An over-the-top combination of saucy, crisp, cool and cakey elements makes this dessert the perfect chocolate-lover's indulgence. Feel free to switch in store-bought ice-cream or gelato (hazelnut, choc-chip, rum and raisin, and toffee all work well) for the frozen chocolate mousse.
Fudge brownie rounds
- 80 g butter, at room temperature
- 110 g (½ cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp natural vanilla essence or extract
- 60 g good-quality dark chocolate, melted
- 110 g (¾ cup) plain flour
- 30 g (¼ cup) cocoa powder
- ½ tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp milk
Frozen chocolate mousse
- 150 g good-quality dark chocolate (54% cocoa), chopped
- 125 ml (½ cup) thin cream
- 3 eggs, separated
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
Cherry and hazelnut bark
- 250 g good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa), chopped
- 60 g good-quality milk chocolate
- 80 g dried cherries
- 75 g roasted and peeled hazelnuts, halved
- 55 g (½ cup) cocoa powder, sifted
- 160 ml (⅔ cup) water
- 165 g (¾ cup) caster sugar
- 2 tbsp golden syrup
- 1 tsp natural vanilla essence or extract
- 1 tbsp cherry liqueur or liqueur of your choice (optional)
- 1 tsp butter
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time 20-30 minutes
Freezing time 6 hours
Standing time 2 hours
To make the frozen chocolate mousse, combine the chocolate and half the cream in a small heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water) and stir until the chocolate melts. Remove from the saucepan and set aside to cool slightly. Use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to whisk the egg yolks and 1 tablespoon of sugar until very thick and pale. Stir in the melted chocolate. Use a clean dry whisk attachment to whisk the egg whites in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and whisk until thick and glassy. Add a large spoonful to the chocolate mixture and use a spatula or large metal spoon to fold together to loosen the mixture. Add the remaining egg whites and fold together until just combined. Use a clean whisk attachment to whisk the remaining cream in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Add to the chocolate mixture and fold together until just combined. Spoon the mousse mixture into a freezer-proof serving dish just large enough to hold it, cover and freeze for 6 hours or until frozen.
To make the cherry and hazelnut bark, line an oven tray with non-stick baking paper or foil. Place the dark and milk chocolates in separate microwave-proof bowls. Heat separately on high power for 30-second intervals and stirring between each until melted and smooth. Spread the dark chocolate on the lined tray to a 26 cm x 36 cm rectangle. Use a spoon to dollop the milk chocolate over the dark chocolate and then use a fork to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle the chocolate with the cherries and hazelnuts and then tap the tray on the bench top a couple of times to settle the cherries and nuts into the chocolate. Set aside at room temperature for 2 hours or until set (see Baker’s tips). Break into large pieces.
To make the fudge brownie rounds, preheat oven to 160°C (140°C fan-forced). Line two large oven trays with non-stick baking paper. Use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat until well combined. Beat in the melted chocolate. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. On lowest possible speed mix in half the flour mixture, the milk and then the remaining flour mixture until just combined. Place the mixture in the fridge for 20-30 minutes or until firm enough to roll. Roll tablespoonfuls of the mixture into balls and place on the lined tray and 3 cm apart (this mixture will make 20 balls). Use your fingers or the base of a glass to flatten each to about 1 cm thick. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, swapping the trays around halfway through baking, or until just baked through (they need to be still a little soft in the centre so that they remain slightly fudgy). Stand on the trays for 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
To make the chocolate sauce, place the cocoa powder in a small saucepan and use a balloon whisk to gradually stir in the water. Add the sugar and golden syrup and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently with the whisk, until the mixture boils. Remove from the heat and stir in the cherry liqueur, vanilla and butter. Transfer to a serving jug, cover with plastic wrap and keep warm.
To serve, place the fudge brown rounds, frozen chocolate mousse with an ice-cream scoop, cherry and hazelnut bark and chocolate sauce in the centre of the table for guests to assemble their own dessert.
• The frozen chocolate mousse will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.
• The setting time for the chocolate, cherry and hazelnut bark will depend on the temperature of your kitchen. If warm you may have to pop it in the fridge to set. It will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 weeks.
• The fudge brownie rounds will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
• The chocolate sauce will keep in a sealed jar or airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O'Brien. Food preparation by Tina McLeish.
This recipe is part of our Bakeproof: DIY dessert bar column.
View previous Bakeproof columns and recipes here.
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. For hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook,Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.