Mocha and hazelnut layer cake


One thing I learned from my years of food blogging and food styling + photography is to never shoot anything that has the ability to melt into a heap of sweet sticky goodness in the matter of a few seconds. Yet single time, I always seem to shoot chocolate, ice-cream and other rich desserts in summery weather. Today was one of those days, a hot and long awaited summer day in Sydney.

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This cake was shot in about 15 minutes, way less than that of what I normally take to style and photograph. I was actually debating on whether to chuck it back in the fridge and wait for another day. But I couldn’t, knowing that I was going to demolish it before I even had the chance to turn on my camera. That would explain the lack of photos in this post but I just had to share this fabulous cake with all of you…

This is a sort of simple layer cake. A gluten free simple one bowl chocolate cake layered between dollops of mocha (chocolate and espresso) coconut whipped cream- which of course, you can substitute for any other frosting of your choice- grated dark chocolate and roughly chopped roasted hazelnuts.

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One thing I love about this recipe is the simple cake. I came across the recipe not long ago in one of my older recipe books. It was originally a lemon cake but in substituting half the quantities of the flour for cocoa powder and replacing the lemon with vanilla, I came up with this thing…

It’s hard to explain but this cake is kind of magic. With only a quarter cup of flour for each cake layer, you’d never expect it to have such a cake-like texture. It might seem super-duper runny at first but as soon as you pour the batter into the tins, let it rest for a few moments, the batter thickens before your eyes. Quite magical.


Mocha and hazelnut layer cake


    For the cake:
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour (or any other flour)
  • 1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 8 eggs
  • 8 tbsp maple syrup (or any other liquid sweetener)
  • 8 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Dark chocolate, to decorate
  • Roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • For the frosting:
  • 3 cups coconut whipped cream (I follow this recipe
  • 1 tbsp espresso, cold
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, softened
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)


    For the cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease 2x20cm round cake tins and line the base with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl.
  3. Add the eggs, maple syrup, melted coconut oil and vanilla and whisk until smooth.
  4. Divide the batter amongst the prepared tins and rest for 5 minutes.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely before icing.
  6. To assemble:
  7. Whisk together the coconut whipped cream, espresso, cocoa powder, coconut oil and maple syrup until combined.
  8. Place one cake round on a cake board/plate. Spread 1 1/2 cup of frosting onto the cake, smoothing out but leaving 2 cm gap on the sides.
  9. Sprinkle with flaked chocolate and hazelnuts. Repeat with the remaining layer.
  10. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

26 thoughts on “Mocha and hazelnut layer cake

  1. Jes

    I just came across this recipe and want to make it! If I make it a day in advance do I store it in the fridge or just leave it out on a cool dry place? Thanks!

  2. Natalie

    Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe! And oh my goodness, you are one incredibly talented indivudual! :) I just tried out this cake out, and it turned out to be really eggy in terms of texture! I feel like I’m eating a baked chocolate egg sponge if that makes any sense! Do you know what possibly went wrong? Because yours looks amazing! I used almond meal and basically kept the rest of the ingredients the same as you have directed! Thank you in advance!!!!

    1. Zainab

      Hi Natalie! I used coconut flour in this recipe because when mixed with liquid, it thickens. Almond meal on the other hand- doesn’t quite mould with the liquids. If you don’t have any coconut flour on hand- I suggest you replace that for the same amount (1/2 cup) with any gluten-free flour mix or just regular flour. I hope this helps!! x

  3. Charlene

    Lovely! What amazing skills you have! Sounds like I might be exaggerating, but I am seriously considering a vegan diet after reading your posts!

    Can I just ask if it’s possible to substitute the 8 eggs to 8 flax eggs (8 tbsp flax powder + 24 tbsp water) instead? Will the taste and texture be compromised?

    1. Zainab

      Aw thanks Charlene! I wouldn’t recommend doing that, you’d have a watery, soggy mess. The eggs in this batter thickens up the batter and that can’t be achieved with flax seeds. I do have a vegan chocolate cake recipe over here. Hope this helps! x

  4. deliciouslynell

    I made this cake for a gathering, and it was a big hit! Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to try out the original frosting, so I just made espresso whipped cream and used that instead. But it was fantastic! I also had a heatwave when trying to photograph it! What are the odds! XD Thanks for the recipe!

  5. Ines

    Oh my god this recipe looks amazing ! The only problem is that I can’t fins coconut oil here en Beijing. Would you know something healthy to replace it ? Thankss xx

    1. Zainab

      Aw thank you! For the cake, you can use any other nuetral tasting oil (for example, canola oil, vegetable oil) but for the forsting, just leave the coconut oil out. Hope this helps!

  6. Sabrina

    Just discovered your blog and it’s amazing! I’m going to try to make this Mocha and hazelnut cake. Can it be made and iced a head of time (a day in advance)?

    1. Zainab

      Thanks so much! Of course, in fact it’s much better if you prepare it the day before, the icing hardens slightly and the cake absorbs the flavour of the icing. Hope you love it x

  7. Lucia

    Hi!!! I’ve been following your instagram account for a while now and I love it! But anyway, I got stressed out yesterday night at like 9 because I have a ton of work and so I decided to procrastinate and bake this cake. It was delicious! I didn’t make the icing but my family ate it with melted chocolate or some icing from the store. I also made your coconut donuts and they are amazing!!! I wish I had your talent.

  8. Anja

    Hi! Can I really use any other flour (like all purpose..)? I heard that coconut flour absorbs way more liquid and can’t be replaced 1:1 with another kind of flour. I’d love to make this cake but can’t find coconut flour anywhere :( thanks for your answer! Anja

  9. Martyna @ Wholesome Cook

    Hi Zainab, I hear you about shooting melty things in warm weather… I was recently doing an ice cream / ice pop shoot for Nourish and was so glad that their editorial deadlines run early. Shooting ice cream in winter is kind of perfect.
    Now, this cake. I made something very similar recently. Actually two separate cakes and you seem to have combined both WITH coffee. That’s quite an awesome cake! Love the photos. Looks like you had more than 15 minutes to play with the props. Well done!

    1. Zainab

      Oh yes, magazine land is super fun. Christmas in July, especially! I actually set up the props before-hand so shooting was extra efficienct. Thanks so much for all the love!!


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