Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My favorite combination

You might recall that I have a slightly unhealthy obsession with Nutella, that smooth and creamy chocolate hazelnut spread that is perfect on bread, crackers, fruit, spoons, right out of the jar--you name it and it makes anything better. As of late, I have been on a kick to recreate the deliciousness of Nutella in other forms, a.k.a. the intense chocolate hazelnut flavors of this spread in cakes, ice cream, tortes, etc. I recently made a hazelnut torte with chocolate ganache glaze and it was good, don't get me wrong, but i did not think the combination was quite right.

So, I found this recipe and decided to give it a whirl. Again, I'm not totally pleased with the intensity of hazelnut--it is a bit more chocolate heavy, but who can really complain about that? The crust is one of my favorite parts because it is slightly salty and has a nice crumb--I think it would be perfect for many different kinds of cakes or even by itself as a shortbread cookie. This is also a good summer dessert because it requires very little baking, only the crust needs to cook for about fifteen minutes.

Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake
from Gourmet

Shortbread base:
2 T. hazelnuts, toasted and skins rubbed off
3 T. sugar
1/2 c. flour
1/2 stick butter, softened
2 T. cocoa powder
1/8 t. salt

Mousse Filling:
1 t. unflavored gelatin
3 T. cold water
1/2 c. chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella)
1/2 c. mascarpone
1 1/2 c. chilled heavy cream
2 T. cocoa powder
3 T. sugar

1/4 c. plus 1 T. heavy cream
3 1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

8 in. springform pan

To prepare:

-combine hazelnuts and sugar in a food processor, pulse until nuts are finely chopped. Add the flour, butter, cocoa powder and salt until a dough forms. Line your springform pan with parchment paper and press the dough into the bottom. Bake at 350 until the dough is dry to touch, approx. 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool, in the pan, on a wire rack until completely cool, approx. 30 minutes. When cool, remove the rim of the pan and carefully discard the parchment paper. Put the rim of the pan back in place and lock

-Sprinkle gelatin over the water in a pot and allow to soften, about two minutes. Heat over low heat until gelatin melts, stirring about five minutes. Whisk in the nutella spread and remove from heat. Whisk together the nutella/gelatin mixture and the mascarpone in a large bowl.

-In a separate bowl, beat together the cream, sugar and cocoa powder until soft peaks just form. Whisk 1/3 of this into the nutella mixture and then fold the remaining whipped cream into the nutella until combined. Pour the mousse into the prepared pan and spread the top evenly. Chill in the refrigerator for at least three hours.

-For the ganache, bring the cream to a simmer in a pot and remove from heat. Add the chocolate and let it stand for 1 minute then whisk until combined and smooth. Transfer the ganache to a small bowl and cool for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it is thick, but still pourable. 

-Run a warm knife around the edge of the pan and remove cake from the pan. Pour the ganache over the top. Cake with the ganache can be chilled for up to six hours before serving. Cake without the ganache can be chilled for up to two days.

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