In our family we always celebrate birthdays with a homemade cake. The choice of cake is always at the discretion of the birthday boy or girl. Needless to say over the years I have made all manner of cakes – traditional sponge cakes, chocolate cakes, tiramisu, cheesecake, pavlova, croquembouche and once a very memorable ice cream cake moulded in the shape of a ballet shoe. This week it was my husband’s turn. His request? Chocolate Mousse Torte or Black Forest Cake. Here’s my hybrid version. Layer upon layer of chocolate decadence studded with candied morello cherries and hazelnut praline. A wicked indulgence. This one truly is for serious chocoholics.
For such a rich, decadent cake it has an incredibly light texture. But don’t be deceived. A little sliver goes a long, long way. Consisting of four delicious components; a flourless chocolate hazelnut cake, a chocolate mousse, candied cherries and hazelnut praline, this torte also happens to be gluten free. Always a bonus when catering for a group of party guests. The beauty of this recipe is that it is infinitely adaptable. The cake layer is delicious on its own, as is the mousse. Together they really are sublime. The hazelnut praline and candied cherries add interest and crunch. Any leftovers are eagerly anticipated as add ins for lavish ice-cream sundaes. When all is said and done this torte is definitely not for the faint-hearted. A wicked indulgence. Much appreciated by the birthday boy..
Chocolate Mousse Torte with Candied Morello Cherries and Hazelnut Praline
For the Chocolate Kahlua Hazelnut Cake Layer
100 g unsalted butter, coarsely chopped.
2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa, plus extra for dusting.
280 g dark chocolate (70% cacao), coarsely chopped.
50 ml Kahlua liqueur
6 eggs, separated.
3/4 cup (175 g) sugar
100 g hazelnuts, roasted, peeled and finely chopped.
PREHEAT oven to 190 C.
BUTTER a 25cm diameter cake spring form cake tin and dust with cocoa.
MELT chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, stir through kahlua, cocoa and egg yolks.
WHISK egg whites and sugar until soft peaks form and fold with hazelnuts into chocolate mixture.
POUR into the prepared cake tin and bake until cake rises and top cracks (20 – 30 minutes).
COOL in tin, gently pressing down on the top of the cake so it falls back evenly. Set aside.
For the Chocolate Mousse Layer
300g dark chocolate, chopped
3 egg yolks
300ml thickened cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
MELT the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
WHISK the egg yolks in a separate bowl.
HEAT 250ml of the cream in a small saucepan over low heat. reserving the remainder of the cream for whipping.
ADD half of the hot cream into the egg yolks. Stir gently to combine then pour the mixture into the saucepan containing the remaining hot cream.
STIR over low heat until the custard begins to thicken. To test dip a spoon into the mixture and using your finger draw a line on the back of the spoon through the coating. If the line holds its shape the custard is cooked.
REMOVE from heat. Add the melted chocolate and vanilla. Stir well to combine. Allow to cool.
MEANWHILE whisk the reserved cream until soft peaks form. Fold through the cooled chocolate custard. Set aside.
For the Hazelnut Praline
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted lightly and skinned
LINE an oven tray with baking paper.
PLACE sugar in a dry heavy-based saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until melted.
ONCE melted, cook without stirring, swirling pan, until lightly golden. Add hazelnuts, stirring until well coated. Immediately pour mixture onto the oven tray and cool completely.
BREAK praline into pieces. Place half the praline into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Set aside.
COARSELY chop the remaining praline with a knife or mezzaluna. Set aside.
For the Candied Cherries
1 x 640g jar Morello cherries, drained
¼ cup caster sugar
PREHEAT oven to 150 C.
PLACE cherries on a baking paper lined oven tray.
LIGHTLY dust with sugar and bake in the oven for an hour.
REMOVE and cool. Set aside.
To Assemble The Torte
REMOVE the cake from the tin. Line the sides of the tin with baking paper so that paper extends 2 cm over the top of the tin.
RETURN cake to the tin. This is the base layer of the torte.
ARRANGE semi dried cherries evenly over the top of the cake layer. Then scatter the coarsely chopped hazelnut praline over the cherries.
POUR the chocolate mousse evenly over the cherries and praline.
COVER with cling wrap and leave to set in the fridge for at least 8 hours. Overnight is best.
NEXT day remove the torte from the tin. Press the finely chopped praline onto the sides of the cake. Refrigerate until required, allowing the cake to stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving.