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

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 8-10 servings

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake


    For the cake:
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 14 ounces Nutella
  • 1 tablespoon Frangelico, rum, water
  • 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • For the frosting:
  • 4 ounces hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon Frangelico, rum, or water
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate


To make the cake:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and line a 9-inch springform pan.

Whisk egg whites and salt until stiff but not dry. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and Nutella. Mix in Frangelico, egg yolks, and hazelnuts. Fold in chocolate. Then, fold in the egg whites.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes, until cake begins to come away from the sides of the pan. Cool cake completely on a wire rack.

To make the frosting:

Toast 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.)

In a heavy saucepan, heat the cream, Frangelico, and chocolate. When the chocolate has melted, remove pan from heat and whisk until thick enough to ice the cake.

Unmold the cake, leaving it on its base. Ice the top of the cake with the icing. Top with toasted hazelnuts.


Recipe adapted from How to Be a Domestic Goddess.

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  1. Catherine Mincy March 25, 2009 Reply

    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. Kelly March 25, 2009 Reply

    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. Anna March 25, 2009 Reply

    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. dawn March 25, 2009 Reply

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

  5. Sarah March 25, 2009 Reply

    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. Sugar Duchess March 25, 2009 Reply

    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. Baking Monster March 25, 2009 Reply

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

  9. jennifer March 25, 2009 Reply

    Anna, I like to get blanched hazelnuts. So much easier. Try or

  10. The Duo Dishes March 25, 2009 Reply

    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. Dani March 25, 2009 Reply

    well, i found my bday cake for the year :)
    looks delish!

  12. Maria March 25, 2009 Reply

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

  13. Angela Tunner March 25, 2009 Reply

    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. Treehouse Chef March 25, 2009 Reply

    This looks like death by chocolate!

  15. deeba March 25, 2009 Reply

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

  16. Elizabeth March 25, 2009 Reply

    decadent…! Lovely pictures. This made my afternoon!

  17. Kate March 25, 2009 Reply

    I’m impressed by your hazelnut skinning prowess.

  18. jennifer March 25, 2009 Reply

    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. bakerella March 25, 2009 Reply

    It’s glorious!

  20. Maya March 26, 2009 Reply

    Great birthday cake. Nigella’s recipes have yet to fail me :)

  21. Culinary Wannabe March 26, 2009 Reply

    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! :)

  22. Amy March 26, 2009 Reply

    Chocolate and Hazelnuts???

    ’nuff said. I’m in.

  23. Katie March 26, 2009 Reply

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

  24. Jill B March 26, 2009 Reply

    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.

  25. Sandie March 26, 2009 Reply

    Chocolate & hazelnut—is there a more divine combination?

  26. The Food Hunter March 26, 2009 Reply

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

  27. Hayley March 26, 2009 Reply

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

  28. Katrina March 27, 2009 Reply

    Awesome looking cake. Perfect combo, hazelnuts and chocolate!

  29. Hannah March 27, 2009 Reply

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

  30. Jenn's Baking Chamber March 28, 2009 Reply

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

  31. Alicia March 28, 2009 Reply

    Looks divine! I am a fan of chocolate and hazelnut :)

  32. Gigi March 28, 2009 Reply

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

  33. Nan and Jim March 28, 2009 Reply

    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. “-)

  34. Paula March 30, 2009 Reply

    that looks like chocolate heaven to me!!

  35. Laura March 30, 2009 Reply

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

  36. Eliana March 31, 2009 Reply

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

  37. suzy April 2, 2009 Reply

    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:)

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

  39. Chrissa April 19, 2009 Reply

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

  40. justcooknyc April 19, 2009 Reply

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

  41. This looks super yummy. I love the hazulnut-chocolate combination. I have a similar recipe too but its a frozen biscuit cake…

  42. Lynn May 4, 2009 Reply

    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!

  43. jennifer May 4, 2009 Reply

    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.

  44. Lisa (dinner party) May 13, 2009 Reply

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

  45. Julie June 15, 2009 Reply

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

  46. Aysegul - nysdelight August 19, 2009 Reply

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

  47. kate December 16, 2009 Reply

    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.

  48. jennifer December 16, 2009 Reply

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

  49. sheila June 26, 2010 Reply

    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

  50. mila July 19, 2011 Reply

    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 :)

  51. Maja September 20, 2013 Reply

    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 😀

  52. Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie November 19, 2013 Reply

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

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