Chocolate Cakes with Hazelnut Buttercream

I know everyone is gearing up for the Super Bowl and I should be blogging fat laden appetizers and snacks.  To be honest with you my mind just doesn't go there.  I'm just not a Super Bowl fan or football for that matter.  I'm ok with that.

At this time of year my mind is thinking chocolate.  I'm thinking about rich and chocolate for Valentines.  Not that I allow myself to indulge.  I just can't.  That doesn't mean that I don't enjoy a few bites every now and then.

I love chocolate and hazelnut together.  I have made cute little baby cakes and iced them with a rich hazelnut buttercream.  This recipe has been handed down to me from my Grandmother.  She always called this "Devil's food cake".  It's a fabulous recipe.  It can easily be baked in a 9 x 13-inch pan as well as two 9-inch rounds.  The recipe will make 2 dozen cupcakes.  I love it and it is a "never fail" cake recipe for my altitude of 5,000 feet above sea level.

I purchased these little cake papers from Sur La Table.  They were .25 each.

Place the baking cups on a parchment lined baking sheet.

For the cake you will need:  butter, eggs, sugar, cocoa, flour, salt, baking soda and vanilla.

Whoops!  Almost forgot the sour cream and boiling water.

Put softened butter in a large mixing bowl.

Add the sugar and...

cocoa.  I love dutch processed, you can use your favorite.

Cream the butter, sugar and cocoa.

Add the eggs.

Mix well.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again.

Add the sour cream.

Blend together.

Add the salt and baking powder to the flour.

Sift together.  I just give it a whisk.

Add the flour to the sugar/butter mixture and mix just until blended.  If you over mix, the cake could be tough.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again.

The batter should be smooth.

Add the 1 cup of boiling water.

Mix on low speed so the water doesn't splash all over you and your kitchen.

Add the vanilla.

Mix in the vanilla and the batter is now complete.

Piece of cake!

I am using a 1/2 cup scoop to measure the batter into the cups.  The batter will fill 13 cups.

Place in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched.

When the cakes have cooked.  Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack.

Cool completely before icing.

Before you begin to make the buttercream, read over the directions at least 3 times.  Allow yourself 45 minutes of uninterrupted time.  Seriously!  Buttercream takes serious concentration.  Turn your phone off and don't answer the door!

You will need hazelnut paste or hazelnut praline.  I purchase my hazelnut paste through Hauser Chocolatier in Rhode Island.  Yes!  I have it shipped.  It's the cheapest I have found.

I store the hazelnut paste in the freezer and pull it out as I need it.

Many times when you purchase hazelnut paste, it separates and oil floats to the top.  Make sure you stir it very well.  Sometimes this takes a little muscle and some patience.

To make the buttercream you will need:  BUTTER (a whopping 4 1/2 cubes) that has been cut into 1 tablespoon slices, sugar, egg yolks, water and hazelnut paste.

In the bowl of a mixer add the egg yolks.  Using the wire whisk attachment, beat the eggs until they are light yellow and a thicken.  This will take about 5 minutes on high speed.

The eggs will ribbon off of the beater when they are whipped enough.

Meanwhile,  Add the sugar into a medium saucepan.

Add the water to the sugar.

Place the pan over medium-high heat.  Mix only until the sugar dissolves.  After the sugar dissolves DO NOT stir the mixture any longer.

Attach a candy thermometer to the pan if you have one.  You will need to cook the syrup to a soft ball stage or 234-240 degrees.

Let the syrup boil like crazy.

Once the temperature reaches 234 it will start to cook fast.  By the time I realized it was 234 the temperature shot up to 236, which is just fine.

This is the hard part...well for me it is.  You have to add the sugar syrup VERY slowly to the beaten egg yolks.  If you add the syrup too fast, you will have cooked egg yolks.  The hard part is pouring the syrup between the beaters and the side of the bowl.  The key is not too hit the beaters.  If you do, the syrup will fling all over the sides of the bowl.  It happens!  Oh well.  I do my best.

