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Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

This easy but impressive layered Chocolate Hazelnut Cake has a rich, nutty flavor from Nutella and a dense, extra-moist texture. It’s great for birthdays or any celebration.

slice of chocolate hazelnut cake on a stack of white plates

Fudgy Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

I first made this cake for Quinn’s birthday. I was inspired by a recipe in one of my favorite baking books, How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson. This version is based on her recipe for Torta Alla Gianduia. It’s a traditional Italian dessert that unites the winning flavors of chocolate and hazelnuts into one stunning cake.

This cake is quite easy to make but packs plenty of rich flavor into every bite. It’s a big hit for birthdays but has a place at any celebration if you love chocolate and hazelnuts.

ingredients for chocolate cake with hazelnuts in small bowls

What You’ll Need

Here are the ingredients for chocolate hazelnut cake:

  • Eggs. The cake is a separated sponge, so you’ll start by separating the whites and yolks.
  • Butter. Use softened, unsalted butter for the cake batter.
  • Chocolatehazelnut spread. The easiest to find is probably Nutella.
  • Frangelico. This adds a nice warming boozy flavor to the cake that’s not overwhelming. You can use water for an alcohol-free version.
  • Ground hazelnuts. Make your own by grinding whole, unroasted nuts in a food processor.
  • Bittersweet chocolate. For the richest chocolate flavor possible.

Frosting Ingredients

Don’t forget the decadent chocolate ganache frosting. Here are the four simple ingredients you need:

  • Hazelnuts. Use unroasted hazelnuts for the recipe.
  • Heavy cream. For rich and creamy texture.
  • Frangelico. Feel free to substitute your favorite rum or water.
  • Bittersweet chocolate. Because there’s no such thing as too much chocolate in a cake!
whole chocolate cake topped with toasted hazelnuts

How to Make Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Follow these steps to make your chocolate cake and frosting:

Prepare for baking: Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease and line a 9-inch springform pan for easy removal.

Prepare the cake batter: In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form. Do not over-mix, or the egg whites will dry out. In a separate bowl, combine the softened butter with the Nutella. Add the Frangelico, egg yolks, and ground hazelnuts. Finally, fold in the melted chocolate.

Fold in the whites: Add the egg whites to the chocolate mixture and gently fold them in, being careful not to deflate the egg whites. It’s best to do this with a rubber spatula.

Bake: Transfer the cake batter to your prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the sides start to pull away from the pan. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool completely before frosting.

Toast the nuts: While the cake is cooling, toast the hazelnuts in a skillet on the stovetop until they’re golden. Transfer to a bowl to let the nuts cool fully before you decorate the cake.

Make the frosting: Heat the cream, Frangelico, and chocolate in a saucepan on the stove. When the chocolate is melted, remove the pan from the heat and whisk until you have a thick, spreadable texture.

Frost the cake: When the cake is fully cool, remove the sides from the cake pan. Frost the top of the cake with the frosting and decorate it with the toasted hazelnuts.

whole chocolate cake topped with hazelnuts

Tips for Success

Here are few simple tips when making your cake and frosting:

  • You’ll want to use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites. It can be difficult to get the volume you need with a whisk.
  • When folding the egg whites into the cake batter, be gentle but thorough. You want to maintain as much of the air in the egg whites as possible. Fold until you no longer have white streaks in the batter.
  • Make sure the cake and the hazelnuts are totally cooled before you frost the cake. Otherwise the frosting will melt right off.
  • Avoid over-mixing the chocolate ganache. This can cause the frosting to seize up and become difficult to spread.
small slice of chocolate hazelnut cake

Storage

You can make this cake the day before you plan to serve it. Keep it fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for one day, or in the fridge for up to three days.

Can I Freeze Leftover Cake?

