I have made hundreds of these Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Torte desserts for parties. And at Levana Restaurant, we were never one day without chocolate hazelnut mousse torte. A few years ago, a couple whose wedding I was catering wanted this very cake, but luxuriously decorated to their specifications on their wedding day (don’t worry, the above picture is not the wedding cake!). I remember we helped the cake stylist they hired set up his counter, his tools and a few sheets of the cake in the humongous walk-in refrigerator in Bridgewater’s, where the wedding was taking place. It was a sweltering Sunday in July, and the heat in the kitchen was near volcanic, but the poor pastry chef looked half frozen when he resurfaced after about six hours of intense decorating! Needless to say, his – our – cake was a masterpiece!
You will find both the chocolate and hazelnut mousse quite versatile even by themselves. Pour either into individual parfait glasses and refrigerate until set, then if desired top with chopped toasted nuts or granola, or use a dollop on chocolate or almond cake as a garnish instead of whipped cream or ice cream. Bolder yet, spread a little of either mousse as a filling between layers of cake.
This whole cake contains only two eggs – and even they can be easily replaced with flax mixture below – and makes 20 generous servings. Attention all vegan and egg-eating friends alike: This may well become the party cake of your dreams!
Chocolate cake layer:
This layer is so delicious you might decide to make a cake out of it and nothing more, and call it a day!
- 1 ½ cups flour, all purpose, whole wheat pastry or spelt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- pinch salt
- 2/3 best quality cocoa powder
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 ½ tablespoons instant espresso powder
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 2 eggs (egg-restricted: substitute 1/2 cup warm water mixed with 2 tablespoons flax meal)
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 2/3 cup oil
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa in a bowl, and set aside. Mix hot water with coffee, brandy and vanilla in another bowl, and set aside. In a food processor, beat eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Add oil and beat. Add flour mixture to the egg mixture alternately with the hot water mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating each time only until incorporated, a few seconds. Pour batter into a greased 10” round springform pan. Bake 1 hour or until knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool.
Chocolate mousse layer
Ridiculously simple and incredibly delicious: I whip it up in minutes. Vegan diners will love it! Who would believe it has no eggs and no cream and tastes so rich? No trace of the tofu’s controversial flavor, it’s all eclipsed by the other wonderful flavors! Tofu contributes only its bulk and great texture.
- 1 cup semisweet real chocolate chips, only the best
- 2 tablespoons instant coffee powder, decaf OK
- ¼ cup hot water
- ⅔ cup pure cocoa powder
- ⅔ cup sugar
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons brandy or rum
- 1 pound silken tofu, drained
In a small saucepan, over a very low flame, heat all but last ingredient until the chocolate is melted and the mixture looks smooth (or microwave 2 minutes). Transfer the mixture to a food processor, add the tofu, and process a full minute until perfectly smooth. Transfer to a bowl or to small individual cups. Chill until firm.
Hazelnut mousse layer:
Vegan without even trying! Hazelnut butter is heavenly but can be hard to find (although I always find it online). In this case, just use 3 cups toasted hazelnuts and grind them to a paste, then use 1 cup of that mixture as the hazelnut butter listed in the recipe, storing the rest in a glass jar for future use.
This is even simpler than the chocolate mousse above. Please do look for superfine sugar in your supermarket, at its very fine texture will blend with the other ingredients without any gritty texture.
- 1 cup hazelnut butter
- 1 cup superfine sugar
- 1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained and blotted dry with paper towels
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process a full minute until perfectly smooth. Transfer to a bowl or to small individual cups. Chill until firm.
Cake assembly: Spread the chilled hazelnut mousse evenly on top of the chocolate layer. Gently and evenly spread the chocolate mousse over the hazelnut layer. Dust with cocoa powder before serving.