hazelnut brown butter cake

Last month, someone emailed me to ask how I’d suggest she adapt the Icebox Cake to feed 30 to 40 people. Anyone who has ever emailed me to ask me a question before probably knows what happened next: I answered at least 10 (cough 20) days after the fact. Nevertheless, she assured me that she’d scaled it just fine and her husband and hers joint birthday part was wonderful, or at least I think this is what she said because I do not remember a single word that passed between us after she uttered what have to be the four most beautiful words in the dessert lexicon: Hazelnut. Brown. Butter. Cake.

[Insert sound of tires screeching to a halt.]

vanilla beans

“Did you say someone made a Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake?”
“It’s from Sunday Suppers at Lucques and not to torment you or anything, but I am eating a piece right now.”

[Insert sound of Deb fainting to the floor. Or something equally melodramatic. Because nobody feeds me, ever.]

oregon hazelnutstoasted hazelnuts

And this, my friends, is an excellent time for me to introduce my new favorite cookbook: Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques. I know I’m always two-plus years late to the party but what is important is that I got there at all. Falling head over heels in love with a cookbook is dangerous, however; on one hand, I get to share something with you that I am gaspingly excited about. But on the other hand, if I were to, say, only post recipes from Sunday Suppers for the next two weeks, it wouldn’t be very cool at all. We must strive for moderation! But this doesn’t make it easy. In fact, I’m already on my second recipe, I created a third one this weekend and I’ve got my eye on, oh, sixteen or seventeen more.

soft/firm peaks

But if this cake doesn’t get you running to the store to buy Suzanne Goin’s masterpiece, I just don’t know about you. Did you hear the part where I mentioned hazelnuts, and the brown butter? There’s a vanilla bean in there too. Oh, and because I was bringing it to my in-laws who–how shall I state this mildly?–have a slight thing for chocolate, I draped it with ganache, though the original recipe just suggested powdered sugar and caramelized pears.

hazelnut brown butter mise

Anyway, the two weeks between the time I learned of this cake, ordered the book and finally found a chance to make it were probably a little difficult for Alex. “What would you like for dinner?” “Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake.” “What should we do today?” “Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake.” “Do you like this shirt and jeans together?” “Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake.”

hazelnut brown butter batter

I think you can see where I am going with this. Had his Aunt’s 65th birthday not given me an excuse to finally bake the cake, Alex might have taken to wearing earplugs around the apartment. Uh, again. Thank goodness things never got that ugly, I mean, until he suggested that we share the piece left in the fridge. It’s like he doesn’t know me AT ALL.


Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake
Adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques

Chef Goin served this as her wedding cake. Need I say more? Okay fine, I will: I liked it even better out of the fridge the next day.

5 ounces (about one heaping cup) hazelnuts, blanched to remove dark skins*
1/2 pound unsalted butter (plus 1 tablespoon melted extra for greasing the pan)
1/2 vanilla bean
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting the cake
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
5 extra-large egg whites (I used 6 since I was using
large eggs
3 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 °F.

Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet, and toast 12 to 15 minutes, until they’re golden brown and smell nutty. Let them cool.

Cut out a circle of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of a 10-inch round cake pan. Brush the pan with a little melted butter and line the bottom with the paper.

Place the rest of the butter in a medium saucepan. Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise down the center, and using a paring knife to scrape the seeds and pulp onto the butter. To make sure not to lose any of the seeds, run your vanilla-coated knife through the butter. Add the vanilla pod to the pan, and cook the butter until the butter browns and smells nutty (about 6 to 8 minutes). It helps to frequently scrape the solids off the bottom of the pan in the last couple minutes to ensure even browning. Set aside to cool. Remove the vanilla pod and discard.

Grind the hazelnuts with the confectioners’ sugar in a food processor until they’re finely ground. Add the flour and pulse to combine. Transfer to a large bowl.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the granulated sugar and mix on high speed 4 to 5 minutes, until the mixture forms very stiff peaks. When you turn the whisk upside down, the peaks should hold. Transfer the whites to a large mixing bowl.

Alternate folding the dry ingredients and the brown butter into the egg whites, a third of a time. Remember to scrap the bottom of the brown butter pan with a rubber spatula to get all the little brown bits.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour**. Cool on a rack 30 minutes. Run a knife around the inside edge of the pan, and invert the cake onto a plate. Peel off the paper, and turn the cake back over onto a serving platter. Sprinkle it with powdered sugar or cover with ganache (below).

* I removed the skins (which are especially tough on the delicious Oregon hazelnuts I found) by toasted them on a baking sheet at 350°F for about 15 minutes then either (I tried both methods) wrapping the warm nuts in a dish towel, letting it steam for five minutes and then vigorously rubbing them together to remove the skins or by plunking them in a colander and using a hard, dry, clean scrub brush to brush their skins off.

** Mine was done at 40 minutes so check yours even earlier, okay?

Draping Ganache for 10-inch Cake

4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips or finely-chopped chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules

Melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cake. (I usually use the boil cream and then stir in chips until they melt method, but found that this time it ended up too thick and hard to drizzle. Feel free to try either, though!)

Updated to add: Eggbeater’s Shuna has made this cake before, and has terrifically detailed instructions and step-by-step pictures for those of you who need more than gushing to guide you through a recipe! Check it out.

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350 comments on hazelnut brown butter cake

  1. I am about to admit something fairly embarrassing–I just read your whole blog. Everything. It didn’t even take me that long. Your pictures are beautiful, your recipes are taking up my “to try” list, and your voice is funny and relatable. I’m a new convert… I can’t wait to try some of your stuff!

  2. This looks really tasty. I was seeing a lot pink cupcakey things recently as I prowled around the net and they weren’t floating my boat…this looks delicious. Hazelnuts and chocolate, I’ve heard they’re supposed to be pretty good together…..*wink*

  3. I’m sorry, someday I’ll muster the courage to weep and drool over this beautiful cake. In the meantime, I’m clearly the last person in the world to read that story about the dog and the sweet potato and my stomach hurts from laughing so hard. Oh my GOD.

  4. hazelnut.brown.butter.cake. 4 words have never meant so much to me before.Jill O’Connor’s Sticky Chewy Messy Gooey has a recipe for a cake like this but it uses almonds instead it looks really good too.

  5. Jeanie

    Two days ago, I made a yellow cake with Frangelica liqueur to replace 1/4 cup of the water and added some chopped hazelnuts that I tried to do the bake & dishtowel thing to them. Didn’t work. I will try the blanching next time. Your photos are fabulous–I just found your blog and will be following your fun!

  6. Excellent! So simple but so elegant. I would like to use ground almonds although maybe they are not oily enough for this cake?

    I think the cake by itself with a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top and a few decorate strawberry slices would be incredible. Thanks!

    The Peanut Butter Boy

  7. Cheril

    Do you think it would work in a 10″ springform pan? I don’t have a 10″ round, but smaller. Any recommendation? Based on the photo I just may have to purchase one. I need that cake:-)

  8. mixette

    I got this book immediately when it came out, poured over every word and have cooked about a third of the recipes. Everything is so good.

    The Meyer Lemon and Green Olive Salsa; I have to restrain myself from eating the whole bowl with a spoon while standing in front of the fridge.

  9. Liz

    okay- three- honestly- three of my current top ten favorite things are in this recipe (chocolate-brown butter-hazelnut)- enough said- Im heading to the kitchen.

  10. Laura

    I didn’t even follow the dog/sweet potato link until I saw Delaney’s comment above. It turns out they’re only the second to last person in the world to read it. But now I need to go and take a break because I am crying I laughed so hard.

    Also, I’ll need to come back and stare at these pictures of cake, and then invent an occasion to make it–ASAP!

  11. Ummmm, when did you have time to make that? Hangover Sunday? Or was that hiding in the fridge while you innocently served us butterscotch icecream & French apple pie?

    1. Sofia

      Hi! I’m planning to make this cake for a friend’s birthday, and I have a couple questions! So i’m planning to make a two-layer cake, do you think this cake would take well to stacking? Also, is it a very sweet cake? My friend does not want a lot of sweet, and I am planned to frost it (with chai-spiced frosting!) Thanks!

  12. Suzanne M

    MMmmmm. I’m wondering if you can substitute matzo pastry meal for the 1/3 cup flour and turn this into the most spectacular Passover cake. Worth a try before the big Seder in April, don’t you think?

  13. deb

    Cheril — I think it would definitely work in a 9-inch pan and maybe in an 8-inch. The 10-inch made a cake that was a little on the thin side, so there is room for it to get taller.

    Joc — I’m so behind, I’m still catching up from two weekends ago! For shame!

    Suzanne — Indeed! (My mother and Alex’s mother said the same thing.) However, like SO many egg white/no flour desserts there is a bit of confectioners’ sugar in it, and depending on how strict you are/your family is about these things, confectioners’ sugar has cornstarch in it, which is a no-no. Yes, it is actually that particular. My mother is on the lookout for the Special Kosher for Passover Powdered Sugar (probably with potato starch instead) right now–wish her luck!

  14. rachelk

    Yay you made it! I was wondering…and I made another recipe of hers last night, the broccoli with burrata but substituted cabbage and it was great. I also made the rhubarb crumb cake and it came out perfect, but I made the mistake of making it over the weekend and ate waaaaaay to much of it. I’m trying very hard to erase the memory of it now.
    Suzanne M, it’s not much flour so I think it might work, but just to let you know Alice Medrich has a fabulous cookbook called Chocolate Holidays which has some great recipes for Passover cakes. And for chocolate hamantachen which I can’t wait to try!

  15. ohiogirl

    Deb –

    Big drool here. But I second the notion – come out to Los Angeles and you can have Sunday Supper at Lucques yourself. I can vouch – it is incredible.

    As for kosher for passover powdered sugar – many of the organic powdered sugars have no corn and, in a pinch, you can make your own using a food processor.

    Thanks for the continually amazing blog!

  16. Suzanne M

    I didn’t even notice the confectioner’s sugar in the ingredient list – you are so right. I think I’ll try it with an equal weight of superfine or ba1ker’s sugar, it may work since it is ground with the nuts. Or, maybe put half the weight in with the nuts and the other half with the egg whites (so it dissolves). I’ll let you know if it works. I’ll also look a the organic conf. sugar that I get to see if it has corn starch. Thanks for the suggestions Deb, Rachelk and OhioGirl!

  17. Nan

    If it weren’t 2:15 am I would head into my kitchen right now and make this cake…but waking the mister would not be good. So I’ll wait until morning…patiently … or not.

  18. cricket

    thank you thank you for the sweet potato link! I try to only skim your delicious desserts posts as a way if increasing the proportion of delicious AND nutritious to-cook items on my list. Lucky for me you make my mouth water with every post, so it’s not too awfully hard. Plus, now (in addition to chocolate ganache and cake, cake cake) you’ve got me thinking about some twice-baked sweet potatoes with cranberries, chives, and walnuts I must dig up the recipe for.

  19. Deb takes the ball, looks determined..runs right past Alex, grabs vanilla bean and hazelnuts..bakes…ices..she shoots…the crowd is hushed….
    SHE SCORES!!!! Smitten Kitchen wins again!!!!!!!

  20. Ah, Sunday Suppers. It is far and away my favorite cookbook; I’m more than a little obsessed with Goin and her lovely, lovely, labor-intensive recipes. Last year when I started blogging we were living in NH and I was working from home, and we had dinner parties almost every week for a while, many of them centered around Sunday Suppers recipes. It was perfect because I could do things like start prepping the meat three days in advance without too much trouble.

    I hadn’t had a chance to do one of those dinners since we moved to Boston, but this weekend I did! I made a favorite salad (from Inoteca, on the lower east side) and then Goin’s Boeuf a la Nicoise and the Meyer Lemon-chocolate tart. (The tart is my husband’s favorite and I highly recommend it. This was the third time I made it so it’s not that scary anymore!) Her recipes are definitely a Spend-all-day-cooking commitment but the results have been so perfect every time that I don’t mind.

    One note: I, along with many other bloggers, ran into serious trouble the first time I tried one of her braised recipes and followed her specific directions to put PLASTIC WRAP and then tinfoil and then the lid on the pot. In the early editions of the book she says to do that in many of the recipes, then says “Yes, it can go in the oven!” and….don’t. A weepy 15 minutes was spent fishing shreds of melted plastic out of my pot of short ribs, let me tell you. Apparently the newer editions do not have this advice!

  21. Santadad

    Keep the cake and just send me the chocolate. No offense to the cake, but if I have to allocate calories, the chocolate always wins. :-)

  22. I keep borrowing Sunday Suppers at Lucques from the library, but I think I will make the plunge and actually buy a copy for my shelf now. Hazelnuts and chocolate…what could be better? You’re a good storyteller and your pictures are amazing.

  23. Jen

    Sounds yummy. So you say cook the butter until the butter browns and smells nutty (about 6 to 8 minutes). Is that over low or medium low? Never tried it before……

  24. I’m in love with that book, I want to live in it! Along with the Zuni book, it’s one of my favorites. I just made the 70’s Mom’s Chocolate Bundt Cake and I posted about a variation on the veal scalloppine recipe a few weeks ago – and I made her churros for dessert.

    This looks great, but I might try it with almonds since I’m not crazy about hazelnuts. Do you think that would work?

  25. Oh my gosh~ that is one of my top cookbooks! I use it all the time and think it’s prob one of the best out there. Def in my top 10 for ALL of my cookbooks (which sadly is WAY too many). I feel so wordly having this cookbook befor you cause I absolutely adore your blog and you are a way better baker than me! ;-)

  26. Christine

    That’s my favorite cookbook at the moment too (and has been for over a year…)!
    I’ve never made that particular cake, but I do know that it’s one of the 100 or so recipes from the book that I marked with a post it note. Yes, that does mean that just about every page in the book is marked, but at least it’s a clear reminder that I need to be making many, many more recipes from it!
    I also highly recommend the Green Goddess Salad, Yellow Tomato Gazpacho, and Romesco Potatoes! All are incredibly delicious!

  27. The Aitch

    This has nothing to do with this cake, but have you thought about making a flickr group for people who have made your recipes? For instance:

    AND in a few days I will be posting more since I made in the past week, your risotto with shiitake (I left out the artichokes) and asparagus as well as your couscous and roasted tomato.

    I think it would be fun to see what other peoples inspiration from you look like! Just a thought. Oh and if you have already done so can you point me to the group?
    Thanks so much. I get so many awesome ideas from you and modify them to fit my needs, this flickr group would be like a kick-ass tribute to this blog.

  28. Amy

    WOW!! Thank you! Now I know what to ask my mom to make for my birthday. I wish my birthday were sooner. Maybe I’ll make it for myself, like, tomorrow.

  29. Deb, you can get kosher for pesach confectioners sugar. It is made by Leibers and comes in a 16 oz round canister. It’s JUST sugar, but ground up to a fine powder. No corn starch! I’ve got a canister right here at home that I bought last year. It worked great. So tell your mom to hit up a Kosher store and look for it!

    This cake is just amazing looking. I think I might try it for Passover myself!

  30. Not only have I eaten at Lucques, but I have a copy of Sunday Suppers signed by Suzanne Goin herself that I purchased there, a year and a half ago. And have I yet made this cake, which I’ve drooled over many a time on Brett’s and Shuna’s blogs as well as in the book itself? Of course I haven’t, since I am a slovenly slacker who deserves whatever punishments are in store for me. But thanks to you and the mention of Passover, I’m beginning to formulate a plan for the making of brown butter hazelnut cake…

  31. you are, as usual, hilarious.
    Brett made this cake for a Menu For Hope dinner a few years ago and I went and bought the book the next day! I understand.

    I thought it was a lot like a dacquoise, though, when I made it and wrote about what a dacquoise is and why it’s not really a cake…

    oh, and ps– stop tossing out your vanilla beans! keep them! rinse them off and put them in a warm dry place (like where the pilot light is always on) and when they are brittle, pulse them in a spice grinder with raw or regular sugar and voila! If you can’t be bothered– just send them to me.

  32. Sophia

    I have been trying to find a good hazelnut cake recipe to add to my “go to” lemon cake and chocolate cake recipes. So I’ll be sure to try your recipe very very soon.

  33. Janet

    I think I might make a custard with all those egg yolks, split the cake and put the custard in the middle and then the ganache on top. Yum!!!

  34. Deb, this is indeed a heavenly combination! Baking with brown butter is such a joy – liquid gold! I made your overripe banana bread recipe with brown butter and it came out so yummy! This will be my next attempt.

  35. Tina

    Oh my heavens! what a creation that sounds! brown butter yums! and who knew it can be used for baking!! Genius i say! Thanks for sharing this lovely scumptious recipe. Always delivering the goods Deb – good work indeed!!~~

  36. I am in agony lamenting over my lack of a kitchen. Dorms are horrible!
    This cake is one of the many, many cooking projects that I will undertake when I come home for spring break :)

  37. Confession: I don’t even like hazelnuts. But you make this recipe sound so delicious and exciting that I kind of want to make it, just in case it makes me as happy as it made you.

    Seriously. I’m getting enthusiastic already. Maybe I do like hazelnuts. It’s been a while! I think I should try them again. Like this.

  38. M

    Totally off topic: I saw mn Martha the ot`er day how to make brown sugar, might be a good one for your Tip of the day. I had no idea it was that easy.

  39. Rene

    I made this on Friday the 14the to serve friends here from Wales. It turned out great, except I did need to bake it for the entire time. My 12 year old son worked on it with me. It was the first time he has rubbed the husks off of the hazelnuts. In the future I would do the hazelnuts the night before, get the toasted and then tackle the cake the next night. But, hey, by then I might be trying a new recipe. Thanks for inspiring me to get into the kitchen with my boy.

  40. Patty

    Hi Deb! I really enjoy your blog and the accompanying photos. I have baked this cake once before and for some reason it came out really dry and it did not rise as much as I would have liked. I am wondering if you have suggestions as to what I might have done wrong. I don’t think I overbaked it, but maybe I should have taken it out sooner? Dunno.

  41. Alyssa

    Hey! Just made this cake today, and wanted to let you know that it is DELICIOUS – but it was fully done in 35 minutes, so heads up to anyone else! Also, to the previous poster, my recommendation would be to whip the whites a bit longer. Helps me when I need volume!!

  42. Loved this cake! I froze half, and it handled the freezing very well. My suggestion to self — make sure the butter cools well before adding to egg whites.
    I served it with fresh strawberries and whipped coconut milk, and posted a photo on my flickr site, as noted in the “website” field above.

  43. Sarah

    uu la la we just cooked and ate ALL of it. YUMOOO what was even better – it looked just like yours! Making the icecream today – despite being 4 degrees C!

  44. Melissa

    I made this for hubby’s birthday with a few changes you might find interesting. We didn’t have enough hazelnuts, so I used half toasted almonds. Delectable. I also bought a jar of Matiz hazelnut praline (think creamy pb texture, w/sugar added) which I spread atop the baked cake. Then I smeared on the ganache. Holy Moses was that cake delectable. The three year old saved her highest praise for it (she’s a major league talker): a running hum of mmmmmm’s as she ate. The birthday man loved it as well. So dang elegant.

  45. Laura

    i made this for my boyfriend’s birthday, and it was so incredible i’m going to make it for my dad’s as well. i used occumare chocolate from trader joe’s and the ganache was wonderful. worked beautifully in a 9-inch pan!

  46. Neophyte

    Hi, I’m just one step away from baking the cake, and I realize that I don’t know what temperature to bake this at. Any ideas? Thanks.

  47. sabrina

    hi deb! i’ve made the cake twice now (three if you count a tragedy in which i forgot the flour… wow…), and it is divine. pretty easy to make, too, as long as you include everything you’re supposed to ;)

    i was wondering if you could give a few hints about how you knew it was ready? the second time i made it, the texture was different, and i’m wondering if it was the result of baking time (i used a 9-in pan instead of the 10-in, so maybe a few extra minutes were in order) or another factor (weather, too-browned butter, not-stiff-enough egg whites, etc.). does the “knife inserted comes out clean” rule apply here?


  48. deb

    Hi Sabrina — Glad you’re loving the cake. I think I’ve made it three times now, too! I used the clean toothpick/knife/skewer method to determine when the cake was done. However, I think the slightly differing results I’ve had each time are due to a) humidity and b) how beaten the egg whites were and c) how deflated they got in the folding process. Since the egg whites are the real structure of the cake, there’s definitely a lot more room for variation.

  49. Dawn

    We were going to a dinner party at another couple’s house this past weekend, and they are true foodies (a word I am really starting to hate), so when I offered to bring a dessert, Smitten Kitchen was the 1st place I turned to, and as always, I am glad I did. This was absolutely delicious and just so pretty (I was running late so didn’t have time to do the ganache, so I whipped up a Bailey’s whipped cream and just powder sugared the cake)…I will definitely be making it again. Oh, and I saved a piece for a friend that wasn’t there (and risked life and limb to do so) and it truly was even better the next day.

