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Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Every year, I let Quinn pick his birthday dessert. Now, when I say that, what I actually mean is that I spend a good bit of time asking lots of questions. A cake or something else? Chocolate? Caramel? Cheesecake? Any idea at all what you’d like? Then, using the bits of information I’m given here and there, I pick out several recipes and let him choose one.

This year’s choice is from one of my favorite baking books, How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson. It’s actually called Torta Alla Gianduia. That seemed a bit much to me, so I went with the much simpler name.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake is a beautiful, delicious dessert worthy of a special occasion.

It’s really quite a simple cake to make. It is one of those rare recipes that looks impressive without taking days to make while making you consider giving up baking once and for all. I only had two issues with the recipe. The first is just a technical problem. The Nutella in my grocery store comes in a 13 ounce jar, not 14 ounces. Luckily, I had an opened jar in the pantry, so I added an extra dollop. Secondly, be aware that the whisking portion of the icing recipe is beyond tedious. The directions state that the mixture should be whisked until it is “the right consistency.” Not having more than that to go by leaves it open to interpretation. I think I might have liked it to be a bit thicker, but it still worked well enough.

I was tempted to use semi-sweet chocolate instead of bittersweet because of Quinn’s usual chocolate preferences. However, I don’t think it would have been nearly as good. It’s so rich that it seems to lend itself to a special occasion.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake is wonderfully delicious and beautiful cake that's surprisingly simple to make!

This year, I would say Quinn chose his cake rather well. It does bear at least a similarity in flavor to his last birthday cake, but it is hard to beat chocolate and hazelnuts. For all you serious chocolate fans, I urge you to give it a try. If you’re a Nutella fan, too, then I really must insist that you make it as soon as possible.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Yield 8-10 servings
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Chocolate Hazelnut Cake


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


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.


Recipe adapted from How to Be a Domestic Goddess.

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    52 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 or

  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…

  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!

  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. hello, i’m kate and i would like to try your recipe! i’m from hong kong, so i’m not sure about the units used. how many grams is one cup of butter? is there difference between one cup of flour, one cup of butter, one cup of sugar? does all american recipes use the same way to measure??i really like your recipes, especially the cookies and cakes!! i’m going to use this recipe to make a cake for my christmas party, so i’d want to be sure that it’ll be ok.(hopefully) (: thanks.

  47. kate, there are several conversion helpers online. Here’s one: Good luck!

  48. 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

  49. 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 🙂

  50. 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 😀

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

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