Chocolate-Cherry Mousse Cake


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Appears in

Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafes of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague


By Rick Rodgers

Published 2002

  • About

Lúdláb means “goose leg,” and the only connection between this cake and a goose would be that both are very rich. A specialty of the finest cafés in Budapest, Lúdlábtorta is the true test of the pastry maker’s art. It’s like eating a chocolate— cherry truffle, as the glaze comes in direct contact with the mousse filling. To keep the mousse from melting, be sure that the cake is well chilled and the glaze is as cool as it can be while still fluid.


Chocolate Mousse

  • cups milk, divided
  • cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon kirsch, optional
  • cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
  • ½ cup cherry preserves
  • 12 ounces sweet cherries, pitted (about 2 cups) or thawed frozen sweet cherries


  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces bitter sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 12 fresh sweet cherries, with stems attached, for garnish


  1. Cut the cake in half horizontally. Reserve one half for another use.
  2. To make the mousse: Heat ½ cup of the milk in a small saucepan or the microwave. Combine the cocoa and sugar in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in the hot milk to dissolve the cocoa (a paddle-shaped roux whisk works best). Add the yolks and whisk well.
  3. Sprinkle the cornstarch over the remaining 1 cup of the milk and whisk to dissolve. Add to the saucepan. Whisking often with the roux whisk, and being sure to reach the corners of the saucepan, bring to a full boil over medium heat; the mixture will be very thick. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then whisk until the chocolate melts. Rub through a wire strainer into a medium bowl set in a larger bowl of ice water. Stir in the kirsch, if using. Cool completely, whisking often.
  4. Transfer the cooled chocolate mixture to a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the whisk. On medium-high speed, add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, occasionally increasing the speed to high for about 10 seconds to ensure smooth blending, until the mixture is smooth and fluffy.
  5. Place the cake on an 8-inch cardboard cake round. Bring the cherry preserves to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Strain though a wire sieve into a small bowl, rubbing the cherries through the sieve. Spread the warm preserves over the cake. Spread a thin layer of the mousse over the preserves. Arrange the cherries in concentric circles over the mousse. Spread almost all of the mousse in a thick layer to completely cover the cherries. Using the remaining mousse, frost the sides of the cake and make the top as level as possible. (Don’t worry about making the cake look perfect at this step, as it will be easier to smooth later.) Refrigerate, uncovered, until chilled and firm, at least 4 hours or overnight.
  6. To make the glaze: Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over high heat. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Add the hot cream, let stand 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Let stand until cooled but still pourable, about 5 minutes.
  7. Smooth the filling mousse with a metal spatula that has been rinsed under hot water, giving it an even shape. Place the cake on a wire rack over a baking sheet. Pour all of the glaze over the cake. Using an offset metal spatula, smooth and coax the glaze over the top of the cake, letting the glaze run down the sides. Use the spatula to gather the glaze on the sheet, and touch up any bare spots. Arrange the cherries around the top edge of the cake as a garnish. Refrigerate until the glaze is set, at least 20 minutes.
  8. To serve, slice with a sharp knife dipped in a glass of hot water. Serve chilled.

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