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Hazelnut Cake with Mocha Frosting

There are some food combinations that are just magical. One of the best examples is chocolate and coffee. Coffee just does something to chocolate to make it even better. Even if you aren’t a coffee fan, it’s hard to argue with the taste of those two together.

Recently, HiLine Coffee Company sent me some of their delicious Nespresso-compatible coffee capsules to try. Of course, my first thought was to break out some chocolate to go along with their coffee and get baking!

Hazelnut Cake with Mocha Frosting is sure to please fans of chocolate and coffee.

As Quinn is much more the coffee-drinker around here, I ran some baking ideas by him. When I mentioned the idea for this cake, he enthusiastically agreed, so I figured I’d have a winner with this one. And, I believe I was correct!

The cake itself is basically a simple yellow cake dressed up with a bit of brown sugar and some toasted hazelnuts. It’s sweet and crunchy and so moist. Then, I made a simple chocolate frosting with a heavy dose of strong coffee.

Hazelnut Cake with Mocha Frosting combines sweet, nutty cake with a rich chocolate frosting flavored with espresso.

I opted to frost just the tops of each cake layer for a simpler presentation and because, frankly, I’m not that great at frosting cakes. If you prefer more frosting, just increase the frosting recipe by half, or even double it. Then, you’ll have plenty for frosting the sides as well. Or, just enjoy the leftover frosting on its own. I won’t judge.

Hazelnut Cake with Mocha Frosting

Yield 12 to 16 servings
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Hazelnut Cake with Mocha Frosting combines sweet, nutty cake with a rich chocolate frosting flavored with espresso!

Hazelnut Cake with Mocha Frosting


For the cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

For the frosting:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons brewed strong coffee or espresso*
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
  • chopped toasted hazelnuts, for garnish


To make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper. Butter paper.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.
  5. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add flour in three portions, alternating with two portions of sour cream. Mix until a few streaks of flour remain. Stir in hazelnuts.
  6. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Smooth batter evenly in pans.
  7. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until cakes are lightly browned and a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool in pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Then, run a knife around the edges to loosen the cakes. Transfer cakes from pans to a wire rack to cool completely. Remove parchment paper.

To make the frosting:

  1. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, cocoa powder, espresso, and vanilla until thoroughly combined.
  2. Gradually add confectioners' sugar. Mix until smooth.
  3. Add milk as needed to attain desired spreadable consistency.

To assemble the cake:

  1. Place one cake layer on a cake plate. Spread half of the frosting on top of the cake.
  2. Place remaining cake layer on top of frosted cake layer. Spread remaining frosting on top of the second cake layer.
  3. Garnish with chopped hazelnuts.


*This is the quantity from one HiLine Coffee capsule brewed on the Nespresso's Espresso setting.

Frosting recipe slightly adapted from Southern Living.

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Hazelnut Cake with Mocha Frosting | Bake or Break

HiLine Coffee Company provided products for both my own use and for the giveaway. All opinions written are my own.

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    20 Comments on “Hazelnut Cake with Mocha Frosting”

  1. Fabulous. I need a new coffee maker and haven’t yet gotten on board the Nespresso/Keurig bandwagon.

  2. Gorgeous cake, Jennifer — I can’t get enough of the coffee and chocolate combo, and when you add in hazelnuts, I’m deliriously happy 🙂

  3. My favorite coffee-flavored dessert is tiramisu. In fact, I could go for some now…

  4. This looks SO good – that frosting! I’m dying!

  5. This cake looks so moist, and I love the sound of that frosting with the coffee and hazelnuts! 🙂

  6. This cake looks fabulous! I love the combination of flavors in it!

  7. Lovely cake! Hazelnut iced coffee is the best, this is a great combination!

  8. My favorite is Mocha Cinnamon Custard. Thanks.

  9. Coffee and chocolate are like peanut butter and jelly..meant to be!! This cake is quite the beauty. I wouldn’t be able to stop at just one slice!

  10. Mocha quick bread! Great for breakfast!

  11. Good afternoon! I know it’s been nearly a year since you posted this, but I’m seriously considering making this for my birthday, in September. I bought myself a Nespresso Inissia machine in January and it’s the best thing ever. I was wondering what intensity of coffee you used for the frosting? Would you recommend a medium roast, or perhaps a dark one? Thanks!

    • Hi, Kendall! I am not a coffee drinker, so I rely on my husband’s Nespresso stash when I need coffee for baking. His preferences lean toward strong and dark, but I think any type would work. Just go with your preference!

      • Thanks for the advice! I think I’m more like your husband; I prefer coffee to be potent. Now I have to think of just how potent I want the frosting to be!

  12. What is the difference between the frosting in your adapted recipe and the frosting from the original? I’m wondering taste-wise, is one better? Or were the changes made to be healthier? Also, what about using Hazelnut flavored coffee for the frosting? Would that be too much? Or instead of milk, using hazelnut creamer? Doing both creamer and flavored coffee!? Any advice is appreciated! I hope you respond bc I’m planning to make this for my mom’s 70th birthday this weekend. These are her favorite flavors!

    • Hi, Christina. I’ve not made the original frosting recipe, but I made the changes to decrease the sugar and alter the texture a bit with softened butter and milk. One isn’t necessarily better. It’s just a personal preference. You can certainly use flavored coffee or creamer if you like. I’ve not tried it, but I think it would work!

      • Thanks, Jennifer! I made this cake for my mom’s 70th birthday on Saturday. My family is from Italy and they LOVE the flavor of hazelnuts. The cake was great, but i did find that it was somewhat dense and on the drier side even though i only baked it for 25 minutes. I halved the ingredients and separately cooked another batter so that i could make a triple layer cake. I also used the original recipe from Southern Living for the frosting because I wanted a stronger coffee flavor and because… my mom is 70 – i’m not skimping on sugar! I did 2.5X that recipe to have enough frosting for in between the layers and the sides. All in all, the cake was very good. I think if i make it again, i’ll try to do something about the density. Thanks for sharing!

  13. I made this cake today as a birthday cake for someone special. I doubled the recipe in order to yield 4 8 inch cakes. i used 3 of the cakes to make a triple layered cake and decorated it as well . decorating was a great hassle, as im just good at the baking part but i think in the end the cake turned out fine ( due to my moms wonderful skills salvaging my cake). i just tried a piece of the cake i left for the house \( good thing i had a back up because this one cracked a little) and it tasted amazing! i did not have any icing on this cake but it still tasted yummy. i did add about maybe 1 cup of milk to the batter( used my judgment) as the batter just seemed to thick to my liking. overall id give this cake a 4 out of 5 and would definitely make it again ( maybe with icing, although my family prefers cake with out}. i would also probably cut out about 1/2 cup of sugar. overall very good! hope my special someone enjoys it when i give it to them!

  14. Hiya, Jennifer! Well, today’s my birthday and I’ve finally made this cake. Holy moly, it is FAB!!!! It’s just me and my husband celebrating so I’ll have to share some with my workmates tomorrow. I adore anything mocha-flavored and this cake did not disappoint. Absolutely amazing!

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