With fun festivities just around the corner, I felt another urge to share a creative project with you. This time it’s the yummy type! Though I said goodbye to creating wedding cakes (my first business) at the beginning of this year  – I still enjoy baking, and thought I would let you in on my own Chocolate and Hazelnut Cake recipe. It took me a couple of hours to make and bake, then a further hour or so to decorate the following day. Whether serving it for Christmas tea, a New Year’s Eve celebration, or even a winter birthday – it will hit the spot. It’s rich, indulgent, very celebratory…and ooh so naughty but nice! Let’s get started…
Makes one 8-inch, three-layer cake.
For the chocolate cake:
330g Unsalted Butter (softened) + a little extra for greasing tins
240g Dark Cooking/Baking Chocolate
90g Milk Cooking/Baking Chocolate
6g Instant Decaf Coffee Granules
240ml Boiled Water
210g Self Raising Flour
210g Plain Flour
60g Cocoa Powder
½ tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
720g Caster Sugar (yes, this cake is pretty much a sugar feast!)
6 Large Eggs (brought to room temperature)
60ml Rapeseed Oil
For the filling and coverings:
250g Unsalted Butter
500g Icing Sugar + a little extra for dusting
45ml Boiled Water (allowed to cool)
A Pinch of Salt
200g Roasted, Chopped Hazelnuts
60g Dark Cooking/Baking Chocolate*
210g Milk Cooking/Baking Chocolate*
Chocolate Covered Honeycomb balls (or any other decorative, chocolate, treat)
*Little tip: use the cooking/baking chocolate you like best, because you will taste it in the finished covering. If in doubt and you don’t know which brand’s flavour you like, then opt for a very good quality one.
3 x 8 Inch Round Cake Tins (if you only have one tin, reduce the recipe by 1/3 and bake at a lower temperature for longer, until a cake tester/skewer comes out clean)
Large Mixing Bowl (it’s a big cake mix so you do need a large bowl)
A Hand-Held Electric Whisk/Mixer (not essential but makes things easier)
A Pestle and Mortar (again, not essential – can use a heavy rolling pin instead)
To make the chocolate cake:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius/160 degrees Celsius with Fan/Gas Mark 4. Grease the tins with a little melted butter, then line with baking paper.
In a large pan, over a low heat, gently heat the butter, coffee granules and water. Stir continuously and don’t allow to bubble. Keep going until everything has just about melted/dissolved together. Remove from the heat straight away.
Let the butter liquid cool for a couple of minutes, then break the dark and milk chocolate into the mix. Don’t stir for a further couple of minutes, to let the heat of the butter liquid melt the chocolate, then stir until well combined and a silky pool of chocolate appears. I know, it’s tempting to drink it neat, but resist and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile sift the flours, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl.
Stir in the caster sugar. This is my favourite bit – I love the glittery sand that forms. Then make a well in the centre.
In a jug, beat together the eggs, rapeseed oil and buttermilk, then pour into the well followed by the chocolate mixture.
Stir well until the mixture is smooth and combined. Then carefully pour into the lined tins, dividing the mixture as evenly as you can between the three.
Bake in the preheated oven for between 1 hour and 1 hour, 15 minutes – or until a cake tester/skewer comes out clean.
Cool completely in the tins (ideally overnight, covered loosely with a clean kitchen towel).
To make the hazelnut butter-icing filling and covering:
Start to gently combine the butter, icing sugar and salt in a bowl, by cutting the butter through the sugar. Gradually add the cooled boiled water and continue to cut and mix. When the mixture starts to become clumpy, and there is very little loose icing sugar in the bowl, you can move to using the electric whisk/mixer. If you don’t have an electric whisk/mixer, just continue with a wooden spoon…and get ready to work your arm muscles!
Next, use a pestle and mortar (or a heavy rolling pin and clean chopping board) to grind 80g of the roasted, chopped hazelnuts into a crunchy powder. The more you crush them the less crunch you will have, so it’s a matter of preference.
Then whisk/mix the crushed hazelnuts into the butter-icing.
To fill and cover the Chocolate and Hazelnut Cake:
Remove the cakes from their tins and carefully peel away the baking paper.
Use a large knife to cut the crusty tops off and level each of the three cakes (our three layers). Tip: a long, sharp, serrated knife is best. Don’t chuck these cut-offs away, though – they are delicious. Just put them in an airtight container to enjoy over the next couple of days.
Don’t be too precious about this – this Chocolate and Hazelnut Cake is not about perfect lines or a flawless finish…it’s about indulgent yumminess and celebrating with others. If one layer is slightly wonky, it won’t make a difference to how it tastes.
Place one layer of cake, bottom down, on a clean cooling rack. Set aside just less than half the butter-icing, to cover the cake. Spread half of the remaining butter-icing on top of the base cake layer. Try to be even, but again don’t fret over it.
Place another cake layer on top of the butter-icing and spread the remaining butter-icing on top. Then place the last cake layer on top, this time bottom facing up – so you have a smooth surface to cover.
Using the butter-icing you set aside, cover the entire cake. A palette knife is useful but not essential, an ordinary knife will do. Just try to get every bit of cake covered, and smooth over the joins between the layers to create a smooth-ish surface all over.
Next, press the remaining 120g of roasted, chopped hazelnuts into the butter-icing. Making sure you create a fairly even covering all over the cake. Then set the cake aside to firm up a little.
Meanwhile carefully melt the chocolate. I melted mine in the microwave in twenty second bursts on medium, stirring in between. However, you could just as easily melt it in a bowl over a pan of boiling water, on the hob (just don’t let the bowl touch the water).
Once melted, remove from any heat, and then continue to stir as it starts to cool. You need it to still be pourable, but not so warm it melts the butter-icing.
Gently pour over the top of the cake, letting it run down the sides. Then use a knife to spread it over the entire surface, covering the butter-icing and chopped hazelnuts.
Using the last drips of melted chocolate in your bowl (unless you’ve already licked in clean!), attach your chocolate covered honeycomb balls, or another treat, to the top.
Finally, dust with some icing sugar and ta-da…you’ve finished your Chocolate and Hazelnut Cake.
If you make this cake, I would love to see your pictures. Tag me on social media (and make sure you send me a screenshot if your account is private), so I get to see. Also, if you’re still looking for that special decoration to complete your Christmas 2019 scene, then take a read of my previous creative lifestyle post – ‘The Stars Are Brightly Shining’ DIY Christmas Decoration.