  50. Hi Deb,

    I’m making the butterscotch ice cream today (soon need to head downstairs to help hubby crank), so I also made the cake. It was a fairly calamitous affair. I burned the first cup of nuts, scorched the second, and finally got it right on the third. (I also scorched the butterscotch sauce the first time around…). I baked the cake less time then called for, but that was because it was beautifully golden brown and the toothpick came out clean. BUT, a clean toothpick meant nothing because the cake was raw—like greasy, nutty dough (the very, VERY edges were delish).

    So now I’m shifting from my pissed-off mood to my stubborn I’m-gonna-make-this-cake-right mood. Confession: I used pecans instead of hazelnuts—is that the problem? The butter was a little warm, so maybe that’s it? Bake it longer?—Yes, I will next time. I’m running low on pecans (due to the afore-mentioned reasons), so I’m wondering about using almonds instead?

  51. SunJu

    i was wondering – given the recipe, it sounds like this cake may be fairly delicate. is this cake sturdy enough to layer? say..if i were to make two layers and slice them in half and layer and pour a mountain of ganache over it? ..well, maybe not a ‘mountain’ – perhaps a large molehill…

  52. Malini

    I made this cake for my husband’s birthday and followed the instructions to a T…but the final cake had the texture more of a scone-moist and crumbly not all fluffy like a normal cake….

    What did I do wrong? or is the cake supposed to be that way….?

    It tasted yummy though…

  53. noni

    if you or anyone else can’t get ahold of kosher for passover confectioner’s sugar, you can make your own by by whirling sugar in the food processor and adding a tblsp of cornstarch

  54. noni

    “Chef Goin served this as her wedding cake. Need I say more? Okay fine, I will: I liked it even better out of the fridge the next day.”

    Did she turn it into a layer cake of some sort or just serve it plain?

  55. i am making this tonight. i browned my butter, ground my hazelnuts, and combined my hazelnuts, (matzah) flour, and sugar the other night, and it was all over as soon as i discovered dipping a spoon in the brown butter, then the dry ingredients, then my mouth. holy moly. can’t wait to taste the cake!

    anyway, just wanted to let you know the link for Shuna’s post doesn’t work anymore. The correct one is

  56. Lisette

    This cake is amazing. I’ve made it once before, and again for a second time tonight. It’s sitting in the fridge, waiting for the big easter dinner tomorrow. Despite the fact that you have to fold all the ingredients into the eggs (which always scares me – I always think the eggs will flop), it has turned out beautifully both times. I love the moist nutty-vanillary-butter (and is that not the best smell ever?) taste with the slight crunch of the hazelnuts. Yummmm. I can never get my ganache to drap as beautifully as you have, Deb. It still looks pretty though.

  57. Shil

    Hi, one question – can one cook this cake with less sugar?
    it looks yummy and i am dying to try it… but my taste for sweetness is rather low. can one, for example, halve the amount of sugar?

  58. Sarah

    I just tackled this cake, and discovered a quick way to skin hazelnuts — briefly boil the nuts in 4 cups of water with 4 tbs of baking soda, and rinse with cold water. The skins fall off most of them, and you can easily slip them off the rest. Be forewarned, however — use a larger pot. The baking soda/hazelnut/boiling water combo makes a pretty pink but lofty foam that threatens to spill all over your stovetop.

  59. I’ve spent the afternoon baking not one, but two of these cakes. I tried them in 9 inch pans, and had no plans to layer them (birthday party tonight, dinner party tomorrow night) but now that they’re draped and waiting, I feel like they’re just begging to be layered! Begging!
    Has anyone tried this? Should I sacrifice dinner’s dessert for birthday drama? Oh, I don’t know!

  60. Thank you so much for posting this recipe. Inspired by your birthday cake mandate, I told my husband to find a cake from your site, and I would make it. He chose this one, and oh it tastes just like the cake from the dessert spot we frequented when our love was fresh and new. The dessert spot closed, and not being the sharpest knife in the drawer I didn’t think to google the torte’s name; regardless, thanks for posting this with its delicious photo.

  61. Mary

    My husband made me this cake for my birthday (chocolate ganache included, clearly!) and it was incredible.

    By the way, for the commenter who asked: I, too, have a low tolerance for sweetness, even in desserts, and I thought the flavor was fantastic. Don’t be put off by the batter, which tasted sweeter to me than the final baked cake.

  62. Connie

    Hi Deb! I want to make this cake for my good friend’s birthday party. The thing is, she requested a cake in the form of a big cupcake. I’m planning to stack the cakes with the ganache in between. The frosting on the outside though, is what I’m unsure of. I want the top frosting of the “cupcake” to be an eye catching color and preferably something with a refreshing flavor (strawberry?) that will cut the richness of the cake and still pair well with the flavors. The bottom “wrapper” frosting is going to be white, and I’m wondering if I should just stick to unflavored for that. Please write back with your guidance! I’m hoping this will be the best cake she’s ever had.

    Connie Chung

  63. Have made this cake and love the flavors together — now I’m wondering if I can somehow make it into cupcakes for an upcoming party? If anyone has tried this, or Deb, if you have suggestions, I’d love to hear!

  64. Maureen

    Made this for my sister’s birthday last weekend. It was incredible and got rave reviews.
    I added 1/4 tsp of Cardamom to the ground hazelnut/sugar/flour mixture. It added a nice kick of flavor.
    Didn’t have a lot of success getting the skins off the hazelnuts, but I don’t think the skins detracted from the cake. Would love any suggestions….

  65. Sharon

    This didn’t work out for me. After 40 minutes it was overcooked (clearly a problem with my oven) and it fell quite a lot. Will try it again, however, since everyone else seemed to have success.

  66. April

    Mine is overcooked after 40 minutes and fell too! It puffed up in a big ridge over the edges of the pan, and then slumped and cracked in the middle. It’s cooling now, so I don’t know if it will survive de-panning. I’m still taking it to my party tonight. It smells amazing, and I’m sure it will taste wonderful too.

  67. April

    Update: Despite my problems above, this cake was amazing. I peeled off the puffy edge bits (and ate them!) so the cake would sit flat on the plate when I took it out of the pan. It sunk down in the middle, leaving a perfect bowl for a mound of whipped cream! I also grated milk chocolate to scatter on top. It was so delicious! The cake was dense and moist in the middle, and light and a little crisp around the edges.

    I think the problem may have been that I didn’t have any powdered sugar. I blitzed regular sugar in the food processor, but didn’t have any cornstarch. It was still fantastic, even though it didn’t end up exactly as intended.

  68. Sharon

    Update as well: although my cake looked overcooked after 40 minutes, it wasn’t (very strange) and it tasted fantastic. Having written it off as a failure I did ganache on half and powdered sugar on half just out of curiosity. I think the ganache is overkill actually–powdered sugar let more of the nut, vanilla, butter taste through.

  69. Bethany

    I made this cake for my boyfriend’s birthday last weekend, but used vanilla extract (for shame) and pistachios instead of hazelnuts. I couldn’t get my eggs to whip properly, but made the cake anyway. It was very thick, almost bread-like, but delicious. I topped it with the recommended ganache and the aforementioned boyfriend loved it. I do think it’s better the next day, as suggested. Thanks for the recipe!

  70. Lorelei

    i have a question. if i follow Shuna’s instructions for making it properly, will it come out… drier? every time i look at the photos of people who did it dacquoise style, it looks dry. is it? or is it just airier looking but still moist?

  71. Jenny

    I’ve had the same problem repeatedly with these kind of cakes (that rely on egg whites for leavening). They look great baking up, and then fall to about one-quarter of an inch thick with the consistency of a rubbery pancake when I remove them from the oven. Not good.

    There has GOT to be something I’m missing.

    – butter not browned properly? Is it supposed to “bubble” when you brown it?
    – Egg whites not whisked enough?
    – Things combined too much so the eggs deflate?

    If a deflated batter is the problem, how in the world do I mix it delicately, yet thoroughly enough to avoid floury streaks? I’m really perplexed.

    1. deb

      Sounds like the egg whites are not whisked enough or it’s getting too deflated. Some shrinkage is normal; it should never end up a flat pancake.

  72. unbelievable! i grew up in Germany using lots of ground hazel nuts (and almonds) for cakes. and the ganache is just the ultimate with this cake. This is one of the best cakes i’ve ever eaten. thank you!

  73. Jenny

    I found that this recipe worked better for me as cupcakes than a layer cake. After pouring an 8-inch round I had some batter left over so I made a few cupcakes, and they rose much better than the cake, which baked up nicely but sank and was too dense for my liking. I think the batter creeping up the sides of the cupcake papers and adhering helped the cupcakes stay tall, and fluffy on the inside.


    – I found this cake pretty buttery… like when I picked up a piece it left buttery smears on my fingers, so I reduced the butter by 2T
    – I’m constantly finding cake too sweet (maybe my like of sweet and salty flavors?) so I added a few more pinches of salt and reduced the sugar by 1T
    – I added 1t of fresh-ground Indonesian cinnamon for a kick (hooray for local spice companies!)

    Then I topped them with some pastry cream that I whipped up to a nice fluff and a candied hazelnut.

    It’s pretty tasty, but probably not one of my go-to recipes since it’s so finicky. I like to be able to relax when I bake, not agonize over why my egg whites aren’t stiffening properly (I had to throw out a batch and start over once).

  74. Hayley

    If topping with ganache, does it taste better served warm with melted ganache, or is it better straight from the refrigerator with crunchy chocolate topping?

  75. Annelise

    I made these into cupcakes and they were done in about 25 minutes. I also went very easy on the chocolate topping because it was intense. They were fantastic.

  76. I just made this for my wife ( for her birthday! I’ll be guest-posting about it on her blog, so I’ll share that once it’s up. It turned out great-thanks for sharing.

  77. jen

    I also tried this cake with pecans instead of hazlenuts and had a tremendous failure. The batter was delicious and rose beautifully in the oven, then in a flash collapsed into a sodden greasy inch thick mass. It browned and crisped on the outside and a toothpick came out clean so I called it done… but Oh, so sad… it was still undercook. Such a sad story and such a heavy, greasy, uncooked mess. My own fault, I know…

  78. Starr

    I hope this cake tastes as good as it smells… I used a tip a I found @ to remove the skins and had the entire cup done in less than 10 minutes… Boil 3 cups of water, add 4 tablespoons of baking soda, add the nuts and let boil for 4-5 minutes. The water will turn wicked black and it does rise a TON so use a deep pot and keep your eye on it. Rinse nuts in cold water and viola – easy to peel nuts! The skins just slide off. I added a step called knock-the-nuts-about rather than peeling each one… if you knock them into one another the skins just fell off in the colander.

    Ooooh timer going – going to get this baby out of the oven!

