Chocolate and Orange Mousse Cake

Chocolate & Orange Mousse Cake


Semi-final week on The Great British Bake Off, and the Signature Bake for Round 1 is a layered sponge and mousse cake.

My original recipe is listed on the BBC Food website, which was the version from the show and which was completed within 2 hours.

This version varies slightly in that, without the time-pressures of competition, I have suggested a gelatine-set orange gelee for the top. This can look especially impressive as it means that the gelee stands proud of the surface of the cake, as if by magic.

The instructions below are for a single, large mousse cake. The same quantity will also make 12 mini versions like the one pictured above, which stands about 6cm high. Instead of teeny tiny springform pans (I’m not even sure they make them that small), I used the ‘improvised baking rings’ (made from tinned peas tins) mentioned earlier in the Muffins post.

Joconde décor paste
100g unsalted butter, softened
100g icing sugar
100g egg whites
110g plain flour
orange food colouring
2tbs melted butter

Joconde sponge
180g egg whites, at room temperature
25g granulated sugar
225g ground almonds
225g icing sugar, sifted
6 large eggs
40g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
85g clarified butter, melted

Chocolate and orange mousse
1 orange, zest and juice
1 tsp powdered gelatine
175g plain (60%+) chocolate, broken into pieces
2 large eggs, separated
300ml double cream, whisked to soft peaks

Orange gelée
300ml orange juice
3 sheets gelatine

To decorate
300ml double cream, whisked to soft peaks
3 oranges
cocoa powder

  • Preheat the oven to 220°C, 200°C Fan
  • Line two 45cm x 30cm (half sheet) baking trays with baking parchment and brush with the melted butter.
  • Line the base and sides of a 25cm springform cake tin with baking parchment.
  • Make the joconde paste:
    • Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then gradually add the egg whites, beating continuously.
    • Fold in the sifted flour then add the food colouring.
    • Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 5mm plain nozzle.
    • Pipe the mixture onto the buttered parchment in a swirl pattern and place in the freezer to harden.
  • Make the joconde sponge:
    • Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks.
    • Add the granulated sugar and continue whisking until stiff peaks are formed.
    • Scrape the meringue mixture into a bowl and cover with cling film to prevent the meringue collapsing.
    • Beat the almonds, icing sugar and eggs in the bowl for 5 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.
    • Turn the speed down to low and mix in the flour and cocoa powder.
    • Gently fold in the meringue mixture using a large spatula.
    • Put the melted butter in a small bowl and mix in a cupful of the sponge batter. Pour this back into the mixing bowl and gently fold into the rest of batter.
  • Remove the baking trays with the decor paste from the freezer.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the two baking trays, spreading it smoothly over the decorations and into the corners ensuring it is level. An offset spatula is useful for this.
  • Bake for 5-7 minutes, until the sponges are cooked and springy to the touch and have shrunk away from the edges of the pan.
  • Turn out by covering the sponge with a sheet of parchment then flip the baking tray over onto the work surface. Peel off the paper to reveal the pattern, and lay it lightly on top of the sponge. Leave to cool.
  • When cooled, cut strips of sponge to line the sides of the cake tin, ensuring the pattern is facing outwards against the sides of the tin. Cut a circle of sponge to line the base and lay it patterned-side down, in the bottom of the tin. Cut a second circle to make the top of the cake and set aside.
  • Make the mousse:
    • Pour the juice from the orange through a fine sieve into a small bowl and sprinkle over the gelatine. Set the mixture aside for three minutes then place the bowl over a small pan of simmering water, taking care the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water, and stir gently until the gelatine has dissolved.
    • Place the chocolate in a large bowl and melt it in the microwave, stirring every 45 seconds.
    • Mix the orange zest and egg yolks into the melted chocolate, then stir in the gelatine mixture and fold in the whipped cream.
    • Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks then gently fold into the chocolate mixture. Pour the mousse into the tin, level the surface and place the remaining sponge circle on top, pattern uppermost and chill in the fridge for at least two hours.
  • Make the orange gelée:
    • Cut the gelatine sheets into small pieces and put into a bowl. Add 60ml of orange juice from the 300ml and leave for 10 minutes while the gelatine swells.
    • Heat very gently in a saucepan until the gelatine has dissolved, then stir in the rest of the orange juice.
    • Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Don’t skip the cooling. If you try and pour the orange gelee over the cake before it has cooled and thickened slightly, it will just soak into the sponge.
    • When the orange mix has cooled and is beginning to thicken, remove the tin from the fridge and slide a strip of food-grade acetate (or silicon sheeting) between the side of the springform tin and the sponge.
    • Carefully pour the orange mixture over the top of the cake and return to the fridge to set (2 hours)
  • To decorate:
    • Release the sides of the springform tin and peel off the acetate/silicon. Transfer to a serving plate .
    • Whip the double cream to stiff peaks (be careful not to over-beat) and pipe swirls around the edge of the mousse cake.
    • Cut thin strips of peel from the oranges and curl them around a straw.
    • Decorate mousse cake with orange zest curls and dust with cocoa powder.

