One of my favorite part of making French inspired cakes is unmoulding and glazing the cakes. It is always such a satisfying moment seeing the final touches of a cake coming together and it fills me - every single time - with happiness. This applies to caramel, too.
On my last Paris trip I indulged into Sadaharu Aoki's Tarte Caramel Salé Matcha and I rediscovered the deliciousness of caramel. I started to make caramel more often and I found so much joy in making caramel. This was not always like that. I remember my first attempt making caramel ( I wanted to make a tart tartin) years ago and I was quite frustrated. I could not figure out how to melt sugar properly and I was left with sugar lumps. It was a mystery to me and it took me a while how to work with sugar. It is not that difficult if you follow a few simple rules which includes patience (it takes time to melt the sugar) and not stirring while the sugar is melting since this changes the temperature of the sugar and this means that it takes longer to melt the sugar. If you have never made caramel and the first attempt does not work out, do not be discouraged. Try again and you will be rewarded with a luscious caramel and there are many delicious way to make use of the caramel such as my caramel hazelnut mousse cake that I want to share with you today. I do not have many words for this cake but it is one of my top five favorite cakes that I have ever made (one of my favorite recipe is my caramel apple vanilla mousse cake). The caramel flavor goes so well with the hazelnuts, the caramel mousse is light and creamy; and it is a wonderful contrast to the caramelized hazelnuts. It is simply a luscious caramel dream cake.
Makes 6 cakes ( 6 cm / 2.4 inches in diameter)
- My tart shell recipe is here which is a recipe by Cheryl Koh. I have written here a blog post about my tips on making tart shells.
- You can make the tart shells in advance. In fact, I always a few tart shells on hand which I keep in an air-tight container.
- 130 g / 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 60 g / 4 1/2 tablespoons salted butter, cut into cubes
- 200 g / 3/4 cup and 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 1/2 gelatin sheets (2,25 g), soaked
- Pour the sugar into a medium sized saucepan. Over medium-high heat, let the sugar melt. Do not stir the sugar at this stage in order to avoid sugar lumps. As soon as the sugar starts melting, switch the heat to low medium heat.
- As soon as the sugar is completely melted and is golden in color, remove from the heat. Make sure that the sugar does not get too dark, otherwise the caramel will taste bitter, and if the caramel is too light, it taste very sweet.
- Carefully pour 100 g / 1 /3 cup and 1 tablespoon of the heavy cream to the melted sugar and stir constantly. Add half of the butter cubes and mix well. Place the saucepan back to the heat (medium heat) and stir until the caramel is smooth. As soon as the caramel is smooth, remove from the heat, add the rest of the butter cubes and mix well again.
- Divide the caramel into half (you need the other half later when assembling the cakes).
- Add the gelatin into one half of the caramel and stir until the gelatin is dissolved. Pour the caramel to a medium sized bowl and let it cool to room temperature.
- In the meantime, whip the remaining heavy cream until creamy.
- Fold the whipped cream into the caramel.
- Pour the mousse into 6 moulds. I use a silicon muffin moulds and fill the moulds until 3,5 cm / 1.4 inches high.
- Freeze the moulds for at least 8 hours or overnight.
- 110 g / 3/4 cup hazelnuts
- 100 g / 1 /2 cup granulated sugar
- Preheat the oven to 150 °C / 300 °F.
- Place the hazelnuts on a lined baking sheet. Roast the nuts for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove the skin of the nuts by rubbing them in a kitchen towel. Set aside 6 nuts for decoration.
- While rubbing the skin of the nuts, melt the sugar in medium sized saucepan. As soon as the sugar is melted (follow the steps written above in the caramel mousse), remove from the heat. Add the roasted hazelnuts to the melted sugar and stir well. Place the caramelized hazelnuts on a baking paper (be carefully it is very hot!) and quickly separate the nuts with the help of two forks. Let the nuts cool completely. Set 60 g of the caramelized hazelnuts aside and cut the nuts into halves.
- Place the rest of the caramelized hazelnuts in a food processor and blend until it becomes a smooth noisette paste.
NOISETTE WHIPPED CREAM
- 25 ml / 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 20 g / 1 1/2 tablespoons noisette paste
- 3/4 sheet gelatin (1 g), soaked
- 65 g / 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Place the milk and the noisette paste in a small saucepan and heat the mixture. Remove from the heat, add the soaked gelatin and stir until the gelatin is dissolved. Pour the noisette mixture into a medium sized bowl and let it cool to room temperature.
- Whip the heavy cream until creamy. Fold the heavy cream into the noisette mixture.
- Place a dollop of caramel onto the bottom of each tartlet shell. Use only a little bit of caramel, otherwise it gets too sweet (in my opinion).
- Distribute the caramelized hazelnut halves onto the tartlet bottoms. Spread the noisette whipped cream on top of the nuts and smooth out the surface.
- Unmould the frozen caramel mousse and carefully place the mousse on top of each tartlet. Decorate each cake with a roasted hazelnut.
- Place each cake on a cake board and let the cakes defrost in the fridge. The cake taste best on the day you assemble the cakes (the next day the tart shells get a little bit soft).