Frozen Chocolate Mousse Cake with a Pinch of Pepper

Frozen Chocolate Mousse Cake with Black Pepper

I made a Frozen Chocolate Mousse Cake to take to a grown up dinner party. A Chocolate Mousse Cake by its name alone seems well-suited to grown up affairs. That’s because of the word mousse. Whether children read it as mouse cake or they hear it as moose cake – most kids won’t munch on mousse without knowing what it is.

That’s too bad for them. Because I have a confession, despite my mention of mice, this Chocolate Mousse Cake is actually closer in taste and texture to a plain old ice cream sandwich than it is to any boreal brute or rascally rodent.

The older I get the more I realize the most satisfying desserts are the sugary treats we craved as kids: cookies, sundaes, and anything at all with pudding. I’d have to add ice cream sandwiches to that list too. They’re one of those childhood classics that I find myself reinventing time and time again. Most of my grownup versions have stayed pretty close to the original: ice cream slathered between two cookies. It’s a familiar presentation that gets its grownup appeal through innovative flavor combinations. I’ve churned orange peel, rosemary and even eucalyptus to great success.

So for this Chocolate Mousse Cake I’ve decided to alter my thinking a little when it comes to a presenting a grown up ice cream sandwich.

First I’ve called it a cake. A Frozen Chocolate Mousse Cake. Cakes are acceptable at grown up affairs.

To keep with the grown up theme, I’ve subbed frozen mousse for ice cream. I’ve layered that frozen mousse on a dense, cookie-like cake base. The result is an elegant open-faced presentation. I’ve certainly mentioned my childhood fascination with open-faced sandwiches on this blog before.

Which still leaves me needing to discuss the 800 pound moose in the room. I’m talking about black pepper. This Frozen Chocolate Mousse Cake packs a pretty powerful pinch of pepper.

Wine Pairing

Hawk and Horse Vineyards ‘Latigo’ Dessert Wine 2010 

2010 Hawk and Horse Vineyards ‘Latigo’ Dessert Wine.
When is too much too much? Should you “gild the lily” and serve (yet more) wine with your rich, decadent dessert course? Heck yeah! Especially if the wine matches up in quality and complexity. Greg’s Chocolate Frozen Mousse Cake has met its match in the 2010 Hawk and Horse Vineyards ‘Latigo’ Dessert Wine. An alluring deep […]
Ken Eskenazi

Price $45 for a 375 ml bottle, $85 for a 750 ml bottle

Pairs well with chocolate, caramel, butterscotch, toffee, coffee, chocolate mousse, chocolate pot de creme, cigars (I’ve heard).

Occasionally, I’ll stumble upon some ingredient or concept or technique that makes me completely re-evaluate my approach to cooking. Black pepper is my most recent epiphany. Of course, I’ve always used it in savory dishes. I tend pepper with abandon. Whereas I’d frown at you if you salted without tasting, I tend bring a pepper grinder to the table at every meal.

Although it’s used predominantly in savory cooking using black pepper in sweets is an approach I think we should discuss.

The concept is not entirely new or foreign to me. Ever since my first sip of Mexican hot chocolate I’ve known that chocolate and the bite of pepper belong together – but by pepper I’ve always meant chile peppers. I’ve added chili powder to chocolate cookies and dipped strawberries into chili-chocolate sauce.

But everyday, common black pepper? What’s so special about that? Well I’ve discovered that the pungent heat from a fleck or two of coarsely ground black pepper is enough to jolt even the most palate numbing of rich sweets back to life. Black pepper is particularly lively against a mellow backdrop of vanilla and cream. I love it with blueberries.

I’m hoping that this Frozen Chocolate Mousse Cake with Black Pepper will also prove that that your pepper mill is a good partner for chocolate flavors. However, as with all things culinary, there’s no point muddying a good mousse with the gray tinge of the previously ground stuff: always grind it fresh, and do so with a generous hand. GREG

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Frozen Chocolate Mousse Cake with Black Pepper 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 8Source Adapted from TheSubjectivist​.netPublished
Frozen Chocolate Mousse Cake


  • 3/4 cup finely ground almonds (almond flour)
  • 4 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 4 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large whole eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (divided)
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil (plus more for greasing pan)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 15 ounce dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
  • 2 teaspoon very finely ground black pepper (use a mortar and pestle)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 6 egg whites
  • coarsely ground black pepper (to taste)


Make the cake base: Place the oven rack in the center position, then preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease the bottom and sides of an 8x8-inch square cake pan. Line the bottom with a piece of parchment sized to fit, then grease the parchment; set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together, ground almonds, cocoa powder, flour and salt; set aside. 

In a large bowl whisk 2 whole eggs, ½ cup sugar, ⅓ cup oil and sour cream until well-combined. Working in three additions add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing them until just combined between each addition. Do not over mix the batter.

Scrape and smooth the batter into the prepared cake and bake in the heated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Let the cake cool to room temperature in the pan on a rack, then carefully turn the cake out onto a flat surface; peel off and and discard the parchment.

Wash and dry the same cake pan you baked the cake in, then line the cake pan with 2 sheets of plastic wrap overhanging all 4 sides by at least an inch. Try and line the pans neatly, too many wrinkles will make the cake difficult to unwrap later. Place the cake base back into the plastic-lined cake pan; set aside.

Make the mousse: Chop the chocolate into coarse chunks, then place it in a large heatproof bowl. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water to melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally, until very smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the very finely ground black pepper. Allow the chocolate pepper mixture to cool slightly, then beat in 6 egg yolks one at a time; set aside. 

Place 6 egg whites in a medium mixing bowl, using a balloon whisk or an electric beater fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk to soft peaks. Add remaining ½ cup sugar and continue to whisk until the mixture is stiff and glossy, but not yet dry. 

Fold a big spoonful or two of the whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten, then carefully and lightly fold in the rest of the meringue. Spoon the mixture onto the prepared cake base, then use an offset spatula to smooth the top. Sprinkle with coarsely cracked black pepper, not too much just enough to be attractive.

Cover the mousse-topped cake with plastic wrap, do not let the plastic wrap touch the surface. Transfer the cake to the freezer to freeze completely, at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.

To serve: Remove the top piece of plastic wrap from the frozen cake. Use the overhanging plastic wrap to gently pull the cake from the pan all in one piece. Remove the plastic wrap from the cake and discard. Use a serrated knife to trim the four sides of the cake for a neater appearance (optional), then cut the cake into 8 equally-sized pieces. 

Let the cake sit 10 to 20 minutes to thaw just a little, then serve immediately.