Cost: £9.50 (September 2011)

49 Comments on “Chocolate and Orange Mousse Cake”

  1. Johanna says:

    Wow, seems delicious. I like to taste this one some time.
    Greetz Johanna

  2. Nelly says:

    OoooOOOoooh Looks fancy!
    Very excited to see tonight’s episode! I don’t want anyone to go. 😦

  3. Joanna says:

    that’s a beautiful cake. Evidence Matters said to watch you as you were special and exciting, so I have just started watching you. I hope it went well. Best wishes, Joanna

  4. Kathryn says:

    That is a fabulous looking cake! Can’t wait to see it on tv tonight 🙂

  5. Wow, this looks so dainty and gorgeous…very impressed! Good luck in tonight’s show 🙂

  6. Thought this looked stunning last night – a league ahead of the other cakes.
    I have my fingers crossed for you to win!

  7. Janey L (@janey0142) says:

    This looked so amazing when you made it on the programme last night.
    You take the competition to a new level as you are so creative. If you can send me the recipe for the bacon goat cheese pastries I would appreciate it.

  8. Catherine says:

    This looked stunning last night and has been much discussed today! Cx

  9. Sam says:

    Look stunning and scrumptious! Can’t wait to try this.

  10. Karen says:

    I LOVED this when you made it on GBBO! I also loved your pies ~ as a pie fanatic, I am SO with you for SUET crust pastry!
    Karen @ Lavender and Lovage

  11. This was an utter showstopping, glorious, beautiful bake Mary-Anne. It was so enjoyable and entertaining watching you create it on Great British Bake Off, and you make it seem achievable, thank you for sharing the recipe (although I for one am happy to leave such a creation to your very talented self!)

  12. Janice says:

    Probably the best thing I’ve seen on GBBO this series. This one looks even better than the one on the show. Love the wiggly orange through the chocolate.

  13. Debbs says:

    Hi there, regardless of the decision tonight in my eyes you are already the winner of TGBBO! Your love of food and flavours comes across and whilst you can do pretty, you’re not all ‘fur coat and no knickers!!” I love your knowledge and just know that first and foremost your food will taste great.
    Good luck for tonight – I’ve seen interviews about the other contestants who seem to have blogs, complete with press contact details, classes, books to be written etc., I know it’s not your style but you should take advantage of this opportunity. I’m sure you’d have full classes everytime if you did decide to give them and your book would sell like “hot cakes”
    I wish you luck with all your future endeavours.

  14. Esther says:

    Well done in the Great British Bakeoff! I enjoyed watching you come up with wonderful ideas in the show 🙂

  15. Joanna Howell says:

    You’ve been inspirational over these last few weeks on the British Bake Off, we’ve loved watching you.

  16. Misa says:

    Hello Mary-Anne:) I am Japanese living in the UK and a big fan of Bake-off. Loved watching you creating sth new everyweek, I could see you as the most creative and skilled one! Thought you would be the champion but then all of you are winners! I love baking and cooking too so I will keep checking ur blog and try some recipes;) Please have a look at my website, where I have put a picture of a chocolate cake with some handmade butterflies:) It’s easy and makes it gorgeous!

  17. Edel says:

    Congrats on your great performance in the competition. Loved your baking and your humour in the series. Your summer basket this evening was simply stunning and mouth watering. Amazing imagination. Well done.

  18. Jennifer says:

    Congratulations on being in the final tonight – loved your petit fours they look absolutely stunning. Very sad that tonight was the last one.

  19. Jo Lake says:

    Wow..this cake is so beautiful as were the mini strawberry and rhubarb cheesecakes last night. I can’t wait to try the technique of making ‘stripy’ sponge. Will have to get down to B&Q it seems to purchase baking tools!!

  20. I have SO enjoyed watching you on GBBO. You are so inspirational, some fantastic recipes, this was My absolute favourite, My Tuesday nights will never be the same! (think I shall be spending more time on here though!!! yay!!!

  21. […] Mary Anne’s Chocolate and Orange Mousse Cake. Do you remember it from the show, with all it’s fancy joconde paste? I don’t really […]

  22. Hi Mary-Anne,

    I’m thinking of making this but I have no idea where to buy the food-grade acetate. Where do you get it form? Thanks!

