but the mini me's covered it. Phew! 3. MINI MERINGUES - Not sure how to pipe the Mini Me's without the top bit falling down into a little curlicue. I cut most of fallen tip manually, but that's cheating :) Sharing with all of you my cake! Thank you, Chef Dominique! Thank you, Masterclass!

Juanita F.

Dominique Is an amazing tutor, everything explained in deatil and I love he always gives extra tips .

Marcia B.

For some reason I get an error message when I try to download the .pdf for lesson #12, cake finishing. Can this be remedied?

Felix N.

Made this for Valentine's day. Came out absolutely beautiful, and absolutely delicious. Everybody loved it. Thanks so much!