Chocolate Pistachio Mousse Cakes for a Special Visit

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My parents came out to visit for a few days and it was such a joy to see them and spend time together. Since we live so far apart, getting together was a special occasion. For one of the nights, I wanted to treat them to a great meal and I knew just who to turn to.

Hunter Smith is an incredible chef and one of my very best friends. These days he is a personal chef, but we used to work together, and I was always in awe at his culinary artistry. I find him so inspiring.

For the special meal, Hunter and I created a custom menu that we prepared at my place. It was so fun to stay in, relax, hang with my parents, and eat far better than at any other restaurant in Vail. They loved sitting at the counter and watching us cook.

Photo (Below): Chef Hunter Smith’s Wagyu beef creation


Photo (Below): The happy diners


When I used to live back home, I would make a pistachio pastry that my parents adored. It consisted of rounds of dacquoise, a chewy nutty meringue, layered with luscious pistachio pastry cream. It was rich and light at the same time. Deliciousness!

Flipping through The Seven Sins of Chocolate, by Laurent Schott,  a gorgeous cookbook given to me by one of my former chefs and good friend (and also soon to be famous!), Rahm Fama, I came across a chocolate pistachio dessert that sparked my interest. I wanted to make a variation of it as a treat to my parents.

The mousse cakes consist of three layers: a chocolate-brownie, rich pistachio cream, and light chocolate mousse. Then the little cakes are doused in a shiny chocolate glaze. I plated them with a raspberry coulis and scooped a quenelle of pistachio ice cream on the side. I rarely eat dessert, because I taste bites of it all day, but this was one I nearly finished. It’s pretty good!

The other plus? It works at high-altitude. No adjustments necessary. Rather than make the single 6-inch cake, I used 3-inch cake ring molds to create four individual mousse cakes. It’s always fun to get your very own dessert.

Photo (below): Garnishing the Chocolate Pistachio Mousse Cakes with finely chopped pistachios.


Chocolate-Brownie Cake Layer

  • 1 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt the chocolate and butter in a pan over low heat. Remove from heat, and whisk in the egg and sugars. Stir in the flour. Divide among 4 buttered 3-inch ring molds, or a buttered 6-inch cake pan with a removable bottom. Bake until the cake is almost set, slightly puffed, and just a small dark circle remains inthe center. Taking the cake out at this point ensures you have a fudgy, moist brownie layer. Slightly underbaked brownies are always superior in taste and texture.

Pistachio Cream

  • 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup pistachio paste

Sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a small bowl and let stand 5 minutes. Whisk the yolks and sugar in a bowl until the mixture is light yellow and slightly thickened. Bring the cream to a simmer in a saucepan and whisk into the yolk mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and stir over low heat til it thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Whisk in the pistachio paste. Strain through a wire sieve into a clean bowl.

Chocolate Mousse

  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled to tepid
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

Bring the sugar and water to a full boil. Beating the yolks with an electric mixer, pour the hot syrup into the yolks, until the yolks have doubled in volume and are cool. Using clean beaters, whip the cream to soft peaks. Whisk one-third of the whipped cream into the tepid chocolate. Then, using a rubber spatula, fold in the yolk mixture, then the remaining cream.

Chocolate Icing

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup good quality cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

Sprinkle the gelatin over 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl, and let stand 5 minutes. Meanwhile, bring sugar, cocoa, heavy cream, and remaining 1/4 cup water to a boil in saucepan, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the soaked gelatin, making sure it is fully dissolved. Pour into a bowl and let stand until the icing is tepid, but still fluid. If it is too warm when you glaze, it will melt the mousse. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Raspberry Coulis

  • 1 bag frozen raspberries
  • Sugar and lemon juice to taste

In a blender, combine the raspberries with a little sugar and lemon juice. Puree, then taste to see if any additional sugar or lemon juice is needed to brighten or sweeten the flavor of the berries. Strain to remove the seeds.


  • Once the cakes have cooled, leave them in the ring molds and top with the pistachio cream.
  • Allow the pistachio cream to set slightly, either by refrigerating or freezing it.
  • Cover to the top of the mold with the chocolate mousse. You will want to do this step shortly after you make the mousse so that it doesn’t set. Use a knife to smooth the top. You will have some extra mousse leftover.
  • Freeze the cakes until the mousse is firm.
  • Arrange the mousse cakes over a wire rack placed on top of a sheet pan. Ladle the tepid chocolate icing over each mousse cake, running an offset spatula across the tops once to smooth and evenly distribute the icing. Refrigerate or freeze the cakes to set the icing, then let them temper in the refrigerator before you eat them so that the components are not still frozen.
  • Spoon the raspberry coulis across a plate. Top with an assembled mousse cake, and serve with pistachio ice cream, if desired.

Photo (below): Cooking a custom meal for my parents in the kitchen with chef Hunter Smith


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There Are 2 Responses So Far. »

  1. Hello there,
    Do you have the recipe for the Hazelnut chocolate cake coated in chocolate mirror glaze. I found it so lovely and I would like to do it for my husband’s birthday, which is the 15th of April. I am really thrilled with all your journey on baking. You are very lucky to have the chance to do it. I found the course toooooo expensive for me and completely out of my budget. All the best in your continuous courses


  2. hi Megan,
    SHALOM from israel..yes, we read your great posts here..
    It would be great if you could add Graham Units also to your Recipes, So We Can try it here..

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