Wow, wow, wow! Chocolate cake with strawberry mousse filling. This ethereal, light as air dessert is the cake version of a chocolate covered strawberry. Can you believe it tastes even better than it looks? And it looks gorgeous!
The classic flavor combination of chocolate and strawberry is celebrated in this centerpiece-worthy cake. The striking pink color of the strawberry mousse is offset beautifully by the dark chocolate cake layers. Although the beauty of this cake is undeniable, as always, flavor comes first.
A insipid strawberry filling could easily be overwhelmed by the chocolate cake. The chocolate should enhance, not bury, the berry flavor.
Fresh strawberries are so delicious to eat because they’re super-juicy. While that’s a good thing when you want to eat a fresh berry, it’s a problem when you want to make a strawberry-flavored dessert.
All that moisture from fresh berries can be hard to incorporate into a cake filling that needs to stay in the cake and deliver deep flavor.
Freeze dried strawberries are simply berries with all the moisture removed. Without extra water, they have a concentrated flavor. By using both fresh and dried strawberries we have a mousse that’s thick enough to use as a cake filling and has a true strawberry flavor.
Helpful tips for making Chocolate Strawberry Mousse Cake:
- I love to use Chocolate Chiffon Cake for this recipe. I think it has the perfect balance of moisture and lightness to compliment the mousse filling. But you can use chocolate genoise or any light chocolate cake.
- To make a Vanilla Strawberry Mousse cake you can substitute Vanilla Chiffon Cake for the chocolate cake in this recipe.
- Split each cake into 2 layers for a total of 4 cake layers. Four thinner layers means you can have more layers of mousse for a better cake:mousse ratio.
- This recipe has just enough gelatin in the mousse to help it holds it’s shape when the cake is cut. If you skip the gelatin the mousse will likely ooze out when the cake is sliced.
- Have all the cake components ready before you add the gelatin to the mousse. You need to assemble the cake before the mousse begins to set.
- Pipe a buttercream dam around each cake layer. This keeps the soft mousse (especially before it’s set) from seeping out of the cake.
- Meringue buttercream has a light texture that works well with this cake. But you can use any buttercream to ice the cake.
- Once the cake is assembled, wrap it and chill it before icing. If you try to ice the cake while the buttercream and mousse are still very soft the layers could shift and the filling can leak out. Once the cake feels solid go ahead and crumb coat and finish the cake.
- Leftover cake slices can be individually wrapped and frozen.
How to work ahead to make Chocolate Strawberry Mousse Cake:
- The cake can be baked 1-2 days before assembling and kept, wrapped, at room temperature. To work further ahead the cakes can be frozen for up to a month.
- The buttercream can be made ahead and held in the refrigerator for 2-3 days or frozen for up to a month. Bring the buttercream back to room temperature and re-whip before using.
- The strawberry powder can be made the day before and kept in a moisture proof container.
- The strawberry puree can be made the day before and kept refrigerated until you’re ready to assemble the cake.
- The assembled cake can be made the day before you’re ready to serve. Leave the cake at room temperature for 30-60 minutes before serving to allow the buttercream to soften.
Scroll through the process photos to see how to make Chocolate Cake filled with Strawberry Mousse:
Chocolate and strawberry are so delicious together you might also want to try this Chocolate Strawberry Tart.
If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.
Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Mousse Recipe
- 1 recipe Chocolate Chiffon Cake (baked in two 9" pans)
- 2 oz freeze dried strawberries (3 cups before grinding)
- 24 oz fresh strawberries ( hulled and chopped)
- 5 1/4 oz granulated sugar (2/3 cup, divided)
- 2 tablespoon orange liquor (or use water)
- 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder
- 8 oz heavy cream (1 cup)
- 1 recipe Swiss Meringue Buttercream (or your favorite buttercream)
- 12 strawberries (can be dipped in chocolate)
- Split each cake horizontally so that you have a total of 4 cake layers. Cover and set aside. Use a food processor to grind the freeze dried strawberries to a powder. Divide the powder into 2 portions and set them aside.1 recipe Chocolate Chiffon Cake, 2 oz freeze dried strawberries
- Toss the fresh strawberries with 1/3 cup of the sugar. Macerate 30 minutes.24 oz fresh strawberries, 5 1/4 oz granulated sugar
- Puree and strain the fresh strawberries to make 2 cups of puree. If you have more than 2 cups save the excess for another use. Stir one portion of the strawberry powder into the puree.
