Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

This chocolate hazelnut cake layers together chocolate sponge cake, praline mousse, and hazelnut ganache for a rich and decadent treat. 
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.Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Nutella Lovers Rejoice! 

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

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with Praline Chocolate Crunch

Yield: serves 10-12

Author Maryanne Cabrera


Praline Chocolate Crunch

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups blanched hazelnuts, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 4 oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • 4 oz milk chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 cups puffed rice cereal

Chocolate Sponge Cake

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup brandy

Hazelnut Ganache

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup ground roasted hazelnuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp, cut into tablespoons

Praline Mousse

  • 4 oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup hazelnut praline paste (reserved from praline chocolate crunch)
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp, cubed
  • 1 3/4 cup heavy cream, cold, divided


Praline Chocolate Crunch

  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. 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. 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:

  1. Combine 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.

Recipe Notes

slightly adapted from Bon Appetit October 2011

*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. 

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake


Chocolate Hazelnut Cake


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Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love.

This cake looks DIVINE!! What a beautiful cake to make for your friend! I love Nutella too so I know this has to be so delicious!!


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!

Christine's Pantry

Looks wonderful. Beautiful cake.


Gorgeous cake! Good effort. As much as I’d like to make this cake, too, it looks really time-consuming!


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

Omg I’m drooling. I am definitely a nutella lover (and a cake lover). The combination of all these layers sounds divine! And what a beautiful presentation! Yum.


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.

the little epicurean

@ 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

the little epicurean Thanks! I have your healthy creme brulee recipe bookmarked :)

@ Ali- If I can do it, so can you! by the way, i love your blog!


This looks absolutely amazing! I think my mouth is watering.

The Procrastobaker

A beautiful recipe and post :)


will the recipe work if i take out all the nut/hazelnut ingredients? to make a chocolate cake?

the little epicurean

@ 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.

Aneta Hayne

Another gorgeous recipe from you great blog ! It looks amazing, and my family loves hazelnuts ! That might be somebodies perfect birthday cake :)


looks absolutely beautiful!as soon as i saw it, i decided im gonna make it for my birthday next month!thanks for sharing!:-)


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!! :)


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!

the little epicurean

@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.


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?

    the little epicurean

    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.


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


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


oh, shoot, I noticed it after I made the note, 10-12 servings. sorry


    No worries! I hope your guests enjoy the cake! :)

Annamaria Settanni McDonald

Hazelnut Praline is one of my favorite additions to cake! Yum! It does provide a perfect texture!


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?


    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.

Monique Bartley

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!


    Thanks, Monique! You are too kind :)


Looks fantastic but I live in Denver area – you know – mile high. What would I need to do to have it work out at high altitude?


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


Hey there, I’d like to try this cake for a birthday but i’d like to bake it as a round 8″ or 9″ cake. Would you be able to help me with the measurements?if I assemble the cake as per your recipe, would it stand well as a round cake?

    Maryanne Cabrera

    Hi Blessy, this cake would be difficult to make into a round cake. It is baked as a large rectangle, cut into three sections, and stacked on top of each other.

    Mary C McIver

    You could use 3 9 inch cake pans, putting 1 inch of batter in each. The rectangle cake comes out to about 187 sq inches area (at 1 inch depth) and 3 9 inch circles come out to about 190 sq inches area (also at 1 inch depth). That’s a little over, but the extra would just be nibbles, right?
    It might be hard to get each layer 1 inch deep, and there’s a lot to do in the recipe; so I don’t know if this helps




Hai dear.. loved all your cake recipes.. but the no. of eggs to the flour ratio makes me doubtful. 8 large eggs and 1 c of flour? is it right?

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