To me, there is something so incredibly refined about a delicate cake with layers of airy genoise, mousse, and jelly. I tend to associate these types of cakes with the manicured and exquisite displays of Japanese and French bakeries, where desserts just look almost too pretty to touch. It's as if the desserts themselves are haughty--like, they're turning their proverbial dessert noses up at a little-too-crass, unrefined, and brash American like me who's just not good enough for them. And yet, just as I futilely wish that I could carry myself with the elegance and grace of Audrey Hepburn (HA!), I've always wished that I could make a perfect little specimen of haughty, sophisticated mousse cake. And, I think I've finally done it!
I can tell you that it hasn't been an easy road getting here. I've tried my hand at mousse layer cakes multiple times now, always with some not-so-pretty (though, always tasty!) results. Alas, even this specimen wasn't entirely perfect--silly old (unsophisticated) me forgot to line my cake molds with parchment paper or plastic, so getting the cakes out of the molds was a bit hairy. But! it's the closest to complete success that I've gotten thus far (and perhaps as close as a boorish Chinese-Californian can ever hope to get!), and nothing that a thin layer of dark chocolate won't fix. ;-P
The impetus for this particular cake itself came from a typical source: my mom bringing me two gorgeous organic mangoes. (which, by the way, is apparently my mom's favorite thing on the blog, when I mention that her fruit gifts inspire desserts written about here--hi, mom!) Of course, like any sane, dessert-obsessed person, I looked at the mangoes and immediately thought, "Now, wouldn't these be stunningly lovely in mousse form?" Because everyone thinks that--right? right? Thinking about it some more, chocolate seemed like the perfect companion to mango mousse. Lastly, as I was wishing that I had some coffee one night for some late-in-the-school-year late-night paper-writing, I also realized that coffee would round out the flavor profile of this cake perfectly. Hence, the birth of mango mousse espresso chocolate cake!
So there you have it. The base: a moist and fluffy chocolate genoise, soaked in espresso syrup. The middle: a creamy, subtly-flavored, and airy mango mousse (actually, a Bavarian cream if you want to be all technical and stuff), made with fresh mango puree. The top: a thin layer of espresso jelly--a mixture of bitter coffee and sweet milk to balance out the fruitiness of the mango and the robustness of the bottom chocolate cake layer. All wrapped up in chocolate. Now, is that refined enough for you?
(Now, onto my Audrey Hepburn social graces training...)
Read on for recipe...