This chocolate and candied hazelnut mousse cake is the perfect, decadent dessert for any occasion. Plus, it’s naturally gluten-free!
Finally, it’s time for dessert! And what better dessert than this decadent chocolate and candied hazelnut mousse cake! This recipe is part of the Christmas menu I’m posting on the blog these days. Previously, I posted this turkey breast roulade stuffed with chestnuts and dried plums and wrapped with prosciutto as the main dish and some very fluffy and healthy dinner rolls with olive oil and pumpkin puree. The next post will be a feta cheese and beet tart which will give some extra color to your dinner table! And if you’re worried about candied (caramelized) hazelnuts, it goes without saying that you can make this dessert without caramelizing them. It will still be delicious!
P.S.: Would you try to pass this loaf as a Yule log?
Chocolate speaks an international language. It doesn’t need translators or laborious studying to be understood. The mere sight of a luscious, glossy and thick ganache is enough to engender shivers of anticipation and raised heartbeats. It whispers softly to the hearts of people, evoking feelings of lust and pleasure just like an old lover from the distant past. And after the first bite, the concealed (or not) smiles of contentment make it clear that it is truly the food of the gods. I urge you to also try it in its liquid form, especially now that the weather has gotten cold. So, make sure you try this thick and velvety French hot chocolate on a cozy evening 🙂
What I find great about this recipe is that you get to make your own praline!
Though it will take you some extra time… Yes, I could have used a store bought hazelnut spread, but if you read the ingredients you’ll see that the actual percentage of hazelnuts is pretty low! So I thought to myself: why not make my own hazelnut praline?
To do this, I first made some caramel by melting white sugar into a large pan and waiting for it to take an amber color. Then I added some warm hazelnuts and stirred well with a wooden spatula until completely covered with the caramel. I transferred them onto a baking paper to cool and blended them in my blender with some milk until smooth. Real hazelnut praline doesn’t contain milk, but for this occasion, milk helps the hazelnuts to blend more easily, plus the whole mixture will replace some of the cream in order to make the mousse for the cake (win-win situation!).
This dessert is constructed very easily. The only thing you have to do is to line your loaf pan with baking paper, bottom and sides. Then, you cut out two rectangles from the almond cake (it will be a little crumbly, but this is normal), fill with half of the mousse, then one layer of the cake, the rest of the mousse and the other layer of cake. My cake, as you can see, broke in several places but that’s OK! Nothing will show at the end!
- You can also make this into a round cake/torte, using an 8-inch (20cm) round spring-form pan. You’ll bake the almond cake in the pan and when cooled you’ll pour over the chocolate-hazelnut mousse in one layer. Cool in the fridge, unmold, and top with some extra hazelnuts (it will look like this mocha, caramel and peanuts mousse cake).
- I advise warming the hazelnuts in the oven before adding them to the caramel because otherwise they will cause the caramel to harden and that will only make your life more difficult!
- You can make this recipe without caramelizing the hazelnuts. It won’t be exactly the same, but it’ll still be delicious!
- I have also dusted this dessert with icing sugar and a bit of cocoa powder (no ganache used), decorated with scattered hazelnuts and star-shaped cookies and dared to present it as a contemporary Buche de Noel (also known as Yule log).
- This recipe is naturally gluten-free. However, if you eat gluten and you want to make the almond cake more budget-friendly and less fragile, then you can substitute half of the almond flour with regular flour.
- You can substitute almond (or hazelnut) meal for almond flour. In that case, the cake will have slightly coarser crumb but that’s ok.
- Lightly brush the almond cake with some brandy or cognac for an extra festive note!
- This is a great video on how to make caramel from white sugar!
I realize that this recipe has many steps, but the whole procedure is easier than it looks! Just picture it like this:
- Make the almond cake (mix everything in a bowl with a fork and bake)
- Optional: Caramelise the hazelnuts
- Make the mousse (Blend the ingredients until smooth, whip the cold cream and fold them together)
- Fill the loaf pan/mold, let it set in the fridge and then unmold.
