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This Chocolate-Hazelnut Mousse Trifle is made with homemade hazelnut butter! Cubed cake is layered with hazelnut mousse, chopped hazelnuts, and a whipped chocolate ganache that adds an even more intense chocolate flavor.
After the sock monkey cake I made last week, I had mucho chocolate cake left over in the form of cake tops and excess batter. I follow the “better safe than safe-ish” rule of cake making, so if a recipe calls for 3 pounds of batter, you can bet I’ll make 4 pounds or more, just to be safe.
This always seems like a good idea, until I remember that I’m apparently a child of the Great Depression who can’t throw anything away, and thus I find myself in front of the refrigerator at odd hours, gnawing on refrigerated cake scraps clutched between my hands like a sea otter.
There is no dignity in that kind of life, my friends.
So this time, instead of just pounding back the cake straight, no chaser, I used the leftover cake scraps to make this Chocolate-Hazelnut Mousse Trifle. The idea was that we’d give away the trifle and thus eat less cake ourselves, but we both loved it so much I’m not sure the plan actually worked. We decimated this trifle through a series of small, strategic forkfuls over the course of a few days…although we did manage to share some with friends! It’s the little victories, right?
I’ve been wanting to make a hazelnut version of this Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pie for awhile now. This trifle is built on a similar concept, and the mousse recipe is closely related to the peanut butter filling. Instead of using peanut butter, though, I made my own hazelnut butter with toasted hazelnuts and hazelnut oil. It’s honestly much better than the peanut version, because of the fresh nuts and the loose texture of the nut butter, which makes the mousse lighter and airier.
The cubed cake is layered with hazelnut mousse, chopped hazelnuts, and a whipped chocolate ganache that adds an even more intense chocolate flavor. If that seems like too much chocolate for you, you can use whipped cream instead of the ganache, or omit it entirely and have just cake and mousse layers.
If the directions seem a little loosey-goosey, that’s because trifle is by nature incredibly hard to screw up. Truly, all you need to do is toss things together in a bowl. Putting them in discrete layers is a bonus, but it’s not required. It all looks like a hot, glorious mess once you spoon it out onto serving plates anyhow, so I recommend not worrying too much about the process and just enjoying the ride. If you find yourself overthinking anything, keep calm, have a spoonful of mousse, and carry on.
I’ve provided a recipe for chocolate cake down below, but you can always use your favorite recipe, a box mix, scraps from another cake project or a pan of brownies instead! The ganache will need to be made at least an hour before you assemble the trifle, so factor that in if you’re planning on using it.
Chocolate Cake With Banana and Hazelnut Filling
Giant Ferrero Rocher Hazelnut Mousse Cakes
Chocolate-Hazelnut Mousse Trifle
For the Chocolate Cake
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, aka Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 fl oz vegetable oil
- 5 fl oz buttermilk, at room temperature
- 4 1/2 fl oz hot water, or coffee
- 2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten together
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
For the Hazelnut Mousse
- 8 ounces hazelnuts , skinned and toasted
- 1 tbsp hazelnut oil, or vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, can substitute cream cheese
For the Whipped Ganache
- 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream
To Decorate (optional)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Additional toasted hazelnuts, chocolate-covered nuts, chocolate curls, etc
To Make the Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 C). Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Sift all dry ingredients into the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix on low speed until the drys are moistened. Turn the speed to medium and mix the batter for 2 minutes. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl, and mix for 30 seconds more until your batter is homogenous and smooth. It will be thin.
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and bake it at 350 until the top springs back when pressed gently and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let it cool completely. Once cool, cut the cake into small 1-inch cubes.
- To Make the Mousse:
- Make sure you start with hazelnuts that have their skins removed and that are toasted golden brown—this will ensure your mousse has the best flavor. Place the nuts in the bowl of a food processor and turn the processor on. When they have turned to powder, gradually stream in the hazelnut oil and continue processing the nuts. Stop the processor periodically to scrape down the bottom and sides. Continue to process the nuts until they have turned into a very fluid butter with a smooth texture. Depending on your processor this could take 3-8 minutes. If the nut butter has become warm, let it cool to room temperature.
- Whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form, then transfer it from the mixing bowl to another bowl. In the same mixing bowl, combine the hazelnut butter and the powdered sugar and mix on medium speed until well-incorporated. (It might be quite stiff.) Add the vanilla extract, salt, and mascarpone cheese. Beat on medium speed until everything is well-combined. Mascarpone breaks easily, so don’t overwhip the mousse or leave the mixer running unattended.
- Fold in 1/3 of the whipped cream to lighten the hazelnut mixture, then add the rest and gently fold everything together.
- To Make the Whipped Ganache:
- Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl, and pour the heavy cream into a small saucepan. Heat the cream until it comes to a simmer and bubbles appear around the edges. Pour the hot cream into the chopped chocolate and let it sit and soften the chocolate for one minute.
- Whisk the cream and chocolate together until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Press a layer of cling wrap on top of the chocolate. If you have the time, leave the ganache at room temperature for an hour or two to cool down and thicken. If not, speed up the process by putting it in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes, until it is the texture of peanut butter.
- Once cooled, whip it in a mixer using a whisk attachment until it is lightened and thickened, like frosting.
- To Assemble & Decorate the Trifle:
- Whip the 1 cup of heavy cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form.
- Scatter a layer of cake cubes in the bottom of a large glass bowl. Spoon half of the hazelnut mousse on top and spread it evenly across the cake. Pour half of the whipped ganache on top of that, and spread it out, then top it with a layer of toasted hazelnuts. Repeat the layers, adding cake, hazelnut mousse, whipped ganache, and chopped hazelnuts. Finish with a layer of cake, then top the cake with the whipped cream. You can either spread it on, or put it in a pastry bag and pipe rosettes or swirls on top.
- Decorate the top of the trifle with additional hazelnuts, chocolate-covered nuts, and chocolate curls.
Our recipes are developed using weight measurements, and we highly recommend using a kitchen scale for baking whenever possible. However, if you prefer to use cups, volume measurements are provided as well. PLEASE NOTE: the adage “8 oz = 1 cup” is NOT true when speaking about weight, so don’t be concerned if the measurements don’t fit this formula.Click here to learn more about baking measurements and conversion.
I was just trying to think of a chocolate dessert to make for a crowd next weekend- trifle will be perfect! Yours looks beautiful
Trifles are one of my faves! (I think because I *love* moist cake bits.) They’re seriously my reward for making time-intensive layer cakes. 🙂
My daughter just declared after I showed her a picture, this is the cake she wants for her sweet 16th not this Saturday but the next!!
Thank you so very, very much!!!
This will go perfect with the “harvest party were planning”!! I cannot wait to dig in!! Hopefully the “teenage boys” will be too busy looking at the girls and leave me a piece!! 😉
Thank you again,
That’s awesome!! Your daughter has excellent taste–pretty sure I had a Costco cake for my 16th. 🙂 And how great is it that you get to make a trifle instead of having to decorate a birthday cake? Fingers crossed those teenage boys leave you a taste!
Please let me know how it goes!
Hello from Portugal =)
The moment I found this recipe I knew I had to try it. So, one week later, me and my sister spent hours in the kitchen (we are really amateurs so it took a while =P) but in the end we had two (far from) perfect trifles in front of us =D
The family loved it and even had seconds, so we considered it a success.
Thanks for sharing,
Hi Inês! I’m so glad to hear from you and to hear that everything worked out! It’s definitely not the fastest of recipes…sorry about that…but I’m glad your family enjoyed it!
I made this trifle last year instead of the normal, boring trifle. Boy, was it a hit! I have been summonsed to make it a “new” tradition!
