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+ servings
Chocolate hazelnut cake with a slice being lifted out.

High Altitude Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Heather Smoke
Three layers of moist chocolate sour cream cake, filled and frosted with salted Nutella buttercream and toasted hazelnuts. Topped with Ferrero Rocher chocolate hazelnut truffles.

All recipes on Curly Girl Kitchen are developed for high altitude at 5,280 feet.

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American


  • Stand Mixer with Paddle Attachment


Chocolate Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup full-fat sour cream, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp instant espresso powder

Buttercream & Garnish

  • ¾ cup shelled hazelnuts
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp meringue powder, optional
  • ¼ tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-4 tbsp milk
  • ½ cup Nutella or chocolate hazelnut spread
  • 8-10 Ferrero Rocher chocolate hazelnut truffles



  • Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray the bottoms of three 8-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray.
  • In a bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then whisk until completely combined.
  • In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, sour cream, oil, vanilla and espresso powder until smooth.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and whisk for about 15-20 seconds until well combined and mostly free of lumps.
  • Divide the batter between the pans.  Tap the pans lightly on the counter a few times to pop any large air bubbles.  Bake the cakes on the center rack for about 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean or with moist crumbs clinging to it, and the tops spring back when gently touched.
  • Set the pans on a cooling rack, cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and cool completely before frosting.


  • First, toast the hazelnuts. Preheat the oven to 300. Spread the hazelnuts out onto a baking sheet, and toast for 5-7 minutes, until hot and fragrant. Cool completely, and then finely chop the toasted hazelnuts. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for one minute until smooth.
  • With the mixer on low, add the powdered sugar, meringue powder and salt, mixing to combine.
  • Add the vanilla; whip on medium speed for 4-5 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally, until very light and fluffy.  Add the milk as needed, for desired spreading consistency.
  • Add the Nutella and the toasted chopped hazelnuts, mixing on low to combine.
  • Stack and fill the cooled cakes with the buttercream, then frost all over with a thin crumb coat of buttercream.  Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then finish frosting the cake with a final layer of buttercream.
  • Garnish with the truffles.


The cake should be kept in an airtight container or cake carrier at room temperature for up to three days.
Keyword Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Hazelnut, Ferrero Rocher, High Altitude Cake, Nutella
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