    • MAB says:

      Hi Arnie – I bought a huge roll from a catering supplier – but you can probably improvise with waxed paper. Hope this helps! 😀

  23. Wendy says:

    Hi Mary Anne. I just wanted to pass on my congratulations, what a wonderful achievement! You were my favourite from the beginning, not just because of your amazing ability, but also because you seemed so fearless and my goodness you were funny!

    I wish you all the very best for the future, and although I’m not much of a baker, I’ll keep an eye on your blog and hopefully hear of great things coming up for you. Onwards and upwards m’dear – with your skill and fabulous attitude the world’s your oyster!!

  24. An absolute show stopper. It was such a joy to watch you through the bake off- and even more- to discover your lovely writing here. Thank you for the escapism!

  25. Angela says:

    I live in Italy but was able to watch the British Bake off and thought it was fantastic. I love baking and I thought your creations were really good. I will be trying some of your recipes.

  26. bronni says:

    i love you mary-anne!
    you were ROBBED!!!!!!!!!!

  27. marysnow says:

    Hi Mary-Anne,
    First things first: thanks for showing that bakery can be fun and colourful and enjoyable. Your pastries were a joy to watch in the making processI

    I have tried yesterday to do the Joconde paste and cake and I can declare my experiment as a failure.

    Now, I think I know where I did wrong (instead of the Joconde sponge I have used the recipe for the Swiss roll, which is way too puffy), but I have a couple of questions, if you do not mind helping me in avoiding this disaster to re-occurr:

    1. I have made the decoration on the tray and left it in the freezer for a good hour before putting it into the oven. However, in cooking, it collapsed completely, so much so, that instead of being a series of swirls, it was like a giraffe skin patterned sponge.
    (may this be due that maybe, aheam, the oven was not warm enough?)

    2. The taste: I have added colouring to the paste and, since I taste everything while preparing it, I have noticed a massive difference in taste before adding the colours (Dr, Oetker) and after (before the paste was sublime, after not so much so). Do you have suggestion about brands or ingredients to use to get the colour without impacting negatively the taste, please?

    I will test this again when my nieces will come to spend two weeks in Ireland for Hallloween, they’ll have a great time in making it (and my kitchen will become like one of the horror movies in the process, I can already see little coloured hands print everywhere), but I would like it to taste nice too.

    Thanks and best of luck!

    • MAB says:

      Thank you for stopping by, Mary – hope I can help you get more success at the Joconde!
      1. You might have answered your own question re: the oven temperature – it needs to be really hot 220C and at least 200C for a Fan oven – so that the whipped egg will cook quickly and keep the mix light before it collapses. If you’re piping your swirls, then the decor paste needs only 15 minutes to freeze. It’s better to err on the thin side with the piping, as there will be some degree of spreading during cooking.
      2. I’ve found that the best colouring is in gel form, and the brand with the best range is SugarFlair (link to show what the pots look like). You only need the tiniest amount – like the amount of pink on a match – to have incredible colour. No discernible flavour either.
      Hope this helps! M-A 😀

  28. Emma says:

    Hi Mary-Anne
    Loved watching you on GBBO, so sad its ended 😦
    You have inspired me to try out some more adventurous cake-y things and was wondering if there is any way of keeping leftover Joconde paste??? And also, can I use this with regular sponge cake??
    Many Thanks x

  29. donna bailey says:

    I made this at the weekend a large version , i had a problem getting the sponge to attach to the sides in one piece, but because it was moist i managed to patch it together and the end result was fine, should i have placed the cooked sponge in the tin when it was still a little bit warm and maybe more flexible ? .
    the taste was great ,
    Are you planning to bring out a book ?
    thanks Donna

  30. Shiven says:

    You’re a really great baker, Mary-Anne 😀 Me and my Sister were rooting for you to lift that trophy, and we threw pillows at the TV when Paul Hollywood calles your syllabub “revolting”. You are the most clever of all the bakers, and you always had the best ideas. The judges were silly, though for creating that challenge- i mean, what kind of home baker has a “signiature, tried and tested, mousse cake”? When you said “beauty on the inside” we couldn’t stop laughing!! I will keep reading your posts and trying your maverick recipes 😀

  31. Jeff, UK says:

    Just made a chocolate only version of this for my other half’s birthday (she doesn’t like chocolate with orange..) changed the orange juice for water to dissolve the gelatin; and just used a bit more cream on top instead of the orange, topped with chopped and roasted hazelnuts. Other than that, followed the recipe to the letter and, although a bit of an epic, very very very worthwhile, and appreciated by everyone who’s tried it!

