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Nutella Cake

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Three-layered Nutella Chocolate Cake with Swiss Meringue frosting is a show-stopping dessert that's perfectly nutty, moist, and decadent.

slice cut in Nutella cake on white cake stand

It's hard to find a more festive way to celebrate any occasion than with a three-layered chocolate cake. Add in creamy hazelnut from Nutella and you have an all-around winning recipe perfect for any time of year!

I adapted this chocolate layer cake recipe from my popular Chocolate Pistachio Cake, adding in Nutella for everyone's favorite chocolate-hazelnut flavor combo. The cake is very soft and delicate and the frosting is perfectly light and spreadable. I garnished with chocolate shavings but that's completely optional.

Why this recipe works

  • You'll bake this three-layered chocolate cake in three separate cake pans. This way, there's no tricky slicing of cakes horizontally. Plus, your layers will be perfectly even.
  • Adding Nutella to both the cake and the buttercream frosting means this cake has tons of flavor in every bite. Plus, it stays super moist.
  • The cake itself is rich and dense, so the light and airy buttercream is a perfect counterpoint. While there's a lot of flavor, it's refined, not overwhelming or too sweet.
slice of Nutella cake on stack of three white plates

Nutella cake recipe

What makes this the best Nutella chocolate cake recipe? For starters, it jammed full of Nutella at every turn. From the cake batter to the Swiss meringue frosting, this cake is brimming with hazelnut-chocolate decadence.

In addition, this cake is easier than some layer cakes because you bake each of the three layers in its own cake pan. This means there's no tricky business of slicing cake rounds into thinner pieces, which often results in an uneven shape. This is the perfect layer cake for beginners and pros alike!


Ingredients

  • Nutella: This creamy, nutty spread adds flavor, texture, and moisture to the cake and frosting. It's an easy way to elevate classic chocolate cake and buttercream.
  • Flour: You'll need regular all-purpose flour for this cake. As always, avoid overmixing the cake batter after you add the flour, which can cause the cake to become too chewy and dense.
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder: This is the key to the decadent chocolate flavor without overdoing the sugar.
  • Leavening: This cake gets its lift from baking powder and baking soda. These two do double duty to ensure your cake is light and airy.
  • Salt: Salt enhances the deep chocolate and hazelnut flavor in the cake.
  • Butter: You'll need unsalted butter for the cake and the frosting. Melt and cool the butter for the cake batter. For the buttercream, you'll use solid, room temperature chunks of butter.
  • Sugar: Regular granulated white sugar adds just enough sweetness to the cake batter and the buttercream frosting.
  • Eggs: The protein in egg whites adds structure while the fat in the yolks adds tenderness to the cake batter. Use room temperature eggs for easier blending.
  • Vanilla: A dash of vanilla is the perfect complement to Nutella's nutty flavor.
  • Buttermilk: Buttermilk is the key to a slightly tangy, perfectly moist cake. It contains acid which reacts with the baking powder for extra lift during baking. Use room-temperature buttermilk to prevent lumps from forming in your batter.

How to make Nutella cake

While there are three layers and a homemade buttercream frosting in this recipe, it's easier to make than it seems. First, you'll make a simple chocolate cake enriched with Nutella.

Then, whip up the simple Nutella buttercream frosting. Finally, assemble your three layers and smooth, chocolaty frosting.

fork taking a bite out of Nutella cake

Step 1: Make the cake batter

Before you start mixing the cake batter, prepare 3 8-inch cake pans. Grease them well and line them with parchment paper for easy removal. I recommend dusting the parchment with cocoa powder for extra insurance.

Then, whisk together the dry ingredients. Separately, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. I use a hand mixer for this, but you can do it by hand with some elbow grease. Add the Nutella, eggs, and vanilla. Finally, add the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk.

Nutella in glass bowl with mixer and bowl of Nutella cake batter

Step 2: Bake the cake

When the batter is just combined (a few lumps are totally fine), divide it evenly between your prepared cake pans and bake!

