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Bake It, Don’t Fake It Recipe: Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

chocolatecake_400Chocolate cake is the secret weapon for anyone with a sweet tooth. This rich recipe from Bake It, Don’t Fake It will wow your dessert recipient.

This cake is pure decadence. It’s the chocolate lover’s dream cake. This classic flavor profile of hazelnut and chocolate is as elegant as it is delicious.

Special equipment: 9-inch round cardboard cake circle, disposable piping bag, #8 star tip, 1 small offset metal spatula.

Makes one 9-inch layer cake


2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon + a pinch of baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup hot coffee
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon buttermilk
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup sour cream



3 cups blanched hazelnuts
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons Frangelico or other hazelnut liqueur
Double recipe Ganache Filling (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two 9 x 2-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and lightly coat with cooking spray.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coffee, buttermilk, oil, and sour cream.

Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture to the butter-egg mixture, mixing until everything is combined.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and bake until the cake springs back to the touch, 20 to 35 minutes. Rotate the pans front to back halfway through. Remove the cakes from the oven, but leave the oven on. Let the cakes cool in the pans on a rack, then invert into the racks to cool completely.

While the cakes are cooling, spread the hazelnut nuts out in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and baked until toasted, 5 to 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, roughly chop or crush the hazelnuts into pieces.

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and Frangelico and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Let the syrup cool to just warm or room temperature.

Place one cake layer on top of a 9-inch round cardboard cake circle. Using a pastry brush, brush the layer half of the hazelnut syrup, letting it soak in. Spread the cake with ganache about 1/2 inch thick and top with a second cake layer. Brush the layer with the remaining hazelnut syrup and top with 1/2 inch of ganache. Top with the final cake layer. Spread the cake with a thin layer of the ganache until smooth. Fill a pastry bag fitting with a #8 star tip and pipe rosettes (see “Decorating with Icing, page 000) around the entire cake. Top with the toasted hazelnuts.

Ganache Filling

A ganache is made by heating cream and chocolate together and emulsifying it while stirring. This is my basic recipe, however, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s easy—ganaches can be a bit temperamental (see Insider Tip). You can make a ganache well ahead, refrigerate it, and melt it down when you need it.

Makes about 4 cups

2 1/3 cups dark chocolate chips (about 18 ounces)
2 1/2 cups heavy cream

Place the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let the mixture stand for 30 seconds, then stir the mixture until it comes together. Let the mixture stand at room temperature until it sets to a spreadable consistency or after about 1 hour. Slightly whisk it to thicken.

Insider Tip: Ganache Tricks

If your ganache starts to get too hard to work with, simply place a bowl over a pot of simmering water and melt a small amount of the ganache. Then stir the melted ganache back into the rest.

If the ganache separates, you can stir in a small amount of cold heavy cream until it comes back together.


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