Fudgy Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake With Hazelnut Frosting

October 14, 2020
4 Ratings
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
  • 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
  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.

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