My chocolate hazelnut cake has a delicious nutella flavor and is rich from beets! With no eggs or oil, this devil's food cake cake recipe is easy and flexible, one bowl, vegan and has a gluten-free option.
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. Baking with beets is ideal because you don't need eggs or oil, and the cake has a dense devil's food quality to it.
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 all purpose 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 Ghiradelli, EnjoyLife, HU, Chocolove and Divine Chocolate. They don't add extra ingredients 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 be sure it is full fat. Don't use the coconut milk found in the refrigerator section or shelved boxed milk - neither of these milks will work. Also keep it at room temperature for this frosting, no refrigeration needed for this recipe.
Ingredients in this Chocolate Hazelnut Cake
Flour - I used all purpose and hazelnut flour here, but all purpose GF or even all all purpose would work as well if you don't want to add hazelnut flour.
Cocoa - I used a dark cocoa by Valhrona, but any cocoa works. So does cacao powder.
Sugar - Organic cane sugar.
Milk & Lemon Juice
Beets - I used Love Beets precooked cooking beets but you can boil and puree fresh if you have the time. I have found precooked beets in packages in the produce department and sometimes in frozen aisle with frozen veggies. Do not use canned as they will have ingredients that will ruin the cake.
Leaveners & Flavors - baking soda, baking powder, vanilla
How to Make Chocolate Hazelnut Cake or Cupcakes
The most time consuming element of this recipe is to activate the milk with lemon juice which takes about 10 minutes, and prepping the beets. I buy precooked beets such as these by Love Beets, but you can boil fresh and puree, it just takes time. Here are the simple steps to this one bowl recipe.
1. Activate milk by adding lemon juice and set aside.
2. Prepare beets so you have ½ cup of beet puree at room temperature.
3. Add sugar and wet ingredients to a bowl, and hand mix until combined.
4. Add the dry ingredients, and hand mix until you have a cake batter.
5. Pour batter into cake pans or cupcake liners
6. Bake, cool and frost.
How to Increase Hazelnut Flavors
There are a few ways to bring the beauty of hazelnut into a chocolate cake.
1. Use hazelnut flour, either fresh (most flavor) or store-bought hazelnut flour - I use this brand Hazelnut Flour. If you buy ready-made, know that it probably doesn't store long as, like almond flour, it has a high fat content. I tell you how to make homemade hazelnut flour below.
2. Add hazelnut spread to the cake before frosting. Of course I advise you find a vegan and healthier brand, not one loaded with sugars. So, you can buy Justin's brand - he mixes almond butter and hazelnut butter into a delicious healthier chocolate spread. Or you can make your own. Here is my homemade nutella recipe that actually uses flour.
Only a little hazelnut flour is needed to turn a chocolate cake into a chocolate hazelnut cake. It's great if that hazelnut flour you use is full of flavor.
How to Make Homemade Hazelnut Flour
One way to increase the flavor of hazelnut in your hazelnut cake is to make homemade hazelnut flour.
To make homemade hazelnut flour, buy plain, unroasted hazelnuts, and roast them in the oven. To do this, spread them on a cookie sheet, and roast them at 250 F for 20 minutes.
Roasting detaches the skins which is ideal because you want to remove those skins and prevent the flour from tasting bitter.
Once roasting is completed, pour the roasted nuts into a dish washing cloth and rub gently to remove the skins completely. Pluck out the skinless nuts and let them cool completely before processing them or else you'll get hazelnut butter.
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 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.
I hope you love this recipe, whether you make cupcakes or a cake!
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Chocolate Hazelnut Cake
- 1 ¼ cup all purpose flour or all purpose gluten-free flour
- ¼ cup hazelnut flour or more all purpose flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup organic cane sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tbsp lemon juice or white vinegar
- ½ cup beet puree or unsweetened applesauce
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- ¼ cup hazelnut butter Add to cake or cupcakes before frosting
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- Add lemon juice to the milk and set aside.
- Either line 12 cupcake pan with liners or rub butter into 2 6-inch round cake pans, and dust with cocoa powder.
- If using ready-cooked beets, add them to a blender and puree until smooth.
- 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.
Make Cake or Cupcakes
- In a large mixing bowl, add the sugar, milk/lemon juice mixture, beet puree and vanilla and stir until the sugar feels less crunchy.
- Then add the flours, baking soda and powder, cocoa powder. Mix again. Pour batter into prepared pans or fill each cupcake well ⅔.
- Bake cake for 30 minutes or until a tester in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 2 minutes, then remove from pan and cool on rack before frosting.
- Bake cupcakes for 18 minutes, cool in pan for 2 minutes, then remove from pan and cool on rack before frosting.
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.
- OPTIONAL: To increase the nutella flavor of this cake, spread a thin layer of healthy nutella on top of the cake layers or cupcakes before your add the ganache frosting.
- 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.