Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Happy belated birthday, Z!

I first met Z in seventh grade math.  We were assigned to sit next to each other.  Thank goodness for alphabetical seating, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have met one of my best friends.

Its a mystery how we’ve remained friends for so long.  It seems like the more we learn about each other, the more differences we find out.

I love mustard.  She hates it.  She loves ketchup.  I hate it.  I love peanut butter.  Well, she can only stomach it with a pound of jelly to mask the taste.  I can’t live without bread and she’s willing to eat it sometimes, if its used in a sandwich with brie and honey.

Luckily there are a few things we agree on– like Disneyland, Rosebud Salve and post-it notes.  That’s more than enough for our friendship.

I made her this cake because we also happen to agree on the greatness that is Nutella.  If you are a fan of Nutella, you’ll love this recipe.  Made with chocolate and hazelnuts, this is a deliciously divine layered cake.

I love the creaminess of the praline mousse with the rich hazelnut ganache and the brandy soaked chocolate cake.   Each component works to complement one another.  My favorite component is the praline chocolate crunch.  Its like a Nestle Crunch Bar, but better.  It provides a nice and needed textural difference to make this cake amazing.  If you don’t have enough time to make the entire cake, I suggest just making the praline chocolate crunch.  Its an addicting and satisfying snack.

This cake is in the latest issue of Bon Appetit magazine.  I look forward to trying out their recipes each month.  Their desserts are always a hit.  I’m excited for what they have in store for Thanksgiving.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with Praline Chocolate Crunch
slightly adapted from Bon Appetit October 2011
10-12 servings

Praline Chocolate Crunch


1 1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup blanched hazelnuts, toasted

1 tsp. vegetable oil

4 oz dark chocolate, chopped

4 oz milk chocolate, chopped

1/4 tsp salt

2 cup puffed rice cereal


1. Stir sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves.  Increase to high heat and cook without stirring until light amber in color, about 6 minutes.  Stir in hazelnuts, then pour onto a parchment lined sheet tray, separating nuts.  Let cool.

2.  Transfer candied nuts to a food processor.  Add vegetable oil and puree until smooth to make praline paste.

3.  Place both chocolates and 4 Tbsp of praline paste in a medium bowl.  Reserve remaining praline paste for mousse.  Set bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (bain-marie) and stir until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

4.  Remove from heat and stir in salt and cereal.  Spread out a thin layer (between 1/8” to 1/4”) on a parchment lined sheet tray.  Chill until set, about 20-30 minutes.

Chocolate Sponge Cake


1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

8 large eggs

1 cup sugar, divided

2 Tbsp light corn syrup

1/3 cup brandy


1.  Preheat over to 375 degrees F.  Line a 17x11x1” sheet pan with a butter parchment paper.

2.  Sift together flour and cocoa powder twice and set aside.

3.  Separate 4 eggs, placing yolks in a large bowl and whites in a medium bowl.  Beat yolks with 1/2 cup sugar on medium speed in a stand mixer until thick and pale in color.  Add the remaining whole eggs, one at a time, blending well between additions.

4. In another bowl, beat egg whites with remaining 1/2 cup sugar and corn syrup until slightly thickened and frothy.  Add egg whites to yolk mixture and beat to beat.

5.  Add flour-cocoa mixture and fold to blend.  Spread out on prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.  Let cool completely and then invert cake a peel off parchment.  Brush cake with brandy.

Hazelnut Ganache


1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup ground roasted hazelnuts

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons


1.  Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Puree hot cream, ground hazelnuts, and salt in a food processor.  Let cool to room temperature.

2.  With machine running, add butter 1 tablespoon at a time.  Puree until smooth.  Cover and chill until ready to use.  Return to room temperature before use.

Praline Mousse


4 oz dark chocolate, chopped

1 cup hazelnut praline paste (reserved from praline chocolate crunch)

5 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed

1 3/4 cup heavy cream, chilled and divided


1.  Combined chocolate, praline paste, and butter in a medium bowl.

2.  Bring 3/4 cup cream to a boil and pour over chocolate mixture.  Let stand for 1 minute before stirring.  Stir until melted and mixture is smooth.

3.  Beat remaining cup of chilled cream to soft peaks.  Fold whipped cream into slightly cooled chocolate mixture.  Cover and chill until ready to use.


1.  Spread hazelnut ganache over soaked cake and chill in freezer for 15 minutes.

2.  Spread praline mousse over set ganache and chill in freezer for another 15 minutes until set.

3.  Cut cake crosswise into thirds.  Stack layers on top of each other.  Trim edges.  Place in refrigerator and chill overnight.