My younger daughter missed out because she was away at the time and was very unhappy that I had decided to make this divine trifle (sent her pics!).
She is travelling 1000 km to be home for Christmas this year — I’m sure the trifle has a lot to do with this!
Linda, I love this story! So glad that it’s a hit with your family, and that it could lure your daughter back home for the holidays. 🙂 Merry Christmas to you and yours!
My friend made this recipe for a dinner party last night and it was SO good – you are awesome!
Hi Linda – can you make this one day in advance? Thinking of making it for my book club meeting.
Hi Karen, It can definitely be made in advance! Trifles keep super well. 🙂 Enjoy!
Hi, could you do this mousse with Nutella instead of the hazelnuts? I wanted to use it for a filling for a chocolate cake. Thank you for all your wonderful recipes I will be putting your Easy Swiss Meringue on it also so much easier than the traditional.
Hey Debbie, I haven’t tried it myself. My inclination would be to say no, because the Nutella is mainly sugar with little hazlenut in it. I think it will be really sweet, and also change the texture a bit. However again I haven’t tried it, if you give it a try I would love to hear how it goes!
Can the components of this trifle be made the day before? I’m thinking of making this for a Christmas dinner and it would be great if the mousse is could be made in advance! I would also want to try making the ganache the day before and then whipping it before assembly.
Hey Emily, I am so excited for you to make this recipe! The ganache can absolutely be made the day before and then whipped up. As for the mousse, I think for presentation it would look better if it was made and able to set in the trifle so that it forms to the shape of the trifle. However at the end of the day a trifle is just scooped up and kind of messy anyway, so if needing to make it before hand is important I think it should work fine. I would recommend trying to scoop it into the trifle and then evenly disperse it into that layer for the trifle, so that you will still have all your solid layers. I hope that makes sense! I would love to hear how it goes, If you have anymore questions don’t hesitate to ask!
Thanks for the reply! I ended up making most of the components the day it was to be eaten. It was so delicious! Like a ferrero rocher but better. Mostly everyone got up to get seconds (which I think is the best compliment you can get!).
Hey Emily, It sounds like it was enjoyed by many! I am so thrilled to hear it worked out, I love that feeling when people want more! Thank you so much for your feedback!
I’d love to make this into a mousse cake like your chocolate raspberry mousse cake, but I’ve never made a mascarpone mousse and I’m not sure how it will set. So do you think the hazelnut mousse set firm enough to hold its shape when released from a springform pan? And possibly support another layer on top of it? Would the recipe make enough for a 9in springform?
I’m thinking I would make a chocolate cake and chocolate mouse, then top it with the hazelnut mousse and whipped ganache.
Hey Nora, unfortunately it has been a long time since I made this. My recollection is that it is pretty sturdy mousse since it has hazelnut butter in it. I think you should be fine, especially if you are planning to put a whipped ganache on top seeing as that won’t be too heavy. You can definitely add some gelatin if you want that extra insurance. I think if you are planning to serve it not too long after it is out of the springform you should be fine. I am so excited for you to make this! If you give it a try please let me know how it goes, that would be so helpful for me and for other readers. If you have any other questions don’t hesitate to send me an email! Good luck!
I made the cake with the hazelnut mousse and it was wonderful! I used a chocolate cake base, then an espresso mousse (based on your chocolate mousse except with 1/4 c espresso substituted for 1/4 c of the heavy cream), then this hazelnut mousse (no changes) and a chocolate mirror glaze on top. It was just the right amount of hazelnut mousse. My springform pan was 9 in diameter and 3 in high.
To get nice slices, it was better to cut it cold and then wait for it to come to room temperature to serve, since the hazelnut mousse was pretty soft and hard to cut if it wasn’t cold. It still held its shape well though, the cake was perfectly stable after being at room temp for ~ 2 hours.
Hi Nora, I am so thrilled to hear it worked so well! Thank you so much for your feedback, that will be so helpful for me and other readers! I really appreciate it!