This beautiful 4 layer hazelnut torte is a classic family recipe that I made vegan. Light layers of hazelnut cake, coffee buttercream filling, and a creamy mocha coconut whip will have you celebrating in style!
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Place 2 cups of whole hazelnuts on a baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes on the same rack, if possible, until the skins are very cracked and much darker in color. If roasting on the middle and bottom racks of the oven, be sure to swap the baking sheets half way through the back time. Let the hazelnuts cool completely. If you try to pulse them while still warm you will end up with hazelnut butter and not a flour/meal.
In batches, lay out hazelnuts onto a clean tea towel. Gather the towel over the nuts and rub together with your hands. The skins will peel right off. If they don't, they probably aren't roasted enough so place them back in the oven. You want to get as much of the skin off as possible, but some remnants are fine. They make the cake bitter if not removed and roasted.
Place cleaned hazelnuts into a food processor and whiz into a fine meal. You will have just over 2 cups ground. You'll use the excess amount to dust the top of the finished cake!
You're going to prepare 2 layers of cake at a time so the following instructions take the total amounts and divide them in half. Measure the aqua faba/chickpea brine exactly to 3/4 cups into a glass bowl. Place it in the fridge or freezer to chill for about 20 to 30 minutes. It should get really cold but not frozen or have any ice chips in it. Be sure to check it after 15 minutes because this really depends on how cold and/or full your freezer is!
Change oven temperature to preheat to 350°F.
Add 1 cup hazelnut meal/flour to a mixing bowl with 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 3/4 cups granulated sugar. Stir to combine and set aside.
Beat the chilled aqua faba for about 2 minutes or up to 4 or 5 minutes until foamy and white (soft peaks). Add a 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar and continue beating until stiff peaks form, about another 3 to 5 minutes.
Add in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and continue beating for another minute or so while you drizzle in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. You'll notice the meringue get thicker and shiny. It will have quadrupled in volume.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 350°F or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Beat the softened vegan butter until smooth with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer. Add 1 cup of confectioners sugar and continue beating. While beating, add in half the coffee and vanilla extract. Then add in more sugar while still beating the frosting and continue adding the remaining coffee and sugar in portions while beating the mixture together until it's well combined and smooth. It should form a frosting that's the consistency of pudding. It's not super thick or stiff.
Place one cake layer on your cake platter or serving dish top down. Then take a third of the buttercream and spread it out to the edges in an even layer with an icing spatula. Add another cake layer top side up and ice another layer on top. Then add your third cake layer top side down and repeat with the remaining frosting. Add your final layer top side up.
Refrigerate the cake while you prepare the mocha coconut whip. If any filling is dripping down the sides of the cake, just use your spatula to spread it around the edges. Once refrigerated, it will become a little more solid and you'll cover it up with the whip anyway.
To make the mocha coconut whip, you need to use only the thick cream from cans of coconut cream or full-fat coconut milk. It's best if you can refrigerate the cans for at least 36 hours. Sometimes I find overnight doesn't get it separated enough. Because of how much you need for this, it's best if you can find coconut cream in a can as it's mostly all the thick stuff with very little liquid!
Scoop out the thick cream without any liquid getting into the mix and place it all in a cold glass mixing bowl. Whip it for a few minutes with a hand mixer until smooth and fluffy. Then add the cocoa powder, confectioners sugar, and vanilla extract and continue to beat together until smooth and well combined.
You'll use all of this coconut whip to frost a thick layer all around the cake. This does take some practice, but using a large icing spatula for the majority of the frosting works best and then get in with a smaller icing spatula to get the bottom edge nice and smooth. You can clean the edges of your cake platter with a damp cloth once you're done frosting the cake.
The written recipe makes a 4 layer cake. You need to divide the amounts in half for the cake batter and make 2 layers at a time.