Light and fluffy chocolate cake, scattering of Frangelico candied hazelnuts and topped with silky smooth Frangelico Chocolate Mousse - heaven!
Oh my this was good! Those of you who have followed this blog for awhile might recognize some aspects of it as it is a variation on the Double Chocolate Mousse Layer Cake that I made for my son's 8th birthday. I was inspired to do 2 large layers of cake and mousse from BBC Good Food. They had this Chocolate Cherry Mousse cake as their cake of the week and it just looked too good. I love cherry flavours but my husband doesn't so I opted for his favourite flavour of hazelnut using Frangelico. He was away in London at the time and thought it would be a nice 'welcome home cake; ;-) I have made my mousse with Frangelico before with the Chocolate Frangelico Mousse Tart and knew it turns out really nice. For the cake I stuck with my standard chocolate cake recipe, it's just the traditional 'wacky cake' recipe that's out there. It has a fantastic moist yet light and fluffy texture and always turns out well.
The Frangelico candied hazelnuts were entirely my addition and creation and honestly, they make this cake. I have always loved the maple candied pecans from Veganomicon and have used them in many recipes, as well as just to snack on. I wanted to candy some hazelnuts for this cake but didn't want maple flavour here. I started to wonder if you could candy nuts with liquere but was worried there wouldn't be enough sugar in them to candy. Well, there is and they turned out beautiful! Nicely roasted then crisply coated in Frangelico but not too sweet making them a perfect addition between layers of cake and mousse. While eating this cake the best bites definitely had the nuts in them.
As for layering the nuts between the cake and mousse, this was flavour wise the best place for them as it meant you can get all three layers while eating...BUT...they do cause the mousse to seperate from the cake when serving on a plate. If you are making this for guests and are worried about that then just sprinkle the nuts over top instead. Whatever you do, do not omit those nuts! They really do bring this cake together into something very special indeed.
Now the mousse....I have made this mousse many times, in the Double Chocolate Mousse Layer cake, the Chocolate Frangelico Mousse Tart, Chocolate Mousse Dome Cake and many other times when we just wanted mousse for dessert. In all my instructions I always say to wait until the chocolate cools to room temperature before adding to the whipped soy cream or else it will seize up and you will get little flakes of chocolate in your mousse. This happened to me the first time I made this. I got cocky. I thought, "I've made this loads of times and it's never happened....." Yes, because I usually listen to my own instructions!! *Sigh* So please, do I as I say not as I do here and wait. Be patient. The chocolate must be closer in temperature to the whipped cream. I'm glad I didn't dump this and start again though as even though you could see flecks, it did not affect the taste at all, nor could you feel them while eating. I still had a perfect tasting mousse, it just didn't look as smooth as it should have. Oh, and this is proper mousse here - not pudding, it really has that moussy texture!
Chocolate Frangelico Mousse Gateau with Frangelico Candied Hazelnuts:
190g plain flour
150g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
30g cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
80ml vegetable oil
1 Tbsp vinegar
240ml cold water
Frangelico Candied Hazelnuts:
1 tsp vegetable oil
tiny pinch of salt
1 Tbsp Frangelico
Chocolate Frangelico Mousse:
300g dark chocolate
300ml soya whipping cream, chilled
4 Tbsp icing sugar
4 Tbsp Frangelico
First thing you want to do is make the candied hazelnuts, you can do this early on in the day you want the cake or the day before. First you want to skin the hazelnuts, now I always use to do this the standard way of roasting them then rubbing them between dry tea cloths to get the skin off. It never fully works and was very frustrating. I had a search online and found there is a new scientific way to skin them. It's more involved but works perfectly and I'll always skin them this way now.
Preheat the oven to 180C. In a saucepan heat up 500ml of water and 2 Tbsp baking soda until it comes to a boil then add the hazelnuts. Word of warning here, the original recipe never mentioned it but when you add the nuts the mixture really foams up!! Either use a very large pot or remove the pot from the heat when you add the nuts, preferably both. I wasn't expecting it and just managed to get the pan off the heat before there was a massive mess! Boil for 3 - 4 minutes, stirring often to ensure it doesn't bubble over.
