Chocolate-Hazelnut Cake x3

Nutella cake

Licking the jar clean is strictly encouraged when making a Nutella cake. That’s why it’s my favorite dessert to make. The recipe, from How to Be a Domestic Goddess, is kitschy yet decadent. A whole jar of Nutella, a stick of butter, a half dozen eggs, melted dark chocolate and ground hazelnuts combine to make a pudding-like cake.

Since I’m obsessed with all things with chocolate and hazelnut, I tested out two other recipes in search of the perfect cake. All were good in their own way, but I liked my first try the best. Here’s the taste-off:

Nutella Cake
lightened recipe from How to Be a Domestic Goddess

I had such great results halving the butter and replacing the chocolate with cocoa and sugar that I never bothered to make the full-fat recipe. This cake has virtually no grain; it’s like a solid slab of Nutella whose sweetness is offset by bitter cocoa. To see the interior of the cake, see The Skinny Epicurean.

I tried this recipe with homemade and store-bought chocolate-hazelnut spread. No need to get fancy: Nutella actually makes a better, smoother cake.

Makes 16 rich servings

1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup (half stick) soft unsalted butter
1 12-ounce jar of Nutella (chocolate-hazelnut spread)
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tablespoon Frangelico, rum or water
6 large eggs, separated
3/8 tsp cream of tarter or 3/4 tsp vinegar or lemon juice

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9-inch springform pan by lining the bottom with parchment or wax paper and greasing the sides.
  2. In a food processor, grind the hazelnuts with 1 tbsp of sugar until fine.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and Nutella together. Add cocoa, Frangelico (or what you have chosen to use), egg yolks, and the ground hazelnut mixture. Set aside.
  4. In another large bowl, combine the egg whites and cream of tarter and beat till soft peaks form. Gradually sprinkle in 1/2 cup sugar and beat till stiff but not dry. This means that they will hold their peaks, yet still appear glossy and smooth.
  5. Lighten the chocolate mixture by stirring in a quarter of the egg whites, which you can beat in as roughly as you want. Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites a third at a time.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and cook for 40 minutes or until the cake’s beginning to come away at the sides and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs cling to it. Cool on rack. The top crust will fall in the center like a crater.
  7. With your fingers, gently press down the sides of the cooled cake, so the edges are even with the center. Unmold by sliding a knife around the edges. If desired, trim the top crust with a large serrated knife. Invert the cake on a platter, or leave it on the base if you choose.

adapted from Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts by Alice Medrich
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp low-fat 1% buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 ounces (1 scant cup) whole toasted hazelnuts

  1. Combine the sugar and cocoa in a heavy saucepan. Whisk in just enough buttermilk to form a smooth paste. Stir in the remaining buttermilk. Cook over medium heat until the mixture simmers and begins to boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, scraping the sides and bottom of the pan. Boil gently for 2 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  2. Pour through a fine strainer. Allow to cool. To prevent a skin from forming, cover it with plastic wrap directly on the surface. Chill for several hours or overnight. It will thicken as it cools. It will keep in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 1 week.
  3. To assemble the cake, spread a thin layer of glaze over the top and sides of cake. Allow cake to set, at room temp, for at least 20 min. Spread another layer over the top and sides. Dot the top of the cake with the hazelnuts.
  4. Cake keeps at room temperature for up to one day or in the refrigerator for five.


  • Toast the nuts in a 350-degree oven for 10-20 minutes to release their aroma. Stir half way through baking to ensure even browning. Nuts are done when they are fragrant and golden brown. Optional step: to get rid of the bitter skin, rub the cooled nuts in a paper towel.
  • Grinding the hazelnuts with some sugar ensures that those flavorful oils don’t go to waste. The sugar also acts as padding so you can grind the nuts finely without turning them into butter.
  • The boiling time is important in the sauce. This glaze makes a thick smooth covering for a cake, but it is not stiff enough to frost with swirls or peaks. If you cheat on the boiling time, it will not thicken enough (even after chilling) to coat a cake without dripping mostly off the sides, nor will it have the intensity of flavor it needs to be a great chocolate sauce.
  • To make one cup of buttermilk, measure 1 Tbsp vinegar and add enough milk to make one cup total.


  • To make about 28 cupcakes, pour the batter into cupcake liners and bake for about 20 minutes.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Torte
adapted from Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts by Alice Medrich

Chocolate Hazelnut Souffle Torte

I used hazelnuts in the Chocolate Walnut Torte recipe and got something very similar to the famous Fallen Chocolate Souffle Torte, printed on the preceeding page. While it wasn’t as pudding-like as the Nutella cake, it was delicious in its own right and did not taste low-fat at all. The torte was delicate and even better when warmed. You don’t need to microwave individual slices till hot, but just enough so the chocolate is oozy and melted. Since hazelnuts have less fat than walnuts, you can probably increase the yolks and chocolate to make the cake richer.

