If you're a fan of the famous chocolate hazelnut spread, you will love this Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Layer Cake! Soft, fluffy, and packed with indulgent chocolate ganache, chopped hazelnuts, and rich chocolate frosting.
Hello my beautiful friends and happy Monday! It's a brand new week and fall is near... I can't wait to start sharing all the cozy & comforting autumn recipes! Today's recipe is perfect for fall but really all year round, too. This Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Layer Cake is reminiscent of my childhood favorite Nutella, but vegan-friendly and transformed into a layered beauty! You've got fluffy chocolate-hazelnut cake layers, cocoa hazelnut frosting, and chocolate ganache and chopped hazelnuts between each layer AND on top. If you're a chocolate fan, you are gonna LOVE this one!
Growing up, Nutella was seriously my favorite thing ever. And you can find quite a few Nutella-themed creations on this blog of mine from my pre-vegan days! Unfortunately, this classic chocolate hazelnut spread contains dairy which means it's a no-go as a vegan. There are some dairy-free spreads on the market but they can be pricey and hard to find... and the flavor/texture is just not the same! I decided to use those same flavors and just reinvent them into cake to satisfy my cravings. I have to say... mission accomplished! 😉
What do I need to make a chocolate hazelnut layer cake?
- Cocoa: this is a must for that deep, chocolatey flavored cake! I like dark cocoa powder for a richer color and flavor. You will also be using it in the frosting!
- Chocolate: also a must... this is a chocolate hazelnut cake, after all! You need some high-quality chocolate to make the ganache that will be in between the layers and on top of the cake. I recommend semisweet or darker to balance out the sweetness of the frosting!
- Chopped hazelnuts: believe it or not, this is the ingredient I had the hardest time finding! I do think it will be easier to find now that fall is incoming. I only sprinkled the hazelnuts between the layers and on top of the cake, but you can also add some to the cake batter for extra flavor and texture.
- Hazelnut extract/emulsion: this was perfect to add some extra flavor to the cake and frosting! The chopped hazelnuts add a nice flavor, but the extra oomph from the emulsion really brought the whole thing together.
- White sugar & powdered sugar: remember to check that your sugar is VEGAN and not processed with bone char! My favorite brand of granulated sugar to bake with is Zulka. I'm still testing out different powdered sugars, but I did recently discover that the Target line of Good & Gather powdered sugar does not use bone-char! When in doubt, you can play it safe and opt for organic sugar.
- Vanilla extract: no matter what flavor of cake I bake, vanilla is always a must!
- White vinegar: the chocolate cake recipe I'm using here is the same as from my Vegan Baking Basics series. In this case, we use the vinegar + baking soda reaction to leaven the cake rather than adding in an egg replacer.
- Vegetable oil: I prefer using oil in my chocolate cake instead of butter for a lighter crumb!
- All-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
- Vegan butter & vegan shortening for the frosting
How do I make this vegan chocolate hazelnut layer cake?
There are three main components to this cake - the actual cake layers, the chocolate frosting, and the chocolate ganache!
- For the chocolate cake, I used my go-to, super-simple vegan chocolate cake recipe. It's made all in one bowl! To make it, just mix up your flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add in your nondairy milk, oil, vinegar, and extracts. Stir it up and cake batter is ready! Now it's time to bake 🙂
- For the frosting, it also couldn't be simpler. I like to use 50/50 vegan butter and vegan shortening to make sure my frosting holds up well at room temperature. Just beat together the butter and shortening in your stand mixer, then add in your cocoa powder, vanilla, and hazelnut extract. Add powdered sugar until it comes together into a rich, thick frosting. You can add a smidge of nondairy milk if the mixture is too thick. Done and done!
- Finally, let's make the ganache. You're gonna love how simple it is. Just mix up nondairy milk and chocolate and... microwave til melted. That's all there is to it! 😉
- The only thing left to do is put the cake together. Layer the cake, frosting, and ganache to create a scrumptious treat!
And... that's all she wrote! I hope you guys will give this Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Layer Cake a try. It is so scrumptious and perfect for any chocolate or Nutella lover! I can't wait to see what you guys think 🙂
Looking for more chocolatey treats?
- Vegan Dark Chocolate Pear Layer Cake
- Vegan German Chocolate Cupcakes
- Vegan Double Chocolate Banana Bread
- Vegan Cosmic Brownies
- *for the cake*
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups white granulated sugar
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups unsweetened nondairy milk
- ⅔ cup vegetable oil
- 4 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon hazelnut extract/emulsion
- *for the frosting*
- 3½ cups powdered sugar
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- ½ cup vegan butter
- ½ cup vegan shortening
- ¼ cup nondairy milk, more or less as needed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon hazelnut extract/emulsion
- pinch of salt
- *for stacking/filling*
- ½ cup vegan chocolate (chips or chopped up chocolate bar)
- ¼ cup nondairy milk
- ¼ cup chopped hazelnuts
- First, make the chocolate cake. Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray three 6" round cake pans with baking spray, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
- Add in the nondairy milk and oil, and mix vigorously. Add in the vinegar, vanilla, and hazelnut extract, and mix until well combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 25-30 minutes.
- Let cakes cool slightly, then turn onto a wire rack to finish cooling off.
- While the cakes cool, you can prepare the chocolate frosting.
- Beat the vegan butter and vegan shortening until creamy in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
- Add in the cocoa powder, followed by the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Add the nondairy milk if needed - add more or less as needed to get the right consistency.
- Stir in the salt and vanilla & hazelnut extracts.
- Finally, make the chocolate ganache.
- Combine the chocolate and nondairy milk in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, until mixture is smooth and silky. Set aside to cool slightly before using.
- When ready to assemble, flip cakes out of the pans and trim the tops off to make them level.
- To assemble, place one of the cake layers on a serving platter or cake circle.
- Spread a thin layer of chocolate frosting on top. Then pipe a circle of frosting on top of the cake, close to the edge, and spoon in some of the chocolate ganache. Sprinkle some hazelnuts on top. Repeat with the remaining cake layers.
- Using an offset spatula, smooth on top and outside of the cake for a crumb coat.
- Place the cake in the fridge for at least 10-15 minutes, until the crumb coat is solid, before putting on the final coat of frosting. After you are done frosting, make the chocolate ganache drips using a squeeze bottle or spoon. Go around the edges first, then spoon some ganache in the middle and smooth it out for an even layer. Sprinkle additional hazelnuts on top.
- To finish, pipe some more chocolate frosting on top. I used a 4B tip and piped in small concentric circles to create a rope border. Chill cake until ready to serve.
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