cookshowandtell, Dessert Recipes, Masterchef
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Adriano Zumbo, Masterchef Chocolate Mousse Cake Recipe

4 hours and 7 layers later

It’s been a while since my last post and I couldn’t have picked a more difficult assignment to tackle.

For a food lover like myself, the introduction of Masterchef Australia on TV was the best thing since sliced bread. Never have I in the last couple of decades been so engrossed in a TV show that after watching the episode on TV, I would go back to the computer to re-watch it again.

Through the course of 3 months, we’ve all seen the trials and tribulations, not to mention blood, sweat and tears each of the contestants had to go through to get to the finals. I’m not going to lie, but Justine was my favourite. To see her come soo close to the end, but to be booted off because of one of Adriano Zumbo’s creation was very dissapointing. To challenge myself, and see the extent of the difficulty, I decided to take on Adriano Zumbo’s Chocolate Mousse cake. Now, I’ve tried a lot of Zumbo’s cakes before and the my conclusion is that the man is pretty much a genius. The thought of trying to make the cake was quite intimidating as a lot of ingredients and time is needed.

Looking at the ingredients for the recipe, I noticed that the quantities requested were quite large, so I opted to halve all the ingredients. The ingredients yielded were adequate for one 8 inch in diameter sized cake.

The method provided from the masterchef website instructed that making the Pate sable cinnamon should be the first step. However, because I don’t have a blast freezer, I did the Texture tatin apple insert and Salted caramel layer first. Oh and it is handy to have an extra pair of hands to help you, it can save you a lot of time.

What it should look like

Image from

I was close …

Ingredients and Methods

I’m not going to type out Adriano Zumbo’s recipe word from word. I’ll instead document the ingredients I used (quantities halved) and a few notes about my experience with each layer of the cake. You can find the complete recipe at or download the PDF to print.

Texture tatin apple insert

Part A

  • 2   granny smith apples, peeled & diced
  • 175g   caster sugar
  • 87g   butter

Part B

  • 1.5   granny smith apples, peeled & diced
  • 5g  butter
  • 1/5   orange zest
  • 3g   fresh ginger (leave in large bits)
  • 25g  caster sugar
  • 7.5ml   calvados (I used Brandy)

I meticulously followed Adriano’s recipe for this layer, although, substituting the calvados for Brandy. Once both part A and B were cooled, they were mixed together and ready for the freezer. The absence of a silicone mould meant that I had to use an 8 inch cake tin instead. The tin was well lined with cling wrap, then the apple mixture was poured on top. Cover the apple mixture with another layer of cling wrap.

Salted caramel layer

  • 150g   caster sugar
  • 30g   glucose
  • 60g   water
  • 110g   cream
  • 2.5g    gelatine leaves
  • 62g   butter unsalted
  • 1g   sea salt flakes

I couldn’t find the gelatine leaves from our local supermarket. From a comment on the masterchef website, 8gm (1 sachet) of normal gelatine powder is equivalent to 4 gelatine leaves, so I used 4gm of normal gelatine powder instead. When adding the gelatine, make sure that it has been dissolved in some hot water, otherwise the caramel becomes a little grainy.

To freeze the caramel, the baking tin containing the apple mixture was lined with a sheet of baking paper, in a manner that you would normally line a cake tin, i.e. circle at the bottom and a couple of long strips to cover the sides. Pour the caramel onto the baking paper, then cover with another round sheet of baking paper. Put into the freezer.

After reading through Ms Taste’s experiences, we opted to do the mousse layer next to provide adequate chilling time.

Chocolate blackberry sabayon mousse

Blackberry ganache

  • 60g   blackberry pulp
  • 6g   inverted sugar
  • 25g   caster sugar
  • 3g  caster sugar
  • 2g  pectin nh
  • 100g   64% dark chocolate
  • 17g   butter

Blackberry was readily available from Woolies, however it was mixed with blueberries so I had to seperate which was no big deal.

I couldn’t find inverted sugar but as with most things, wikipedia has the answer to everything. Inverted sugar can be made by simmering 2 parts sugar to 1 part water for 5 to 7 minutes. Knowing this, I made my own inverted sugar, using 50gm sugar to 25gm water. The remaining ingredients were also found at Woolies in the Cake mixture aisle. Pectin mixture waw sold in sachets.  The closest that I found to 64% dark chocolate were the Nestle 63% cooking chocolate which seemed to do the trick.