  79. Elizabeth

    Does a piece taste better the second day? I’ll never find out because not a crumb was left!

    While I like to think I’m pretty familiar with how to whip and fold egg whites, I did find Shuna’s instructions, which are exactly specific to this cake, to be extremely helpful.

    I got invited to my first sedar on the basis of this dessert. I just have to try some of the tips above to make it kosher.

  80. Deb, just thought I’d share: I came to your site looking for ways to use up hazelnuts and egg whites, and I found this cake! A few nights ago I made David Lebovitz’s Gianduja Gelato and had five egg whites leftover plus a cup and a half of hazelnuts (David says to discard the hazelnuts after steeping them in milk but I have a hard time throwing things out!). So I adapted the recipe a little–I added less sugar since the hazelnuts had some in them already (I think I added about 1/2 cup powdered sugar). I did everything else the same though and it turned out great! I thought you’d appreciate the kinship between the two recipes. :)

  81. Kelley

    I doubled the recipe and made two rounds, sliced the rounds in half so I had four layers, filled the layers with Nutella mousse and iced it with ganache.

    Honestly though, I think it would have been better with 1/4 less butter than the recipe called for… the cake seemed a little oily. That could have been a mistake on my part though, over mixing perhaps? I also wish I would have thrown in a 1/2 tsp. or so of salt just for a little contrast of flavor.

    At any rate, delicious!

  82. Hi Deb!

    Long time reader, first time commenter (I have always wanted to say that.) Phooaaarrr this cake looks like something I might leave my boyfriend for.

    I was thinking of doing this for a friend as a wedding cake (and have read the comments that others have tried the same) but wanted to see what you thought about a buttercream of sorts to frost it? I was thinking of using the ganache to layer the cake but wanted something a little different to frost. I thought about a caramel buttercream but having not tried the cake yet I don’t know if it would be too sweet/heavy with the cake. Any thoughts at all??

    Thanks a lot!

  83. Flore

    This is not the first of your recipes I’ve tried, but it’s going straight to the top of my ‘reasons to love the smitten kitchen’ list. Just shared this cake with my co-workers without trying it first and now that I have tried it, I almost regret giving all the other pieces away. So glad there’s still one waiting in the fridge when I get home. Who needs dinner when there’s cake? And another upside to this recipe: the leftover egg yolks are the best excuse ever to make David Lebovitz’s vanilla ice-cream (as if anyone ever needs an excuse for that). So thanks for making my monday morning and I’ll be back for much more!!

  84. Candace

    Re: blanching and de-skinning hazelnuts, try Rose Levy Berenbaum’s (Cake Bible) method: for 1 cup nuts, boil 3 cups water, add (carefully) 4 TBS baking soda and then the nuts. Boil 3 minutes. Check one to see if skin falls off — if not, boil a bit longer. Water will turn black from skins. Drain and cool rinse. Skin comes right off. Then toast the nuts as instructed.

  85. Candace

    I, too, found the baking time tricky. A toothpick came out clean at 30 minutes, the top was springy, and the cake was pulling away from the sides. But as it cooled, it sank into a low, dense cake. Good to eat but very moist and dense rather than cake-like. Nothing like the picture. Second try, I held back about 1/3 of the beaten whites. Folded in butter and dry ingredients to 2/3 of the whites using Shuna’s instructions, and then ever-so-gently folded in the remaining 1/3. This cake, baked 45 minutes, came out a bit higher and did not sink. Going to Rosh Hashanah dinner tonight with fingers crossed.

  86. Lila

    I’m new to your blog, Deb, but it’s already single-handedly cut my productivity in half (work productivity, that is; baking productivity has gone through the roof!). I’m notoriously unwilling to follow recipes (laziness rather than arrogance), but I tried this recipe last week and it was met with enthusiasm from a bunch of hard-to-please and chocolate-centric astrophysicists. I wasn’t too pedantic about getting all the skins off the hazlenuts (I put them straight into a tea-towel and rubbed vigorously, as suggested), with no adverse effects. With the chocolate ganache – the perfect accompaniment – it was a little like a ferrero rocher in a cake.

  87. Mo

    I made this as my birthday cake this week, and just returned from a friend’s house where three of us happily devoured about a third of it. It’s so delicious! I can’t wait to try it from the fridge tomorrow.

  88. Anna

    Deb, I’m planning to make this cake for Christmas Eve, but I have to admit I’m scared of it. I do not have a good track record when it comes to cakes leavened with egg whites – my most recent failure was Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake. (I wish you’d tackle that sometime so I’d know where I went wrong!) Anyways, on to my question. I plan to use a 9 inch cake pan, but all I have is nonstick. Does it matter? Or should I purchase a, er, “sticky” pan? Thanks for the great blog! :)

    1. deb

      Anna — I’ve made the Perfect Party Cake. I auditioned it as a possible approach to a wedding cake I made a few years ago, but didn’t have any problems with it. My only complaint with it is my same complaint with all pretty, pure-white, only egg white cakes: they can be a little dry and benefit from brushing with a syrup. There’s so much butter in this cake, you shouldn’t have issues with dryness.

      Nonstick should be fine. (Pretty sure my springform pictured is, hard to find much else these days.) For whipping the egg whites, just use a clean bowl (metal if you have), clean beaters and let the mixer do the work.

  89. Hannah

    Hi Deb, frist things first – wonderful blog. You know this already. I’ll get on with my comment.

    I first made this cake a couple of weeks ago. I was slightly apprehensive.Mostly because it was quite an expensive one (at least for a 22 year old student!), but also because it was slightly more complex than I’m used to, and if there’s one thing that get’s me in a terrible mood it’s having a cake disaster.

    anyway, other than the annoying task of revising the recipe into metric (cups scare me! I’m English.) it went flawlessly. I’m now planning on making 2 (to make it double layered) for my Mothers 50th on Wednesday. After showing my tutor the recipe she deemed it complicated enough to do in class tomorrow, which is great as they have brilliant equiptment.

    Question though – will this cake last well until wednesday? The last one didn’t last more than a day to test the idea!

    Thanks a bunch,

    Hannah xx

  90. Miss Thang

    Ugh. I hate you! I made this cake and it was deeelish! Now I cant stop thinking about it! Like a forkful of cakey nutella… For other readers, my cheap gas oven had the cake ready in 25 minutes so you might want to check on it often enough. Also, this cake is therapy. I conjuge up and image of it and all the ways that I can use it when I am trying to get my brain to stop thinking about nonsense, like work. :D

  91. Hi Deb!
    I loved the Hazelnut Brown Butter recipe. It worked perfectly! Plus, it was so surprisingly moist and delicious. The browned butter gave the cake a way more interesting flavor than similar recipes I’ve tried.

    I made one substitution that might be helpful for readers who don’t have access to vanilla beans in a pinch – I substituted 1/2 tsp vanilla extract for the vanilla bean. It worked quite well!

    Keep making great things! :) I love it!

  92. Alison

    I made it in a 9″ pan and baked it for 50 minutes. I think I overdid it a little bit– the top is a bit hard to the touch, but I was nervous about the additional thickness and other peoples’ comments about being underdone. I’ll report back with how it tastes tomorrow.

    1. deb

      I made this many years ago, and don’t remember how much ganache I used to fill it. I’d triple the ganache recipe; it will almost definitely be enough.

  93. Lizzie

    please confirm how much flour to use. Ingredients says 1/3 cups. Should that be 1/3 cup or 1 1/3 cups like the sugar? thanks so much.

  94. Rebecca

    I’d like to add raspberry juice to this recipe. So I get a Raspberry Hazelnut Brown Butter cake.
    Is that crazy?
    If it’s not totally insane, do you have any tips on how to do that?

  95. Nancy

    I am fortunate enough to have a grocery store that sells hazelnut meal…anyone have an estimate of the volume of ground nuts at the end?


  96. Nicole

    Time and time again I make this cake- I love it! I hope to start a food blog because yours is so wonderful and inspiring :)

  97. I made this for when we had some relatives coming over and it was really fabulous thank you :) I recommend it to anyone that is contemplating trying it out!
    Heres my post on it if you fancy checking it out at all, I hope its all ok and will change it of course if theres anything you dont agree with!

    ps could i ask what % chocolate you use for ganache as this was the first time i ever made one and im not really sure what the norm is :) thanks again!

  98. Joanna

    I made this cake last week, and everyone at the table asked me to give them extra to take home!! This cake is a true show stopper, especially with the dark chocolate ganache. I can’t wait for the book!

  99. HELP! I’m making this cake (I made the butterscotch bourbon ice cream yesterday and my only complaint is that it needs more bourbon! ha!), and all was going FAIRLY well UNTIL I got to the stiff peaks point. For the life of my KitchenAid mixer, I CANNOT get this to foam! Was I supposed to whip the egg whites and THEN whip in the sugar mixture and THEN form soft peaks? I’ve definitely been whipping over 20 minutes and all I have is soup. I might have to proceed into the fray not knowing what I will find on the other side, anyways. I might add some backing soda so that I get a BIT of volume. I don’t usually experiment once I screw up a recipe, but I only bought enough hazelnuts to make one cake!

  100. HA! Crap, I just figured out what I did wrong. I added the sugar and hazelnut mixture to the egg whites instead of the granulated sugar. Le sigh. This has seriously messed up my day.

  101. christy

    I;m planning on making this cake for my birthday tomorrow. I was a bit confused. Do you toast the hazelnuts to take off the skins first & than toast them again? Or do you just toast them one time to get the skins off for this recipe?

  102. deb

    Hi Christy — You can either blanche the hazelnuts to remove the skins, then toast them for flavor, or toast them to remove the skins (and also for flavor). Without a food processor, this recipe will be difficult because you need to get the nuts to a fine powder.

  103. Brown butter is my new favorite secret-baking-weapon…it never disappoints. This cake was no exception. I made this for a friend’s birthday dinner and everyone had seconds. Who has seconds of cake? I usually don’t, but it was entirely appropriate that night because the cake was that good! Thanks for another fantastic recipe.

    1. deb

      I haven’t worked with frozen egg whites before so it might be worth Googling and seeing if other bakers have had success with them (or if the package says they’re good for baking). If they’re straight-up egg whites with no additives, however, I don’t see why they wouldn’t work as a replacement.

  104. I always freeze left over egg whites to make meringues at a later date – works absolutely fine. Since this is based on some sort of meringue it should not be a problem at all.

