Gluten-free Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Sometimes we just need chocolate. That was my thinking this past week when I was debating what cake I would bake for dessert for our Friday night dinner. But just chocolate wasn’t enough. I like to use unusual flavors in my baking, and nuts are typically on the top on my list.

Hazelnuts are a staple in Italian households. They are as common as walnuts, and we enjoy them frequently. It’s no surprise that Nutella, the best hazelnut chocolate spread, originated in Italy; and that gianduiotto, a specialty chocolate that blends together cocoa and hazelnuts, comes from the Piemonte region. In the United States hazelnuts are quite expensive so I buy them only when I know I need them for a recipe. During COVID, though, I don’t have the same luxury to impulsively go to the store to shop. So, I’ve been making sure to have hazelnut flour at home in case I want to add some flavor – and protein – to my baking.

Armed with the goal of combining chocolate and hazelnut, I researched conventional websites and baking books, and my Evernote – on which I have saved approximately 600 recipes – for the best combination of flavors. I took ideas from several different recipes and adapted them to be gluten-free, and the result was this delicious and rich Gluten-free Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with Whipped Chocolate Ganache filling and Chocolate Glaze.


Gluten-free Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

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Recipe by Simona Gluten-free Course: DessertDifficulty: Medium
Prep time


Cooking time




  • 4 oz 4 Hazelnut meal – 1 1/3 cups

  • 3 oz 3 Granulated sugar – 6 Tablespoons

  • 1.8 oz 1.8 Unsweetened cocoa powder – 2/3 cup

  • 5.4 oz 5.4 Boiling water – 2/3 cup

  • 6.6 oz 6.6 Unsalted butter, softened – 13 Tablespoons

  • 12.25 oz 12.25 Dark brown sugar – 1 3/4 cups

  • 9.2 oz 9.2 Simona’s Flour Mix – 1 2/3 cups

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon 1 1/2 Baking soda

  • 1/4 teaspoon 1/4 Salt

  • 4 large 4 Eggs

  • 10.6 oz 10.6 Buttermilk – 1 1/3 cups

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons 2 1/2 Vanilla extract

  • 3 Tablespoons 3 Glycerin

  • Chocolate Ganache
  • 1 lb 1 Bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

  • 12 oz 12 Heavy cream – 2 1/2 cups


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and line two 8″ round cake pans.
  • In a food processor, mix nuts with granulated sugar until fine but not pasty; transfer to a large bowl; stir in the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • In a heat-proof bowl, whisk together cocoa and boiling water until smooth. (Mixture will thicken as it cools).
  • In a bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and brown sugar on high until lightened and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time until well blended.
  • Stir in buttermilk, glycerin and vanilla into cocoa mixture. Mixing on low, add half of dry ingredients to a creamed mixture; when blended, pour in the cocoa mixture, and add remaining dry mixture, mixing until well incorporated.
  • Scrape batter into prepared pans, smooth the top. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool 15 minutes; remove from the pans and cool completely. In the meanwhile prepare the ganache.
  • Chocolate Ganache
  • Place chopped chocolate in a large heat-proof bowl. Bring cream to a boil over medium-high heat; pour directly over chopped chocolate. Allow to sit for a couple of minutes then start stirring, until well combined and smooth.
  • Place in the refrigerator while waiting for the cakes to cool. This ganache thickens as it sits. Your ganache should be pourable but still thick enough to fully coat the cake.
  • Assemble and decorate the cake
  • Place half of the cold ganache in a bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Whip the ganache until lighter in color, but before it becomes grainy.
  • Place one of the cakes on a cooling rack, over aluminum foil – so that any dripping from the ganache will be caught on it.
  • Spread half of the whipped ganache smoothly on top of the first cake, then position the second cake on the top. Cover the whole cake with the rest of the whipped ganache for a crumb coat. Chill the cake.
  • Gently warm the remaining ganache for a few seconds in the microwave, until it becomes spreadable. Working with a small ladle, pour ganache over the top of the cake, letting the ganache run down the sides. I used an offset spatula to help smooth the top and sides.
  • Finish decorating with some chocolate curls, grated from a chocolate block, briefly frozen.


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