- Make the ganache (melt everything in a saucepan or the microwaves)
- For the almond cake:
- 3/4 cups (125 grams) almond flour (or almond meal)
- 3/4 cups (100 grams) icing (confectioners) sugar
- 2 egg whites from large eggs (60 grams)
- 1/4 cups (60 grams) heavy cream, 35% fat
- 2.1 oz (60 grams) chopped dark chocolate 55% cocoa, melted and cooled
- 1 tablespoon (10 grams) cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon instant espresso granules, optional
- Pinch of salt
- For the chocolate/hazelnut mousse:
- 2 cups (300 grams) hazelnuts, roasted
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 2/3 cups (160 grams) milk, warm
- 1/2 cup (120 grams) heavy cream 35% fat, warm
- 10.6 oz (300 grams) chopped dark chocolate, 55% cocoa
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon icing sugar
- 1 1/4 cups (300 grams) very cold cream 35% fat
- 2-3 tablespoons brandy or cognac for brushing the almond cake, optional
- For the ganache:
- 4.2 oz (120 grams) chopped chocolate, 55% cocoa
- 1/2 cup (120 grams) heavy cream, 35% fat
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a pan with baking paper.
- Make the cake: Transfer all the ingredients for the almond cake in a bowl and mix well with a fork. Pour the mixture onto the pan and spread it with a spatula to form a 10x8 inch ( 25x12 cm) rectangle. Bake for 17-20 minutes.
- Caramelize the hazelnuts: Put a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium/high heat and pour over the sugar. In the meantime, warm the hazelnuts in the oven for 5 minutes (this will also freshen up their aroma). When the sugar starts to melt, shake gently the saucepan to help the procedure. You can stir it with a wooden spatula, only after most of the sugar is melted. Stir until amber in color. Add the hazelnuts to the caramel and stir gently to cover completely. Transfer the candied hazelnuts to a pan lined with baking paper and let them cool for 3-5 minutes. Be careful because caramel is extra hot!
- Make the mousse: Reserve 1 cup of the candied hazelnuts and transfer the rest to a blender. Warm the milk and the cream in a saucepan (or microwaves) until hot to the touch but not boiling, and add them to the blender (you want it warm enough to melt the chocolate, but not hot because it may cause the lid to open). Also add the vanilla, honey, salt, and chopped chocolate and blend until smooth. Let it cool.
- Whip the cold cream with the one tablespoon icing sugar in a bowl until soft peaks form. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and fold gently with a spatula (at this stage you can crash some of the reserved candied hazelnuts and add them to the mousse for extra texture).
- Assemble the cake: Line the bottom and sides of a 10x4 inch loaf pan with baking paper. Pour half of the chocolate/hazelnut mousse into the pan. Using a sharp knife, cut a strip of almond cake just a little smaller than the dimensions of the loaf pan (you don’t need to be very precise). Place the almond cake strip on top of the mousse and (optionally) brush with some brandy. Pour the rest of the mousse into the pan and top with another strip of almond cake. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.
- Make the ganache: In a saucepan over gentle heat (or in the microwaves) melt the chopped chocolate with the cream and the honey. Set aside until cooled but still pourable.
- Invert the cake onto a serving plate and peel off the baking paper. Pour the ganache over the cake. Roughly chop the reserved hazelnuts and sprinkle over the ganache.
You can skip the step of caramelizing the hazelnuts and use them as-is.
For best results, use finely ground almond flour. If you can't find almond flour, make your own by processing raw almonds in the food processor until very finely ground. Stop when you notice they just start to become pasty.
You can also make this into a round cake/torte, using an 8-inch (20cm) round spring-form pan. You’ll bake the almond cake in the pan and when cooled you’ll just pour over the chocolate-hazelnut mousse in one layer. Cool in the fridge, unmold, and top with some extra hazelnuts.
Prep time doesn't include refrigeration time.