You can see how I failed at not letting the syrup fling to the sides of the bowl.  Oh well.  Now at this point you must continue to beat the mixture until the bottom of the bowl feels completely cool.  This will take about 10 minutes or so.

If you don't let the mixture cool enough, it will melt the butter.  You don't want that to happen.  BE PATIENT!  That's why I told you to block off 45 minutes.  Trust me this buttercream is so worth the time.

Your egg mixture has beaten for a while on high speed and the bottom of the bowl feels cool to the touch.

Beat in the butter ONE TABLESPOON at a time.  Once the butter has incorporated add another tablespoon.  Continue until all of the butter has been beaten in.

Oh my!  Take a look at that creamy goodness/FAT.  Heaven.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix one more time to blend well.

I have spooned in about 1/3 cup hazelnut paste.

Beat in the hazelnut paste or your favorite flavoring.

The buttercream should be smooth and fluffy.  No lumps or grains.  If you don't like the beater, I'll be so disappointed in you.

This is how the buttercream should look.

I am going to pipe the buttercream onto my cakes.  I find it much easier to pipe the spread with a spatula.

I am going to use this hazelnut syrup as a soaking solution on each cake.  I love to chop these little gold delights (Ferrero Roche) to top the cakes with.  They are a hazelnut chocolate candy.

Remove the candy from the wrappers.

Coarsely chop.

Pour 1/3 cup of the hazelnut syrup into a bowl.

Brush the tops of the cakes with the syrup. I always use a soaking solution for my cakes.  I think it makes the moist and adds another layer of flavor.

Continue to glaze each cake until the syrup soaks into the cake.

Spoon the buttercream into the pastry bag.

After the syrup has completely soaked in, begin to pipe the buttercream on the top of the cakes.

Sprinkle the tops with the chopped candy pieces.


Almost too pretty to eat.

I said ALMOST too pretty to eat.

I want you to know that I only took three bites.  The husband that never reads this blog snarfed down the rest.  

I really, really wanted the entire cake!  

Chocolate Cake

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup sour cream
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup boiling water

In a alrge mixing bowl cream butter, cocoa and sugar for approximately 3 minutes.  Add eggs and beat until smooth and creamy.  Add sour cream and mix until smooth.  Sift together flour, baking soda and salt.  Add flour mixture and mix just until blended.  Slowly add boiling water and beat until smooth.  Add vanilla.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 18-20 minutes if making cupcakes, 25-30 for a 9 x 13-inch or 2 9-inch rounds.

Hazelnut Buttercream

5 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups water

2 1/4 cups (4 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces, room temp.
1/3 cup Hazelnut paste or Hazelnut praline

Using electric mixer, beat yolks in bowl until pale yellow and slowly dissolving ribbon forms when beaters are lifted, 5 minutes

Meanwhile, stir sugar and water in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves.  Increase heat and boil without stirring until candy thermometer set in syrup registers 234 - 240 degrees (soft-ball stage)

Beat to syrup into egg yolks in slow steady stream.  Continue beating until thick and cool,  about 10 minutes.  Gradually beat butter into yolk mixture 1 tablespoon at a time.  When butter has been beaten in, mix in Hazelnut paste.

Cakes should be refrigerated.  Bring to room temperature before serving or the buttercream will be hard.  

Enjoy again and again.


  1. those are gorgeous and i'm drooling!

  2. Oh, that looks so good! I would love to make it. I am missing a few ingredients, though. Are there any substitutes for hazelnut paste and/or hazelnut syrup?

  3. Thanks Amy, I'm still drooling myself.

    Amanda, you can substitute cooled melted chocolate for the hazelnut paste and just omit the syrup. OR I can share some of mine with you and I'll drop it off at Jeanette's! Always happy to share...seriously!

