Chocolate Mousse Praline Torte

Chocolate brownie base:

3 ounces semisweet chocolate
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Hazelnut praline:

4 ounces whole unblanched hazelnuts
2/3 cup granulated sugar

Chocolate mousse filling:

3 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons instant coffee, dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
1/4 cup sour cream
2 cups heavy cream

Make the brownie base:

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees (F). Butter the bottom and side of a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, melt the chocolate and butter together according to the directions in how to melt chocolate. Stir until smooth. With a wooden spoon, stir the sugar and eggs into the chocolate mixture until well blended. Add the salt, flour, and vanilla and stir until just combined. Fold in the coarsely chopped chocolate. With a rubber spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared springform pan and bake for 35 to 37 minutes until dry on top and almost firm to the touch. Set the pan on a rack to cool.

Make the hazelnut praline:

  1. Lightly oil a baking sheet and set aside.
  2. In a copper or heavy saucepan, combine the hazelnuts and the sugar. Cook over medium heat until the sugar melts, stirring often with a wooden spoon. Continue cooking over low heat until the temperature reaches 330 degrees(F)(hard-crack stage) on a candy thermometer, stirring constantly. The sugar will turn a deep golden brown and the hazelnuts will begin to make a popping sound, showing that they are toasted.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately pour the sugar and nut mixture onto the lightly oiled baking sheet. Be careful because the mixture is very hot. Spread the praline out with a wooden spoon so the hazelnuts are in one layer, and leave it until it is cool and crisp, about 30 minutes.
  4. Crack the praline into large pieces. Reserve 12 whole praline hazelnuts for garnish. Using a food processor with the metal chopping blade, chop the rest of the praline finely, being careful not to overwork, or the praline will become a paste. Set aside.

Make the chocolate mousse:

  1. Place the chocolates, butter, dissolved instant coffee, and sour cream in a medium heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat until smooth, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool, stirring occasionally.
  2. In a 4 1/2-quart bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer using the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Using a whisk, gently fold one-third of the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate mixture. Then carefully fold in the remaining whipped cream just until blended.
  3. With your hand, gently press down on the top of the cooled brownie to eliminate any air pockets. Using a medium inverted spatula, spread one-half of the chocolate mousse mixture onto the brownie base, making it as level as possible, taking it all the way to the sides of the springform pan. Evenly spread half of the hazelnut praline on top of the chocolate mousse. Place the remaining chocolate mousse mixture on top and level with the spatula. Cover the torte with foil and place in the refrigerator for a minimum of two hours.
  4. With scissors, cut out approximately twelve 10-by-3/4-inch strips of parchment or waxed paper. Remove the torte from the refrigerator. Run a knife around the edge of the torte, then carefully unhinge the springform pan. Place the strips of wax paper horizontally across the top of the torte (leaving 3/4-inch in between each one) and press gently in place. Dust (HAHAHA!!!!!) the top of the torte with some of the powdered praline to cover all exposed areas. Brush the excess praline onto the counter, gather and reserve. Remove the strips of wax paper and place them perpendicular to the praline lines on the top of the torte and repeat to form a lattice pattern. Place the reserved whole praline hazelnuts evenly around the edge of the cake. Keep refrigerated or freeze until ready to serve.