    I am making this as we speak for the very first time and luckily there is something left to go into the oven (I had to totally drag myself away from eating most of the dough). Already at this stage it tastes wonderful, reminding me of a pastry I have eaten a long time ago in France – Dacqoise or Japonais, I think both, never can remember correctly without running to the bookshelf. So, dear Deb, my very own Proustian moment, thanks a million. Let’s hope there will be any left for my guests tomorrow. Somehow I am glad I have six more eggs; if you know what I am talking about…

    Have a marvellous day,


  105. Andrew

    Helpful tips for other commenters:

    I used leftover egg whites with no problems at all. Also, as a shortcut, we subbed 1 1/4 cups already-ground almond meal (from Trader Joe’s) for the toasted/ground hazelnuts and it was spectacular. Reminiscent of a buttery macaron, but in cake size! Anyone who was wondering about that substitution, I can strongly recommend it.

  106. Andrew

    Sorry, I meant to say that we had used egg whites that had been frozen (some months before) and then thawed in the fridge overnight, with great results.

  107. Deanna B

    I made this last week as written to rave reviews, and for an engagement party today (where I was told I could not bring a chocolate dessert) I made it as a pear upside-down cake. I cooked 6 tablespoons of butter and 1 cup of sugar in my cast iron skillet then added 2 layers of thinly sliced pears and a double batch of batter (its a big party and a really big cast iron skillet).

  108. I just made this cake for a halloween treat, it is wonderful!!! I was a little nervous because I burned the first batch of brown butter (luckily I was using vanilla extract and didn’t waste a vanilla bean) and then didn’t let my second batch of butter cool enough before I folded it into the whites. They deflated A LOT but the cake rose perfectly in the oven, and was done in about 28 minutes… so watch your time!

    The hazelnuts were a huge ordeal, I had no idea how much work they were going to be. I tried the blanching and rubbing method… with very time consuming results. I took another group of hazelnuts and roasted them with the skins on, letting them cool, and then rubbing them together. The skins flaked right off, and that is definitely the method I will use from now on.

    I used the chocolate ganache this time, but I think next time I will let the cake stand alone. It is the perfect sweetness without powdered sugar, and I thought the ganache overpowered the vanilla flavor. However, all three ways this cake is AWESOME.

  109. I’m a new reader, and I’ve been going back through your old recipes and finding tons of things to try. I love your photos. This looks delicious and way, way too complicated for me (maybe in 10 years if I’m still baking), but I’m glad I skimmed through the comments, as I’ll now be perusing and joining the flickr group for when I make my first copycat.

  110. Kaitlin

    Sooooo good! After what feel like ages, I finally got around to making this. Subbed 2 tsp extract for the vanilla bean, but otherwise followed it as written and oh my goodness! Definitely in my top 3 favorite desserts of all times. Thanks for sharing!

  111. Maxia

    I made this for my Dad’s bday back in august… It was heaven, so delicious! I’m making it again tomorrow for my aunt’s bday. I’m sure she’ll love it. Thanks for sharing this great recipe!

  112. Kate

    Ho-ly cow. Just made this for Christmas dinner dessert last night. And just finished the last two pieces by myself straight out of the pan.

  113. Radmila

    I’m going to make this cake for family gathering on Sunday! But instead of Ganache, I’ve decided to make vanilla custard cream (I don’t want to throw away egg yolks) :)
    And the entire cake I’ll decorate with whipped cream. I’ll take a few pictures and I’ll let you know my impressions!
    Best wishes from Serbia! :)

  114. Jonathan Gilbert

    I tried this cake the other night. Ran into a bit of problem — not sure if I was doing something wrong, but after roasting the hazelnuts and removing the skins, when I put them into my blender with the icing sugar, they formed a really thick and gooey hazelnut butter at the bottom of the blender within the first 15 seconds, and it got so tough that in pretty short order, the blender didn’t have enough strength even to turn the blade! I dealt with it by disassembling the blender jug and scraped the stuff out and mashing it into smaller bits, then adding those bits a few at a time in to the flour, but it never did lose its paste-like consistency. It was certainly not something I would have been able to fold into the egg whites, not even remotely.

    What I ended up doing was pouring the liquid butter into a mixing bowl with the paste and thoroughly combining the two into a soupy liquid. Then, *that* I was able to fold into the egg whites. At this point, I was thinking it was totally an academic exercise — no way this could work, right? I baked it for about 50 minutes, and what came out felt very firm around the edges and wouldn’t unstick from the bottom of the pan (confession: I did not use parchment! :-P). Fortunately, I was using a springform pan, so I just took the sides off and served it straight off the bottom.

    Imagine my surprise when after all that, the cake turned out to be moist and soft and delicious! I’m guessing it wasn’t exactly the same end result (it doesn’t look much like the pictures), but it was still what I would consider pretty much a success. I am sort of wondering, though, what exactly went wrong with grinding up the hazelnuts. Do different kinds of hazelnuts have different amounts of oil in them, maybe? Or could it be because I was using an upright blender? If anyone knows I’d love to hear :-)

    1. deb

      Hi Jonathan — I’m glad it still worked out. You probably ground the hazelnuts too long, so they started turning into (no doubt, delicious) hazelnut butter, like peanut butter. The difference between ground and butter is sometimes just a few seconds. If the hazelnuts were still warm, this could have happened sooner. Food52 has a great video about making almond butter (intentionally) from ground nuts and in it, shortly after the minute mark you can see the ground nuts starting to become butter — in this recipe, of course, we want to stop before then. Hope that helps.

  115. Jenna

    Dawn, when you click the link, it goes to the proper page but then quickly takes you to another page, away from the detailed instructions. if you click the ‘X’ or stop loading button in the tab bar, right after you click on the link, it should stop on the detailed instructions page and not go to the other page it redirects you to. I hope that makes sense! I was having the same trouble.

  116. RachH

    I made this yesterday for a dinner party tonight. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Rave reviews all around. I served with the ganache and whipped some cream to garnish each piece I plated. Fantastic! And we have leftovers for breakfast, which may be the best part :-)

  117. I just discovered exactly how difficult it is to whip the eggwhites and sugar by hand. I broke a sweat. Seriously. But the result was beautiful and this cake better be good because that was some serious bicep-busting-eggwhite-beating moves I just pulled and I’m a little sad they’re in the oven now!! :) Really, though, the dough is fabulous and while I’m sure almond/hazelnut meal works excellently, I think toasting the nuts was quite key to the flavor/scent of the recipe in the end. I toasted for more like 20 minutes to get a really nutty strong flavor. Thanks so much — I’m a new reader and now I’m hooked!!

  118. Jen Best

    I was lamenting that my birthday fell during Passover and debating postponing it until I could bake myself a delicious cake. I’m going to give this a try and I bet I’ll love it. Thanks!

  119. Katherine

    wow- i’ve been eying this recipe both in the book and on your blog for years. i made it yesterday- i had my first slice when it was still warm and i was a tad bit disappointed but went back for another an hour later and that was when i did a double take. this morning (yes, i had it for breakfast) it was simply divine! additionally, the cake is so pretty in its simplicity that I accidentally burned the pears (the side accompaniment the book suggests) while taking pictures. woops! I can’t wait to bring it to a dinner party

    the added icing was a good call!

  120. My mum made both the caramelised pear and chocolate toppings. We tried them both side by side and the pears win hands down. This is definitely a magnificent dessert. I highly recommend skipping the chocolate though, as the earthiness really kills the delicate hazelnut and brown butter flavors.

  121. jan langton

    i just found your site and love it! is there a way to print the recipes without the many pages of comments? thanks!

    1. deb

      jan — At the bottom of each full recipe, before the comments begin, there’s a “Print” link that will lead you to a comment-, post- and photo-free recipe print template.

  122. Psyche1226

    I just made this for the top tier of a wedding cake for a friend who eats gluten-free (I subbed some GF ‘flour’ for that 1/3 cup), layered with homemade white chocolate gianduja and iced with vanilla bean swiss meringue buttercream. I watched the bride (who doesn’t even like cake) closely as she tasted the first piece that she and her new groom cut…her eyes popped out of her head! The other 11 pieces disappeared in the time it took me to turn around…people kept asking for it long after it was gone. Clearly I should have used it for the whole cake! SO GOOOOOOD!

  123. Lily

    Hi! I recently found your site and I love! I’m asking for this cake for my birthday but no store around me sells whole hazelnuts. I have literally called EVERYWHERE. Anyways I was wondering if chopped hazelnuts would be okay if I still toasted them.

  124. I hope it is not sacrilege to ask if you have suggestions for a different frosting/topping; I am making this for a professional chef friend this weekend – the pressure is ON! – and since it is late August, I wondered what might be lighter to pair with it. Seven minute/boiled frosting seems too sweet… I was thinking of a white chocolate quick buttercream, or the brown sugar cream cheese frosting of yours (from the peach cupcake magic). But if there’s a pairing glaze/frosting/topping I am missing, I would be ever-so-grateful for a recommendation. Thanks!

  125. Rose

    I just made this cake for my boyfriends birthday and it was delish. I will say though, the chocolate ganache did sort of take away from the scrumptious, buttery, nutty cake. I used 70% cocoa Green and Blacks, which is my favorite chocolate, and it was so powerfully chocolate that I couldn’t taste the cake hardly at all. With the ganache scraped off though it was divine (both parts!). In the future I would use a greater cake:ganache ratio. I used a 9″ cake pan but I think and 8″ would make for an even better, thicker cake. I would also use a different frosting, just powdered sugar dusting, or a thin layer of milk chocolate ganache instead of the thick layer of dark chocolate ganache I used. It was a total hit regardless. Paired it with home-made cherry ice-cream and it was divine!

  126. Molly

    I’ve now made this recipe three times, once with hazelnut, once with peanuts, and today with almonds. All three variations were amazing! I made the original recipe with the chocolate ganache- amazing. I made it into mini cupcakes using peanuts with chocolate mousse topping- amazing. Today I made it into a layer cake with almond pastry cream inside and frosted with almond buttercream. WONDERFUL. This recipe seems so daunting but it is actually very forgiving. I can’t wait to use it with a real vanilla bean (I have only ever used extract).

    Thanks for this!!

  127. Hannah

    Hi Deb- so excited to make this for my Mom’s birthday this month! Is it possible to hand-whisk it, though, instead of using an electric mixer?

  128. Hannah

    It’s like the most divine incarnation of nutella ever to exist. Worth every minute of my inexperienced kitchen labor. You gotta make this, guys!

  129. Janice

    Traditionally, I make wedding cakes as a gift for dear loved ones. In searching for a seasonally appropriate one for a late December wedding, I cam across this recipe. I made it as a triple layer cake with whipped chocolate ganache between the layers and the burnt orange silk meringue buttercream recipe from the Cake Bible. I think this is the best wedding cake I have ever made! It stacked beautifully, 3, 12” layers, 3, 9″ layers, and 3, 6″ layers, each on cardboard with plastic straw supports to prevent collapse. Decorated with fresh spray roses and variegated ivy.