You can freeze the cake (tightly wrapped or in an airtight container) for up to three months. Defrost the cake at room temperature overnight before serving.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Yield 8 - 10 Servings
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

This rich and moist chocolate cake is topped with chocolate ganache frosting and toasted hazelnuts for a family-favorite treat.

chocolate hazelnut cake with a slice taken out

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 14 ounces (387g) chocolate-hazelnut spread, such as Nutella
  • 1 tablespoon Frangelico, rum, or water
  • 1/2 cup (45g) ground hazelnuts
  • 4 ounces (113g) bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

For the frosting:

  • 4 ounces (113g) hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup (118ml) heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon Frangelico, rum, or water
  • 4 ounces (113g) bittersweet chocolate

Instructions

To make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Whisk the egg whites and salt until stiff but not dry. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and Nutella. Mix in the Frangelico (or rum or water), egg yolks, and ground hazelnuts. Fold in the melted chocolate. Then, fold in the egg whites.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes, until the cake begins to come away from the sides of the pan. Cool the cake completely on a wire rack.

TO MAKE THE FROSTING:

  1. Toast the hazelnuts in a skillet until golden brown in places. Transfer to a plate to cool. (Be sure to cool completely before putting them on the cake.)
  2. In a heavy saucepan, heat the cream, Frangelico (or rum or water), and chocolate. When the chocolate has melted, remove the pan from the heat and whisk until thick enough to frost the cake.
  3. Remove the sides from the pan. (You can leave it on its base or carefully transfer it to another serving plate.)
  4. Frost the top of the cake with the frosting. Top with the cooled toasted hazelnuts.

Notes

Recipe adapted from How to Be a Domestic Goddess.

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    51 Comments on “Chocolate Hazelnut Cake”

  1. This sounds wonderful! I am a huge nutella fan and Jeff loves bittersweet/dark chocolate.

    I may have to give this one a try!

  2. It looks so moist! Beautiful pictures. How to be a Domestic Goddess is among my favorite cook books. The damp lemon almond cake is delish, if you have not tried it.

  3. That looks delicious! I’ve had problems with hazelnuts lately. They all seem to taste stale and with all the work that goes into removing the skins, it’s annoying. I think I’m just going to order them pre-skinned.

  4. I love that cookbook; it’s a go-to book for those rich treats.
    I love this, haven’t made it…yet.

  5. This looks absolutely divine! That bottom picture makes it look like a super rich brownie with gooey icing… what could be better in a cake?!

  6. Wow! That looks wonderful. And I’m a big fan of hazelnuts and chocolate together. Thanks for sharing!

  7. That looks so beautiful and delicious!
    Happy Birthday to him!

  8. That looks soo good. Everything you make looks good! I love your site so much, it’s really great!

  9. Anna, I like to get blanched hazelnuts. So much easier. Try ohnuts.com or nutsonline.com.

  10. So glad to see another one of your recipes!!! And thanks thanks thanks for sharing this. We’re going to attempt to make one actually…a bit different, but same flavors just the same. Yours looks amazing.

  11. well, i found my bday cake for the year 🙂
    looks delish!

  12. That looks like the perfect dessert! I just love it!

  13. Wow! This looks absolutely delicious! I am drooling just looking at the photos and am inclined to grab a coffee to sip while I drink in its chocolatey essence. Yuuuuummmmm!

  14. This looks like death by chocolate!

  15. Just awesome. What a great choice!! Happy belated birthday to Quinn!!

  16. decadent…! Lovely pictures. This made my afternoon!

  17. I’m impressed by your hazelnut skinning prowess.

  18. Kate, don’t be too impressed. I like to buy them pre-skinned. 🙂 Of course, the skins are much easier to remove once the hazelnuts have been toasted.

  19. Great birthday cake. Nigella’s recipes have yet to fail me 🙂

  20. Holy cow! This is super impressive. And what a delicious combo. I bet guests would swoon the minute you brought this out. I hope you had more people to share it with than just you and Quinn! 🙂

  21. Chocolate and Hazelnuts???

    ’nuff said. I’m in.

