Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake

Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake Recipe

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When I first discovered this Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake recipe, it brought back fond memories of a family vacation in Italy. We spent our afternoons exploring quaint cafes, savoring rich pastries, and indulging in the finest chocolate treats. The blend of chocolate and hazelnut in this cake takes me right back to those cozy cafes in the heart of Rome. I remember sharing a similar dessert with my sister, laughing over cups of espresso, and deciding that we simply had to recreate that experience at home.

This cake is a delightful treat that perfectly balances the flavors of creamy Nutella, rich cocoa, and crunchy hazelnuts. The shortbread crust adds a wonderful texture that complements the smoothness of the mousse and the ganache. It’s a dessert that feels luxurious yet is surprisingly simple to make.

One variation I love is adding a hint of orange zest to the mousse. The citrus notes brighten up the rich flavors and add a refreshing twist. You could also sprinkle a bit of sea salt on top of the ganache for a sophisticated touch. If you’re feeling adventurous, try using different nuts in the crust, such as almonds or pecans, for a unique flavor profile. This recipe is versatile enough to accommodate various tweaks while maintaining its decadent charm.

Whether you’re looking to impress guests at a dinner party or simply want to treat yourself to a special dessert, this Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake is sure to delight. It’s a slice of my Italian memories that I’m thrilled to share with you.

How to Make Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake


  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts, skins removed (about 34)
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/4 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (Dutch-process)
  • 1 teaspoon plain gelatin
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/2 cup Nutella spread
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts (for garnish)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Invert the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan and lock the sides. Line with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, blend hazelnuts and sugar until fine. Add flour, butter, cocoa, and salt; pulse to form dough.
  3. Press dough into the pan, prick with a fork, and bake for 18-20 minutes. Cool completely. Remove sides and parchment, then reassemble the pan.
  4. Soften gelatin in water for 5 minutes in a saucepan. Heat to melt, then whisk in Nutella and espresso powder. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in mascarpone and vanilla until smooth.
  5. In a mixer, beat cream, cocoa, and sugar on low until mixed. Increase to high until soft peaks form. Mix one-third into the mascarpone, then fold in the rest. Spread over the crust and chill for at least 3 hours.
  6. Heat cream in a saucepan until simmering. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Let sit for 2-3 minutes, then whisk smooth. Cool until slightly thickened.
  7. Remove cake sides with a warm knife. Transfer cake to a plate, pour ganache over, and garnish with hazelnuts. Serve.

How to Make Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake (2)


Can I use a different type of nut for the shortbread crust?

Yes, you can substitute the hazelnuts with almonds, walnuts, or pecans. However, the flavor profile will change slightly depending on the nut you choose.

Is it possible to make the mousse without gelatin?

Yes, you can omit the gelatin, but the mousse may be less stable. Alternatively, you could use agar-agar as a vegetarian substitute, following the package instructions for amounts and preparation.

How long can I store the chocolate hazelnut mousse cake?

You can store the cake in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Ensure it is covered tightly with plastic wrap or stored in an airtight container to maintain its freshness.

What can I use instead of Nutella Hazelnut Spread?

If you don’t have Nutella, you can use any chocolate hazelnut spread available, or even make your own by blending melted chocolate with hazelnut butter and a bit of sweetener.

Can I prepare the mousse cake in advance?

Absolutely! You can prepare the cake a day in advance and store it in the refrigerator. This can actually help the flavors meld together better. Just add the ganache and garnishes right before serving.

What if I don’t have a springform pan?

If you don’t have a springform pan, you can use a regular cake pan lined with parchment paper, making sure to leave extra parchment hanging over the sides to lift the cake out easily once it’s set.

Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake Recipe

Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake

This Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake combines a crunchy shortbread base, smooth Nutella mousse, and a luscious ganache topping. A showstopper dessert!


For the Shortbread Crust:

  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts skins rubbed off, about 34 hazelnuts
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unbleached 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
  • 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 cream
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped
  • 1/4 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts for garnish


To make the shortbread crust:

  • Preheat your oven to 350℉. Invert the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan (to make it easier to slide the shortbread base off later) and lock on the sides. Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.
  • In a food processor, pulse the hazelnuts and granulated sugar until the nuts are finely chopped. Add the flour, butter, cocoa, and salt, then pulse until a cohesive dough forms.
  • Press the dough evenly onto the bottom of the prepared springform pan. Prick the base all over with a fork and bake until just dry to the touch, about 18-20 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 saucepan and sprinkle with the gelatin. Let it sit until softened, about 5 minutes. Heat the softened gelatin over low heat and stir until melted. Add the chocolate hazelnut spread and espresso powder, whisking until combined. Remove from heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the mascarpone cheese and vanilla extract, whisking until smooth.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat together 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, and 3 tablespoons sugar on low speed 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. Fold in the remaining whipped cream with a rubber spatula until blended. Spoon the filling into the springform pan on top of the shortbread crust. Smooth the top with an offset spatula, cover, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

To prepare the ganache:

  • In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and add the chopped bittersweet chocolate. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes, then whisk until the chocolate is completely melted. Set aside to cool until slightly thickened but still pourable.
  • 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 over the top of the cake, spreading it to the edges and allowing a little to drip down the sides decoratively. Garnish with chopped hazelnuts if desired.

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