- Place the liquor (or cool water) into a medium size microwave safe bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin in an even layer over the liquor and set it aside to bloom. Whip the cream with the other 1/3 cup of the sugar and fold it into the strawberry puree.2 tablespoon orange liquor, 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder, 8 oz heavy cream
- Heat the bloomed gelatin in the microwave in 10 second increments until it's hot to the touch. Working quickly, add a 1/2 cup of the mousse to the warmed gelatin. Whisk to combine. Pour the gelatin mixture back into the mousse. Immediately whisk until the mousse is smooth and the gelatin is evenly incorporated. Use immediately to assemble the cake before the gelatin sets.
- Whisk the remaining strawberry powder into the prepared buttercream. Scoop half the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a star tip.1 recipe Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Place one cake layer on a cardboard cake circle or on a serving platter. Pipe a "dam" of strawberry buttercream around the edge of the cake layer.
- Scoop 1/3 of the strawberry mousse onto the layer and spread to fill in the buttercream dam. Repeat with the other cake layers.
- The cake will be quite soft at this point. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes to set the buttercream dams and to allow the gelatin to start setting. Once the cake is firmed up, ice it with a thin crumb coat of buttercream. Chill to set the crumb coat then ice the cake with a final coating of buttercream.
- Pipe 12 buttercream rosettes around the top of the cake. Place a strawberry (can be dipped in chocolate) onto each rosette. Refrigerate for at least 5-6 hours to make sure the filling is completely set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator 1/2 hour before serving.12 strawberries
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Saturday 4th of June 2022
I’m a very experienced baker and this recipe is t all that. First, the batter would be better baked in 9” pans for layers, not 8. It overflows in 8. Second the buttercream recipe is not sufficient. I had to make an extra half recipe and still didn’t have enough for decorating, only a frosting. And it barely tasted of strawberry Thé mousse is tasty. My guests liked the cake overall, but for all the work, which is much longer than the time advertised, and ingredients, you can find better recipes. For me the cake itself, I chose a vanilla chiffon on the site, was too dry. All in all I wouldn’t make it again.
Saturday 4th of June 2022
First of all, the recipe does call for the chocolate chiffon cake to be baked in two 9" pans. A full batch of swiss meringue buttercream should be more than enough to pipe dams and ice the cake. If you made an extra 1/2 batch of buttercream and used the same amount of strawberry powder to flavor it would be less flavorful than intended. 2 hours of prep time was more than enough for me. But this is just an estimate as everyone has their own pace of working.
Sunday 8th of May 2022
Rated the cake 4 because the cake recipe came out light & delicate, but struggled getting the mousse to congeal and according to the instructions once the mousse was prepared the buttercream was applied to the perimeter of each cake layer- then the mousse would need to be immediately scooped on top of the layers. BIG PROBLEM- the mousse was not solidified enough that when the next layer was applied ALMOST ALL the mousse got squished out from the weight of the layer above and made a mess! Also: the cake is delicious but was light in color & taste like that of a German Chocolate cake. In your picture, cake is dark.
What went wrong?
Other than the mousse disaster (btw-the mousse is tasty/delicious)-the cake & the frosting I concocted was quite supreme!
Monday 9th of May 2022
The color of the cake will be lighter if you use a "natural" (not dutched) cocoa powder. The cocoa I use is very dark and the color of the cake will change based on the cocoa. The brand I use is shown in a link in the recipe card (I'm obliged to say that as an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases). But whatever the color, the cake should taste good.
The purpose of the buttercream dam is to keep the mousse from oozing out of the layers before it has time to set. Did the buttercream dam not hold? Assuming the whipped cream is cool when you make the mousse, it will usually begin to set fairly quickly. You can wait a few minutes to allow the mousse to thicken. But do use it when it's still spreadable. When the mousse sets it becomes difficult to spread into the layer evenly. You do need to use a light touch when placing the layers on the cake. Just place the layer on the mousse without pressing down. Again, the dam should hold the mousse in place.
Saturday 23rd of April 2022
This was fantastic!!! I made only a 6-in cake so I had a whole lot of mousse leftover but we enjoyed eating it a couple night after the cake was gone. Everyone enjoyed the cake and loved the icing because it wasn’t overly sweet. Will definitely be making this again.
Wednesday 20th of April 2022
Do you puree the macerated strawberries with the juices or without? Also can any other berry be substituted instead of strawberries?
Wednesday 20th of April 2022
I puree the berries with the accumulated juice then strain to remove the seeds. You could use other berries but you may have to adjust the sugar based on the sweetness of whatever berry you use instead of strawberry. Also, use the same volume of puree since the amount of gelatin in the mousse is set based on the volume of liquid in the filling.
Friday 15th of April 2022
what can I use instead of gelatin to make this vegetarian? Thank you.
Saturday 16th of April 2022
Off the top of my head I couldn't say since I haven't tested anything other than gelatin. I know Agar Agar is a favorite vegan gelatin substitution.