    When making the cake it is critical to follow explicit instructions on making meringue so that part of the structure is as strong as possible. The the cake will rise to it’s fullest potential.

    Thanks for the recipe!

  130. Jennie

    So excited, I have this cake in the oven as I write. I could barely resist the vanilla bean infused brown butter…..then the actual cake batter…… UM. NO. I couldn’t resist, I had to try it. OH. MY. So delicious, can’t wait to serve it to my husband who’s a professional baker and also requested a dessert with hazelnuts and chocolate for his Birthday tonight :)

  131. Lauren

    Hi Deb, I just made it and the cake was delicious. I think that I might not have melted the butter enough. What temperature should I be cooking the butter. Low heat, medium heat, or high heat? Thanks.

    1. deb

      Lauren — I usually use a moderate heat for browning butter, but it doesn’t matter, it’s more about cooking it until it is toasted looking and smelling.

  132. Elina

    Hi Deb, Can I use regular sugar instead of confectioners sugar for this recipe? If so, then this cake would be kosher for Passover, right? Sounds delicious! Thank you.

    1. deb

      Elina — Did you know you can make your own Passover-friendly powdered sugar? Grind 1/3 cup sugar + 1/2 teaspoon potato starch together in a coffee or spice grinder until powdery, and scale the amount up accordingly.

  133. Elina

    Thanks, Deb! Pathetic as it sounds, though, I don’t have a spice or coffee grinder. Can I make this cake with regular sugar or will that mess it up?

  134. Elina

    Oops, I just realized that the cake has flour, which is not ok for Passover. I read so many comments mentioning Passover that I thought maybe this cake was Passover-ok, but it sounds like that’s not the case. I’ll have to make it and eat it all up by Monday in that case. Thanks :)

  135. sf

    I keep leftover egg whites in the freezer and think this would be a great way to use them up, but what would the measurement be for that in terms of cups?

    1. deb

      sf — A large egg has roughly two tablespoons of white plus one tablespoon of yolk, so you can use that as an estimate.

      Kim — A double-boiler offers you more protection against burning, is all. I mostly melt chocolate in two parts these days, as I describe here, getting it hot then cooling it down with the second half of the chocolate, which acts as some temperature control too.

      chris — It is a typo; so sorry for the trouble. It should be 16 tablespoons (the 2 sticks is correct). More errata we’ve caught are listed here.

      1. Lily

        The first time I made this was in early 2013 when I first started baking, and it was my first time browning butter. I painstakingly removed the browned solids, thinking it was the result of accidental burning. Fool!

  136. Becka

    I just made the ganache for a cookie-dough birthday cake, and holy bejeezus. It’s so satiny and beautiful. I also will admit that I licked the last of it off the spoon standing in the middle of my kitchen and definitely made at least one audible yummy noise.

  137. Ivy

    Hello! This looks absolutely lovely as is; however, I had an idea….would it be possible to substitute hazelnuts for macadamias? Would I need to change any measurements?
    I would really appreciate a reply, since I might be making this for a birthday. Thank you!

  138. deb

    Hi Ivy — I haven’t tried it with macademias. It might work, though my concern is that they’re fattier and softer than hazelnuts; you might need a touch more flour to counteract that. As they’re about the same size, you can use the same cup measurement.

  139. Ivy

    Hi Deb,

    Thanks so much for the reply! What kind of consistency should I be looking for in the batter? Perhaps I should change it to around 1/2 cup flour?

  140. deb

    Maybe just a rounded 1/3 cup measure. I’m really just guessing, as you know, as I haven’t tried it with macadamias. But if I were, I’d start with a slightly heaped measure of flour. Good luck!

  141. Nadya

    I had to try this as soon as possible. It came out perfect. Thank you so much.
    I had a cake similar to this about 25 years ago in a restaurant in Santa Barbara, CA and wanted to find the recipe ever since.
    I just wish my vacation weren’t over now, because I’ll have so much less time for cooking.

  142. Foodie2417

    Hi, I made this yesterday in a bundt pan since I couldn’t find my 10-inch pan. It turned out delicious just by the looks of it, but the quantity is too less, and looks like the top half of the cake. Any Ideas on what I can do to save the day? This is for my husbands birthday.

  143. CJ

    Made this tonight for my husband’s birthday, with the caramel glaze from your caramel cake instead of the ganache. The cake is AMAZING. Definitely one for the permanent repertoire.

  144. Hi, i am The Lead Cake designer at cake2you,
    we operate out of gurgaon, india, i had made this recipe for one of our very loyal customer,it was his wife’s birthday and he needed something special so we made this Hazelnut cake for him in heart shape. those guys loved it. thank you for putting this online. thanks again.

  145. Kris

    The first bite I was a little disappointed, didn’t see anything special in the cake at all…but by the time I finished the first slice I loved it!! There is something really sophisticated about it – the outside has this really nice light crunch. My food processor kind of sucks so it doesn’t get a really fine grind, but I loved the little pieces of hazelnut that were left in the batter! Apart from having to do the long beating and careful folding of the egg whites, this was also a super easy recipe.

  146. Nadya

    Just in case you get to read this- I was wondering if you thought that this cake would do well being frozen. I am thinking of doing it for Thanksgiving, with poached pears and some kind of cream, and i would love to be able to do it ahead.

  147. Janita

    Sounds delicious! I’m going to bake this for my husband’s birthday.

    I’m going to try to freeze and layer it – I’ll double the recipe – and frost with whipped Nutella ganache. Will report back.

  148. Janita

    It worked really well. The cake has such an interesting crumb: dense, with a little crunch on the edges. Packed with nutty flavour. Worked so well with a soft, almost mousse-like whipped Nutella ganache frosting which I piled on. DELICIOUS! Thanks Deb.

  149. Ingrid

    Deb, do you think this recipe would work with lovely, seasonal chestnuts? I spied them in my grocery yesterday and now I can’t stop thinking…

    1. deb

      Ingrid — Oooh, such a great idea. I haven’t tried it but I imagine it could be insanely delicious. Pretty please will you report back if you try it?

  150. YS

    Hi Deb!
    If I were to use a 9-inch pan, how would you suggest adjusting the baking time?
    Also, is the frosting not too sweet? Would it be okay to use bittersweet chocolate instead, and would you suggest not including the coffee then? Thank you!

    1. deb

      YS — It probably won’t have a different enough baking time in a 9-inch to make it worth adjusting. Just check a couple minutes sooner. The ganache doesn’t have any added sugar so it’s already on the bitter side. No reason that you cannot use bittersweet; the coffee isn’t to make it bitter but to enhance the chocolate flavor, so only skip it if you don’t care for a coffee vibe with your chocolate.

  151. Jeanne

    This is in the oven now. I don’t even care how it tastes–I would make it again just for the sublime smell of brown butter and toasted hazelnuts!

  152. Jacqueline

    This cake is incredible. Made if for my mom’s 75th bday, & it brought back a lot of happy nut torte memories from her childhood in Czechoslovakia and special European bakeries that used to exist in Chicago. A couple notes though: 1) Cake is way too shallow in a 10″ pan. I made a 2nd one in an 8″ pan and it looked much nicer. 2) NUT GRINDING: Use a hand-crank parmesan cheese grater (I have a Zyliss). It’s a little tedious but totally worth the effort–much finer, more even & reliable results than a food processor. 3) A little more ganache is a good thing.I used 10 oz. chocolate for my 8″ + 10″ cakes, & that was just right.

  153. sky

    hi deb! i’ve made this cake several times, and the flavor is incredible! however, i’m not quite sure what the “right” texture of the cake is supposed to be– i know several people mentioned that theirs was overcooked at 35 min, so i’ve been taking it out then, but 35 minutes and 1 hour is a big difference! any ideas or tips on what the best texture of this cake is?

    1. deb

      sky — Do you mean when it’s done? I just take it out when it’s done (a tester comes out clean). It’s a firm-ish buttery cake.

  154. sky

    hi deb! thanks so much for the prompt response! yes, i do mean when it’s done; sorry for the confusion– i’ve been taking it out when it comes out clean (~35 min), but wasn’t sure if i’m supposed to bake it further so that it has more of a crunch(?) to it, like the crust– thank you for the clarification!

  155. Glory

    Hi Deb, This looks finger-licking good!

    One (dumb-ish) question: Is the brown butter supposed to cool and remain liquid before mixing it in…Or do you mean for it to get a bit back to solid form (like creaming butter with sugar). I’m guessing still liquid based on adding it to egg whites, but I just started baking, so thought I’d ask! Thanks!

  156. Glory

    Deb – Thanks, the cake turned out great! I did a sort of tiramisu-ish version with espresso syrup and mascarpone whipped cream. Thanks for this inspiration – and your blog!

  157. Kim

    I’m going to try making these in mini bundt pans, but I’ve forgotten if this cake rises. Does it? And do you have any suggestions for reducing the cooking time?

  158. Joy in DC

    This cake’s flavor tastes like a light, very clean, sophisticated (non-goopy) nutella. So delicious, and I’m not a nuts person. A few edits… I added vanilla extract after the brown butter had cooled a bit to replace vanilla beans (didn’t have any on hand). To ease bowl cleaning, I just melted chocolate, creme and instant coffee over a low-low flame on the stove and it worked just fine. I didn’t transfer the egg whites to another bowl, and instead just mixed the butter and flour/nuts/sugar mixture into the whites (still in the mixer bowl — again, bowl saving). And, the cake baked in 30 minutes in a 9in cake pan (toothpick came out clean). Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  159. Melissa

    If you are making this cake less sweet, like just under 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar like I did, do you think 5 egg whites will suffice?

  160. Erin

    Has anyone made it with matzo meal yet? Any recommendations for doing it with matzo meal? Is it a 1:1 substitution? Made your lovely ‘taschen again this year. Thanks!

  161. Wendy

    Oops! I accidentally left out the flour! And guess what? It was delicious. It turned out thin, and kind of crunchy with more of a cookie texture. We put sliced strawberries and schlag on it. My one son said he liked it better than the other way.

  162. Susan

    I just made your brown butter hazelnut cake. While baking, it rose and then deflated. It smells devine and I know it will taste devine too, but I’m wondering if the deflation is normal. Thanks!

    1. deb

      Susan — Maybe a small amount but it shouldn’t be a lot. (Even cakes with chemical leaveners tend to come out of the oven a little more domed than they end up being when they’re cooled.)

  163. Nandinee D

    Any ideas as to what may happen if I replace 2 tbsp of flour with cocoa? I’m looking to do a choco-hazelnut cake but this sounds like a better idea. Also will the layer be high enough to slice into 2 or should I just double the recipe?

