Learn how to make this decadent cake featuring light and airy chocolate cake layers, a nutty chocolate ganache and luxuriously silky praline mousse. Perfect for birthdays and celebrations!
We recently had two occasions to celebrate so I HAD to make a cake! Not that I need a reason to eat cake but celebrations are always so exciting. Last week was my husband’s birthday and it has recently become a ritual in our home for me to bake a cake for special occasions. Also, yesterday was British Columbia Day and we had a long weekend here. Long weekends are perfect excuses for indulging in such treats.
I have to admit that I have a fear of layered cakes. I don’t have as much experience with complex cake recipes involving multiple layers. When I’m baking for special occasions there’s always that fear that the cake will end up being a total disaster and totally ruin the celebratory mood. Thankfully, this one was a total success.
This gorgeous cake has beautifully airy chocolate cake layers, a hazelnut ganache and praline mousse to finish it off. This has been one of the best cakes I’ve ever baked. You have to taste that praline mousse to believe it. It is light but so rich and indulgent with nuttiness from the hazelnuts. It might seem like a really lengthy recipe but there are essentially only three components- the cake, nut ganache and praline mousse. I find that the best way to make this cake is by dividing up the work between two days. On day 1 I made the praline mousse and nut ganache. On day 2 I made the cake and assembled it.
There are two options with this cake. You can either make a four layered cake with this recipe or opt for two cakes instead with two layers each. I went with the second option because I had to send off one cake to my husband’s office and keep the other one at home for us.
Judging by the all the compliments this cake received, this one is a winner and I’m definitely baking this one again sometime soon!
Chocolate Hazelnut Praline Cake
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups toasted hazelnuts
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup toasted and ground hazelnuts
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 3 tbsp white granulated sugar
- 3/4 cups room temperature unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups chilled whipping cream
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips I used Ghirardelli
- 1 cup praline paste
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup room temperature unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 cups brewed coffee
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder unsweetened
- 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- A pinch of salt
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment and keep aside.
- Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and place it over medium heat. Stir occasionally just until melted and then allow to cook undisturbed for 6-8 minutes until the mixture turns amber in color.
- Take it off the heat and mix in the toasted hazelnuts. Transfer to the parchment lined baking sheet and spread it out. Allow to cool completely.
- Once cool, break up the praline into smaller pieces. Process the praline with the oil in a food processor until it turns into a smooth paste.
- In a saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat just until it reaches boiling point. Transfer the ground hazelnuts and hot cream to a blender and puree until smooth.
- Allow to cool completely.
- With the blender running, add the butter little by little and puree until smooth.
- Cover and chill in the refrigerator if making in advance. Before using the ganache, allow it come to room temperature.
- In a large bowl mix the butter, praline paste and chocolate chips.
- In a saucepan bring 1/2 cup cream to the boiling point and then pour over the praline paste and chocolate mixture. Stir everything until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.
- In another bowl, whip the remaining 1 cup chilled whipping cream with an electric mixture until it reaches soft peaks.
- Gently fold the whipped cream into the praline and chocolate mixture so that the mousse is light and airy.
- Cover and chill in the refrigerator if making in advance.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 9 inch cake pans with parchment paper and butter the sides and parchment generously.
- Mix chocolate chips, cocoa powder and 1 cup of the brewed coffee in a bowl and heat over a double boiler. Stir until the mixture is completely smooth and has no lumps. Set aside and allow to cool.
- In another bowl add the butter, oil and sugar and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy and light. Add the eggs one by one and mix until well incorporated.
- Next, add the vanilla and milk and mix well again. Fold in the melted chocolate mixture until incorporated.
- Add the salt, flour, baking soda and baking powder and mix until the flour is thoroughly combined and the cake batter is smooth.
- Divide the cake batter equally between the two cake pans and smooth out the top. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Transfer the baked cakes on a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, wrap in cling film and place in the refrigerator for an hour.
- Remove the cakes from the refrigerator and slice the cakes into half using a long serrated knives so you'll have four even cake layers.
- Place the first layer over your serving platter and brush generously with the brewed coffee (remaining 1 cup brewed coffee) to moisten it.
- Spread a thin layer of nut ganache evenly over the cake and refrigerate for half an hour.
- Remove the cake layer from the refrigerator and spread the praline mousse over top.
- Place the second cake layer of top and brush the brewed coffee. Spread the nut ganache and refrigerate. Spread the second layer with praline mousse.
- Repeat the same process with the remaining cake layers and refrigerate for a couple of hours until set.
- Garnish the top with toasted hazelnuts if desired.