Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse

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This is a recipe from the kitchen of Justin Scott. I visited Justin a few years ago in Columbia Missouri during a business trip to the area. He introduced me to one of his famous Cake and a Movie nights.

The cake he made was his version of a Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake. Just imagine a velvety smooth and light chocolate-hazelnut cheesecake with a bittersweet chocolate ganache and a crown of fresh Florida strawberries on top. It was to die for! Here’s what Justin had to say about it.

This is my version of the popular Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake from Gourmet magazine, February 2006. I like a thicker, richer mousse filling and a sturdier, easy-to-cut-through crust. I paired it with the movie, Ghost Town. It was an awesome movie and the first feature film for Cake and a Movie night. I garnished the mousse with fresh, thinly sliced Florida strawberries. I must say it was beautifully decadent

I loved this cake from the first bite and I think you will too. The fresh Florida strawberries brought a beautiful, bright and delicious natural sweetness to the dark chocolate ganache topping on the cake. If you have an 8-inch spring-form pan and a roll of parchment paper, you’re in business.

Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake
Shortbread base:
  • 4 tbsp hazelnuts
  • 6 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the spring-form pan leaving a 1″ tab.  Close spring-form with tab going through the bottom of the pan.  Coat the pan with baker’s non-stick spray.

Bake hazelnuts in preheated oven  in a small oven-safe pan for about 10 minutes.  Remove hazelnuts and wrap in a towel.  Let sit for two minutes. Massage the towel to remove the skins from the toasted hazelnuts.  Not all of the skin will come off.

Using a food processor, pulse hazelnuts with sugar until hazelnuts are finely chopped. Add flour, butter, cocoa, and salt and pulse until a dough forms.

Remove from processor and with your fingers, press dough evenly onto the bottom of the spring-form pan. Bake crust for 15-20 minutes, until edges are dry and the center still slightly moist. Remove from oven.  Cool for about 30 minutes.


  • 1/4-oz envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 6 tbsp cold water
  • 1 13-oz jar hazelnut spread such as Nutella
  • 1 cup mascarpone (1/2 lb)
  • 3 cups chilled heavy cream
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 6 tbsp sugar

Sprinkle gelatin over water in  a medium sized heavy saucepan and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Over medium heat stir gelatin just until melted. Whisk in chocolate hazelnut spread until combined. Remove from heat. Add mascarpone to the chocolate hazelnut mixture and mix well.

In a large, chilled bowl, beat together cream, cocoa powder and sugar with an electric mixer at low speed, increasing  to high and beating until cream holds soft peaks.

Line the sides of the spring-form pan with parchment paper. If desired, use bakers tape on the exterior side of the parchment paper to keep the paper together.

Fold whipped cream mixture into the hazelnut mixture in the saucepan. Gently combine. Spoon filling onto shortbread base in pan, gently smoothing top with an offset spatula.

Cover and chill in  freezer for 2-3 hours or until center is firm to the touch.


  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 7 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped

After mousse is firm, in a small, heavy saucepan bring bring cream to a simmer. Remove from heat. Slowly and with even distribution, add chocolate pieces. When chocolate has begun to melt into the cream, slowly whisk until completely melted and smooth.  Allow ganache to chill for 15 minutes before pouring over chilled mousse. Top with thinly-sliced Florida strawberries. Prior to serving place covered mousse into freezer 45 to 60 minutes.

To serve, release  sides from spring-form pan, and peel parchment paper from the sides of the cake. Using the tab from the parchment paper, pull the cake off the spring-form pan base and carefully place onto a serving plate. Slice the cake with a chilled knife, cleaning blade between each piece. Makes 12 servings.