  4. OH my goodness. You have me totally drooling over here. I love those cupcake papers! They look like cupcakes I would buy at a fancy bakery. Lovely :)

  5. If heaven we're a cupcake...I think it might be this one.

  6. Thank you everyone. I love the wrappers. They are little baby cakes. I have tied a ribbon around the outside of the wrapper and they look darling! Great for a dinner party and placed at each setting.

  7. Thanks for the ingredients! These cupcakes were absolutely, mouth-wateringly wonderful!

  8. I can't get over how delicious these are. The one I brought home didn't last more than 2 minutes after I walked in the door. YUM.

  9. Hooray for Amanda. I'm so happy you made them. I hope Chase appreciated your effort...or were they for the "chick" weekend?

    Emily, As always such a pleasure to have you with us. I should have sent you home with more!

  10. OMG! i really can't get over this one.. it looks so delicious.. thanks for posting the recipe.=)

  11. You are so welcome. It's divine!

  12. I'm planning to make your recipe for a wedding cake I'm doing for a friend this month. I'm in Denver, so 5280 feet above sea level. You mentioned this works at high altitude-no sinking? Also, do you have an idea of how many cups of batter the cake recipe makes? I need 12 cups for my 2 layer (6 and 8 inch squares) cake. Thanks so much-it looks amazing!!

  13. Hi Hannah, Sorry it has taken so long to respond. I have been at a girls camp for a week. I live at about 5,000 feet above and I have never had a problem with this cake sinking. I'm not sure on the amount of cups. It will make 2 9-inch layers or 2 dozen cupcakes. I hope this helps. It is seriously delicious. I made this for a friends wedding as well. I'm not much of a cake decorator, but it did taste fabulous. I wish you the best of luck.

  14. Hi,
    these look amazing!
    i was just wondering what piping tip you use?
    Thanks :)

  15. I used an open star tip. It is an Ateco tip #828. Hope this helps.

  16. the buttercream just didnt work for me.:(

    after adding in the butter, half way through, the mixture turned into liquid, instead of cream. :(

    1. I'm so sorry to hear that. I can think of two things that could happened 1- the egg yolk mixture was too cold OR 2- it could have been to warm and melted the butter. It's hard for me to determine not seeing it. If the egg mixture gets really cool, the mixture can curdle and separate during mixing. You can remedy that by simply warming the bottom on the mixing bowl very gently and continue to beat. If the butter melted, it's harder to save. You can also try this. After whipping the egg yolks with the sugar syrup, change from a whisk to a paddle. I hope this helps. Butter creams can be very temperamental.

  17. erm, the egg mixture has to be hot? I didn't change to paddle! oh dear...

  18. No not hot. The butter will melt if it's too warm. But not ice cold. cool. The bottom of the bowl should feel about room temp, which is cool. If it turns cold, the butter will curdle when mixed in. I wish I could come to your kitchen to see what's happening. That's too much butter to put into a recipe then not have it work. I'm sorry.

  19. This looks amazing. But is it possible to reduce the amount of butter a teeny bit?

    1. Hmmmm...No. Buttercream is already full of fat no matter. They extra tablespoons of butter aren't going to make more of a difference in your waistline. It is what it is. One creamy full of fat icing, which is amazing.

  20. Can you triple this recipe? I have made it in double batches and it has come out great. But just double checking. Oh and one more question. I can I omit the choclate and make it vanilla cakes instead with no other additions?

    1. I'm sure you can triple, if you have a large enough bowl to mix it in. I have make this recipe omitting the chocolate...hmmmm...I didn't love the flavor, but yes it bakes up just great. It needs something to give it a bit more flavor.

  21. Hi...I love seeing your blog!!! it looked delicious!! My name is Noora and I'm from singapore.. I love baking for my kids n my family.. I'm still learning about baking and cooking.. can u help me regarding the measurement.. Can you tell me what are the gram for each cuP.cos I'm not sure abt using cup measurement... Thanks and I really hope to hear from you.. ;)

    1. Hi Noora, I just can't believe you found me all the way in Singapore. I hope this chart will help with the conversion. Let me know if this doesn't help. I will look for better options.

