the simple stuff: nutella cake

It used to be a secret, but isn’t so much anymore, that when former roommate Yas and I studied abroad in Paris we went fairly insane for Nutella. Big deal, you’re thinking, join the club of every other female American expat student. What Europe lacks in peanut butter, it more than makes up with Nutella, and we were certainly not the first to discover this.


But we went really insane. Five nights out of seven, we were out of the house by 10pm 22h for crepes, and if the crepe man was closed, then by golly we were visiting the late-night Turkish-mart two streets over for a baguette and a jar of Nutella. (Not because we didn’t keep it stocked, but because we’d already finished the stock.) No bread? No problem. That’s what spoons are for.

the empty jar

So when Jill and Rob invited us to dinner at their place on Saturday night and I found this in How to be a Domestic Goddess (what a title, said Billy), my first thought was YES, followed immediately by, How have I never made this before? It uses an entire jar of Nutella (emptied and pictured above)!


Besides being NUTELLA and CAKE, this concoction is wonderful for two more counts. Number one, it is incredibly easy to make. There’s a bit of a fuss with separating the eggs and stiffing up the whites, and okay, you do have to bring out a saucepan for the ganache-like icing. And since I couldn’t find ground hazelnuts at HyVee and haven’t got a food processor, I chopped the hazelnuts up myself — incidentally, not something I recommend. But aside from that, you just splash the ingredients into one big bowl, stir enthusiastically, fold in the whites (which is basically stirring, in slow motion) and spread the mess in a springform pan.


Number two, it’s so forgiving. Even though I’m handing this recipe over to you all, I actually messed it up on Saturday AND HOW, by accidentally doubling the bittersweet chocolate quotient. To some people, perhaps an improvement, but not to me. Instead of the intentioned, well-reasoned Nutella flavor, it was mostly ultra rich chocolate plus undertaste of hazelnut. It’s still delicious, if that’s what you’re going for, but if that is what you’re going for, best to find another recipe altogether.


Even better, I made a happy discovery. I’d been bemoaning the fact that my HyVee hazelnuts weren’t peeled, but lo! A few minutes rolling around a hot frying pan and the toasted nuts wriggled right out of their coats. You just have to rub them between your fingers a little.


Nutella Cake

(Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess)

For the cake

  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 14 oz (one large jar) of Nutella
  • 1 tbsp rum or water
  • 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

For the icing

  • 4 ounces whole hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp rum or water
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Grease and line the 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg whites into frothy peaks. Put in the fridge while you mix the rest of the batter.

In a larger bowl, beat the butter and Nutella together, then add rum or water, egg yolks, and ground hazelnuts. Add the four ounces of melted chocolate. Plop a large dollop of egg whites into the batter and mix it in as roughly as you want, before gently folding in the rest, one spoonful at a time.

Pour into a prepared pan and cook for 40 minutes, when the cake should be coming away from the parchment paper sides. Let cool thoroughly before adding the icing.

Toast the hazelnuts in a frying pan on the stovetop. Keep shaking them around so they don’t brown unevenly, then transfer them to a plate to cool completely. If they came unpeeled, gently separate the loosened coats now.

For the icing, combine the cream, rum or water, and chocolate in a saucepan and heat on low. Once the chocolate’s melted, remove from heat and whisk the mixture to thicken it.

Once everything is cool, assemble it. Pop the cake out of the mold (but leave it on the base), spread the icing on top, and dot thickly with the whole hazelnuts.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by claire on September 9, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    I have this book why didn’t I make this yet????


    • Posted by iowasthinking on September 9, 2009 at 8:13 pm

      Isn’t a fabulous book? And get on this recipe stat, girl. I can tell you from experience the leftovers keep WELL.


  2. Posted by Red Chiffon Skirt on September 10, 2009 at 8:10 am

    Um, this looks like heaven !!!

    Too bad they don’t eat Nutella in Korea. Send some immediately and I’ll reply with jars of kimchi.


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