RECIPE – Zumbo Chocolate Mousse Cake (From Masterchef)

My attempt VS Adrian Zumbo’s Masterpiece

This is a recipe I did about a year ago (again I had a bit of a career break which I was enjoying) 😀 It is a multi-layered chocolate mousse cake that takes hours of preparation to make.

This is something from Masterchef Australia and the evil maestro Adrian Zumbo with his delightful, yet painstaking creations.

The full recipe can be found on the Masterchef Australia website at

This is NOT for the faint-hearted – it’s a very long, complex recipe… I spread this over 3 days due to time & the massive clean-ups required.

The layers (top to bottom)

  1. Chocolate blackberry sabayon mousse
  2. Salted caramel layer
  3. Biscuit jaconde
  4. Chocolate blackberry sabayon mousse
  5. Texture apple tatin insert
  6. Biscuit jaconde
  7. Chocolate blackberry sabayon mousse
  8. Pate sable cinnamon

The ingredient list (taken straight from website but with my substitutions & comments):

Pate Sable Cinnamon

  • 285g   cold butter cubed
  • 185g   caster sugar
  • 375g   plain flour
  • 1       egg
  • 2g      ground cinnamon
  • 1/4     scraped vanilla bean – substituted with 1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste

Texture Tatin Apple Insert


  • 4   granny smith apples, peeled & diced
  • 350g   caster sugar
  • 175g   butter


  • 3   granny smith apples, peeled & diced
  • 10g  butter
  • 1   orange zest
  • 6g   fresh ginger (leave in large bits)
  • 50g  caster sugar
  • 15ml   calvados – substituted with cointreau

Salted caramel layer

  • 300g   caster sugar
  • 60g   glucose
  • 120g   water
  • 220g   cream
  • 5g    gelatine leaves – substituted with gelatin powder
  • 125g   butter unsalted
  • 2g   sea salt flakes

This caramel was the tastiest caramel I’ve ever had – wasn’t too fond of the salt, but the unsalted parts were awesome 😀

Biscuit decor jaconde
PART A – Cigarette decor paste

  • 50ml  cream
  • 50g   egg white
  • 50g   icing sugar
  • 30g   plain flour
  • 20g   cocoa

PART B – Biscuit jaconde

  • 60g   plain flour
  • 40g   butter melted
  • 200g   almond meal
  • 200g   icing sugar
  • 6     eggs
  • 180g   egg whites
  • 90g   caster sugar

Biscuit Jaconde

Chocolate blackberry sabayon mousse

My comment: Definitely needed more mousse – I would recommend making a bit extra – it’s delicious so make plenty extra just for eating 😀

PART A – Blackberry ganache

  • 125g   blackberry pulp – substituted w/ thawed blackberries (they weren’t in season – I actually could only get blackberry/blueberry frozen mix so I picked out all the other berries :D)
  • 12g   inverted sugar – made mine by getting tbsp of sugar, half that of water & a squiz of lemon juice boiling in a pot (don’t forget to mix)
  • 50g   caster sugar
  • 6g  caster sugar
  • 3g  pectin nh – substituted w/ Jam Setter from supermarket which had pectin in it
  • 200g   64% dark chocolate
  • 35g   butter

PART B – Sabayon mousse

  • 60ml  liquid strained black tea – substituted – teabag tea – can’t remember which – whatever was in pantry
  • 50g  sugar
  • 50g  egg
  • 145g  blackberry ganache (see recipe above)
  • 60g  64% chocolate
  • 400g   whipped cream soft peaks

Chocolate Spray

My Comment: PFFT!! I totally skipped this part – where was I going to find a liquid spray gun?!? Dusted the cake with cocoa instead – still looked good enough to eat 🙂

  • 500g dark chocolate – omitted
  • 350g cocoa butter – omitted

Tempered Chocolate (for decoration)

  • 500g white chocolate – waaaay more than required – I ended up eating a lot

The adventure

Now, I’m not going to type out the entire recipe, just follow the helpful link at the top to find the recipe on Masterchef website. My comments for each section of the cake making are below.

Note – I meticulously scribbled down every ingredient & did the maths for what I needed to go shopping for so I had an ultimate master list of ingredients. Unfortunately, somehow, my siblings & I managed to lose it somewhere between the house, car & supermarket and I had to go by memory on what to buy.

*sigh* I have a goldfish memory.

Managed to get all the important bits though and whatever was forgotten was grabbed at the corner store afterwards.