      If you know a cup of butter weighs 8 ounces, you could do the math yourself:

      1 ounce = 28.34 grams, so one cup of butter weighs 227 grams.

      1/4 cup of butter = 57 g
      1/3 cup of butter = 76 g
      1/2 cup of butter = 113 g

      Dry Goods
      All-Purpose Flour and Confectioners' Sugar




      1/8 cup
      (2 Tablespoons)

      16 g .563 oz
      1/4 cup
      32 g

      1.13 oz
      1/3 cup 43 g 1.5 oz
      1/2 cup 64 g 2.25 oz
      2/3 cup 85 g 3 oz
      3/4 cup 96 g 3.38 oz
      1 cup 128 g 4.5 oz
      Bread Flour

      Cups Grams Ounces
      1/4 cup 34 g 1.2 oz
      1/3 cup 45 g 1.6 oz
      1/2 cup 68 g 2.4 oz
      1 cup 136 g 4.8 oz
      Rolled Oats

      Cups Grams Ounces
      1/4 c 21 g .75 oz
      1/3 c 28 g 1 oz
      1/2 c 43 g 1.5 oz
      1 c 85 g 3 oz
      White Sugar (Granulated)

      Cups Grams Ounces
      2 Tbsp 25 g .89 oz
      1/4 cup 50 g 1.78 oz
      1/3 cup 67 g 2.37 oz
      1/2 cup 100 g 3.55 oz
      2/3 cup 134 g 4.73 oz
      3/4 cup 150 g 5.3 oz
      1 cup 201 g 7.1 oz
      Packed Brown Sugar

      Cups Grams Ounces
      1/4 c 55 g 1.9 oz
      1/3 c 73 g 2.58 oz
      1/2 c 110 g 3.88 oz
      1 c 220 g 7.75 oz
      Honey, Molasses & Syrup

      Cups Grams Ounces
      2 Tbsp 43 g 1.5 oz
      1/4 c 85 g 3 oz
      1/3 c 113 g 4 oz
      1/2 c 170 g 6 oz
      2/3 c 227 g 8 oz
      3/4 c 255 g 9 oz
      1 c 340 g 12 oz

    2. Very informative . In singapore , our bakes don't come in cup measurements. By referring to above conversion, Ur recipe looks so much easier. Thanks for sharing

  22. Just made the frosting! If I didn't actually have a cake that needed to be bakes I might have just sat and ate the frosting while I pretended to be unaware of the fact that I just ate 4.5 sticks of butter.

    1. Ya, right? All I need is a spoon and a Jane Austin book :)

  23. Hi,

    Would you be able to let me know if this cake is light in texture or more dense/fudgy in texture please?


    1. The cake is not fudgy in texture like a browie. It does have a crumb, but it's not like a cake mix cake. It's not airy and dry. It's a bit light, but moist. You can see a picture of the cake consistency here:

      I hope this helps.

  24. hi Janet, can i make the frosting a day in advance?

    1. Yes, you can. Refrigerate the buttercream then bring to room temperature and beat again until fluffy. The buttercream can be frozen for at least 2 weeks as well.

    2. If I don fridge the frosting immediately , will it able to restand at room temperature ? Cause Singapore's weather is hot.

  25. god, this sounds delicious. Thank you for sharing this.


  26. Do you use the entire 1/3rd cup of syrup to soak the cupcakes? I was worried I might make the cakes too wet if I used it all, so I held back. But, I would like to know for the next time I make them... should I just brush cakes lightly with syrup, or use the whole amount? Thanks!

    1. I do use the entire 1/3 cup, but you can use your best judgement. If you think the syrup is making the cakes too wet, them reduce the amount.

  27. Wow , above recipe is so detailed. I am from Singapore and enjoy baking. I am new in baking. Thanks for sharing and I would try out the above recipe next weekend.

    1. I hope you try the recipe. So great to hear from Singspore. Thank you so much.