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Hazelnut Cake

This light and airy hazelnut cake is an easy twist on a classic Italian cake. Hazelnuts, chocolate, and lots of butter come together with whipped egg whites to create a moist, elegant dessert.

Close-up of hazelnut cake with chocolate syrup.

Moist & Buttery Homemade Hazelnut Cake

You don’t have to be a professional baker to make this hazelnut cake. It’s an easy twist on a classic Italian cake, drawing on cheats and traditional Italian flavors without any of the fuss. In other words, it’s my kind of cake!

It’s super light and airy because of the whipped egg whites in the batter. Lots of butter also makes this cake very moist and buttery with a tender crumb. For texture and flavor, ground hazelnuts and bittersweet chocolate are a heavenly combination.

Don’t let its elegant flavor fool you into thinking it’s a difficult recipe. You know I’m all about low-effort, high-reward desserts! It will require about an hour of baking time plus cooling, but don’t get impatient.

Drizzling this chocolate and hazelnut-speckled cake with a thick chocolate sauce or syrup is everything. (Try the sauce on Peanut Butter Chocolate Bread Pudding!) It tastes like a stroll through an old Italian village, with hints of earthy bitterness, nuttiness, and lots of elegance in every bite.

What You’ll Need

For such an elegant-tasting cake, the ingredients are actually quite simple. Scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of this post for exact ingredient amounts.

  • Hazelnuts – Make sure they’re ground and un-blanched, so the skin still needs to be on. A hazelnut meal (or hazelnut flour) can also be used; just make sure it’s made with un-blanched hazelnuts.
  • Unsalted butter – Let the butter sit at room temperature until it’s still cool and holds a thumbprint when pressed. This cake has a very delicate flavor, so I don’t recommend salted butter.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Eggs
  • All-purpose flour – Measure by weight or use the spoon and sweep method. Learn more: How to Measure Flour
  • Baking powder
  • Bittersweet chocolate – Semisweet chocolate is fine, too.
  • Milk – I recommend whole milk or 2% milk.

What Hazelnuts Should I Use?

They need to be ground and un-blanched.

You can buy them whole and grind them yourself in a food processor. However, they will need to be un-blanched because the skin on them adds a subtle earthy bitterness to the cake.

Using blanched hazelnuts wouldn’t be the end of the world, but the end result would be a much mellower flavor in an already delicate cake.

Close-up of hazelnut cake slice with chocolate syrup.

How to Make Hazelnut Cake

Don’t let the handful of steps scare you. You don’t have to do that many things, I just added enough detail to everything so that this cake is a definite success.

  • Prepare the pan. Generously grease a Bundt pan with a cooking spray with flour (like Baker’s Joy or Pam for Baking), making sure to get all the nooks and crannies covered. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Sprinkle the pan with 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts.
  • Beat the butter and sugar. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and 6 tablespoons of sugar over medium speed for 5 minutes. Beat until it’s light and fluffy. You can also use a hand mixer for this.
  • Add the yolks. One at a time, add the egg yolks as you continue mixing. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well incorporated.
  • Mix the dry ingredients. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, remaining hazelnuts, and chocolate.
  • Mix wet and dry ingredients. Add half of the dry ingredients to the bowl with the beaten butter and yolks. Mix on low speed until just combined. Add the milk and continue mixing. Finally, add the remaining flour and mix for another 3-4 minutes or until just combined.
  • Beat the whites. Add the egg whites to a separate stainless steel bowl. With the whisk attachment, beat them over low speed until white, opaque, and slightly foamy. Then increase the speed to medium and gradually add the remaining sugar. Continue to beat until soft peaks form.
  • Fold the egg whites in. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold a third of the beaten egg whites gently into the batter. Once incorporated, gently fold in the rest. Do this carefully, you don’t want to deflate the air bubbles in the egg whites.
  • Bake. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool. Remove the cake from the oven, and let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan. (If you do it straight out of the oven, it will crumble.) Set it on a wire rack and let it come to room temperature before serving.
Close-up of hazelnut cake.

Tips for Success

Many things can go wrong with this simple cake if you’re not careful. Follow these tips to stay on top of things:

  • Clean the bowl well. Egg whites won’t whip if there’s the slightest bit of fat, grease, or oil in the bowl. You can’t always see it but it will still prevent your whites from whipping. Avoid this by washing the bowl with soap and hot water. Yes, even if the bowl is “clean.”
  • Use a non-reactive bowl. If the bowl is clean and your whites still won’t rise, it’s probably because of the bowl. Certain materials don’t interact well with some ingredients, especially egg whites. Stay away from glass and plastic bowls. Use stainless steel bowls to avoid this problem.
  • Mind the eggs’ temperature. They separate more easily when they’re cold, but they’ll whip better when they’re at room temperature.
  • Don’t add the sugar too soon. Adding the sugar into the whites before they’ve become foamy means your meringue will be much weaker and won’t be able to hold as much air. Do it exactly as stated in the recipe for best results.