The cakes are done baking when they're fully set in the center, about 25 to 30 minutes. Now it's very important to let the cakes cool fully before frosting.

cake pan dusted cocoa powder, chocolate cake batter in round cake pan, baked cake in cake pan

Step 3: Make the frosting

While the cakes cool, whip up your Nutella buttercream frosting. You'll need the bowl of a stand mixer (or another heatproof bowl) and a pot of barely simmering water.

In this bowl, heat the egg whites, sugar, and salt until the sugar is fully dissolved and the mixture is starting to steam. It should register 150°F.

Now use the electric mixer to beat the egg whites into a fluffy foam. Start adding the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is totally smooth and creamy. Take your time here––if you add the butter too quickly, your buttercream can break.

Mix the frosting until it's fully smooth and spreadable. If you notice it's seizing up at all, beat the frosting on medium speed and it should soften up.

Nutella swiss meringue buttercream in stainless steel mixing bowl

Step 4: Assemble the cake

When your cakes are cool and out of their pans and the frosting is light and fluffy, you're ready to assemble the chocolate Nutella cake.

Place the first cake layer on a serving platter. Coat the top of the cake in a thin layer of frosting and top with the second cake layer. Repeat with the third cake layer.

Finally, use the rest of your frosting to coat the sides and top of the cake. I find that an offset spatula is the best tool to get this job done. To top it off, sprinkle the cake with chocolate shavings if you like.

Nutella Swiss meringue frosting spread over chocolate cake layer next to 3 layers of Nutella cake with frosting in between

I recommend chilling the cake before serving for even, neat slices.

Tips for success

  • Buttermilk is required because there's a good amount of baking soda in this recipe. The acid from the buttermilk will neutralize the baking soda, this removes any off-flavor the baking soda can leave behind.
    • If you don't have buttermilk or don't want to purchase it, you can make it by placing 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar into a 1-cup liquid measuring cup. Then fill the cup with whole milk to make 1 full cup. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes before using. Do this for every cup of buttermilk called for in the recipe.
  • This cake is soft and delicate! It's best to cool the layers and chill them before frosting. Also, chill the frosted cake before slicing if you wish to have neat slices.
  • Dust the inside of the pans with cocoa powder to prevent the cake from sticking. The cocoa powder will blend in with the dark cake color, unlike flour.
  • Use room temperature ingredients! Cold eggs are difficult to blend into cake batter without overworking it. Cold buttermilk will cause the butter to resolidify and the batter will curdle.
  • For the very best results, weigh the ingredients. Small kitchen scales are relatively inexpensive.
Nutella cake with Nutella frosting on white cake stand

Storing & Freezing

To store: The frosted cake can be kept in a cake keeper at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

To Freeze: The frosted cake can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature just before serving.

Alternatively, you can wrap the baked and cooled cake layers in plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.


Watch how to make it

slice of Nutella cake on stack of three white plates

Nutella Cake

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

This Nutella Cake is an incredible combination of deliciously moist chocolate cake and luscious Nutella buttercream. It's a decadent dessert that you must try!

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup (57 g) unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting the pans
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup (170 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 ¾ cups (350 g) granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup (113 g) Nutella
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (480 ml) buttermilk, room temperature - Note 1

For the frosting

  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ½ cups (565 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces at room temperature
  • ¾ cup (296 g) Nutella
  • chocolate shavings, optional

Instructions

Make the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray 3 8-inch round pans with nonstick spray. Line the bottoms with parchment paper cut into a circle to fit the pan. Spray the parchment paper with nonstick spray and dust the pan lightly with cocoa powder. Tap out any excess and set aside.
  2. Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a handheld electric mixer beat the butter and sugar together on medium-low speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the Nutella until well combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla.
  4. With the mixer set to low speed. gradually add half the flour mixture, followed by the buttermilk, and then the remaining flour mixture. Beat just until combined. The batter will be thick.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the 3 prepared pans. Use an offset spatula to spread the batter all the way to the edges of the pan and smooth out the surface. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few dry crumbs.
  6. Cool the cake in the pans for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto a wire rack, peel the parchment paper off the bottoms, and allow the cakes to cool completely.