    1. deb

      Nadinee — No reason you cannot. However, I don’t think it will impart much of a chocolate flavor, or maybe that’s just my own bias in preferring chocolate cakes that are deeply brown and fudgy.

  164. Jaspiegs

    I just made this yesterday and it was incredible. I was just wondering if you had a method to spreading the ganache evenly? Also do you have a preferred double boiler? Thanks a ton in advance!

    I have to say, this is my first comment but your blog is always my go to for great recipes (made the apple honey challah sans apples yesterday – truly amazing, the honey cake – so great and moist, the raspberry/chocolate rugelach last week — YUM!…) Fantastic blog + cookbook, always such a pleasure cooking your food.

  165. nathan

    This is the best cake I have ever eaten. The four of us ate the entire thing in ~3 hours.
    It can be made gulten free really easily by swapping the wheat flour for buckwheat-and the flavor goes so wonderfully, I think I’d use it even if serving it to people who can eat gluten.

  166. I made this cake for Christmas dinner this year after making cheesecakes for the last several years. It turned out perfectly even though I used hazelnut flour rather than the starting with whole hazelnuts. I’m going to try it again with whole hazelnuts to see if it will bring a deeper hazelnut flavor but I loved the taste and texture of this cake. It wasn’t overly sweet and it was really moist and stayed that way from the 22-26th when I ate the last slice. I spread the ganache and then sprinkled with powdered sugar for a slightly more festive look. I think this might be a keeper for special occasions going forward.

  167. I baked this yesterday for guests. The kitchen smelled absolutely heavenly all day and it was a breeze to make. The taste was wonderful as well but I was surprised at how flat and dense the cake turned out. It looks fluffier in the photos. Then again, the recipe doesn’t call for any leavening ingredients, so maybe that’s intentional? Would love to know your thoughts before I attempt the recipe again.

    1. deb

      This style of cake gets its lift from egg whites. It shouldn’t be flat and dense, however. The trickiest part, after whipping them, is making sure to fold them in carefully so the batter doesn’t deflate.

  168. Pia

    Hi Deb,

    Just wondering- is it appropriate to use a slanted pie pan for this? It has more height than normal pie pans, but is slightly slanted nonetheless!

    Thanks for your help :)

  169. Hilary

    Do you think I could make this as a layer cake with creme fraiche whipped cream between the layers? How would I add chocolate to that? I know it’s probably delicious as is, but I’m making it for the joint birthday party of my Russian husband, his twin brother, and their mother, all born on the same day (and all hazelnut fanatics), and I want it to look impressive. For me, nothing says birthday like layers and pillows of whipped cream!

    Also, I have pre-ground hazelnut flour. Could I use that, toasting it somehow? Or should I use while hazelnuts instead and grind them myself, as you recommend?

    Thanks for the advice!

    1. Hilary Grayver

      Ok, looks like I found my answers above (ground hazelnuts ok; to layer, double the recipe, bake in 2 9-inch pans, and frost with something fudgy or Nutella-based). Still looking for hazelnut fudge frosting recipes :)

  170. Hilary

    I made this for my husband’s family birthday party today. They LOVED it! They are Russian and prefer desserts that are not too sweet, and anything with hazelnuts, so it was a shoe-in.

    I made the cake as directed but in a 9″ cake pan (I don’t have a 10″, and I wanted a taller cake). A bit of a scary moment with the browned butter (I thought I had burnt it, but I think I caught it just in time). I made the ganache, but wanted it a little more bitter, so I added in more unsweetened chocolate, and then had to add some milk to thin it out … long story short, the ganache broke and looked gross (but tasted great, barely sweet at all). So I cut the cake into two layers, put the ganache in the middle, and then frosted it with my standard whipped creme fraiche frosting (made by whipping heavy cream, sour cream, a little powdered sugar, and vanilla together). It is very light and delicious, but certainly doesn’t have the lasting power of a buttercream frosting.

    Anyway, the cake was a huge hit. My husband said that it was not too sweet (usually he begs me to dial back the sugar on anything desserty, and I usually ignore him, since in my mind there is no such thing as too sweet) and was very sophisticated in flavor, more like something you’d get at a bakery than a home-baked cake. I’ll definitely be making it again. Next time I may double the recipe to make two cake pans, then cut them in half (carefully – it’s hard to lift the top layer off without breaking, though the frosting can camouflage that) so that it’s a 4-layer cake with a more bitter ganache between each layer. And I’ll keep the whipped creme fraiche frosting, unless I figure out a nutella buttercream, as another reader suggested. I think it would also be great with some orange zest somewhere in there.

    My favorite part of the cake was the light, crunchy, almost meringue-y top of the cake — makes me not want to frost it next time (though that does cover a multitude of baking sins). I bet it would be very delicious spread into a very thin layer on a jelly roll pan, as they do in cooking shows, baked for a much shorter time (mine was done after 35-40 minutes), and cut into squares.

    Anyway, just wanted to add a rave review to the rest. Thank you, Deb!

  171. Sofia

    If I use a springform pan, should I also use parchment paper or just butter the pan and serve it with only removing the sides? Thank you and happy holidays!

  172. ELCookie

    Looks like a bunch of us had the same idea/questions about making this “Kosher for Passover.” I have both bought Kosher for Passover confectioner’s sugar and made my own (regular sugar in food processor with potato starch). Neither are great. One more suggestion is Trader Joe’s Organic Confectioner’s Sugar which has tapioca starch instead of cornstarch. Usually not my favorite confectioner’s sugar but might be perfect for this cake.

  173. Peanut

    This cake is seriously good. The smell of the hazelnuts and the vanilla brown butter was one of the most amazing scents ever to come out of my kitchen. This was my first time making a cake that uses egg whites for the leavening agent, and I did ok thanks to the instructions liked on the recipe. My cake ended up just a tad too dense, but otherwise I’m happy with it. I used a 9-inch cake pan with no issues.

    One tip I wanted to share: Trader Joe’s sells bags of unsalted, dry roasted, skinned, whole hazelnuts. When I saw those, I knew I had no excuse not to make this cake.

    1. Claire

      Thanks for the tip peanut! I have a one and a half year old and this was a serious time saver for me. Didn’t want the task of peeling the hazelnuts (reminds me of roasted peppers which I absolutely love but is so time consuming because of the mess I make- sometimes I just opt for the jar)
      Anyway just put it in the oven. It’s my birthday and I forgot the flour (!!) but I tasted the batter and this thing is going to be good no matter what. Especially with ganache on it, what! The smell is beyond divine and I feel very accomplished so thanks Deb and peanut!

    1. deb

      I would estimate 1 1/4 cups of hazelnut meal/flour. (Bob’s Red Mill, for example, says that theirs is 28 grams for 1/4 cup. 5 ounces = 141 grams, etc…)

  174. el edwards

    getting the skin off of hazelnuts.
    instead of a colander i use the small fryer basket. Roast the nuts and then when cool rub a small patch of then around in the basket. the nuts stay in the basket and the skin falls away thru the mesh. I just use my hands to roll nuts around the basket against the mesh. works beautifully.

  175. el edwards

    yet another comment…..woman i know requested a Opera cake for her birthday. I have seen them multiple times in bakeries but could not find a recipe in any of my cookbooks sooo. Could not use almonds so used Hazel nuts and this recipe which i increased by 50% and baked in 2 8″ pans. Split each layer, brushing with coffee syrup with a little cognac and then filled alternately with coffee buttercream and chocolate ganache. End result may not have looked like it came from a French Bakery but it tasted great and was a big hit.

    1. This turned out beautifully. We increased by 50% and used two 8″ pans as well – thanks for the tip! We filled it with whipped cream flavoured with cocoa powder, and topped it with the ganache and roasted chopped hazelnuts. It was a huge hit with the same crowd that loves the passover hazelnut torte.

  176. Lamia AbiSamra

    I made this for my birthday about a month ago. It was surprisingly easy to make, and of course delicious. I froze the last piece in the name of science (I was considering making my sister’s wedding cake) and pulled it out of the freezer just now. I want to just eat it cold! It’s sooo good, I’m not sure if I can wait for thawing to find out how it does through a whole freeze-thaw process. I’m sure it does just fine, but science deserves thoroughness and consistency. :)
    So my incidental finding: This would make a crazy good base layer of an ice cream cake. Hm…I think that is what my boyfriend’s birthday cake will be.

  177. Skye

    I tried this- I think I undercooked it unless it’s supposed to be dense and maybe a bit gooey? The flavor is tremendous… I’m going to refrigerate it and see if that helps. I know I’ll be maiking it again. :)

  178. Naina

    I’ve been using smitten kitchen recipes for years, reading the blog for food-dreaming and even have signed copy of Deb’s cookbook. I made this cake and it was tasty but mine came out a bit flat and dense and a bit too sweet for my taste. Knowing how egg white based cakes work I beat the egg whites as stiff as I could and did my best folding in the ingredients. My butter was warm when I added it in so I wonder if that affected the rise. Will try again with the left over Trader Joes roasted Hazelnuts with the butter cooled more. Thanks for the recipe!

  179. Hey Deb! Gonna make this cake tomorrow for my favorite cousin’s birthday dinner. Do you think it can be frozen before icing (I’m going to do frosting instead of chocolate ganache) or will that mess with the meringue-y texture of the cake?

  180. This cake looks fantastic and I’m dying to surprise my friend with it for her birthday! Do you think I can I make this with walnuts instead? Not sure if I can get my hands on hazelnuts.

  181. Katie

    I’m bummed, Ive had this bookmarked for years and was disappointed with the end result. It smelled amazing, but tasted a little flat for me. Maybe it would be better with the pears instead of chocolate?

  182. This looks divine and I am planning to make it for a friend’s birthday in a couple weeks! Some of our mutual friends are (sadly) gluten free. Since this only calls for 1/3 C flour I’m hoping it will be okay if I replace it with a gf mixture. Do you have any suggestions or words of caution about this?

  183. Helen

    Came out perfectly as directed, except I cut down the powdered sugar to a cup, and could even cut it down a bit further next time, as I like less sugary desserts in general, and I upped the coffee in the ganache to a full teaspoon. I think the secret to really fabulous flavour is deeply toasting the nuts. We thought the flavour with the chocolate ganache was like a ferrero rocher but better. The texture is incredible; really soft with perfect crispy edges. This is the sort of cake that demands a repeat performance. Also, I made it in a 9-inch pan as that’s what I had, and it came out perfectly after 40 minutes.

