It was fun to share this elegant sponge cake featuring layers of creamy pumpkin mousse with my best friend and still be able to walk away (instead of stagger away for a post-food coma nap).
Hidden in the middle of my favorite baking book is a beautiful photo of a slice of golden layered cake. It draws my attention every time I peruse The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book. The recipe begins with “makes 10-12 servings.” As lovely as the image of that pumpkin mousse cake is, those words are where I stop reading and turn the page. But recently, I thought to myself that there has to be a way to scale this recipe down to create an intimate dessert for two. I thought my skills were up for the challenge.
The recipe lost nothing in pairing it down; the flavor is wonderful. My 6-inch springform helped turn out a decidedly cute cake, the perfect finale to our Thanksgiving meal for two. The mousse part of the recipe will make an extra cup, which we kept in two half-cup canning jars as a dessert for the next day.
Pumpkin Mousse Cake for Two
Ingredients for the Cake
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
Directions for the Cake
- Preheat an oven to 375°F. Line the bottom of a 6-inch round springform pan with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the egg and sugar by hand until combined. Place the bowl over but not touching simmering water in a saucepan and gently whisk until the mixture registers 140°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 3 minutes. Put the bowl on the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high speed until the mixture is pale and almost tripled in volume, 5 to 8 minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer. Sift 2 tablespoons of the flour over the egg mixture in two additions and carefully fold in with a large rubber spatula. Fold the third tablespoon of the flour into the melted butter, then fold back into the egg mixture.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until the top is browned, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Run a table knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a work surface. Turn the cake right side up.
Ingredients for Pumpkin Mousse
- 1 1/4 tsp. (1/2 envelope) unflavored gelatin
- 1 tbsp cold water
- 1 cup canned pumpkin purée
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- tiny pinch salt
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tbsp good quality bourbon
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
Directions for the Mousse and Assembling the Cake
- Cut the cake into 2 equal layers.
- In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water, stir and let soften until opaque, about 3 minutes.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, combine about 1/2 cup of the pumpkin purée, the granulated sugar and salt. Then heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.
- Stir in the softened gelatin and let cool to room temperature.
- In a bowl, stir the pumpkin mixture into the remaining pumpkin purée. Whisk in the cinnamon, nutmeg and bourbon.
- Using a stand mixer, whip the whipping cream to soft peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold one-third of the whipped cream into the purée, then fold in the remaining whipped cream, making a mousse.
- Peel off the parchment paper from the bottom cake layer.
- Put the layer, cut side up, into the bottom of a 6-inch round springform pan.
- Spread half of the mousse evenly over the cake. Trim 1/2 inch from the outside edge of the remaining layer. Center it, cut side down, on top of the mousse. Top with the additional mousse, pushing it between the cake and the pan and smoothing the top. Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
- Divide the remaining mousse into two containers and store, covered, in the refrigerator.
- To remove, run a small knife around the inside of the pan. Open the springform and remove the pan sides.
- Cut into two pieces and serve.