Serving Suggestions

Drizzle it with chocolate syrup, Nutella, caramel, or butterscotch sauce for an extra decadent cake. Sweetened whipped cream also adds richness and creaminess.

Enjoy it with your favorite ice cream and a cup of coffee, tea, milkshake, or hot chocolate.

Keep it simple with a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar on each slice when serving.

How to Store Leftovers

Once the hazelnut cake has fully cooled, place it into an airtight container and store it at room temperature for up to 3 days.

In the refrigerator, it will keep for up to a week in an airtight container. Make extra sure the container is airtight so the cake doesn’t become dry. Just let it come to room temperature before eating.

Can I Freeze Hazelnut Cake?

Whole or sliced, wrap the cooled cake in plastic wrap. Then transfer it to a freezer-friendly bag or container and freeze for up to 2 months. When ready to eat, place it on the counter until it has thawed completely.

More Homemade Cake Recipes

Hazelnut Cake

Yield 12 servings
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Light and airy, this easy hazelnut cake has a very elegant taste because it's packed with hazelnuts, chocolate, and lots of butter.

Close-up of hazelnut cake with chocolate syrup.

Ingredients

  • 1 & 1/2 cups (168g) ground un-blanched hazelnuts (or hazelnut meal), divided into 1/2 cup (56g) and 1 cup (112g) portions
  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar, divided
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 ounces (85g) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely grated
  • 1 cup (236ml) milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 12-cup Bundt or tube pan. Coat with 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts.
  2. Beat the butter and 6 tablespoons of sugar on medium speed of a heavy-duty mixer. Mix until soft and light, about 5 minutes. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating after each addition.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, the remaining ground hazelnuts, and chocolate. Add half of the flour mixture to the egg yolk mixture. Mix on low speed just until blended. Beat in the milk. Beat in the remaining flour mixture.
  4. Beat the egg whites on medium speed with a mixer’s whisk attachment. Mix until white and opaque and just beginning to hold a shape. Increase speed to medium-high, and add the remaining 6 tablespoons sugar in a stream. Continue mixing until soft peaks form.
  5. Gently stir one-third of the egg whites into the batter. Then, gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then, remove the cake from the pan directly onto a wire rack, and cool completely.

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    51 Comments on “Hazelnut Cake”

  1. Mon Dieu! This looks amazing. Like Nutella in cake form. I must bake this very soon.

  2. Ooooo, that looks wonderful and I have that book!!! Yay, I must try it. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Aaah. I gave up Nutella two months ago, and have been very good at resisting anything that might spark a craving. But I think I’m going to have to make an exception for this cake.

    Looks beautiful. Always great to see a post from you!

  4. This cake looks like a serious winner! There is nothing better than the chocolate/hazelnut combo. Quinn definitely knows what he is doing, choosing this recipe.

  5. Chocolate and hazelnut is a favorite combo of mine as well. What a delicious cake this is!

  6. Wow this looks incredible!

  7. I clipped this one…can’t wait to try it.

  8. Como siempre, increibles los pasteles que nos traes. Ya se echaba de menos una receta. Un saludo

  9. I’ve never been a fan of Hazelnut before, but this looks too yummy to pass up!
    Thanks!!!

  10. I always await Quinn’s birthday cakes, since the combination is a favorite of mine, as well as the boyfriend’s!! I earned a lot of brownie points through these cakes 🙂

  11. this looks and sounds amazing! My 2 oldest sons LOVE this combo…
    thanks for the recipe 🙂

  12. I need to use hazelnut more often in baking! This sounds amazing.

  13. Do you think ground almonds (aka “almond meal”) could be subbed for the ground hazelnuts?

  14. T. Martin, I think that almonds would work. If you try it, let me know how you like it.

  15. Great recipe. I can’t wait to try it. Thank you very much for sharing!!!

  16. I am so impressed with this cake! Even though hazelnuts and chocolate are the best combo ever, I have not seen many cakes like this! Your photo is also very beautiful.

  17. Cake is my favorite.I like all kinds of tastes.But I cannot make cake.

  18. What a great combination. Looks so delish!

  19. Wow, this looks awesome together. Yum!

  20. Lovely, and reading the comments am tempted to try this with ground almonds.

  21. Mmmm drool, I cant believe how tasty this looks 🙂 its making me hungry hehe.

  22. Cool! I love it!

    This is perfect for desserts on “Mother’s Day”.

    Can I add raisins on this cake recipe? or something like toppings?

  23. Jenny, I’m not a raisin fan, so I don’t have a lot of experience baking with them. Toppings are definitely good though. Just the chocolate sauce I used on it was fabulous.