Sabayon Mousse

  • 30ml  liquid strained black tea
  • 25g  sugar
  • 25g  egg
  • 73g  blackberry ganache (see recipe above)
  • 30g  64% chocolate
  • 200g   whipped cream soft peaks

This layer was quite straightforward. However, when it came time to assembling the cake, we ran out of the mousse, so had to make another batch.

Biscuit decor jaconde

Cigarette decor paste

  • 25ml  cream
  • 25g   egg white
  • 25g   icing sugar
  • 15g   plain flour
  • 10g   cocoa

The mixture took form very easily and tastes quite good on it’s own!

Biscuit jaconde

  • 30g   plain flour
  • 20g   butter melted
  • 100g   almond meal
  • 100g   icing sugar
  • 3     eggs
  • 80g   egg whites
  • 45g   caster sugar

To create the decorative jaconde, which Howard calls the “piece of spirit fingers” , use a spatula to spread a 2-3mm layer of the cigarette decor paste onto a sheet of baking paper, swirl patterns with your finger. Make sure each time you swirl, your fingertip touches the baking paper to form gaps.

Once removed from oven, whilst soft, use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut out strips of decorative jaconde.

Pate sable cinnamon

  • 143g   cold butter cubed
  • 92g   caster sugar
  • 187g   plain flour
  • 1/2       egg
  • 1g      ground cinnamon
  • 1/4     scraped vanilla bean

This step was also straight forward. Mix all the ingredients together then knead . Cooking time was approximately 15 minutes.

Tempered chocolate

Macarons at the bottom

  • 100gm white chocolate
  • 3 drops of yellow food colouring

Once the white chocolate has been tempered according to directions, remove 1 tablespooon of the melted chocolate to a bowl and add the yellow food colouring. Using a spatula, spread a thin layer of chocolate over an overhead projector sheet (sold at newsagencies), then paint with a pastry brush to create lines through the layer. Add the remaining white chocolate over the yellow layer. Use a pair of scissors to put out the desired shapes, then place into cups to create circles.

Assembling the cake

Once all the layers were done, assembling the cake was the fun bit. To help achieve the shape and easy removal a baking tin was lined with baking sheet. Layer the cake in the order instructed. To achieve the round indentations on the mousse layer, cling wrap plastic bottle lids. Place the lids onto the baking paper, then pour the mousse until the lids are no longer visible. Liberally spread a layer of mousse onto the sides of the cake tin before layering as instructed.

After all the layers have been added, flip the cake around, remove bottle lids and baking paper. Attach the layer of decorative jaconde and pre-prepared macarons, then top with blueberries and tempered white chocolate.

Was it worth it ?

The damage ? Shopping – 1 hour, Research- 3 hours, Cooking and Cleaning- 4 Hours, Making a Zumbo cake …. Priceless.

Overall, I would say that the cake is definitely doable. However, to save time, I would recommend to make the Apple mixture and salted caramel the night before. This also ensures adequate freezing time.

Back of cake with macarons

My macarons will never look as good as lemonpi’s but they are getting there. You can use any macaron recipe, I added cocoa powder to my mixture.


From top down

  • Layer of mousse in bottom of mould
  • Layer of salted caramel from silicon mould
  • Layer of jaconde
  • Layer of mousse
  • Layer of apple tatin from silicon mould
  • Layer of jaconde
  • Layer of mousse
  • Sable

This cake was a lot of effort but it tasted incredible. The different layers of flavour and textures constrast very well. Maybe I need to try Adriano’s one day and see how a real one tastes like.

If creating this cake seems too much effort, for a limited time Adriano Zumbo is creating a limited edition of 100 chocolate mousse cakes as seen on Masterchef. Details to buy the $90 cake are on the website. The great thing is that 5% of all proceeds will be donated to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. Head over to the Adriano Zumbo website for more details.

Adriano Zumbo
296 Darling Street
Ph : 02 9810 7318
web :


  1. Wow, that is one impressive feat. Congrats on working it to the end. The flavor combo looks interesting, with the blackberry sabayon mousse. Were you able to taste the blackberries over the strong chocolate and caramel flavors? The more I look at it, the more it intrigues me. Hmmm…
    .-= Irina @ PastryPal´s last blog ..Apricots, Tamed =-.

  2. Well done on this amazing effort! It looks like you had more luck with the mousse than I did, looks fantastic! Great rec on freezing parts of the cake the night before – definitely makes the whole process a little easier!

