I am proud of my Belgian heritage and there is no better way to show this than through chocolate. Gianduja, the creamy, sophisticated Italian-inspired chocolate bar, was always my mother’s favorite, and something I did not come to fully appreciate until I was older myself. The combination of hazelnuts and chocolate makes for an elegant, ‘adult’ dessert; it’s the ultimate showstopper cake if you need to impress anyone. No one will ever guess it’s vegan!

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Gianduja Chocolate Mousse Cake [Vegan]

Serves

1 9"cake

Ingredients

Crust
  • 300g (10.5 oz) bourbon creams (or any chocolate biscuits/cookies/crackers)
  • 200g (7 oz) chopped dates, stones removed
  • 2 tbsp hazelnut milk
Gianduja filling
  • 400g (14 oz) raw hazelnuts, skins removed and soaked for 30 minutes
  • 250ml (1 cup) hazelnut milk
  • 50ml (about 1/3 cup) maple syrup
  • 200g (7 oz) dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp coconut cream
Chocolate ganache and decoration
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp dark cocoa powder
  • 250ml (1 cup) (minus 1 tbsp, see above) of cold coconut cream
  • 50g (1.75 oz) chopped hazelnuts
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Preparation

Crust
  1. Line a springform tin with baking parchment.
  2. Pulse the bourbon creams till they resemble coarse sand. Add the chopped dates and pulse till combined.
  3. Pour this sticky mixture into a bowl.
  4. Add the hazelnut milk and mix it all together with your hands until you obtain a sticky batter.
  5. Press this dough into the bottom of your springform tin, making it smooth and even.
  6. Leave it to set in the fridge.
Gianduja filling
  1. Place the hazelnuts, milk and maple syrup in a food processor and blend on a high speed until the ingredients have become a smooth paste. You will need a powerful processor or blender for this.
  2. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate and coconut cream together.
  3. Be patient, or the chocolate will burn. It should look glossy, and it must not be allowed to bubble. When it has totally melted, pour the chocolate over the hazelnut paste and fold it in.
  4. Pour the Gianduja mix into the springform tin. Smooth the top with your spatula.
  5. Refrigerate until needed.
Chocolate ganache and decoration
  1. In a bowl, whisk together the ingredients until evenly combined. Pour over the cake.
  2. Leave the cake to set for at least 3 hours (overnight is always safest).
  3. Carefully remove from the springform tin. Bejewel the sides of your cake with chopped hazelnuts by grabbing a handful of them and pressing them into the cake with the palm of your hand. This is messy but loads of fun.
  4. Serve straight away.

Notes

I know American and other international readers may not have access to Bourbon creams. Firstly, let me commiserate your loss; life's not worth living without Bourbon creams (I am not being dramatic here). But any chocolate biscuit will do. Try chocolate Oreos (check that they are vegan!) or other sandwich biscuits with a creamy centre. Always, always check the ingredients list before you buy. You can purchase coconut cream from most large supermarkets. If you should for some reason not be able to find any, fret not; soya cream or full-fat coconut milk will do the trick. Whatever substitute you opt for, remember that it must set in the fridge.



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