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.

This was an amazing class!! I learned so many new techniques and think that Chef Dominique is absolutely the best--artistic and in fact scientific in his explanations of how to create wonderful pastries in the kitchen. PLEASE PLEASE HAVE HIM DO A SEQUEL!!!

wow. what an amazing class taught by chef Ansel. as an aspiring pastry chef myself, I felt sad when I finished this class! Dominique not only shares his recipes, but also the best tips and tricks to getting desserts right every time. wanting even more!

I loved this class! I have been traditionally a bread baker only, and wanted to see his croissant recipe. But the chocolate cake with the white meringue tips completely drew me in and I have now made is several times. He inspired me to move to more pastries and be more creative. The class was very engaging and he was a great teacher.

I love Chef Ansel's passion, his joy with creations. He is easy to understand, takes care with conveying details of how to make things better, precise. He was a joy to watch! Thankyou!


A fellow student

I have same question another student posted in how did the final product from the freezer have mousse all over outside when your biscuits are exact size of ring. How do get get on outside of biscuit unless you cut circle slightly smaller than ring? I haven’t heard others having this problem.

Pam S.

I finally made this for my son’s birthday dinner—it’s so decadent and delicious! I didn’t want to hide the mirror glaze, and since I think dark chocolate and orange is a marriage made in heaven, I substituted Grand Marnier for the rum (just straight, no simple syrup), and decorated with homemade candied orange slices which I half dipped in the glaze. It was magnificent and a huge, coma inducing hit!

Nicoletta O.

Great lesson! Is it possible to keep the cake before its glazed in the freezer for longer than 1 day or should it just be 1 day?

Lim A.

I would like to ask, if I make the cake a day before serving, should I keep the cake in the fridge or freezer? Thank you in advance!

Kelli D.

I love watching and learning from him he is amazing. I did my first attempt this week and it was beautiful!!!

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.