Benjamina Ebuehi’s chocolate, buttermilk and hazelnut cake – recipe

It’s always a good time for a slice of chocolate cake, and there are numerous styles to choose from, depending on your mood. For an after-dinner dessert, I’d go for a dense, barely sweet, flourless number, but for something more suited to an afternoon treat, this fluffier cake covered in chocolatey buttercream is my go-to. Chocolate and hazelnuts have been friends since the beginning of time, and I love the extra crunch you get from the chopped nuts scattered in the middle. I’ve used a shop-bought chocolate hazelnut spread for ease – there are plenty of good-quality options out there to choose from.

Chocolate, buttermilk and hazelnut cake

Prep 20 min
Cook 40 min
Serves 12

100g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
50g dark chocolate
2 eggs
220g buttermilk
275g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
280g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1½ tsp
bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp salt
170ml hot coffee

For the icing
250g softened unsalted butter
200g icing sugar

50g cocoa powder
130g chocolate hazelnut spread

50g soured cream
75ml Frangelico
2 tbsp roasted chopped hazelnuts, plus extra to finish

Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4, and grease and line two 20cm cake tins.

In a heatproof bowl, melt the butter and chocolate in short bursts in the microwave or set it over a pan of simmering water, then set aside. Beat the eggs in a small jug and mix in the buttermilk.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, bicarb and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour in the chocolate mixture, followed by the eggs and buttermilk, then stir until smooth – the batter will be on the thick side.

Pour in the hot coffee in two batches, stirring in each addition until there are no lumps, then pour the batter into the prepared tins. Bake for 28–33 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean, then remove and leave to cool completely in the tins.

To make the icing, beat the butter in a stand mixer or with an electric whisk for two to three minutes, until pale and creamy. Add the icing sugar and cocoa powder, and beat for another few minutes, until you have a thick buttercream. Beat in the chocolate spread, scraping down the sides of the bowl every so often, then mix in the soured cream followed by three tablespoons of hot water.

To assemble, level the cakes with a sharp serrated knife if they are uneven, then brush with the Frangelico, if using. Spoon a third of the buttercream on one cake, smooth it out evenly and sprinkle over the chopped hazelnuts. Place the second cake on top, and cover the top and sides with the remaining buttercream. Finish with a scattering of extra chopped nuts, then slice and serve.