  184. K

    Out of frugality and ignorance, I have purchased hazelnuts maybe four times in my life. Running across this recipe (again) during a quiet day at home, when I’d just purchased hazelnuts on a whim this week, was a happy accident. Every aspect of the recipe worked perfectly for me, though I went without the ganache due to lack of cream. I baked it for about 25 minutes, in a well-buttered 10″ tart pan, in a probably-slightly-too-hot oven, and we ate it warm. Someone else mentioned the meringue-like top – we experienced that magic, too, so the lack of ganache was super-okay (this time). I just snitched a cooled bite now and realized that some kind of cornmeal addition would only add to this cake’s charm. Thanks for a beaut, Deb.

  185. Claire B

    Just made this cake yesterday as a practice run for my Mom’s retirement cake. It’s delicious! I was nervous about ruining the lift that comes from the egg whites, but after carefully following the instructions on the page Deb linked to, it turned out great. I used eggs fresh from my hens and let the egg whites come up to room temperature before beating. Still a somewhat dense cake but in a good way. Just had a naked slice with a cup of black coffee this morning: perfection!

  186. Natalie

    I seem to have extra stubborn hazel it skins…what happens if skins are still on? Or 50% on..does the cake just have a less delicate texture?

  187. JS

    For the second time I totally cheated and used Bob’s Red Mill hazelnut meal. Missed out on toasting the nuts, but makes this an easier and quicker project.

  188. Patricia

    Just made this almost per instructions except: gluten-free versus AP flour; 1 cup of my own vanilla caster sugar versus 1 1/4 powdered; 1 tsp vanilla powder because I am out of vanilla beans :-)).

    Came out wonderful. Second time making it and it works beautifully when I fold in the dry ingredients + brown butter correctly = VERY gently.

    Making it w Kin Arthur AP gluten-free flour has worked beautifully both times have made it. It does take only 45 mins or so to bake, btw.

    Thanks, Deb!

  189. PF

    I’m late to the game here, but hazelnut meal would work just as well here. Bob’s Red Mill has an excellent version. While it’s expensive, it’s ready to use and shortens the prep time considerably. Almond meal would work admirably here as well– I use it all the time to make Claudia Roden’s Moroccan orange cake.

  190. Jenny

    This looks great – if I was going to get already ground hazelnuts, how much would that be in cups or by weight for the hazelnut flour? Thanks!

  191. rose

    This is my go-to “bake to impress” recipe. It is so delicious (ah! that delicate nuttiness from the hazelnuts AND the browned butter! ooof!) and somehow manages to feel quite decadent, but not stodgy
    I must have made this a dozen times, at least— with chocolate sauce, the original caramelized pears, a raspberry coulis, and oftentimes just plain. A favorite, for sure.
    (My only alteration: the addition of a scant pinch of salt)

  192. Lulu

    I know it’s super annoying when ppl ask about substitutions – but I’m dreaming of turning this GFree. Do you think cassava flour will work instead of all purpose?

  193. Laurel

    This is AGES later, but I wonder if this would work out as a buche de noel if you baked it in a jelly roll pan. Flavors seem awesome, but I worry that it doesn’t include egg yolks as most buche de noel sponge recipes seem to.

    1. deb

      I wouldn’t expect this cake to roll at all. It’s very stiff. A better bet would be to find a nutty roll-up cake and try to apply the flavors here.

  194. Kathleen

    I love this cake and have made it many times! I bake it in a 9 inch round cake pan, since I do not have a 10 inch one. I often make it gluten-free by adding an extra ~1.5 ounces of ground, toasted hazelnuts in place of the flour. It works well as both a single layer cake and a two-layer or three-layer cake (for 3 layers, I double the recipe and spread it across three 9 inch pans). I have filled it with whipped ganache or just straight-up ganache, which is intense and delicious if you love dark chocolate. Thanks, Deb, for a great recipe!

  195. Melissa Lewis

    Made this for my mother’s birthday because she is obsessed with brown butter. Omg, it went so well! My ganache was a little thick, so I added a just a touch more cream for that pourable texture. I think I had dry chocolate. My cake got a little dark up within the first twenty minutes (the toasted nuts threw my burnt perception off) so I did cover in foil the test of the way. I lost some volume after opening the oven the add the foil, which was my fault. But taste, texture, and beautifully simplistic presentation make this cake a total win. Will be trying with matzo for Passover.

  196. castor_de_luxe

    This cake is amazing, especially if you use high quality hazelnuts. I also found this exacting guide to be VERY helpful:

    I added 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt to this cake after wondering why there’s no salt in the recipe. It seems counterintuitive to go to the trouble to make nutty brown butter and then not add salt to bring out both the brown butter flavor/hazelnuts AND to add some contrast to the sugar. I’m SO glad I added the salt. It adds a bit of contrast that really makes this cake shine.

  197. Lily

    Hi Deb! I am going to be making this for a friend’s small wedding in July! I will be doing three tiers (I am thinking a pear frosting in between each layer – further inspired by Suzanne Goin’s wedding cake), and then topped with the chocolate ganache. I am going to do a test trial, but I wanted to see if you thought chocolate ganache would make a good frosting over the sides (I don’t think I want to do a “naked” cake with just chocolate ganache on top). Do you think the ganache would spread over the sides well, or would it be too stiff (or alternatively, too drippy)?

    I REALLY want to do the German buttercream flower garden decoration you had in your wedding cake guide, but the wedding (really just a ceremony followed by some toasts) will be in Prospect Park in mid-July, so I don’t think the frosting would hold up in the heat :-(. Not even for 30-60 minutes, or at least not that I’m willing to risk. But if you think otherwise, please let me know! Then I will test it. Otherwise, maybe I will sprinkle with some sparkly things, or edible flowers.

    Thank you Deb, I am a long-time devotee. I always trust your recipes.

  198. Sally

    I have made this cake many times (with and without ganache) and I love it. It is a perfect recipe. I have ripe figs on a tree right now and wonder if I could top this cake with figs before baking. Would the cake stand up to fruit? Better to roast the figs and serve them on the side with the cake as it is? Thank you for this wonderful blog. You are amazing.

  199. El

    I loved this but would be interested in reducing the amount of sugar. How much do you think that would be possible? I assume a certain amount is required chemically/structurally to hold up the egg whites. Thanks for any tips!

  200. Erin

    Made this for my pandemic birthday and it turned out beautifully despite being my first time making this type of cake.
    I made confectioners sugar (2 cups granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons cornstarch whizzed up in the food processor. It actually worked! I know, I didn’t think it would work either!)
    I overbeat the egg whites when I walked away from the stand mixer and it still worked!
    I had vanilla bean paste so I added it to the brown butter off the heat.
    I saved bowls by leaving the hazelnut mixture in the food processor and left the egg whites in the mixer bowl to fold in the other ingredients. It all worked like a charm!
    Baked it in a springform pan and it was done in 35 minutes.
    Fantastic recipe, I’ll definitely make this again.
    I also reduced the sugar by half and it was plenty sweet for us.

  201. Sarah

    Made this today, badly. Forgot the flour. Added ingredients to the egg whites still in the kitchenaid, with the paddle, out of inexplicable laziness.

    Ended up with a delicious brown buttery hazelnut macaroon.

    So even if you mess it up, it’s still pretty good.

  202. Deanna

    I’ve made this cake so many times as written here, and as written in the the book and it’s always delicious. We’re getting ready to move overseas, so I’m trying to get through my “hauled on an international flight” supply of TJ’s nuts. So today I made this cake with pecans instead of hazelnuts and added chocolate chunks and bourbon, and it’s still delicious!

  203. Blossom

    Two questions-
    Can one use hazelnut flour instead of roasting/deskinning/grinding hazelnuts, or is too much flavor lost?
    Can these cakes be made in advance and refrigerated/frozen, and if so, for how long?

  204. Rebecca+Freedman.

    Made this cake for my Mother in Law’s birthday and it was a huge hit. I did add a 1/2 tsp salt to the cake which I think is an absolute necessary to being out the flavor of the butter and the nuts. The cake didn’t rise much but I liked that it was thinner I felt it was a very elegant dessert and received rave reviews! I garnished it with crushed hazelnuts round the top of the cake and it just looked so pretty with the shiny ganache. Will definitely make again.

  205. Lia Vassiliadis

    This is the best cake I’ve made all year! I subbed in gluten-free flour and it worked perfectly – I also used caramelized white chocolate, rather than dark for the ganache, to amp up the toasty brown flavors. Shocked by how well this turned out and will be making it for every single birthday party i attend in 2022.

  206. Swati Sood

    I have made this cake atleast 10 times. At first it was dense but gradually I feel now I have mastered the recipe. This is my favorite cake. I will admit that I use hazelnut flour instead of roasting and grinding the hazelnuts,it turns out to be delicious. I used 1 cup of hazelnut flour and 1/3 rd cup of all purpose flour. Some tricks that have helped me are, make sure the egg whites are at room temperature, it does make a difference in the fluffiness. Second when I started using the disposable Aluminium cake pan I felt it was Turing out to be better for some reason.

  207. Kirsten

    As some recent comments have noted, this cake benefits from salt. I added several pinches and am glad I did. I’m confused as to why such an accomplished chef as Goin would leave out something so central to enhancing flavor?

  208. Trushna

    I’m thinking of making this for my son’s birthday tomorrow. The comments here seem to indicate keeping the structure of the egg whites is pretty important to prevent the cake deflating. Would you recommend adding Cream of Tartar to the egg white mixture? I will try adding a pinch and report back.

  209. Betsy

    I find weighing powdered sugar to be much easier than using volume measurements. Would you please provide the grams for this ingredient, or do you agree with King Arthur Baking on their weight chart of 2 cups equaling 227 grams? I’m going to make this for my birthday on Wednesday.

    1. deb

      I agree with you about weight being more consistent, however, I do think there’s a such thing as a consistent weight per cup since it can be packed or loose or somewhere in-between, all with different weights. The Domino powdered sugar box is 1 pound (454 grams) and says it’s 3 3/4 cups so I usually estimate from there, which would be 121 grams per cup.

  210. I just made the Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen and it was simply divine! The hazelnut flavor was prominent and the brown butter gave a nice depth of flavor. The texture of the cake was moist and tender. The recipe was easy to follow and the result was a stunning cake that impressed my guests. If you’re looking for more delicious recipe inspiration, check out my food blog Step-by-step recipe instructions

  211. Sofia

    Hi! I’m planning to make this cake for a friend’s birthday, and I have a couple questions! So i’m planning to make a two-layer cake, do you think this cake would take well to stacking? Also, is it a very sweet cake? My friend does not want a lot of sweet, and I am planned to frost it (with chai-spiced frosting!) Thanks!