Make the frosting

  1. Combine the egg whites, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water. Whisk gently and continuously while heating the mixture. It should register 150°F on an instant-read thermometer. The sugar should be fully dissolved.
  2. Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer and fit it with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is the consistency of shaving cream and cooled slightly, 1-2 minutes. (if the meringue is warm it will melt the butter.)
  3. Switch to the paddle attachment and gradually add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until smooth and creamy. (Only add the next tablespoon of butter once the last one has been completely mixed in.) Once all the butter is added, scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix on medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 30 seconds. If at any point the mixture looks curdled, don't panic. It will come together, just let it keep mixing.
  4. Add the Nutella and continue to mix on medium until incorporated. If the frosting seems too thick, mix on medium-low speed to slightly deflate the egg whites. This will thin the frosting out.

Assemble the cake

  1. Place one cake layer onto a serving platter. Add 1 cup of frosting and spread it to the edge with a spatula. Repeat with a second cake layer, topping it with 1 cup of frosting. Add the third cake layer and cover the top and sides of the cake with frosting.
  2. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings if desired.

Notes

  1. Buttermilk is required because there's a good amount of baking soda in this recipe. The acid from the buttermilk will neutralize the baking soda, this removes any off-flavor the baking soda can leave behind. If you don't have buttermilk or don't want to purchase it, you can make it by placing 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar into a 1-cup liquid measuring cup. Then fill the cup with whole milk to make 1 full cup. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes before using. Do this for every cup of buttermilk called for in the recipe.
  2. This cake is soft and delicate! It's best to cool the layers and chill them before frosting. Also, chill the frosted cake before slicing if you wish to have neat slices.
  3. Dust the inside of the pans with cocoa powder to prevent the cake from sticking. The cocoa powder will blend in with the dark cake color, unlike flour.
  4. Use room temperature ingredients! Cold eggs are difficult to blend into cake batter without overworking it. Cold buttermilk will cause the butter to resolidify and the batter will curdle.
  5. For the very best results, weigh the ingredients. Small kitchen scales are relatively inexpensive.

Make ahead tip

  1. The frosted cake can be kept in a cake keeper at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
  2. The frosted cake can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature just before serving.
  3. Alternatively, you can wrap the baked and cooled cake layers in plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before frosting and serving.
  4. The frosting can be made 1 day in advance. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container. Bring to room temperature and re-whip before using it.
  5. The frosting can also be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight then let it come to room temperature and re-whip before using.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 866Total Fat: 58gSaturated Fat: 37gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 165mgSodium: 604mgCarbohydrates: 80gFiber: 3gSugar: 59gProtein: 9g

* Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy by an online nutrition calculator and is not guaranteed to be accurate. Always seek advice from a nutritionist or medical professional.

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Sonja Louw

Saturday 27th of March 2021

This recipe is perfect just the way it is. The cake is delicate and delicious! Thank you

Sara

Friday 5th of March 2021

Can I make this Nutella cake into cupcakes? If so, is there anything I need to adapt like bake time?thank you

Jen Sobjack

Tuesday 9th of March 2021

I haven't made this recipe into cupcakes before but I think it should be fine. You may need to decrease the bake time.

Amy Wilkins

Tuesday 2nd of March 2021

Can you clarify how many eggs you use in the cake batter part. You only talk about egg quantity in the frosting not the cake batter ingredients. Thanks!

Jen Sobjack

Tuesday 2nd of March 2021

Right above where you left this comment is the full recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions. The cake portion calls for 2 large eggs.

Geet

Friday 19th of February 2021

Hi. I’d like to make this into a 2 9” inch layer cake. Do I need any adjustments to the recipe or baking times. Thanks

Jen Sobjack

Friday 19th of February 2021

The recipe yields quite a bit of batter and it may be too much for just 2 pans. This pan conversion guide can help you decide how to adjust recipes for different pan sizes.

Sarah

Monday 15th of February 2021

The recipe sounds yum..am a bit concerned if it would taste of Nutella or chocolate?? As I love Nutella & have been wanting to try a good recipe where Nutella taste stands out..pls let me know so that I can try the cake..

Jen Sobjack

Tuesday 16th of February 2021

Nutella is made with chocolate so there will a chocolate taste to the cake and frosting. The frosting doesn't contain additional chocolate but the cake does. You'll notice more of the hazelnut notes in the frosting.

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