My chocolate hazelnut cake has rich nutella flavor and chocolate tones from beets! This cakey but moist cake recipe is easy and flexible, perfect for a simple single layer cake, or cupcakes, or a fancy cacao dusted dessert cake. Made in one bowl, this recipe is dairy-free, vegan and gluten-free.
Chocolate Hazelnut Cake
My chocolate hazelnut cake is a symphony of flavor and texture thanks to the hazelnut flour, coffee and beets. Yes, beets! You won’t taste them, but they add moisture like you wouldn’t believe.
I created this cake because I wanted an easy chocolate cake that is dairy free and yet used pantry ingredients. If you follow me, you know I love hiding veggies in desserts, so the beets were a no-brainer. And I replaced some flour with hazelnut flour to give it a hint of hazelnut. Hazelnut flavor goes so well with chocolate.
Think a healthy nutella in cake form. But of course if you don’t have hazelnut flour, just use more flour instead.
Chocolate Ganache Frosting With Two Ingredients
So this frosting. No, not magic. Just quality dark chocolate melted with quality full fat coconut milk. When I say quality, I mean no extra unwelcome ingredients. The dark chocolate I use is usually 70% cacao, and I love brands like EnjoyLife, HU, Chocolove and Divine Chocolate. They don’t add junk to their chocolate that could mess up the reaction that turns two ingredients into a lovely ganache.
Regarding the full fat coconut milk, use the version in a can and try to get a brand that doesn’t add guar gum although that is getting harder to find. I love brands Thai, NativeForest and Whole Food’s 365 brand. Don’t use the coconut milk in the refrigerator section or shelved boxed milk – neither of these milks will work.
Now, for this cake, I sometimes add healthy nutella to increase the nutella flavor! But you don’t have to, plus that would make it three ingredients lol.
How to Make This Chocolate Cake
The busiest element of this recipe is to create flax eggs, and activate the milk with vinegar and baking powder. But just do those tasks when you are greasing and powdering your cake pan, easy peasy.
Then it’s all about tossing all ingredients into one bowl, mixing with a hand mixer or by hand if you are into that, and the batter is ready. I always pour this recipe into one 6-inch pan and 4-6 cupcake liners, but it’s perfectly sized for a single traditional single layer cake tin, either 7-inch or 8-inch.
Tips to Make Chocolate Hazelnut Cake or Cupcakes
Here are a few tips to help you make this recipe. I have to say however, this is the LEAST persnickety recipe I have made to date. I’ve made it with flour and beet measurements slightly off and the cake was STILL great.
Still here are a few guidelines to help you out.
Be sure to use beets if you can. I have been finding them as cubed veggies in the freezer area of the grocery store. Then I simmer them for 5 minutes, drain, blend into a puree and they are ready for the recipe!
If you can only find fresh beets, that’s fine, just a bit more prep. Cut off the greens of about 3 beets. Scrub them good, peel off the skin and chop into chunks. Boil for 25 minutes, drain and puree. Ready!
You don’t need the coffee, I’ve made it with and without.
You can use apple sauce as I say below in substitutions if you don’t want to mess with beets, but one day in your life try it with beets. It creates a devil’s food like quality to the cake.
You also can use a gluten-free flour if you need to. I have used Bob’s Red Mill’s all purpose gluten free (red label) and it’s worked perfectly.
You can also use another egg substitute or chia seed eggs instead of flax.
Substitutions for Chocolate Hazelnut Cake
1. If you don’t have any hazelnut flour, you can toast hazelnuts, blend them into a flour. If you don’t have hazelnuts, no worries, just use more regular flour. The frosting will still be hazelnut flavored.
2. Frozen or fresh beets can be used. Don’t use canned. If using fresh, steam or boil them for 20 minutes before chopping and pureeing. And if you don’t have beets, use unsweetened apple sauce instead.
3. You can use unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder for this cake although this time I suggest unsweetened cocoa powder only because the cake is not that sweet and cacao powder will make it even less so.
4. For the frosting, you can use chocolate chips or chunks of chocolate. The dark chocolate can actually be 60% to 85% cacao, although 70% tastes best.
5. If you don’t have butter, melted coconut oil works too and doesn’t make it taste coconuty.
6. The coffee is great to help deepen the chocolate flavor of the cake, but it can be left off if you don’t have any brewed. I always have it brewed haha.
I hope you love this recipe, whether you make cupcakes or a cake!
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Chocolate Hazelnut Cake
- 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour or all purpose gluten-free flour
- 1/4 cup hazelnut flour or more all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder or cacao powder but the cake will be less sweet
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3/4 tsp apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tbsp brewed coffee
- 2/3 cups organic cane sugar
- 2 flax eggs 2 Tbsp flaxseed + 6 Tbsp water
- 2/3 cup beet puree or unsweetened applesauce
- 1/4 cup vegan butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 3 tbsp hazelnut butter or your favorite nut butter (Adds to nutella flavor, however frosting is less shiny smooth)
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- Prepare flax eggs and set aside for a few minutes.
- Add the baking soda and apple cider vinegar to the milk and set aside.
- Rub butter into one 8" round cake pan, and dust with cacao powder.
- If using beets, make beet puree. Chop into chunks and boil for 25 minutes or until you can pierce them easily with a knife. Rinse beets cool, drain and puree smooth. Add a teaspoon or two of water to smooth the texture.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the milk mixture plus the coffee, sugar, flax eggs, beet puree, butter, vanilla, and salt. Whisk or use a hand-mixer to combine.
- Then add the flours and cacao powder. Whisk again. Pour batter into prepared pan.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a tester in the center comes out clean. The timing depends on your oven variables.
- Cool cake in the pan for 20 minutes. Remove and allow it to cool to room temperature before frosting.
Make As Cupcakes
- Fill paper cupcake liners about 2/3rds full, and bake 15 minutes or until tester comes out clean.
Make Ganache Frosting
- Warm the coconut milk in a pot or in the microwave for 60 seconds. Stir in chocolate and nut butter (if you are using it), and swirl until all are melted and combined. If need be, microwave the mixture another 30 seconds to finish melting process.
- Frost cake when you are ready to eat it. If you don't want to eat right away, cover the cake and store at room temperature for up to 48 hours.
Dee Dine is founder of Green Smoothie Gourmet, a plant based recipe blog, and author of the recent cookbook, Crazy Healthy with 4 Ingredients . On this blog you’ll find incredibly easy recipes with hidden veggies for anyone wanting to eat healthier, regardless of diet. Dee has graduate degrees in sciences and journalism. More about Dee Dine here.