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I have to thank my good friend S. for picking out this recipe. We were bumming around the house while our husbands were playing video games, and she decided that I was bringing dessert to her house over the weekend. I’m always happy for an excuse to try out a new recipe, and was thrilled when she picked one from How to Be A Domestic Goddess, a cookbook that has been sitting on my shelf for a couple of years. I’ve flipped through it, but this was the first time I’ve ever made anything from it. After this recipe, I’ll definitely be going back to this book for more recipes.

This Chocolate Mousse Cake was super rich and fudgy. You can also skip the baking and just refrigerate the batter (chocolate mousse) in a bowl instead of baking it in a spring-form pan (and after licking the spatula, you may just want to do that!)

Chocolate Mousse Cake

Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How to Be A Domestic Goddess (p. 176)


  • 11 oz. good-quality bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 oz. good-quality milk chocolate
  • 3/4 c. unsalted butter
  • 8 large eggs, separated
  • scant 1/2 c. light brown sugar
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Prep: Preheat oven to 350F and put a pot or kettle on to boil (if making cake).

Line the inside of a 9-inch spring-form pan with aluminum foil, being sure to smooth out wrinkles. (The cake is baked in a water bath, and this will prevent the water from getting inside the cake. I lined the outside of the pan with foil instead, simply because I didn’t want to deal with pealing away the foil from the cake. There was a little water in the bottom, but none seemed to get into the cake.)

Make the Mousse: Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler or in the microwave, stirring until smooth. Allow to cool slightly.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat egg yolks and butters on medium-high speed until creamy – when the paddle is lifted, the batter should fall in ribbons, about 5 minutes. Add in salt and vanilla. When combined, add in cooled chocolate. Scrape down sides and make sure chocolate is thoroughly incorporated (I found some left on the bottom of the bowl). Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Clean the bowl, and with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on high-speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Add in dollops to the chocolate mixture, folding in to lighten.

Mousse or Cake?

If making chocolate mousse, transfer mixture to a bowl and refrigerate.

If making cake, pour into the prepared spring-form pan. Place pan in a baking dish and add water – water should come about 1-inch up the sides of the pan. Bake 50-60 minutes, until top is dry and cooked, and inside is damp and mousse-like. (For me, at 50 minutes, the whole cake was a fudge-like consistency, so I recommend baking for 40 minutes and then re-evaluating from there). Remove from water bath and let cool completely on a drying rack. When cooled, release the pan and peel away foil.

Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve with whipped cream, raspberry sauce, or fresh fruit.

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Operation Red Velvet Snowball Cake: Fail

I don’t normally post recipes for things that did not turn out well, but my mom and I really liked the idea behind the Red Velvet Snowball Cake and thought someone might use it for inspiration.

The original idea and recipe for this cake came from Redbook Magazine. The cake was supposed to be 4 layers of red velvet cake, with a cream cheese frosting, and coconut sprinkled on top and on the sides. Never having made red velvet anything before, we began by making Redbook’s cake, but the result was a very dense and flavorless cake.

Convinced it must have been a flawed recipe, we set out to try the cake again, this time using Paula Deen’s Red Velvet Cake recipe. However, Paula’s cake was also quite dense. Again, we weren’t sure where we went wrong.

Interestingly enough, Paula also has a similar Red Velvet Cupcake recipe, that my parents had both tasted before and loved. It was light and airy, what a cake is supposed to be. Her two recipes had some pretty significant differences, including the use of cake flour v. all-purpose flour and the use of butter v. oil. Perhaps these really made the difference in a light and fluffy cake?

Anyway, Operation Red Velvet Snowball Cake was deemed a failure. If someone has a tried-and-true red velvet recipe, please leave me a comment… I’d love to have another recipe in case I embark on this mission again next Christmas.

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