Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake ~ a light, fluffy chocolate mousse is spread over a chocolate hazelnut shortbread crust. Before serving, the cake is topped with a simple bittersweet chocolate ganache and garnished with chopped toasted hazelnuts.
At first glance, you might think this Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake looks over-the-top decadent and would be much too rich for a non-chocolate lover. But that is not at all the case! The mousse has a light airy texture and very little added sugar (only 3 tablespoons!) The combination of mascarpone cheese and Nutella give the mousse filling a not-too-sweet, memorable flavor with hints of toasted hazelnut.
I always save a piece or two of everything I make, for my husband to try. I’m a self-proclaimed chocoholic so a cake with three layers of chocolate makes me giddy with anticipation. Him, not so much, so I was ready to give the whole mousse cake to our fabulous taste-testers when he said it looked so good he had to try it, and he loved it! He proclaimed it “fantastic.” Go figure!
Looking for that something special for a Valentine’s Day treat? This just might be the right dessert for you. Chocolate is always a great choice for lovers. When served with fresh strawberries, this Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake can’t be beat. If you ask me, fresh fruit and chocolate are “MFEO” … Made For Each Other!
The light and smooth texture of the mousse is stabilized with unflavored gelatin but that doesn’t mean it’s rubbery like Jell-O. This recipe is surprisingly easy to whip up making this a must-try treat for your next gathering or celebration. The shortbread base and chocolate mousse can be made and assembled up to two days in advance. Top the cake with the ganache a few hours before serving and you’re ready! Be sure to purchase skinned hazelnuts from the bulk bins in your local store and save yourself some prep time in the kitchen.
Remember, you don’t have to be a chocoholic to love this Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake. It’s melt-in-your-mouth delicious and everybody will think you fussed in the kitchen for hours 🙂
Yield: 10 servings
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake
For the shortbread crust:
- 1/4 cup hazelnuts, skins rubbed off - about 34 hazelnuts
- 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
- pinch of salt
For the mousse:
- 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
- 3 tablespoons cold water
- 1/2 cup Nutella Hazelnut Spread
- 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder
- 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
For the ganache:
- 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/4 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts for garnish
To make the shortbread crust:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Invert the bottom of the springform pan (to make it easier to slide the shortbread base off the bottom) then lock on the sides of the pan. Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.
- Place the hazelnuts and granulated sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the nuts are finely chopped. Add the flour, butter, cocoa and salt and pulse to form a cohesive dough.
- Press the dough evenly onto the bottom of the prepared springform pan. Using a fork, prick the base all over and then bake just until it is just dry to the touch, about 18 to 20 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Remove the sides of the pan and carefully remove the parchment from under the shortbread. Reattach the sides of the pan around the shortbread base. Set aside.
While the crust is baking and cooling, prepare the mousse:
- Place the water in a small, heavy-bottom saucepan then sprinkle with the gelatin. Set aside until the gelatin is softened, about 5 minutes. Heat the softened gelatin over low heat and stir just until melted. Add the chocolate hazelnut spread and espresso powder and whisk until combined. Remove the pan from the heat source and transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add the mascarpone cheese and vanilla to the hazelnut mixture and whisk until combined.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder and 3 tablespoons sugar on low speed just until combined. Increase speed to high and beat until the cream holds soft peaks. Whisk one third of the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining whipped cream until blended. Spoon the filling into the springform pan on top of the shortbread crust. Using an offset spatula, smooth the top, cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
To prepare the ganache:
- In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat source and add the chopped bittersweet chocolate. Allow the mixture to set for 2-3 minutes, then lightly whisk until the chocolate is completely melted. Set aside to cool until cooled, but still pourable and slightly thickened.
- To assemble, run a thin warm knife around the inside of the springform pan. Remove the sides and carefully slide the cake onto a serving plate or cake stand. Pour the ganache onto the top of the cake and gently spread it to the edges, allowing a little ganache to drip decoratively down the sides. Garnish with chopped hazelnuts if desired.
- The covered cake can be refrigerated for up to 2 days before adding the ganache glaze.
- To cut the cake, warm a large, thin knife under hot running water. Dry the knife then gently cut each piece, wiping the knife clean between cuts.
- You will need an 8" springform pan to prepare this recipe.
- The total time does not include refrigeration.
Here are a few more chocolate recipes you might enjoy:
- Heart Shaped Chocolate Cakes – Saving Room for Dessert
- Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart – from Home Cooking Adventure
- The Most Amazing Chocolate Cake – from The Stay at Home Chef
- Chocolate Cream Cheese Mousse – from Recipe Girl