No-Bake Gianduja Chocolate Mousse Cake. Happy Birthday Mum!

My mum’s birthday was actually last week, and we each enjoyed a big slice of this cake then, along with a glass of bubbly. 

If you’ve been following me for a while it probably has not escaped your attention that I am Belgian, and proudly so. I have not lived in my country for three years, two months and seven days (but who’s counting…) but you know the funny thing about moving to another country is that you suddenly become highly patriotic. Whereas Belgium, to me, had seemed to be an endless pit of boredom where I would surely perish if I remained for the rest of my life, a few months after the move it suddenly was a fond memory. The speculaas, the poffertjes, Ghent and the Graslei, my family’s farmhouse, with the field where I walked innumerable kilometres as I studied, repeating my lessons out loud to myself… Gradually, I began to miss all those little things that had never mattered before. Apparently they’ve recently repainted the door of my school; it used to be a gorgeous, deep cyan. That made me very sad. 

And then there’s the chocolate. 

You can throw all the other kinds at me – Swiss, Swedish, German, I don’t care, Belgian chocolate will always be the winner for me. Although there is a very, very good chocolaterie in Berlin, on the Gendarmenplatz, called Fassbender & Rausch, where I may or may not have once have spent over €40 worth of chocolate. You know the latest creation Côte d’Or has come up with, after they invented that lush milk chocolate with Speculaas pieces in it? Dark chocolate stuffed with smashed Amaretti biscuits. I mean, c’mon. Orgasm in a chocolate bar. Beat that, all you over-sweetened, sickly creamy “chocolate” bars. 

But my mum’s favourite chocolate has always been Gianduja. A small packet, wrapped in earthy green paper that made a crinkly sound when you opened it, and stubby green little slabs of chocolate inside. It was Mum’s chocolate and if you took a bar, she’d know it. Hazelnuts and milk chocolate. A heavenly marriage of flavours and textures. What’s that you say – Nutella? Please. 

I was not refined enough to appreciate the luxurious decadence of Gianduja when I was a child. I always preferred milk chocolate, which was so addictive, and then dark chocolate, plain and moody, through my teenage years (how appropriate). 

But I am a grown-up now. I have tasted excellent chocolate, and I have tasted poor chocolate. (That is indeed a not-at-all subtle jab at you, Great Britain. What you call chocolate I call a sin against the word itself.) As I sit here munching on a cheap slab of plain chocolate I miss the idea of the chocolate I used to eat, and then I remember that sadly, the chocolate industry I once loved uses dairy from factory cows, and that, I cannot condone. I used to cheat on dairy chocolate a lot, but less and less as time passes by. Quality is not just about the luxury of the brand; it’s about the ingredients that are used, and were they came from. 

This cake, my friends, is a luxurious, decadent, refined cake, made only with excellent chocolate. Only the best for my mum. 


• 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 in the UK. 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. 

Makes one 22cm (9 inch) cake 

For the crust:

300g (10.5 oz) bourbon creams
200g (7 oz) chopped dates, stones removed
2 tbsp hazelnut milk

Line a springform tin with baking parchment. 

Pulse the bourbon creams till they resemble coarse sand. Add the chopped dates and pulse till combined. Pour this sticky mixture into a bowl. Add the hazelnut milk and mix it all together with your hands until you obtain a sticky batter. 

Press this dough into the bottom of your springform tin, making it smooth and even. Leave it to set in the fridge. 

For the 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

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. Mine is old and worn, so I made this paste in batches. 

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate and coconut cream together. 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. 

Pour the Gianduja mix into the springform tin. Smooth the top with your spatula. Refrigerate until needed. 

For the 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

In a bowl, whisk together the ingredients until evenly combined. Pour over the cake. 

Leave the cake to set for at least 3 hours (overnight is always safest). 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. Serve straight away. 

What makes you proud of your country?

19 thoughts on “No-Bake Gianduja Chocolate Mousse Cake. Happy Birthday Mum!

  1. WOW CLEM! This looks out of this world. Gianduja is amazing. Give me a slice of this and I'd be in heaven!
    I'm going to have to check out this 30p chocolate you talk of? My addiction to good dark chocolate costs me a bomb!


  2. Hey Clem! 🙂 I recently found your blog and I love it! It's my Mama's birthday this week and I was stuck for what delicious vegan birthday cake I could make for her! This cake looks perfect!!! 🙂 I live in New Zealand and unfortunately we don't have bourbon creams here 😦 So I will be using oreos! Thank you so much for your fabulous posts and vegan inspiration! 🙂


  3. Thank you, Mary Rose! As you can see in the comments above, my mummy dearest loved this cake to bits (crumbs?). I hope yours does, too. Thank you so much for stopping by! (A NZ reader, how lovely! I have been wanting to go to NZ since I was 11. Lucky you to be living there.)


  4. Happy Belated to your Mom! My mom’s birthday is coming up soon around American Thanksgiving, especially my Dad’s. I love no-bake desserts – that mousse cake looks gorgeous! And mmmm I would love to try Oreos for the crust…what a great substitution! Do you make your own hazelnut milk or are there some in the UK? I’ve never had hazelnut milk 😉 I imagine it sounds tasty! Haha, to be honest, I’ve nothing to be proud of my country (USA) except for endless vegan products!


  5. My mama loved it!! 🙂 We all did actually it was delicious! I will definitely be stopping by your blog more often to try more of your fab recipes! Yes NZ is beautiful! You should definitely plan a trip over! I think I am most proud of our beaches, forests, lakes and birds! We are slowly getting more and more vegan friendly too! 🙂


  6. I had a sneaky suspicion after I wrote this post that I might have missed something and I did: I think I may have been confusing Tesco value plain chocolate for Sainsbury's dark chocolate. The latter contains dairy, the former does not. Sorry for the confusion! i hope you haven't gone and bought some Sainsbury's chocolate.


  7. OMG I just tried this recipe yesterday for my birthday and is was AAAAAWSOME *-* ❤ !! So creamy, so good and totally sugar-free…. THANK YOU for sharing the recipe, I ' ll do it again 🙂


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  10. I’m glad you mentioned this was your favourite desert on that maple syrup giveaway – I had to click on it – and asides from me now desperately wanting a giant slice of chocolate mousse cake, this was an entertaining read. Especially that small print about Berlin XD.


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