4.  Let cake stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.  Break up praline chocolate crunch into large shards and arrange on top of cake.

*note: The original Bon Appetit recipe calls for a chocolate glaze to cover the cake.  I felt the cake was rich enough so I omitted the glaze. 


  1. says

    This cake looks so delicious and each layer goes so well with the others. Your cakes always are so awesome. I will need to dedicate some time and try to replicate. Yum!

  2. Anonymous says

    Beautiful pics. Is the corn syrup essential to the recipe? Can you substitute something else for it? Thanks in advance!

  3. says

    Such a beautiful cake, it was worth the effort, I know I can’t make one look great like yours… Gosh the thought of your cake in my mouth is killing me. nice blog.

  4. says

    @ Rosie- You can totally make this cake over the course of a couple days. Once you have all the components, assembling is a breeze!

    @ Mary- the corn syrup helps to prolong the shelf life of the cake. It keeps the cake moist. You can substitute other invert sugars like honey, glucose or molasses– but molasses might change the flavor of the cake. If you don’t have any corn syrup, you can leave it out and your cake will still turn out fine

  5. says

    @ Anne- The chocolate sponge cake does not have any nuts/hazelnuts. The other components (mousse, nut butter, and chocolate crunch) have nuts. Those recipes won’t work so well without the hazelnuts. I hope that helps.

  6. says

    Ok – when I found this last month I just has to try it and WOW!! was it ever good!! However, mine did not come out a “stiff” as your picture shows. Maybe I messed something up but it tasted great!! :)

  7. says

    This looks so yummy – I’m already picturing myself with it along with a cup of coffee….I am going to make this soon and looking forward to enjoying it. Thanks for sharing!

  8. says

    @Michele- Glad you tried out the cake! Sorry that it didn’t turn out the way you wanted, but at least it tasted good, right?!

    @Joyce-Hope it works out well for you! I’m sure it’ll be great with a nice cup of coffee.

  9. Anonymous says

    I tried this and it was great, except for the cake part – the main part :( it tasted heavy and dry… Is there a trick to making a sponge cake light and moist?

    • says

      I’m sorry to hear that. The sponge cake recipe is directly from the Bon Appetit link. Sponge cakes are light and airy because the yolks and egg white are whipped separately. The whipped egg whites provide most of the cake’s volume. The yolks and fat help to contribute to the moistness of the cake. Perhaps you over mixed the whites and caused them to deflate? Fold the dry ingredients very gently into the eggs to keep them from deflating or worst, separating. I hope that helps.

  10. Anonymous says

    I love this recipie ….i plan on making it for a Victorian Tea the ladies are holding. they do one every year where they all dress up victorian hats and all, and drink tea chat and of course eat cake! this is perfect with the blk teas we serve. I plan on using old fshion bisket cutters before its iced and then layer them neatly so they are mini circle cakes

  11. pauline says

    Just wondering… how many pieces does this recipe make approximately? I have 15 people coming over, do I need to make another cake?

  12. Cori says

    I want to make this for my sister’s birthday next week! Can I leave out the brandy? Or will it mess up the flavor or consistency?

    • says

      Hi Cori. Yes, you can leave out the brandy. Instead, you can brush the cake with simple syrup (1 part water, 1 part sugar, boiled until sugar dissolves and then chilled) to prevent the cake from drying out.

  13. says

    OMG, if all people were like you I would have been cozying up to everyone in my jr. high math class. I can’t tell if all the drool accumulating on my keyboard is due to the decadence of the cake or how perfectly the edges are cut!

  14. Diana says

    Looks DELISH…but who has time for something this labor intensive? Wish I did. Better yet I wish I had a friend that would make it for me… Yea that’s the ticket…LOL

  15. Saher Jamal says

    hey.. my husband loves Baskin Robbins praline cake and he asked me to get it for his birthday.. but i thought i would give him a surprise by baking one:):) came across your recipe.. and defiantly i will try this cake ..just a thought, i wanted to know that instead on baking the cake in the line sheet, can i make it in 8inch or 9 inch round pan? or can i replace the sponge cake with a chocolate chiffon cake and slice out three layers? thanks in advance.. waiting for your reply…

    • says

      Hi Saher, you can definitely replace the sponge cake with a chocolate chiffon (or any chocolate cake) baked in a round cake pan. I wouldn’t suggest using the chocolate sponge recipe for a cake pan, as it was make to be baked in a larger sheet pan. Happy baking!


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