  3. Poorani says

    That’s a pretty awesome attempt of the Choco Mousse cake… hehe where’s my piece! =)

  4. That is amazing! I am so impressed, I’m way too scared to even think about attempting the entire thing. Yours is the best and closest to Zumbo’s that I’ve seen so far!
    .-= Steph´s last blog ..Mamak, Haymarket =-.

  5. Noel says

    wow amazing! obviously a very technical dessert, and you managed to pull it off.

  6. Suey says

    That looks gorgeous! lots of effort into the cake…very impressive

  7. Edengirl says

    Fantastic effort, well done on making such a complex cake, the end result is amazing!
    I’ve been dying to make it @ home ever since the MC episode, you have given me added inspiration to attempt it soon!

  8. OMG! That’s fantastic! I was convinced that it was too hard but I dunno, maybe I can give it a go sometime… Congratulations!
    .-= KT´s last blog ..Acceptance =-.

  9. Fabulous result considering you didn’t spraypaint the chocolate over the cake, I’d say you achieved a masterchef rating, congratulations!
    .-= Moya´s last blog ..GOAT CURRY =-.

  10. DQ2121 says

    omg i think u have probs done the best attempt i have seen
    at adriano’s cake so far
    i plan to make this cake in september
    did u hav any major problems with this cake
    the photos look great…its making me hungry

  11. Hey, great work with the cake! Best attempt that I’ve seen to date.

    Is this something that you see yourself making again? Making often?

  12. DQ2121 says

    how did u do the decor jaconde
    so u mix the cigerrate paste…what do u do after that
    and how does it end up on the cake?

  13. linda says

    @ Karen- hahaha you’re too nice. I think by the end, I was just tired, so rushed the decorative jaconde piece. Oooh I definitely want to attempt the Matt Moran cake, thinking of giving it a go sometime soon. I love the outcome of yours =)

    @ Irina- I found that the blackberry is quite strong, so despite the richness of the chocolate and caramel, the blackberry is still detectable. I think you should definitely give it a go, all the time spent is worth it.

    @ Y- Thanks heaps! btw your macaron recipe was awesome, it’s my first succesful macaron from at least a dozen attempts, lol, I think it’s fail proof.

    @ Zina- Thanks for the tips provided on your site. I think next time, if I do make the cake, I’ll definitely divide the cooking process into two days.

    @ David- Thanks Dave

    @ Poorani- Hmmm Howard has your piece Poo =D

    @ Yas- I did have a couple of hiccups throughout the process, mainly burning of the sugar/water syrup, unfortunately that set us back some time.

    @ Steph- Thanks Steph. I think if you break the components down and just do half of the layers one day, and the other half the following day, it’s actually possible to make.

    @ Forager- Thank you thank you thank you

    @ Miss Honey- Thanks miss honey. I wouldn’t call myself brave, more crazy.

    @ Noel- Hey noel, I think the couple of hours doing research and watching the same episode of masterchef about half a dozen times helped as well.

    @ Suey- awww thanks suey.

    @ Edengirl- I really do recommend everyone to give this cake a go. Funny enough, I found that the combination of all the layers reminded me of many of Adriano Zumbo’s other creations. That is, variety of colours, flavours and textures.

    @ Belle- Hahaha thanks Belle. I think one of the most time consuming step was looking for random bottle tops around the house.

    @ Helen- Hey Helen, if a novice like me can make this, I’m quite adamant you can kill it =)

    @ Simon- Thank you Simon, all up it cost $50, however we only ended up using half the ingredients.

    @ Chocolatesuze- Thanks Suze. Lol a pro like yourself can do this with your eyes closed.

    @ Billy- Hehehe yeah, I kinda rushed the decorative jaconde piece. Hmm I actually think it tasted better than it looked.

    @ FFichiban- Thanks, I’m thinking of making a modified version of the cake again in a couple of weeks.

    @ KT- Trust me… you can do it, it just takes a little bit of patience.

    @ Moya- Thanks Moya. We couldn’t locate the cocoa butter and was too tight to hire a spray gun, never the less, I was quite happy with the outcome.

    @ DQ2121- hahaha thank you. Hmmm I don’t think I had any major problems with making the cake. I guess the only tip I would give is when making the caramel or anything involving sugar, keep your eyes glued to the saucepan, because once it starts to brown, it can darken very quickly.
    Oh another tip, invest in a candy thermometer, because it helped immensely in tempering of the chocolate.
    Also, try to accurately measure out all the ingredients to the gram.

