Make this Mocha Hazelnut Cake for a rich dessert that’s packed with sweet flavors! You’ll love the dark, moist, chocolate cake paired with a nutty and sweet hazelnut buttercream.
Adding coffee to the cake batter deepens the chocolate flavor and pulls everything together. Fans of chocolate and hazelnut will adore this unique and complex treat!
💚 Why You'll Love This Recipe
I don't bake very often, so when I do it has to be for a good reason. This layer cake is that reason! It pairs super tasty mocha cake with a homemade hazelnut buttercream frosting for a blend of decadent and complex flavors.
And take it from me, even beginner bakers will be able to put together this dessert! You'll love the layers of moist cake with sweet and light hazelnut frosting. Nutty, chocolatey, and rich, this is a great dessert and the perfect cake for a celebration or a treat anytime.
If you really want to make it special, drizzle a bit of Homemade Chocolate Sauce over top. You can never have too much chocolate!
Looking for more chocolate cake? Check out this double chocolate mousse cake!
🧂 Ingredients Needed
- flour - all purpose flour is a classic option for cake, and you likely have it in your pantry already.
- cocoa powder - gives your cake a deep and rich chocolate flavor.
- baking soda - ensures that the cake isn't too dense.
- salt - to balance out the sweet flavors.
- butter - you'll want to leave it out at room temperature so it can soften. I recommend using unsalted butter so you can control the amount of salt that goes into your batter.
- sugar - I used both coconut sugar and brown sugar for complex sweetness.
- vanilla - adds another layer of sweet flavor.
- buttermilk - gives your cake the perfect amount of moistness.
- coffee - using real coffee infuses your cake with a warm and earthy flavor that deepens the intensity of the chocolate.
- powdered sugar - also called confectioner's sugar or icing sugar, this will give your hazelnut frosting a nice fluffy texture.
- hazelnut coffee creamer - continuing the coffee theme, I used a hazelnut flavored creamer instead of milk for the dairy in my buttercream.
- hazelnut spread - Nutella is probably the most well-known option, but a store brand or another brand of chocolate hazelnut spread will be just as tasty!
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt).
- In a separate bowl, add the softened butter and cream together with sugar.
- Add the eggs one at a time and beat until smooth.
- In 2 to 3 portions each, add the dry ingredients and buttermilk into the wet ingredients. Once incorporated, beat in the coffee.
- Transfer to two 9x9 pans and bake. Allow the cakes to fully cool before frosting.
- For the hazelnut frosting, beat softened butter with confectioner's sugar a little bit at a time in a medium bowl.
- Add the creamer, vanilla, and hazelnut spread.
- Once beaten, spread a thin layer of buttercream frosting between the cake layers, then spread the rest on the sides and top of the cake.
Even if you're just making classic chocolate cake, adding a bit of coffee is a great way to balance and deepen the flavor. The bitterness of coffee helps to prevent the chocolate from becoming overly sweet. Instant coffee and espresso powder are good contenders when it comes to improving the flavor of chocolate cake.
This is likely due to too much liquid or not enough baking powder. Because this recipe adds actual liquid coffee, it's possible you'll need to add a bit more leavening to make up for it. Be sure not to overdo it with the liquid ingredients. Too much sugar is another potential culprit.
💭 Expert Tips and Tricks
- If you've forgotten to soften your butter, chop it into smaller pieces. It will come up to room temperature quicker.
- You can also soften butter in the microwave on low power, but be careful you don't fully melt it.
- Another good option is to fill a glass with hot water, then pour it out and place the hot glass over the stick of butter.
- Level the bottom layer of cake before adding your hazelnut frosting to prevent the top layer from slipping off. Check out this video on how to easily level cake if you don't have any fancy tools!
- Use an electric mixer or stand mixer for both the batter and hazelnut frosting for easier prep.
- When adding dry ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer or when beating with an electric hand mixer, start on low speed to prevent things from going flying. Bump it up to medium speed once things are incorporated.
- Allow the cakes to cool fully on a wire rack before frosting. This will prevent the hazelnut buttercream from melting off.
- Drink the remaining coffee as you bake to keep your energy up 🙂
📌 With a decadent hazelnut buttercream, this mocha hazelnut cake will quickly become your favorite dessert!
💡 Substitutions and Variations
- Substitute coconut sugar for more brown sugar if you don't have coconut. I don't recommend substituting with white sugar, as you'll lose out on flavor.