Drain in a colander, the water will be a jet black mess and rinse under cold water, now the skins will seriously just slide off, it's brilliant! All of the skins too, not bits stuck to them like the old method.
Hazelnuts before and after peeling. I had no idea peeled hazelnuts looked so much like chickpeas!
Now pat the nuts dry between some paper towel, as best you can and spread them out on a baking sheet. Pop them in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes giving the tray a shake every 5 minutes. You want to roast out the water they absorbed and they should be ever so lightly browned.
Hazelnuts after roasting.
Now I didn't want the nuts whole in this, but not chopped fine either so I took a meat hammer (what? I have one to tenderize seitan!!) and just lightly hit each one so they were just in rough pieces like so:
However you do them, have fun smashing them!
Now they are ready to be candied. Place them all in a non stick frying pan and heat up, when they start to smell fragrant but are not browning add a tiny pinch of salt and the vegetable oil. Stir and fry for a couple minutes, when it starts to look a bit dry add the Frangelico and stir well, keep frying on low heat until the pan starts to look dry. Be careful not to burn them. Also, being the worrier I am and having a gas hob, I turned off the gas when I added the Frangelico, you know, safety first and all that! Then turned it back on to finish frying. Once they look dry-ish scrape them onto a sheet of baking paper over a cooling rack and once you can touch them start seperating them with your hands. They should sound crisp with a nice candied shell on them. Leave them to fully cool.
Finally! Frangelico Candied Hazelnuts, yummy!
Ok, now we can get on with the cake. It's very easy and the same one I use for all my chocolate cake based desserts. I used a high sided 7" cake pan here with a removable bottom. Line the bottom with baking paper and grease the sides. Preheat the oven to 180C.
In a large bowl add all the dry ingredients. In another bowl whisk together the vegetable oil, vinegar and water. Pour this into the dry and whisk until it all just comes together, do not overmix but you want it fairly smooth. Pour into the prepared pan:
and bake for about 30 - 40 minutes, it should be firm and bouncy to the touch and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. If not bake it some more, don't worry if the top starts to look overdone as you can always slice that off later.
Leave to fully cool in the pan then invert onto a cooling rack and remove the baking paper. Wash out the pan you baked the cake in as you'll be using it again.
Take the cake pan and line it fully in cling film:
Take the cake pan and line it fully in cling film:
Now take the cake and place it into the cake pan upside down, you want the smooth side up in other words, and sprinkle over the hazelnuts:
....and make sure your feet are out of the way when taking a photo!
Now you can set this aside while you make the mousse, grab your main ingredients - you remembered to chill the soya whipping cream right?
Wait, where's the chocolate?
First, chop your chocolate and place in a bowl and place over a pot of simmering water. Make sure the bowl does not touch the water. Stir until all is melted then transfer to another bowl to let cool to room temperature.
There's the chocolate! Mmmm, chocolate....
Now take another large bowl and add the chilled whipping cream, add the icing sugar and give it a really good whisk. Now like I said above, do as I say and not as I did here and wait for the chocolate to be similar in temperature to the whipping cream. They don't have to be the same but if you try and whisk in warm to hot chocolate into cold whipping cream the chocolate will seize. So wait, keep stirring the chocolate to help it cool and to keep it creamy.
Photo from my first cake when the mousse seized up - see the flecks of chocolate there? :-(
Once the chocolate is fully incorporated add the Frangelico a bit at a time whisking well after each addition. Now simply spoon this all over the cake and nuts, smooth the top and place in the fridge to fully set, at least a few hours.
After chilling and setting remove the cake by grabbing hold of the overhanging cling film and lifting it out. It helps to have another person to pull down on the cake tin here. Then simply peel down the cling film and with a large spatula carefully lift off the whole cake and place on a cake stand or serving plate.
Nutritional Information: look away now if you don't want to know the results ;-)
based on 1 serving out of 12:
Sat Fat: 6.2g
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