Italian Sponge Cake Trifle with Chocolate Mousse

When I started doing this blog I had the intention in mind to try new things. Before I would just bake the same old treats: chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and occasionally some sort of cookie bar. It was easy to play it safe because I never saw myself as a baker or a cook. But recently I’ve begun to really love it! But I was in a baking rut for a quite some time.  For example, when I was pregnant with my daughter I probably baked brownies every week (sometimes twice) because I had such a craving for them. Not that there’s anything wrong with having household favorite treats, but sometimes you just get an itch to try new things. And that’s why I started this baking blog: to broaden my horizons and to create new recipes that I would have previously been too shy to make.

This week I took an idea from my husband. He served a two year mission in Uruguay and came back having tried some very interesting and diverse foods (onion loaf anyone)? However, he did mention some treats that he absolutely loved such as alfajores (a sandwich cookie with dulce de leche in between) and a chocolate pudding parfait with biscuits instead of cake. I was intrigued by the pudding parfait idea but wanted to input in some of my own flair into the recipe. Which is when I came up with an idea for a sponge cake and mousse trifle.

I love Italian sponge cake–it’s similar to lady fingers, but is as light as angel food cake. Here in the Midwest we have a cultural melting pot of German, English, Irish, and Italian heritage and Italian sponge cake is served at a lot of local restaurants. Trifles are an English dessert and typically use a light cake such as a sponge cake but the fillings differ greatly. I wanted to recreate a sponge cake that would be light and delicate and pair it in a trifle dessert laden with a rich chocolate mousse. While you can buy an angel food cake from the store, the homemade sponge cake recipe is relatively simple; you only need 3 ingredients and the result is a hundred times better than store-bought (trust me).

Besides baking a sponge cake and making a mouse, this was also my first time assembling a trifle and it was hard work trying to make the layers even and pretty! I’ll definitely aim to achieve a more uniform appearance the next time I put together a trifle–people on TV make it look so easy! The process of layering and scooping and smoothing all the different components was all worth it in the end and the finished product was a delicious trifle! My husband gave me a standing ovation after tasting this dessert and it gave me courage to keep baking new recipes. I hope you enjoy this trifle as much as we did!

Italian Sponge Cake Trifle with Chocolate Mousse


For Sponge Cake:

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup of cake flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • a pinch of salt (optional)

For Mousse:

  • 8 oz of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
  • 6 tablespoons of water
  • 2 cups of whipping cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar

For Whipped Cream:

  • 2 cups of whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup scant confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1 cup of chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup of whipping cream

For the cake:

  1. Cut parchment paper to fit two 9″ round cake pans.
  2. Separate eggs, putting whites in large mixer bowl and yolks in small mixer bowl.
  3. Add 1/2 c sugar to whites and beat until very stiff. Add a pinch of salt to help stiffen the egg whites faster. It should take 5-10 minutes to achieve stiff peaks.
  4. Add 1/2 c sugar to yolks and beat until very thick and light yellow in color.
  5. Fold egg yolk mixture into egg whites.
  6. Fold flour in using 1//3 c each time until well mixed.
  7. Do not overmix.
  8. Pour into prepared pans.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-27 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out dry.
  10. Cool for a few minutes, remove from pan and remove parchment paper.
  11. Cool completely on wire cooling racks.

For the mousse:

  1. Melt chocolate and water in saucepan.
  2. Whisk in the vanilla.
  3. Allow to cool (stick in the fridge to speed along the cooling process).
  4. Whip the cream and add in the confectioner’s sugar.
  5. On a low beater, add chocolate. You may need to fold in the chocolate completely if the low setting doesn’t incorporate all the way.
  6. Place in fridge until ready to assemble trifle.

For the whipped cream:

  1. Whip the cream.
  2. Add the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla. Place in fridge until ready to assemble trifle

For the ganache layer:

  1. Melt chocolate and heavy cream in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until mostly melted.
  2. Whisk vigorously until the mixture is smooth. Cool to room temperature.

To Assemble the Trifle:

  1. Cut the cake into bite-sized cubes.
  2. Using a trifle dish or large glass bowl, layer the bottom of the dish with cubed cake.
  3. Scoop the mouse over the layer and smooth with a metal spoon or rubber spatula.
  4. Using a spoon, drizzle the ganache over the mousse.
  5. Scoop whipped cream over the ganache and smooth with spatula.
  6. Repeat until all the ingredients are filled up!
  7. Garnish with fruit or more chocolate drizzle.
  8. Store covered in fridge. Best served cold.



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