- For some visual flair, top the frosted cake with a dusting of cocoa powder, some ground hazelnuts, chopped hazelnuts (or even whole hazelnuts!), or your choice of chocolate candies.
- Another great option for a garnish would be halved Ferrero Rocher chocolates or another similar hazelnut chocolate candy.
- If you can't find hazelnut creamer, regular milk can be used for this hazelnut mocha cake. I recommend adding hazelnut extract or hazelnut oil so you're not missing out on that nutty flavor.
- Other good options for the frosting include a coffee buttercream, chocolate ganache, or just some whipped cream!
🔊 What readers are saying...
"Oh man! Just made this only I cut the recipe in half and did it in a 9x9… you know, to cut back on the amount of temptation lol! This is sooooo yummy!"
🥫 Storage Instructions
Keep mocha hazelnut cake covered at room temperature or in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. You can also freeze the cake if you need it to last longer. Cutting, wrapping, and freezing individual slices in plastic wrap is a great idea if you need single servings down the line, or you could carefully wrap the entire cake and freeze it. Allow frozen cake to come back up to room temperature before enjoying.
🍴 Suggested Main Dishes
Before you serve your mocha hazelnut cake, make sure you enjoy a hearty and healthy meal! Some of my recent favorites include these Fried Salmon Patties, my super tasty One Pot Creamy Chicken Mushroom Orzo, and this Stuffed Cabbage Casserole (which comes together all in one skillet!)
✔️ More Dessert Recipes You'll Love
- Chocolate Zucchini Cake - You may scratch your head at the idea of zucchini and chocolate, but this cake is perfectly moist and you'll never even know it has healthy ingredients!
- Red White and Blue Cream Cheese Cookies - These patriotic cookies feature gorgeous dried fruits and white chocolate chips.
- Crockpot Pumpkin Dump Cake - With only 3 ingredients, this slow cooker dessert is perfect for a hands-off treat.
- Hazelnut Truffles - Make a batch of these homemade candies from The Kitchen Magpie for a unique garnish for your mocha hazelnut cake!
Mocha Layer Cake with Hazelnut Buttercream
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📋 Recipe Card
Mocha Hazelnut Cake with Hazelnut Buttercream
Directions for the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Combine the flour, salt, cocoa powder, and baking soda in a large bowl.2 ½ cups flour, ¾ cup cocoa powder, ¾ teaspoons salt, 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- In a separate large bowl, beat butter until smooth. Gradually add both sugars, beating until combined.¾ cup room temperature butter, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup coconut sugar
- Add eggs, one at a time, and beat after each addition. Then mix in the vanilla extract.3 eggs, 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- Add the flour mixture and buttermilk into the wet ingredients, each in 2 or 3 parts. Mix well after each addition. Slowly add the coffee and mix until the batter is smooth.¾ cup buttermilk, 1 cup coffee
- Spray two 9 inch rounded pans with baking spray and then add about half of the batter into each of them. Bake for about 40 minutes, removing when a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean. Let cakes cool for 15-20 minutes before removing from pan.
Directions for the frosting:
- Beat butter until smooth, adding vanilla. Gradually add the powdered sugar and coffee creamer and blend until smooth.¾ cup room temperature butter, 5 cups confectioners sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, ½ cup sugar-free hazelnut coffee creamer
- Add the hazelnut spread and blend until well combined.½ cup hazelnut spread (like Nutella)
- Level one of the cakes and cover the top with frosting. Place the other half on top and frost the rest of the cake.
- Sprinkle instant coffee on top if desired for taste and decoration.
- Forget to take the butter out of the refrigerator ahead of time? It's easy to bring butter up to room temperature quickly. Cut the butter into small cubes, spread them out a bit on the cutting board or a plate, and let sit for 10 minutes or so.
- If you don't have coconut sugar, you can substitute more brown sugar. You can also substitute white sugar if needed, but you will lose out a little on the flavor contributed by the coconut sugar.
- Not sure of the best way to level a cake without any special equipment? Check out this video that demonstrates the method I use to level a cake.
Nutritional information is an estimate. The nutritional values for your final dish may vary based on measuring differences and products used.
Update Notes: This post was originally published in September 2013, and was republished with tips, step by step photos, and a recipe change in November 2023.