    It seems to be improving after a day and a bit in the fridge, maybe it’s just because I used quite strong chocolate in the mousse and the chocolate flavour is mellowing a bit..

    thanks so much!


  32. Jenny says:

    I am wondering if this cake/mousse will freeze reasonably well? I would like to make this for Christmas but with all the other catering I have to get ahead of the game. If I do would it be best to freeze it without the orange galee topping and do that after digging out of the freezer. Comments welcomed please from other experts.

    • MAB says:

      Wotchers Jenny! Not sure freezing the completed dessert is a good idea – thawed mousse tends to weep moisture, which doesn’t sound very festive at all! Sponge should freeze OK though! 😀

  33. Jenny says:

    Thank you for your advice Mary. Definitely not a freeze option! Back to the drawing board here.

  34. Jenny says:

    Help please with 100gm pasturised egg whites. Are we talking the powdered egg whites here because it is a weight or the liquid type. Anyway nothing was available on the shelves of my local supermarket here (in a rural location). Can I use ordinary egg whites and if so how does that translate in quantity… thanks

    • MAB says:

      Hi Jenny – sorry for the delay in replying – pasturised egg white is available in cartons, the brand name is TwoChicks. Otherwise ordinary egg whites are fine too – the cartons just save having to find a use for the leftover yolks. I use my digital scales to measure the whites, but depending on the size of the eggs you use, it will be about 3 or 4 eggs-worth.

  35. Jenny says:

    Thank you for your reply that is helpful. I imagine this is three large or 4 medium…… Brilliant will have a go when on holiday in December as a sort of project… Plan to freeze the cake mould

    The great British bake off was a really inspirational series.

  36. […] later on the Great British Bake Off when Mary-Anne (@wotchers) made chocolate orange mousse cake (recipe here) and I wondered if I might be ready to have a go, but I didn’t because to be honest […]

  37. Adrienn says:

    I don’t say it was easy(you must be well trained in baking) as I had to make the coloured sponge twice(the first one turned out brown-thanks to mixing yellow and red in order to get orange) but in the end it looked fabolus!!!!!!!
    Thanks for the recipe and it looked fab and tasted fab….
    My husband was really pleased and now hiw expectation are quite high for future bakes:)
    Please publish your book asap, as I need to add it to my collection:)

  38. Gabi says:

    Hi MAB,
    Please let me know what show you are on.
    You’re tips and recipes are totally stunning!
    Hope you win! (Even if I don’t know WHAT you win!)
    Whew, I have DSTV just in case!

  39. Nina says:

    Hi MAB

    I have wanted to make this cake ever since I saw you do it on GBBO. So excited when I found your blog. I made it yesterday for my mother in laws 75th birthday. It worked perfectly and looked spectacular. I was doing my happy dance in the kitchen when I took the tin off the swirls looked so amazing and l was so pleased with myself!

    Will be ordering your book and cooking my way through the rest of your recipes as they are delightful.

    Many thanks


  40. Tamal Ray says:

    Hi Mary Anne

    Would you be able to say which supplier you got the acetate from? There’s a couple of things I’d like to try to make (including this cake!)

  41. Andrea says:

    Hi Mary Anne
    I’ve been wanting to try such a cake for a while now and came across your recipe. As I don’t have such a large tin, could I halve the recipe? My tin size is 13″x9″. Thanks

    • MAB says:

      Wotchers Andrea!

      The main factor for you is the pan you plan to assemble the cake in. Using a half-sheet pan allows the rim of a 12″ diameter cake to be assembled from just two strips.

      Measure the circumference and also the height of your tin and calculate how many pieces you will need to form the shell. There shouldn’t be a problem as long as you make sure the pieces fit together tightly, since the set mousse will help hold everything together, but my advice would be to try and achieve this with no more than three sections.

      You will also need at least one whole piece for the top – the bottom can be pieced together from off-cuts if necessary. You could use the tin you’re assembling the cake in to bake the top, and save the 9×13 pan for the cake for the walls.

      In short, work out the shapes of the cake pieces you need, and use whatever pans you have to make sure you have enough to cover your assembly tin.

      Hope this helps! Do let me know how you get on – and have fun! M-A 😀

      • Andrea says:

        Hi Mary Anne
        Thank you for your quick reply, how refreshing to see that there are food bloggers who read the comments. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked questions of other bloggers and not had a reply, which in turn has meant that I haven’t attempted the recipe, so thank you again, keep up the good work.
        P.S. Will let you know how I get on.

  42. […] coolest contestant out there, So, I have been following her blog and have been wanting to make this chocolate and orange mousse cake for the longest time. But, I somehow only managed to get to it now, for whatever reason. Still, […]

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