Serves 10

1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts (1-1/3 ounces)
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2-1/2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped fine
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup boiling water
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp rum (may omit)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 egg whites
scant 1/4 tsp cream of tartar or 1/2 tsp vinegar or lemon juice
about 2 tsp powdered sugar, for dusting

  1. Position the rack in lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 F. Place a round of parchment paper in the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan and spray the sides with vegetable oil spray
  2. In a food processor or blender, grind the walnuts with the flour until very fine. Set aside.
  3. Combine the chopped chocolate, cocoa and 3/4 cupt of the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Pour in boiling water and whisk until the mixture is smooth and chocolate is completely melted. Stir in the egg yolk, rum, and vanilla. Set aside.
  4. Combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in a medium bowl. Beat at medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually sprinkle in the remaining sugar and continue to beat at high speed until stiff but not dry. Whisk the walnuts into the chocolate. Fold a quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate batter to lighten it. Fold in the remaining egg whites. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake until a skewer or toothpick inserted into the center of the torte comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, about 25-30 minutes. Cool torte in the pan on a rack. It will sink dramatically in the center as it cools, leaving a raised crust around the edge. Torte may be stored, covered, at room temperature for 1 or 2 days or frozen, well wrapped in foil or plastic, for up to 2 months.
  5. To serve: slide a thin knife around the sides of the pan to release the torte. Remove sides and bottom of springform or invert cake pan to unmold. Remove paper liner from bottom and turn torte right side up on a cake circle or platter. Sieve a little powdered sugar on top.

Nutrition information (if made with walnuts)
calories per serving: 169; fat: 5.9 g; % calories from fat: 29%; protein: 3.5 g; carbohydrates: 28.6 g; cholesterol: 21.2 mg

Chocolate-Hazelnut Cake
from Eating Well, winter 2003

Eating Well chocolate hazelnut cake
Picture courtesy Eating Well

Much of the sweetness and moistness here comes from ground dates. Bread crumbs stand in for some of the hazelnuts to create the nubby texture. This low-fat, low-sugar cake is very good for what it is, but that’s not good enough for me. A mediocre healthy dessert doesn’t deserve to be called dessert. In reality, it’s just a health-ified sweet snack.

The test of a good dessert is how much you need to eat in order to feel satisfied. Because of the dates, this cake has a moist, cloying stickiness that never melts on your tongue. So you keep cutting another slice, hoping that the chocolate hit comes.


1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
2 slices firm white sandwich bread, crusts trimmed
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar, divided
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
3 large egg whites

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (1/3 cup)
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1/4 cup boiling water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

To make:

To prepare cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment or wax paper.
  2. Combine dates, cocoa and instant coffee in a small bowl. Add boiling water and stir until cocoa has dissolved. Cover and let stand until dates have softened and mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, spread hazelnuts in a shallow baking dish and bake until fragrant and lightly toasted, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
  4. Grind bread into fine crumbs in a food processor. Measure to make sure you have 1/2 cup. Transfer to a large bowl. (No need to wash the workbowl between steps.)
  5. Place 1/2 cup hazelnuts in the food processor. Add flour and salt; process until nuts are finely ground. Transfer to the bowl with the breadcrumbs.
  6. Scrape the cooled date mixture into the food processor. Add 1/3 cup sugar, oil, vanilla and whole egg; process until smooth, stopping several times to scrape down the sides of the workbowl. Scrape the mixture into the bowl with the breadcrumbs and nuts. Mix gently with a rubber spatula.
  7. In a large clean mixing bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/3 cup sugar, beating until stiff, glossy peaks form. Add one-fourth of the beaten whites to the batter and whisk until blended. Fold in the remaining whites with a rubber spatula just until blended. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly.
  8. Bake until the top springs back when touched lightly, about 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Spray the rack with cooking spray and invert the cake onto it to cool completely.
  9. Meanwhile, to prepare glaze: Combine cocoa, chocolate, corn syrup and instant coffee in a medium bowl. Add boiling water and stir with a wooden spoon until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.
  10. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar to the chocolate mixture, beating with an electric mixer, slowly at first, then gradually increasing speed, until the glaze is smooth and thickened. (The mixture may seem lumpy at first, but it will smooth out.)
  11. To finish the cake, place it bottom side up on a serving plate. Place several strips of wax paper under the bottom edge to protect the plate from drips. Spoon on glaze and spread it evenly over the top and sides of the cake with an icing spatula or knife. Arrange the remaining 2 tablespoons hazelnuts around the top outside edge. Discard the wax paper before serving. Makes 12 servings.

Per serving: 233 calories; 9g total fat (2 g sat, 5 g mono); 18 mg cholesterol; 38 g carbohydrate; 5 g protein; 4 g fiber; 82 mg sodium.

Comments (12)      Email Email      Print Print


  1. Nic said,

    Wow- what a taste off, Jessica! This was a great idea, not to mention that you got to eat so much nutella. Yum!

