Chocolate Hazelnut Cake


Cake (two 9-inch cakes)

2 1/4 cups cake flour

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk

3 eggs, room temperature

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup boiling water

2 tablespoons coffee


2 1/2 cups heavy cream

2/3 cup sugar

4 egg yolks

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1/4 cup Frangelico liqueur

1 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped


3 egg whites, room temperature

1 3/4 cups sugar

1  1/2 tablespoons golden syrup

7 1/2 tablespoons water

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar


1. Starting with cake, cream butter and sugars until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla.

2. Pour into chocolate and mix well.

3. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients alternately with buttermilk.

4. Stir coffee into boiling water until combined, then pour into cake batter and stir until smooth.

5. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with floured baking spray. Dust with cocoa. Evenly spread cake batter between both pans.  Bang lightly on the counter to settle batter.

6. Bake for 30 minutes, or until tester comes out clean, in a preheated oven at 350 degrees. Let cakes cool on a rack for at least an hour.

7. As cakes cool, move on to hazelnut pastry cream. Pour whipping cream in a sauce pan and scald (heat just before boiling).

8. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks with sugar. Add flour and cornstarch. Whisk until smooth.

9. Use a ladle to scoop about a cup of the hot cream into the eggy sugar. Whisk immediately and quickly to combine.

10. Pour remaining cream in with eggs and keep stirring. Return warm mixture to sauce pan.

11. Continue to cook, whisking all the while, until thick.

12. Pour into a heat safe bowl and whisk in vanilla and Frangelico until smooth and creamy. Cover with plastic wrap directly touching the cream so a film will not form. Let the cream sit until it’s reached room temperature. Cool completely in fridge.*  Stir hazelnuts into cream once cold.

14. Level off both cooled cakes and slice each one in half, so there are four layers.

15. Lay down one cake layer and smooth about a third of the hazelnut cream on top, spreading to about 1/2 inch from edge. Repeat with next two layers and top with last layer.  Place cake in fridge to set while you make the frosting.

16.  For the frosting, whisk all of the ingredients in a medium sized heat resistant bowl. Place bowl on top of a slightly larger pot with 1-2 inches of hot, simmering water.  (Do not let water level reach the bottom part of the bowl.)

17.  With an electric mixer, beat egg white mixture for six minutes.  Remove from heat and continue beating for another minute while adding the vanilla.

18.  Allow frosting to cool slightly (we put it in the fridge for about 10 minutes) before frosting cake.  Top with extra hazelnuts.

*You can make the pastry cream 1-2 days ahead of time, which is exactly what we did.  Do not stir in the hazelnuts until right before you plan to use it.