I made this amazing chocolate mousse a couple of months ago and meant to publish it well before Christmas. But then my laptop crashed and my data was lost and I thought this gorgeous dessert will never see the light of day again. But then I was able to recover some of my old pictures and I finally got around to sharing them will you all. So everyone, say hello to my Caramelized Hazelnut Praline Chocolate Mousse!
The first time I had a chocolate mousse that really stuck in my memory was many moons ago, in Sri Lanka. I was still in school and there was this one cafe in the building that my dad used to work at. And sometimes when I visited my father at his office after school, I would also remember to stop by that cafe. I would borrow some money from dad and go over there just to have their chocolate mousse served in a little coffee cup with some whipped cream on top, while sharing some light banter with this funny dessert bar worker who used to work there at the time and also while listening to the bands that often played there. I’ve been serving chocolate mousse in little cups like that ever since, because that memory is strong and the light, airy, intense taste of chocolate mousse always takes me down memory lane back to those days. Now I have these ADORABLE multi-coloured coffee cups that I can’t get enough of. So much so that I’m the only one allowed to handle them. And I thought they’d be perfect to serve these gorgeous things in.
Several weeks ago I shared with you all this delicious Paris Brest with Whipped Chocolate filling that I made for the Daring Bakers challenge. This Paris Brest is traditionally made with a praline mousseline (cool name huh? My husband laughed the first time he heard those words and then said something about a dictator. But I digress). However I finished the praline before I could use it in the recipe. Really. It was that good to eat just on it’s own! Have you ever had hazelnut praline paste on toast? It’s like this heavenly Nutella paste (without the chocolate) that you couldn’t possibly stop eating just on it’s own. Do you see that praline paste in the picture below? That picture doesn’t do it any justice! If you taste it, I guarantee you will not stop till you finish it. Unless you have the will power of a higher being. Maybe not even then.
The flavour and the texture of that praline paste really fascinated me. I thought it would be an amazing base to work with for a chocolate mousse. The caramel notes with hazelnut flavour infused into the chocolate mousse seemed like a great idea and I was absolutely right! This is one sublime chocolate mousse.
You can make this with almonds as well. I haven’t tried it with other types of nuts, but you are more than welcome to.
Caramelized Hazelnut Praline Chocolate Mousse
- 2.5 oz / 70 g toasted skinned hazelnuts
- 3.5 oz/ 100 g sugar plus 2 tbsp of sugar separated
- 7 oz/ 200 g bittersweet chocolate or a dairy-free dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 4 eggs separated, at room temperature (egg whites in a clean dry bowl)
- 1/4 cup of cream or coconut cream dairy-free option
- 1/2 tsp salt flakes add 1 tsp if you'd like this to be a salted chocolate mousse - It tastes FANTASTIC!
- In a large pan, sprinkle the 3.5 oz/ 100 g sugar evenly on the bottom of the pan.
- Heat the pan on low-medium heat until the sugar around the edges starts to melt. Use a silicone or rubber spatula to move the sugar around (the sugar will start to clump and that is okay)
- When the sugar has mostly melted, add the roasted hazelnuts and keep stirring the caramel to make sure the sugar caramelizes evenly, while also coating the hazelnuts.
- Continue to cook while stirring the sugar/nuts until the sugar turns a dark amber colour (that is just before the caramel burns - so DO NOT move away from the stove because this can happen quickly, and PLEASE be careful as the sugar is very very hot)
- Remove from heat immediately and pour the sugar and nuts onto a parchment paper and let it cool completely. When the sugar has cooled down, break the caramel into smaller pieces so that they can be chopped in the food processor.
- In the food processor, process the praline mix in pulses first until you crush the nuts. Then process the sugar/nuts on high until you get a paste (you may have to stop and scrape the bowl a couple of times)
- In a heat proof bowl place the praline paste and egg yolks and mix them well with a whisk or hand mixer for a few minutes, until well combined.
- Add the chopped chocolate and melt the chocolate, egg yolk and praline paste together over a saucepan of simmering water, until the chocolate is melted and is smooth.
- Let this cool for about 10 - 15 minutes and stir in the cream/coconut cream. With a beater, whisk until the chocolate mix is lighter in colour and a little thicker.
- In a clean metal bowl (free of any residue), place the egg whites and 2 tbsp of white sugar. To make the egg white food-safe, whisk the egg whites over a saucepan of simmering water, and whisk on high until you form stiff peaks (with a clean, dry beater).
- Fold in 1/4 of the egg white into the chocolate mix. Add the rest of the egg whites and fold it in until just combined.
- Pour into individual serving glasses and chill for a few hours until set. Serve as is, or with a dollop of fresh cream or creme fraiche.
Tips & Tricks
I haven’t met many people who don’t like a good chocolate mousse. Actually I haven’t met anyone like that. This is a fantastic recipe for anyone who wants to try a light, airy, decadent chocolate mousse with different but incredibly delicious flavours. And I also like that it can easily be made dairy-free if you make it with coconut cream and a dairy-free dark chocolate (see the ingredients list). Even though the crunch of the praline is lost here, the addition of the caramelized praline gives it an amazingly nutty (and of course caramel) flavour. You probably won’t notice the coconut flavour either (depends on the coconut cream you use of course) if you decide to take that route, because of the chocolate and praline flavours. I was forced to eat a spoonful of this beautiful mousse so I could show you how airy it was inside! Yes, it was a sacrifice, but one I was willing to make for the sake of knowledge and posterity! Check out the picture below to see what I mean 🙂
Could you help me settle a debate by the way? Mr K is a chocolate mousse purist and he refuses to add anything on top of it and prefers it just the way it is. Whereas I like to have it with a little whipped cream or creme fraiche! Which do you think is better? How do you like yours? With extra topping? or not?
However you decide to have it, you will love this one!
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