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.

Scroll past the recipe for details on how you can win a selection of HiLine Coffee Capsules and a Nespresso Citiz.

Hazelnut Cake with Mocha Frosting

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 12 to 16 servings

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:

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper. Butter paper.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.

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.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Smooth batter evenly in pans.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until cakes are lightly browned and a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.

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:

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, cocoa powder, espresso, and vanilla until thoroughly combined.

Gradually add confectioners' sugar. Mix until smooth.

Add milk as needed to attain desired spreadable consistency.

To assemble the cake:

Place one cake layer on a cake plate. Spread half of the frosting on top of the cake.

Place remaining cake layer on top of frosted cake layer. Spread remaining frosting on top of the second cake layer.

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.


HiLine Coffee and Nespresso Citiz Giveaway | Bake or Break

HiLine Coffee Company is going to send one lucky Bake or Break reader a Nespresso Citiz along with 20 boxes of HiLine Coffee Capsules. Quinn and I have been enjoying the machine and the coffee so much. I don’t think a day has gone by that there hasn’t been coffee made in our kitchen!

HiLine Coffee and Nespresso Citiz Giveaway | Bake or Break

See the widget below for entry details and requirements. Please note that the winner must be a U.S. resident 18 years or older. If you are unable to see the widget, make sure your browser is updated or try viewing this page in another browser.

Be sure to add bakeorbreak at gmail dot com to your contacts so that a winning email from me doesn’t end up in your spam folder. If a winner doesn’t respond to my email within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen.

In addition to this great giveaway, HiLine Coffee Company is offering 10% off their products through June 30, 2014. Just use the code BEACH10 when purchasing from their site.

Good luck!

Hazelnut Cake with Mocha Frosting | Bake or Break

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

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  1. Diane Troxell June 25, 2014 Reply

    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. Linda K. June 26, 2014 Reply

    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. marcie June 26, 2014 Reply

    This cake looks so moist, and I love the sound of that frosting with the coffee and hazelnuts! :)

  6. Darla S. June 26, 2014 Reply

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

  7. Tracy | Pale Yellow June 27, 2014 Reply

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

  8. Terra Heck July 1, 2014 Reply

    My favorite is Mocha Cinnamon Custard. Thanks.

  9. Joanne July 2, 2014 Reply

    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. Leah SB July 2, 2014 Reply

    Mocha quick bread! Great for breakfast!

  11. Kendall Stark May 27, 2015 Reply

    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!

    • Author
      Jennifer McHenry May 28, 2015 Reply

      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!

      • Kendall Stark May 29, 2015 Reply

        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!

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