Bake

Fudgy Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake With Hazelnut Frosting

April 25, 2021
5 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. FOOD STYLIST: ANNA BILLINGSKOG. PROP STYLIST: GERRI WILLIAMS.
Author Notes

Let me preface with this: I actively avoid the chocolate options on dessert menus, frosting mostly makes me shudder, and my diet is not even remotely free of gluten. So when I say that I delight in the deep squidge and brownie-like density of this gluten-free chocolate cake, with its tufts of frosting, I hope you know how much that means.

Frankly, this is just a really good chocolate cake, which happens to be gluten-free. It’s a single layer, but a hefty one, an absolute dream to slice into. You really do need a pan that’s at least three inches deep to fit all of that batter. If all you have is a two inch deep pan, you can fashion a little parchment paper or aluminum foil collar that extends about 2 inches above the lip of the pan and tuck it inside before pouring in your cake batter. Your arts and crafts moment will yield a gloriously tall cake with the right ratio of cake to frosting.

Except for that one ask, the cake is a cinch to make. With your ingredients close to hand and the coffee brewed, you can have the batter ready by the time your oven fully preheats, I promise you this. A tiny bit of cinnamon adds a hint of toasty, cozy warmth. The frosting occupies a sublime plane between the gritty, too-sweet, powdered-sugar sort and those meringue buttercreams that taste like you bit into a stick of butter.

This recipe was created and tested using Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour, which is mostly rice flour, plus some starch and xanthan gum to give it body and structure. I prefer to use a blend without chickpea flour, as I find it a bit too grassy for most palates and purposes. Double check to make sure your blend includes xanthan gum and, if it doesn’t, add about 1/2 teaspoon of it to the dry ingredients. —Shilpa Uskokovic

  • Prep time 45 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Makes one 8-inch cake
Ingredients
  • Gluten-free chocolate cake
  • 2 cups (250 grams) gluten-free flour blend, preferably Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) baking soda
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) unsalted butter, straight from the fridge
  • 1/2 cup (112 grams) neutral vegetable oil (such as avocado, canola, or sunflower)
  • 3/4 cup (65 grams) unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (4 grams) ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (225 grams) freshly brewed, hot coffee
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) sour cream, straight from the fridge
  • 2 large (100 grams) eggs, straight from the fridge
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) vanilla extract
  • Hazelnut frosting
  • 1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) vanilla extract
  • 1 (14-ounce / 396-gram) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup (80 grams) chocolate-hazelnut spread (such as Nutella)
  • 1/4 cup (22 grams) unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F with a rack positioned in the center. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of an 8x3-inch round cake pan (see Author Notes if you only have a pan that’s 2 inches high) with nonstick spray or a bit of soft butter. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the gluten-free flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Give it a really good mix, stirring for about 45 seconds (this evenly disperses the leavening agents and side steps any clumping).
  3. Roughly chunk up the butter into small-ish cubes (it’s going to melt, so no need for precision here) and place in a small bowl. Add the oil, cocoa powder, salt and cinnamon to the same bowl.
  4. Pour the hot coffee over the butter and cocoa mixture. (If your coffee isn’t piping hot, heat it up in a small pan or the microwave first.) Whisk everything together briskly to a smooth, glossy, runny paste.
  5. Whisk in the sour cream, eggs and vanilla extract until fully incorporated.
  6. Add this chocolate mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk till the flour is completely dissolved, about 60 seconds. The batter should be smooth and thick but pourable.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and give it a couple of sharp raps against the counter to break up large air bubbles (this encourages an even crumb). Bake till the cake just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and the center of the cake springs back when lightly pressed on top, 60 to 80 minutes. (Rotate at the 50 minute mark to check in with how it's progressing.)
  8. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. If your pan is retrofitted with a paper collar, remove the paper first and then turn the cake out.
  9. Whilst the cake is cooling, get on with the frosting. Chuck the soft butter, salt, and vanilla extract into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Paddle the butter on a medium speed (#4 on a KitchenAid) till it’s fluffy and very pale, almost white.
  10. Switch to the whisk attachment and, with the mixer on medium-high speed (#6 on KitchenAid), drizzle in the sweetened condensed milk in a slow but steady stream— this should take 4 to 5 minutes, which ensures the frosting doesn’t break. The frosting should look smooth and billowy. Add the chocolate-hazelnut spread and cocoa powder and whisk till fully incorporated and there are no dark streaks in the frosting. If your frosting looks soupy and grainy, don’t worry, it’s an easy fix! Just pop the entire bowl of frosting in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes to firm up a little, then re-whip. It should come together beautifully.
  11. Pile the frosting in giant clouds on top of the fully cooled cake. Chill the frosted cake for 30 minutes before serving.
  12. The cake will keep, covered in an airtight container, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Let it sit at cool room temperature for 5 minutes before tucking in.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Myo Quinn
    Myo Quinn
  • Foodie Abraham
    Foodie Abraham
  • AC
    AC
  • Shilpa Uskokovic
    Shilpa Uskokovic
Shilpa Uskokovic is recipe developer, food writer and budding food stylist and photographer. She was previously a line and pastry cook in some of NYC's top rated restaurants like Marea, The NoMad Hotel, Maialino and Perry Street. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Shilpa loves books, Bundt cakes, cute Basset Hounds and peak millennial memes. She was born and raised in Chennai, India.

