Chocolate and hazelnut cake

Chocolate and hazelnut cake

Torta al cioccolato e nocciole

The Italian Baker

Nothing beats a good chocolate cake, and this one has everything that I love in a cake: it’s fudgy and full of flavour, yet not too sweet. I include Frangelico liqueur in this recipe, as I do for the Roasted Cocoa Cake, which is a hazelnut liqueur from Piedmont dating back 300 years. The story goes that monks living in the area were great connoisseurs of the wild hazelnuts found in the region, and made good use of them in various preparations. Once you’ve made this, you will definitely make it again, and again, and again!


Quantity Ingredient
little softened butter, for greasing
edible gold leaf, to decorate

For the ganache and filling

Quantity Ingredient
500ml double cream
500g dark chocolate, finely chopped
300g ground hazelnuts

For the cake

Quantity Ingredient
400g plain flour, sifted
400g caster sugar
1 1/4 tablespoons bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
125g good-quality cocoa powder
300ml vegetable oil
300ml buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
3 eggs

For the chocolate glaze

Quantity Ingredient
160ml light corn syrup
2 tablespoons frangelico liqueur
2 tablespoons water
300g dark chocolate, finely chopped


  1. Prepare the ganache. Place the cream in a pan over a medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove and add the chopped chocolate. Using a balloon whisk, gently stir until melted and smooth. Cover the bowl with cling film (plastic wrap) and leave to cool to a spreadable consistency, about 2 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter the insides of two 20-cm cake tins and line the bases with baking parchment.
  3. Place the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cocoa powder in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. On a low speed, mix until blended. In a jug, put the oil, buttermilk, vanilla and eggs and whisk until blended. Turn the mixer back on and add the liquid ingredients to the dry to mix. Divide between the tins and bake for 35 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out with a few wet crumbs attached. Leave to cool in the tins.
  4. To assemble, place one cooled cake on a plate. Spread a layer of ganache on top and sprinkle the ground hazelnuts over the surface. Place the second cake on top. Using a spatula, spread the remaining ganache over the top and sides of the cake to create an even coating. Use a cake side scraper to smooth the sides and edges. Refrigerate to set.
  5. For the chocolate glaze, whisk the corn syrup with the Frangelico and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Put the chopped chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and pour over the hot syrup. Stir to melt and mix.
  6. Remove the cake from the fridge. Pour the glaze onto the centre of the cake, allowing it to coat the top and drip down the sides. Spread to coat evenly, using a spatula. Repeat the action until the top and sides are perfectly smooth. Allow to set, then decorate with edible gold leaf, if you wish.


  • Note: If you make the ganache in advance and refrigerate it, you will need to soften it before applying it to the cake. Reheat it in a saucepan over a very gentle heat until softened.
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