    For the decor jaconde- Mix the ingredients of the cigarette paste in a bowl, just using a spoon.
    Once it’s evenly mixed, use a spatula, or the back of a knife to spread approximately 2mm of the paste onto a piece of baking paper.
    Using your finger, just draw lines/shapes into the paste, making sure that as you draw, you actually scrape off the chocolate paste.Then place the sheet of paper into the freezer, I left it there for about 15 minutes.
    Once frozen, use a spatula to spread about 3mm thick of the biscuit jaconde mixture on top of the cigarette paste. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the biscuit jaconde is done (i.e. slightly golden)
    After you’ve assembled all the layers of the cake and tipped it right way up, remove the cake tin and baking paper lining. Spread a thin layer of mousse around the cake, stick the decorative jaconde piece onto the mousse. Once stuck, peel off the remaining baking paper.

    Hope these tips help.

    @ Simon- I was really impressed my the way the cake tasted, so I do think I’ll be making this cake regularly.

    @ Reemski- Thanks Reem. hahahahaha an apprenticeship at Adriano’s would be a dream come true. Actually scrape the apprenticeship, I’d be ecstatic just to be the cleaner in that kitchen.

  14. Wow that looks fantastic! I don’t think I could ever bake anything that looks even remotely similar to one of Adriano Zumbo’s creations but you did a great job! The photo of the inside of the cake is absolutely drool-worthy =D
    .-= Jacq´s last blog ..Ton Ton Regent, Sydney =-.

  15. DQ2121 says

    oh ok thx for that…it is much clearer now
    i found that the recipe from the website was a bit confusing
    how did u make the biscuits on the side of the cake?
    do they give u the recipe for that part on the masterchef website?
    urs turned out really nicely

  16. That’s a fantastic effort! Especially within 4 hours. The contestants had 3 hours but they had that blast freezer thing. Is the cake really sweet? I would love to make it, but not a fan of REALLY sweet desserts.

  17. OMG……… sorry, I’ve just had to pick my jaw back up from the keyboard. That’s such a stunning effort, well done! I spent hours last weekend making lemon meringue tarts from scratch but this just doesn’t compare. I can’t believe it only took you 4 or so hours! Were there any tears involved? 😉
    .-= Jen´s last blog ..Ash St Cellar & Merivale Winter Feasts =-.

  18. Juno says

    Very pro for taking it on Linda. It turned out well! I’m gonna show my masterchef-obsessed cousins this blog so they can drool.

  19. Awesome says

    Hey I really like this cake!

    can i contract you to make some for me?

  20. This is absolutely brilliant!!!!! You are are sooooo close to the cake – it looks fantastic!! I love all your hints too – I was wondering whether overhead projector would work for the chocolate curls… and the bottle caps are also ingenious! I have this on my list of things to make… but now it has stepped up a level, I may actually be able to make it :)
    .-= Anita´s last blog ..Gelatissimo – Flavours of the World =-.

  21. Ian Keong says

    Nice! I’m not much of a dessert person, but I’d sure like to have some of that 😀

  22. Con says

    This dessert looks so excellent; I can’t believe this is your first attempt.
    Maybe Adriano Zumbo should hire you for his kitchen.

  23. Marek says

    Wow! awesome!! I will be sure to give this a go..

    great post Linda!

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  25. Wow, this would have been a good Daring Baker’s challenge. Wow! The flavor combo seems a bit weird for my taste, but the work you put into it is wow! I’m impressed. Good job!
    .-= Memoria´s last blog ..Double-Crust Pecanless Pie =-.

  26. @Sormuijai- The cake is really sweet, I think if you’re to have it, a very very small piece would be adequate. I think you should make it just for the fun of it, and just give them away to family and friends.

    @Jackie- LOL You’re too nice, my version looks like a cheapo version of Zumbo’s

    @Shaneel- Hey Shaneel, this is definitely a chocoholics dream come true.

    @Ellie- Thanks heaps Ellie, it tasted better than it looked =D

    @Jen- LOL no tears or sweat involved Jen, I think the only time I was frustrated was my first attempt at making the caramel, where I burnt it. OOh hope you post on the outcome of your lemon meringue tarts, I’d love the recipe.