    March 4, 2006 at 10:18 am

  2. Jessica said,

    Hi Nic, I have to admit, I made these cakes over the course of a year. I was very slow to post the reduced fat Nutella cake recipe!

    March 4, 2006 at 7:08 pm

  3. erika said,


    June 1, 2006 at 7:53 pm

  4. SM said,

    I love nutella and I was so excited to try this recipe. I tried the nutella cake and I followed the recipe exactly. First of all, I decided to toast the hazlenuts for 15 min. since it said to do it for 10-20 min.; I went right in between. The hazlenuts burnt and didn’t taste very good because of that. Also, I baked the cake, following all directions, for 40 minutes as the recipe said. I took it out and the top was kind of hard and crunchy, but not underneath. I easily removed a part of the hard upper crust and found that the cake underneath was extremely gooey. So, I decided I would put it back in the oven until a toothpick came out clean which took about another 40 min. I then let the cake cool and iced it and put the toasted hazlenuts (from a second batch that I only put in for 7 min. to prevent them from burning) on top. I tried some and it was okay but really rich and just looked like a mess since the top (now the bottom) of the cake was all flaky. In short, this is a recipe with many flaws and needs to be adjusted.

    October 7, 2007 at 1:16 am

  5. Jessica "Su Good Eats" said,

    SM, I’m sorry this recipe didn’t work for you. I’ve had many flops myself, and it seems like a waste of time and ingredients. The cake is like a solid pudding (the toothpick should not come out dry). It sounds like your cake was almost done after 40 min. You could have baked it for another 10 min., but another 40 min. sounds too long.

    It’s normal to get the hard upper crust. Since there’s a lot of beaten egg whites, it’s like a meringue and souffle. I flatten the top with my hands and flip the cake over. Sometimes it’s necessary to trim the crust.

    About the hazelnuts – the meat should be golden brown, while the skins will turn black and bitter. This is normal. I rub the skins off afterwards. You might not like them as dark as I do. When I toast nuts, I always check them half way to make sure they’re browning evenly. If you checked yours after 7 min. and were satisfied with the color, there’s no reason why you couldn’t stop toasting them.

    This recipe (and all others) isn’t exact. It’s about using your eyes, nose and tastebuds to determine when things are done.

    I will add more notes in the recipe so other people will know what to look for. Nigella is notorious for her vague instructions.

    October 7, 2007 at 3:25 pm

  6. Kim Mira said,

    Hello Jessica

    I just love Nutella and chocolate and I must try your recepies for both your homemade nutella and the nutella cake. I just have some questions.

    Is the homemade nutella with caramel, whith a distinct caramel taste, couse the thought of that, is not very appeeling to me.

    How much is 112 ounce jar of nutella? Is it just 1 glass of Nutella?
    What is cream tarter? And how much 3/8 tsp, I guess its teaspoons, but is it 3 allmost 4 teaspoons?

    Sorry if it sounds stupid, I just want to get it is right as possible.

    February 19, 2008 at 9:03 am

  7. Jessica "Su Good Sweets" said,

    Hi Kim,
    Your questions aren’t stupid! Homemade chocolate-hazelnut spread has a rich, toasted-sugar taste, but it’s not overly sweet like caramel. I think the Nutella cake is better with storebought Nutella though, because it’s smoother.

    One 12 ounce jar of Nutella is your classic container. To measure 3/8 tsp, get out a 1/2 tsp measure. Fill it 3/4 of the way full. Or, fill a 1/8 tsp three times.

    February 19, 2008 at 10:43 pm

  8. Kim Mira said,

    Hi Jessica

    Thank you! Yes of course 12 ounce jar. Its just that we don’t do that kind of measurements in Denmark 🙂 What about the cream tarter, what is that??

    February 20, 2008 at 3:57 pm

  9. Shameelah said,

    Jessica! The nutella cake sounds gorgeous, im going to give it a try and then come back with the result, thanks xx

    March 14, 2008 at 6:26 pm

  10. Jenn's Baking Chamber said,

    I just discovered your site and I just love all these cake recipes. I’m participating in a cake walk at my work, so I think I may try one of these recipes to participate in the contest. Thanks for the recipe

    January 25, 2009 at 10:09 am

  11. amalz said,

    I have made my own nutella cake before, and it was amazing, but these varieties of cakes which you have here look and sound delicious! I’m definitely going to test them out this weekend. The recipes are simple and easy to follow. Thanks!

    November 11, 2009 at 7:23 pm

  12. sandy said,

    I made the nutella cake for christmas 2008 with astounding and delicious results. For New Year’s Eve I made the cake again, reducing the nutella by half and adding about 1 1/2 cup of cooked sugar pumpkin. Again, delicious, reducing our foodie friends and relatives to oohs and aahs.

    December 3, 2009 at 10:27 pm