This Hazelnut Cake recipe was a labor of love to develop—but boy was it worth it! After countless iterations and tests, I finally landed on a Chocolate Hazelnut Cake recipe that is both interesting and elegant without being fussy or too showy. It’s toasty and nutty, sweet and chocolatey. Serve it as a dessert with a scoop of ice cream or enjoy it with a cup of coffee—either way, it will satisfy that Nutella craving whenever it hits.
Hazelnut Cake (aka Nutella Cake)
This Hazelnut Cake Recipe is inspired by our popular Pistachio Cake recipe. Both are made with toasted nuts, both batters are whipped up in the food processor, and both cakes are baked in a loaf pan for ease and casualness.
Ingredients Needed to Make Hazelnut Cake
- Hazelnuts: the base of this recipe is toasted hazelnuts. Purchase raw hazelnuts and toast them yourself in the oven at 350ºF until they are golden and fragrant, 8–12 minutes.
- Sugar: you’ll need just one cup of granulated sugar for this cake.
- Unsalted butter: we always recommend using unsalted butter for baking so you can control the salt level. If you only have salted butter, you can use that—just pull back on the salt a bit.
- Eggs: you’ll need three large eggs. Be sure to use eggs labeled and sold as “large.” If you use medium eggs, you won’t have enough liquid or binding properties in the batter. One large egg, out of shell, should weigh 50 grams.
- Buttermilk: we have tested this recipe with homemade buttermilk and store bought buttermilk, and while you only need ¼ cup we recommend using store bought. It’s thicker and add more viscosity than homemade buttermilk does.
- Vanilla & Almond Extract: almond extract acts as an enhancing flavor to the hazelnuts. Vanilla just enhances everything.
- Whole-Wheat Flour: this may come as a surprise, but we really like whole wheat flour in this “cake” recipe. It allows it to bridge the gap between cake and quick bread. We have not tested this with all-purpose flour, so we cannot recommend using that instead.
- Baking Powder & Baking Soda: both are needed to adequately lift the nut-filled batter!
- Cinnamon: a bit of cinnamon is added to the chocolate
- Semi-sweet chocolate: I recommend using bar chocolate such a Semi-Sweet Ghirardelli or Semi-Sweet Guittard instead of chocolate chips. Chocolate chips have added stabilizers that can impact the texture of the cake.
How to Make Hazelnut Cake
- Toast the Hazelnuts
- Process the Hazelnuts
- Make the Cake Batter in the Food Processor
- Mix Up the Chocolate Batter
- Swirl the Batter into Cake Pan
- Bake the Cake
The first step is to toast the hazelnuts—this is important for two reasons. One, it gives the nuts MUCH more flavor and it brings out their true. The second reason to toast the nuts is to remove the thin skins that envelop the nuts. Once toasted, the skins will loosen and can easily be rubbed off.
Process the hazelnuts with sugar and a dash of salt until it’s finely ground. Pulse in butter pieces then process until the mixture is smooth and shiny.
Add eggs, buttermilk and extracts to the hazelnut mixture in the food processor and process until smooth.
Add in the flour, baking powder and baking soda and pulse just to combine.
Mix 1 cup of the base batter with some melted chocolate, chunks of chocolate and cinnamon.
In a loaf pan, add half of the remaining base batter then dollop half of the chocolate batter over top.
Give it a quick swirl then repeat with the remaining batter.
Top the batter off with chunks of chocolate, chopped hazelnuts and sugar.
Bake the cake until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs on it, this will take 65–70 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes before lifting th cake out and letting it cool completely.
The cake will slightly fall in the middle due to the heaviness of the chocolate, but don’t worry, the cake has a wonderful moist crumb—the slight indentation is just fine!
Expert Tips from the Test Kitchen
- To easily remove the cake from the pan, line the pan with parchment paper sling and leave a couple inch overhang. The overhang can then be used as “handles” to easily pull the cake out of the tin.
- It’s important to use the correct size loaf pan! Use a 8½ × 4½-inch loaf pan. If a large loaf pan is used, the cake will come out shorter.
- How to Toast Hazelnuts: arrange hazelnuts in an even layer on a baking sheet. Toast in a 350ºF oven until fragrant and golden, 15–25 minutes, shimmying the pan occasionally for even toasting.
- Removing Hazelnut Skins: It’s important to remove the skins from the toasted hazelnuts before blending them up for the batter. Once the nuts are toasted and cooled, transfer them to a kitchen towel, fold the towel over top and shimmy them around to remove the thin skins.
Many of the skins will rub off, but there will also be a handful of nuts that still have skin intact. Use your fingers to rub them off, if possible. If the skins won’t budge, don’t worry about it. A few with skins are OK!
Store hazelnut cake at room temperature in an airtight container or zipper-lock bag for up to 4 days. For longer storage, keep it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
More Interesting Cake Recipes to Try
- As I mentioned it earlier, this recipe is inspired by our Pistachio Cake. So if you love the idea of a nut-infused cake, give this one a try as well.
- Another easy cake to try is our Olive Oil Cake. It’s lemony, moist and just sweet enough. (Or try our Orange Olive Oil Cake for something a bit more “holiday.”)
- Craving more chocolate? Try out Chocolate Sour Cream Cake. It’s insane!
- A slice of Sweet Potato Cake can easily be a fall dessert for served as a coffee cake.
- If you’ve never put cottage cheese in a cake, well it’s time to try our Cottage Cheese Cake. It’s light yet moist and is bound to surprise you.
Hazelnut Cake Recipe
- 1 cup (135g) hazelnuts, toasted and skins removed + 2 tablespoons for topping
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar + 2 teaspoons for topping
- ½ teaspoon Morton kosher salt or ¾ teaspoon diamond crystal
- 6 tablespoons (87g) cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 3 large eggs (150g)
- ¼ cup (64g) buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon (7g) pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1 cup (130g) whole-wheat flour
- 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 4 ounces semi-sweet bar chocolate, chopped
- Process 1 cups (135g) hazelnuts, 1 cup (200g) sugar, and ½ teaspoon salt in a food processor until finely ground into a wet-sand-like mixture, but not a paste, about 1 minute; scraping down sides and bottom halfway through and at the end.
- Pulse 6 tablespoons (87g) butter into hazelnut mixture (12 pulses), then process until the mixture is smooth to touch but grainy looking and shiny, 3-4 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl halfway through.
- Meanwhile, melt 2 ounces chocolate in microwave-safe bowl in microwave on half power in 30-second increments until melted and smooth.
- Stir 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon into melted chocolate; set aside. Chop remaining 2 ounces chocolate into small chunks; set aside.
- Stream 3 eggs (150g) and ¼ cup (64g) buttermilk into batter and process 1 minute. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and ¼ teaspoon almond extract; process to combine.
- Add 1 cup (130g) whole-wheat flour, 1 ¼ teaspoons (6g) baking powder, ¼ teaspoon baking soda; pulse just until combined, about 8 pulses.
- Transfer 1 cup of batter to bowl with melted chocolate. Measure out 2 tablespoons of chopped chocolate and set aside for topping. Fold remaining chopped chocolate into chocolate batter.
- Pour half of plain batter into prepared loaf pan. Dollop half of chocolate batter over top. Swirl chocolate batter in with a knife. Pour remaining plain better over top and dollop with remaining chocolate; swirl.
- Sprinkle 2 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts, 2 tablespoons chocolate pieces and 2 teaspoons sugar over top. Transfer to oven and bake until cake is tall, browned, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 65–72 minutes.
- Let cake cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes, then run a knife around cake and use parchment overhang to lift cake out of pan; transfer to cooling rack and cool completely.