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I made one promise to Eric, the husband of the host of my recent dinner party-I would include some type of chocolate dessert in the menu.

I admit I was seduced into making this recipe from the City Tavern cookbook because of the gorgeous photos of the perfectly glazed cake with its yellow berry and currant garnishments.

This is the photo from the City Tavern cookbook. So beautiful!

My cake did not turn out looking ANYTHING like the photo in the book. No matter, it was superbly good… a death-by-chocolate kind of dessert, though it is a rather time consuming cake to make. Also, it’s really fattening so be sure to do your workout before you eat it!

The cookbook notes that like Eric, George Washington apparently had a fondness for chocolate. It reads, “Records at Mount Vernon reveal that he first ordered chocolate from England in 1757 and that he received twenty pounds one year later (Holy cow, that’s a long time to wait!). Correspondences between the general and his guests reflect that he served chocolate as a special beverage to them during his presidency.”


• 2 cups sugar
• 2 sticks butter
• 5 cups flour
• ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup milk
• 28 ounces semisweet chocolate
• 8 large eggs, 4 of which are separated
• 1 pint plus ½ cup heavy cream


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9 inch round cake pans with butter and flour or line with parchment paper circles. Place the bowl and whip attachment of an electric mixer in the freezer to chill for later use.

In a second bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium to high speed, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.

Sugar and butter, light and fluffy

Add four whole eggs one at a time.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

The dry ingredients

With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture, alternation with the milk, until the ingredients are well combined.

Cake batter! Who wants to lick the paddle?

Divide the batter between the two pans. Bake 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes on wire racks. Remove the cakes from the pans, making sure it’s completely cool before continuing.

To make chocolate mousse filling
: Melt four ounces of chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave, zapping at 30 second intervals set at 50% power and stirring between intervals. Let chocolate cool for a minute, then add four egg yolks and beat well with a whisk. Set aside to cool.

Egg yolks and chocolate

Using the pre-chilled mixer and whip attachment, beat ½ cup of heavy cream on medium speed until soft peaks form. Refrigerate until well chilled, covered in plastic wrap.

Wash the mixer bowl and whip attachment. Whip the four egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. Set aside.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the chilled whipped cream into the chocolate mixture until it is just combined-do not overfold.

You have to be patient when you’re gently folding.

Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the chocolate until just combined. This creates a light and fluffy chocolate mousse.

Finished chocolate mousse

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

To make chocolate ganache:
In a heavy saucepan, bring the pint of heavy cream just to a boil over low heat, stirring nearly constantly. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Place 24 ounces of semisweet chocolate in a large bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it stand for one minute to give the chocolate a chance to melt. Whisk to combine ingredients. Let cool. When the mixture is room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate but remember to remove it one hour *before* you are going to assemble the cake.

When the cake has cooled completely, use a serrated knife to cut each layer in half horizontally, so you have a total of four layers.

Cutting the layers in half horizontally

To assemble, place the first cake layer on a serving plate. Top with ganache, then the mouse and then another layer of cake, repeating until all four layers are assembled. Then, spread the chocolate ganache on the top and sides, if you can (I only used ganache on the top of my cake). Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish and enjoy… and try not to go into a sugar coma.

Is that enough chocolate for you?

City Tavern’s Chocolate Mousse Cake

Note: This recipe calls for partially cooked eggs, which can be a health concern for the young, the elderly, or those with compromised immune systems.