  22. This looks fantastic and so decadent. I don’t know if I could stop myself from eating the whole thing.

  23. I happen to be a HUGE fan of chocolate and hazelnuts (great biscotti from Cafe Fernando, Giada’s ravioli…). So I noted this post in my burner and went back to check out last week’s cake and note it… and I already had!! I should dig through my notes more often. Two new things to bake.

  24. Chocolate & hazelnut—is there a more divine combination?

  25. That looks great. Very rich. I wish I had some.

  26. I love nutella, and this is the perfect recipe for it. I love the hazelnuts scattered on top – so pretty. Thanks for sharing!

  27. Awesome looking cake. Perfect combo, hazelnuts and chocolate!

  28. Mmm… anything with Nutella in it sounds good to me! Am definitely going to try this the next time I have something to celebrate.

  29. That looks to die for. I missed your posts, thanks for all the great recipes!

  30. Looks divine! I am a fan of chocolate and hazelnut 🙂

  31. i love how rich and moist the cake looks in the last pic. this recipe sounds like a keeper! 🙂

  32. Very good!! We loved the cake, and I agree that the chocolate you ended up using was perfect, as usual. I am growing very fond of Nutella. “-)

  33. that looks like chocolate heaven to me!!

  34. I cannot wait to make this! It looks so impressive!

  35. I am a huge Nutella fan and can’t wait to try this myself. Thanks for posting this recipe along with your wonderful photos.

  36. awesome! that looks divine….and since i love chocolate and nutella, have that book and my birthday is coming up…i’m guessing i might just give it a try:)

  37. I’m trying to lose some weight. Stop trying to tempt me.

  38. I’m going to check out that book. Thanks for the tip!

  39. i guess this comment is a little late, but wow, that looks amazing

  40. This looks super yummy. I love the hazulnut-chocolate combination. I have a similar recipe too but its a frozen biscuit cake…http://qte-popcornfactory.blogspot.com/2009/03/intensely-chocolate.html

  41. Beautiful cake. Just wondering though….I don’t see any sugar listed as a cake ingredient. Is the cake sweet? I don’t think I’ve ever made a cake without adding sugar. Just checking!

  42. Lynn, the recipe is correct – no sugar. There is some sugar in the Nutella and the chocolate. Don’t worry, though, because you’ll never miss it.

  43. So funny–my husband requested the exact same cake for his birthday!

    http://www.adinnerparty.net/2009/03/chocolate-hazelnut-cake.html

  44. I just found your blog…have to say this looks amazing. Definitely gonna bookmark this!

  45. delicious! I can so go for a slice right now!

  46. kate, there are several conversion helpers online. Here’s one: http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/gram_calc.htm Good luck!

  47. hi Jennifer, I’ve been drooling over your pictures for months now and finally had the perfect occasion to try your recipe…with a few modifications. I have to tell ya that this cake is to die for!!! It’s so incredibly delicious!!!

    I will tell ya though, that I totally suck at getting the skin off hazelnuts. I toasted them and then I put then on a warm, wet towel and rubbed them, creating friction to try to get the skins off. Some came off but others did not. I spent an hour trying to get the skins off so I could get such beautiful hazelnuts like the ones in your picture. I think next time I’ll just use hazelnuts with the skins on them. Either that or try to find some trick to get the skins off easier.

    Anyway, thanks so much again for posting such scrumptious pictures and recipes. I love your website! 🙂 Cheers! sheila

  48. omg this looks like heaven to me chocolate and hazelnut combined means yummy yummy yummy thank you so much for posting this recipe. i really love your site and already bookmarked alote of recipes 🙂

  49. OK, made the cake…it’s cooling off now. I doubled the recipe, as I need more pieces and I put it in a bigger springform pan. It needed quite a bit more time in the oven, 70 minutes, and only then it started to come away from the pan and it didn’t look liquid in the middle anymore. It did crack on the top, though. I can’t wait for it to cool, to frost it 😀

  50. Holy crap that looks good! You have me doubting what I had planned to bring for Thanksgiving dinner.

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