'The Bear' Chocolate Cake


The famous chocolate cake from the television show The Bear features an airy chocolate mousse layered between a fudgy chocolate cake and topped with a rich chocolate frosting.

The Bear Chocolate Cake

Christopher Testani / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

Active Time:
1 hrs 25 mins
Chill Time:
8 hrs
Total Time:
11 hrs 55 mins
12 to 14 servings

Made famous by The Bear, this layered chocolate cake has become an object of obsession, with fans rushing to replicate the recipe or seek out a slice for themselves. In The Bear, the chocolate cake is the creation of aspiring pastry chef Marcus (portrayed by Lionel Boyce), but in real life, it’s the creation of the show’s pastry consultant, chef Sarah Mispagel-Lustbader. The co-owner of Chicago’s Loaf Lounge, Mispagel-Lustbader shared the recipe (and the story of how it was invented) for the first time with Food & Wine. 

Though made famous by the show, the chocolate cake is a star in its own right, and won over our recipe testers and editors with its airy chocolate mousse interior, cocoa-forward frosting, and moist layers of rich and fudgy chocolate cake. 

Our testers note that when whipping egg whites, it’s important to use a very clean bowl and whisk attachment free of any residue to ensure stiff peaks will form. This recipe has several components, but all three elements can be made in advance and assembled the day of your celebration or gathering.

The Bear Chocolate Cake

Christopher Testani / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Christina Daley


Chocolate Mousse

  • 8 ounces 64% cacao dark chocolate (such as Valrhona Taïnori 64%), finely chopped (about 1 1/3 cups plus 4 teaspoons) 

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 10 large egg yolks, at room temperature 

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided

  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Cake Layers

  • Baking spray with flour

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (about 10 5/8 ounces)

  • 1 ¼ cups unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (such as Valrhona) (about 4 3/8 ounces)

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature 

  • 3 cups granulated sugar

  • 1 1/4 cups brewed coffee, at room temperature

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (6 ounces), melted

  • 1 ½ cups crème fraîche (about 12 ounces), at room temperature 


  • 6 cups powdered sugar (about 24 ounces)

  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (such as Valrhona) (about 4 7/8 ounces)

  • 2 ¼ cups unsalted butter (18 ounces), softened

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Make the chocolate mousse

  1. Bring 1 inch of water to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low. Place a medium-size heatproof bowl over pan, and add chopped chocolate and butter. (Make sure bottom of bowl does not touch water.) Cook, stirring occasionally and adjusting heat as needed to maintain a simmer, until mixture is smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove chocolate mixture from heat; let cool, uncovered, at room temperature until just warm to the touch, about 10 minutes. Keep water simmering in saucepan over medium-low.

  2. Meanwhile, whisk together egg yolks and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar in bowl of a stand mixer. Place bowl over saucepan of simmering water, whisking constantly, until mixture registers 160°F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove bowl from heat; transfer to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until mixture is very pale yellow in color and at least tripled in volume, about 5 minutes. Fold egg yolk mixture into cooled chocolate mixture.

  3. In clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (see note), beat egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy, about 15 seconds. Gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar in a slow, steady stream, beating on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Using an electric mixer or whisk, beat cream in a separate medium bowl until medium peaks form.

  4. Fold egg white mixture into chocolate mixture in three additions. Fold in whipped cream just until mixture is combined and no dark or white streaks remain. Cover and chill at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.

Make the cake layers

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with baking spray; line bottoms with parchment paper. Lightly spray parchment with baking spray.

  2. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder in a large bowl; whisk in salt until combined. Set aside. Beat eggs with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until light and foamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add granulated sugar; beat on medium-high speed until very pale and voluminous, about 5 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. (Mixture should fall off whisk attachment in ribbons and remain suspended briefly on the surface before sinking back into the batter.) With mixer running on low speed, add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with coffee and melted butter, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat until nearly combined, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Add crème fraîche; beat on low speed just until combined, about 30 seconds, folding by hand toward end if needed. (Batter may look slightly broken but will bake just fine.)

  3. Divide batter evenly among prepared baking pans (about 3 cups per pan); tap baking pans a few times on work surface to evenly spread batter and eliminate any air bubbles. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cake layers cool in baking pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove cakes from baking pans, and let cool completely, parchment side down, on racks, 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Make the icing

  1. Sift together powdered sugar and cocoa in a medium bowl. Set aside. Beat butter with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add powdered sugar mixture, beating on low speed just until combined, about 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Increase mixer speed to medium, and beat until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually add cream and vanilla, beating on medium-low speed until combined and stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Spoon 1 cup icing into a piping bag or ziplock plastic bag; cut a 1/2- to 3/4-inch hole in corner. Leave remaining icing in bowl.

Assemble the cake

  1. Trim cakes flat using a cake leveler or serrated knife, if necessary; discard parchment. Place 1 cake layer on a cardboard cake round or plate. Pipe a 1/2-inch-tall border of icing around edge of first cake layer. Spoon half of chocolate mousse (about 2 cups) onto center of cake, and spread evenly within border using a small offset spatula. Top with second cake layer, cut side down, and repeat process with remaining chocolate mousse. Top with third cake layer, cut side down. Spread remaining icing over top and sides of cake. Chill until set, about 15 minutes.

To make ahead

Cooled cake layers can be made up to 1 day in advance. Wrap layers in plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Frosting can be stored in an airtight container in refrigerator 1 day ahead; bring to room temperature before assembling cake.

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