Another major oversight – our electric beater had broke the week before so I had to mix/whip/beat everything BY HAND. I had issues sleeping afterwards because my aching hands/arms were cramping up!! The things you do for love.

Anyway, I did parts of my cake in a different order as I spread it over 3 days.

The order I did things in:

  1. Texture Tatin Apple Insert (to freeze)
  2. Salted caramel layer (to fridge)
  3. Biscuit Decor Jaconde
  4. Pate Sable Cinnamon
  5. Chocolate Blackberry Sabayon Mousse
  6. White chocolate decoration

Pate Sable Cinnamon – I didn’t have a food processor but other than that, this part was pretty straightforward. My oven is crap and takes aaages to cook anything. There was heaps of butter in this and when it was finally ready from the oven, there was a large stain of melted butter on the baking paper.  Probably could have used less butter.

Texture apple tartin insert – I have never flambéd anything before so I insisted on some adult supervision from my younger brother and planned my escape route before attempting Part B (no joke).

Well, not an escape route per se, just what I would have done if things started catching on fire that shouldn’t (was planning on tossing frying pan into sink with water then calling fire brigade which was conveniently located down the road around the corner).

I also used too much alcohol (cointreau) and didn’t let it evaporate for long enough – which meant there were very chilled dribbles of cointreau caramel all over the inside of the freezer…not fun cleaning that

Apple insert while layering mousse cake upside-down

Salted caramel layer – this layer was so phenomenally tasty *sigh* I get cravings to make just this layer again. Anyway, I decided after I made the brilliant caramel, I’d put it in gladwrap & then into the cake tin – Not a fabulous idea if you think about it. Caramel = sticky, domestic glad wrap = weak, time taken to carefully extract caramel from gladwrap encasement? priceless.

Salted caramel layer – so good I still dream about it

If you look closely, you will see huge salt chunks – I don’t know what I was thinking, I even had a salt grinder… Anyway, they’re concentrated in one area (also an oversight on my part), hence why I didn’t like the saltiness. The parts with marginal saltiness were brilliant though.

Biscuit decor jaconde – My jaconde was spread a bit thick before going into the oven. Also, had I thought a little more, I would have drawn the cigarette decor paste a bit different – made it look prettier.

Top of jaconde vs shaped bottom of jaconde with cigarette decor

Chocolate blackberry sabayon mousse – there wasn’t enough mousse in the recipe, I definitely needed more and you can tell because the sides of the cake layers aren’t entirely covered when I removed it from the mould near the end. My mousse was also a bit gooey and I was really worried it wouldn’t set but all was well, it set fine.

Chocolate blackberry mousse in the making

Also, when I first made this, I had absolutely no idea what a sabayon was (cooking & mixing at same time) so I think I under sabayon-ed due to impatience & hand cramping (see above about not having an electric mixer that day).

Tempering chocolate – I didn’t bother tempering properly as I didn’t have a thermometer. I just melted it til it seemed ok, made a few strips onto baking paper, then rolled the strips into curls and put them into containers to keep their shape.

As mentioned, there were heaps of leftover white chocolate so I just did random things with it, like make white grass…

Assembling – I layered my cake tin with gladwrap before I put in the mousse. You may also notice a few decorative dips in the top of the cake. I did this by putting bottle caps underneath the gladwrap as I didn’t have an egg mould or whatever masterchef used. Put in the decorative jaconde bit on the side then used most of the mousse leftover on the sides of the tin.

The rest of the layering was pretty straightforward, just ran out of mousse which was annoying.

Cake: Oh no! I’m half naked!!

Dusted the lot with cocoa mixed with a bit of icing sugar, piled on some white chocolate curls & grass, had some blueberries strewn around and voila!

3 days & multiple layers later = Zumbo’s Chocolate Mousse cake from Masterchef

I could even see the layers once the cake, I was so proud of myself – this was the first complex dessert recipe I’ve ever made – I usually do not ever make desserts (the ol’ tub of icecream is usually good enough for me – burnt fig & caramel ice cream is divine *sigh*)

Look! Layers!


Cleanage – was horrific – if a bakery were somehow exploded, covering everything in cakey, caramelly, chocolately goo, that’d be what my kitchen looked like.

So many hours of cleaning – I, myself, was not unscathed. I had various cream/chocolate/caramel/alcohol/etc stains on my clothing over those 3 days.

The cake was definitely worth it, but only worth doing once methinks.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed, if you have a spare 3 days (O_o) then by all means, go ahead and make it – Masterchef only had a 3 hour time limit (but had a blast freezer).


If you like this recipe, you may like a few others I’ve tried:

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