12 Reviews

Myo Q. April 25, 2021
What a beautiful chocolate cake recipe! I've added it to my repertoire for friends and family that can't have gluten and I sneak it to those that can to see if they can tell the difference. They can't! I love the frosting most... using sweetened condensed milk is such a clever way to add sweetness and flavor. Flag, print, and laminate this recipe for years to come!
 
Author Comment
Shilpa U. April 27, 2021
Thank you for the glowing review, Myo! Tickled that you and your friends love it.
 
Foodie A. October 19, 2020
Love the balance of the deep chocolate cake & the mild sweetness of the hazelnut frosting. I thought the cake would be very sweet due to condensed milk but not at all. The frosting is creamy & delicious. The highlight for me was your ingredients did not need to be at room temperature, which meant no waste of time. I will definitely recommend you make this cake as is without modification.
 
Author Comment
Shilpa U. October 19, 2020
The greatest praise, Abraham! Thank you so much for making it and your very thoughtful comments. So appreciate you.
 
AC October 17, 2020
Made the cake only (skipped frosting) exactly as is for a celiac. It is subtle and excellent and not oversweet. Was slight over done at 40 minutes, looks like recipe has an error on bake time.
 
Author Comment
Shilpa U. October 19, 2020
Yay!! So glad you made it. And thank you for the note regarding the bake time that worked for you. Much appreciated.
 
Kruthika October 15, 2020
I couldn’t find the nutritional information for the recipe, but with 400 gm of sugar in the cake and approx. 400 gm of sweetened condensed milk + Nutella this is gob smacking-ly sweet!

It’s gluten-free sure, but the sugar content is too much for a regular I-felt-like-cake baking, maybe for a children’s party
 
anne7hall October 15, 2020
I thought the same thing when I saw this recipe. I’m going to try it with half the sugar and a different topping.
 
Author Comment
Shilpa U. October 15, 2020
Hi Kruthika. With plenty of strong flavors like coffee and cacao to offset, this cake isn't overwhelmingly sweet even if, at first glance, it appears to be! And it comfortably makes 10-12 servings, so split evenly there's no more (or less) sugar than your average cake recipe. Hope you try it!
 
Author Comment
Shilpa U. October 15, 2020
Hi Anne. The cake isn't particularly sweet so I hope you try it as is! Sugar does a lot more than just sweeten a recipe - here it adds moisture and reacts with the other ingredients in a certain way to produce a fine crumb. If you do scale back on the sugar, please anticipate a very different result, typically a drier and much more crumbly cake. As for the frosting - the sky's the limit! Change it up!
 
anne7hall October 16, 2020
I made this with half the sugar and it was DELICIOUS!!! The little bit of cinnamon lingers on the palate and compliments the chocolate flavor. I don’t have a great oven, so this was done in 35 min. The crumb is great and it is very moist. This is a keeper. Well done!!
 
Author Comment
Shilpa U. October 19, 2020
Anne, this is making my day! And thanks to you, now we know it's great even if you scale back on the sugar. So delighted you enjoyed this.