    @Trisha- My macaron making skills is still elementary at best. I think out of at least a dozen attempts, I’ve succeeded twice only.. It was fun trying though =D

    @Juno- lol thanks Juno, hehehe I should of given you some.

    @Kathleen- Thanks heaps

    @Awesome- LOL maybe you can contract me to make this cake once I’ve mastered it =p

    @J- hahahaha I already gave you a piece!!!

    @Anita- I’m sure you’ll do well. Despite being time consuming, it’s actually fun to make.

    @Iron ChefShellie- Thanks heaps, shame I don’t have a spray gun lying around. Thanks for the nomination as well.

    @Ian- hehehe maybe I can make one for your bday.

    @Leon- You’re soo strange Leon LOL, have u been drinking?

    @Con- Thanks Con, hehehe I think i’d be a nuisance inside Zumbo’s kitchen, I’ll probably ask him too many qs and annoy the crap out of him hahahaha

    @Marek- LOL Do it Marek.. and take a pic, I wanna see your attempt =D

    @Memoria- The strange thing is, I’m not a huge fan of apple in desserts, so I was quite suprised by how well everything went together. I would definitely love to see everyone’s interpretation/version of this cake for a Daring Baker’s Challenge.

    @Timbk2- Thanks Tim
    .-= linda´s last blog ..Aria Chocolate tart recipe, Masterchef =-.

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  29. idaspida says

    I promised myself I would attempt this cake for my birthday. Then I was dicouraged by some of the unusual ingredients and the vagueness of the recipe….until I saw your fabulous attempt and explanations. I have now decided to give it a go with the help of your tips and advice. If it looks anything like yours I will be very happy. THANK YOU for sharing it with us!!!

  30. Kazza says

    Thats amazing, well done linda. One day, I might pluck up the courage to make the cake, with some help.

  31. mrs.mort says

    What a great help your tips have been … alas a little late for me! Made the mistake of promising this cake if an engagement was ever forthcoming. It finally happenned and the cake promise was remembered.
    Halving the ingredients was brilliant. I was 3/4 way thru cake when daughter rang with details of your blog. Thanks for the pictures – yours looks great. Mine will be decorated differently – sticking with the engagement theme. Found the whole process straightforward if you concentrate of one process at time, have a whole day to spare and no-one underfoot! Well done Linda

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  33. juliac says

    Thanks so much for all your tips!

    I plan on making it this weekend and feel a lot more confident with all of the feedback. How long did you set the mousse for in the fridge/freezer before assembling the cake? Was 1.5 times the amount of mousse enough or do you think I should make more to be sure? Also with the caramel layer when it says to blitz it after putting in the putting did you do this in the food processor?

    Thank you! Julia

    • Hi Juliac, good luck with your cake =D I made it again last night, much easier second time round. The mousse would set over night. Making 1.5 the amount called for is adequate. When I made the caramel layer, I skipped the blitz bit and just mixed in the butter with a spatula. I made sure to cut the butter to small cubes. Just mix so it's well incorporated, tasted just as good and less mess to clean up.

      • juliac says

        Thanks Linda!
        Very admirable making it twice!
        This may be a bit daft but would storing it in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight before serving be most appropriate?

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  36. smauge says

    I am halfway through making this for my hubby’s birthday on Monday – one layer per day! I wish I’d stumbled on this two days ago and I wouldn’t have a big bowl of spare apple mix in the fridge!
    I have a question. The recipe says to freeze overnight, but I’m afraid if I don’t take it out early enough he’ll be unable to cut his frozen cake, but too early it will be a puddle. Any advice?

    • Hi Smauge,

      It will be ok, it is such a thin layer of apple mix it will deforst in time!

      Let us know how it goes, its a great cake!

      • smauge says

        Thanks Howard – so if I take it out when it’s time to serve, spray it and it should be good to go?
        It’s jaconde day today! I’m going to make the original recipe’s quantity for the mousse and hope that will be adequate.
        Funnily enough it was only upon reading the quantities on here that I realized there was a major typo in the MC cookbook version. On the caramel layer the book asks for 25g of butter instead of 125g! That would have put me in all sorts of bother!

  37. smauge says

    I did it! I didn’t find it hard at all. It’s time consuming but if you give yourself at least 3 days (I gave myself 5) you can accomplish it no worries! And the more days it’s in the fridge, the better it tastes. I wish I could taste Adriano’s just so I could know how close to the real thing I got.

  38. lorna says

    where did you get the silocone mould for the top of the cake

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