  24. this looks delicious!! i love anything with hazelnut mmmm!

  25. Love and not a big fan of hazelnut. By the way, I have made the Max Brenner fudge brownies numerous times and they have always gone over with a GIANT BANG!

    I gave you a blog award on my site along with a link. Hope to send some new traffic your way!

    http://tvfoodanddrink.com/2010/05/a-blog-award-for-tv-food-and-drink/

  26. This looks delicious! I will definitely be trying it soon!

    http://amusebouche-caitlin.blogspot.com/

  27. Literally drooling on my keyboard!

    Laura
    http://culinarycravings.net/

  28. Pingback: Happy Hazelnut Cake Day! | Bromography

  29. Oh yummy! I love hazelnut cake! Thanks for sharing this! Awesome pictures too!

  30. I never thought of pairing salt and chocolate until I tasted the salted caramel hot chocolate at Starbucks. Salted brownies may be next on my list to try. Thanks for posting this!
    http://www.gourmetcookingonabudget.blogspot.com

  31. Oops, I clicked on the wrong recipe to comment on. This looks good too!

  32. Pingback: Chocolate Hazelnut Cake « Breakfast Monkey

  33. One of my favorite cakes mmmmmmmm

  34. Happy Birthday to Quinn.. love the cake

  35. Thank you so much for posting this! I’ve made this twice already- last year for a fundraiser (they sold out!), this year for entertaining. Both times I made cupcakes instead of the cake, and topped them with chocolate ganache, and a hazelnut for the finish. The only minor problem for me was the sugar (I’m leaving out my troubles with making perfect ganache). I believe one cup is more than 12 tablespoons. I think I caught it last year in time, but not this time around. It tasted slightly under-sweetened, so I countered it with extra thick ganache on top. We still loved the result, and they tasted even better the next day. (My dear neighbor claimed it was the best cupcake she ever tasted)
    PS: I’ve made the “Zimtsterne” that you posted, too, (with great success) and think yours are extra gorgeous.

  36. Wait!! I just went to make the recipe and noticed that the ingredients list calls for 1 cup of sugar, but the instructions call for 12 TBSP total, 6 with the butter/yolks, and 6 with the whites. 1 cup = 16 TBSP. Which is it?? :-O

  37. Im making whoopie pies this weekend and i wanted to try a hazelnut cake with nutella frosting, will this hazelnut cake work for whoopie pies or will it be too dense?

  38. Pingback: This week on pinterest | allure allure

  39. I wanted to make this cake using 2 9inch cake pans and have nutella in the center and choc genache on top. will this work ?

  40. Hi, Val. I’ve never tried making this cake in round layers. I feel like it will work, but you’ll likely need to decrease the baking time. You may also want to refrigerate the finished cake for a bit to let it set.

  41. Hallo!
    Yesterday I looked for a nuts cake in order to fulfill my husband’ s craving. Then I found your beautiful cake. I made it yesterday and turned out to be by far the best cake I ever baked!
    Dense, rich, nutty, some glimpses of bitter chocolate here and there: a piece of heaven!
    Thanks

  42. A good friend’s birthday is coming up and she loves hazelnut + chocolate combination so I’ve been browsing your archives and found this beauty. I don’t own a Bundt form though, do you know if this would translate to springform? Would I need to adjust the baking time? Thanks for letting me know 🙂

    • Hi, Nadine. I’ve not tried this as anything but a Bundt cake. If you’re going to go another route, I’d recommend making a couple of layers or halving the recipe and making one layer. You might want to look at this recipe as an alternative: Hazelnut Cake with Mocha Frosting. Happy birthday to your friend!

      • Thanks for your reply 🙂 I actually browsed many of your other hazelnut options but this one won out because it seemed to pack a real nutty punch with a great crumb… I ended up using a springform pan, splitting it into two layers and then filling and topping it with ganache. Rave reviews all around 🙂 May try it with almonds next time. Thanks so much!

  43. please have people ONLY comment if they have actually made and tried the cake, People reading testimonials want to know how it tastes… we already know it looks yummy from the pictures. 98% of the comments keep repeating that it “looks” or “sounds” delicious… that is not helpful…. how does it taste is the question.

  44. Just tried this – very good texture and density! The beaten egg whites give a lightness to a hearty cake. It had a nice bit of crispness on the outside, and was moist inside. (I did add zest of an orange to the recipe, which may have added a bit to moisture). I am afraid i toasted the hazelnuts a bit too long before grinding, My 8-year old and 12-year old boys loved it anyway. will try it again sometime with less roasting. (actually i was a little un-clear on what preparation of the hazelnuts was intended in the recipe – although it specified “unblanched”, i was not really sure whether any toasting was suppposed to happen…

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