Milk-Chocolate-Mousse Cake with Cashew Brittle


This towering cake melds rich bittersweet ganache, creamy milk-chocolate mousse, and multiple layers of chocolate sponge cake. Adorned with buttery brittle, it can't help but set hearts aflutter.


For the cake

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 6 large eggs, separated

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar

  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan

  • Raspberries, for garnish

For the cashew brittle

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1 cup roasted, salted chopped cashews (about 8 ounces)

For the mousse

  • 4 ½ ounces milk chocolate

  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 3 large egg yolks

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • ¼ cup creme fraiche

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the ganache

  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate

  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ¾ cup whole milk

  • ¾ cup heavy cream

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

For the syrup

  • ½ cup Kahlua or other coffee liqueur

  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

For garnish


  1. Make cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan. Line with parchment, and butter parchment. Sift together flour, cocoa, and salt.

  2. With a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed until pale and thick, about 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla.

  3. With a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites until medium-stiff peaks form. Fold into yolk mixture in 3 additions. Fold in flour mixture in 2 additions until almost incorporated. Fold in butter. Pour into pan.

  4. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Invert onto rack. Remove parchment, and turn right side up.

  5. Make brittle: Bring sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt to a boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Wash down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush, and cook until pale amber, about 12 minutes total. Stir in butter. Remove from heat, and stir in cashews. Pour onto a parchment-lined baking sheet to cool. Coarsely chop.

  6. Make mousse: Melt chocolates and butter in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water, stirring occasionally. Cool 20 minutes. Keep water simmering.

  7. Combine yolks, sugar, and salt in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water. Whisk until sugar has dissolved and mixture reaches 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat. With a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat on medium-high speed until thick and cool, about 7 minutes.

  8. Whisk cream, creme fraiche, and vanilla until medium-stiff peaks form. Fold chocolate mixture into yolks. Fold in cream mixture, and then 1 1/2 cups brittle. Cover, and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 1 hour.

  9. Make ganache: Fill a bowl halfway with ice water, and set aside. Combine chocolates and salt in a heatproof bowl. Bring milk, cream, and butter to a boil. Pour over chocolate, and whisk until smooth. Reserve 1 cup ganache at room temperature. Place bowl with remaining ganache in ice water, and whisk constantly, scraping bowl, until ganache is set but not solid.

  10. Make syrup: Mix liqueur and vanilla.

  11. Assemble cake: Using a serrated knife, trim rounded top of cake to create a flat surface, and shave off just the slightest bit of cake around edges so that it fits inside an 8-by-3-inch springform pan without touching sides. Cut cake in half horizontally. Cut both layers in half horizontally to make 4 layers. Place 1 layer in pan. Brush with 1/4 of the syrup. Top with 1/2 cup ganache and 1 cup mousse. Repeat with cake, syrup, ganache, and mousse. Spread 1 cup reserved ganache over top. Refrigerate at least 2 hours (preferably overnight).

  12. Run an offset spatula around edges of pan, and remove sides. Garnish with berries and, if desired, Cashew-Brittle Hearts.

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