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.
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.
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.
- Chocolate–hazelnut 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.