This vegan chocolate hazelnut cake is perfect for holiday baking, birthdays, or just any time you want some chocolate cake! It’s a bit on the denser side, almost like a brownie-cake combination, because of the hazelnut flour in the mixture. If you’re big on chocolate you’ll love this – the cake is ultra rich and decadent, with an easy coconut milk chocolate ganache.
It was my birthday on Friday, the fifth since starting this blog in 2014. Hi, I’m 27 now. I’ve shared a birthday cake recipe every year since that first one, this really ugly (but delicious) carrot cake. Of course things have changed a bit in the last four and a half years since starting this site – it’s become my full-time job and I’m not taking pictures in front of a sheet of printer paper anymore.
This past year has seen some changes. Last year at this time we were still in our apartment in Oldenburg, and now we’ve been searching for a place in Groningen for about six months and have been technically homeless during that time. Fingers crossed that at least one of the several appointments we have tomorrow goes well and we’ll have a new home!
Financially things have gotten a lot better since my last birthday, which is great. It feels like my career has started to really take off in the past year and I’ve also been dedicated to my blog in a way that I really wasn’t before. I was offered a book deal a few months ago and turned it down, despite having essentially started this blog because I wanted to write cookbooks, because it just wasn’t right.
The topic wasn’t right, the publishing house, the timing. If you’re interested I would be happy to write more about that. Transparency is key and it seems like everything’s a big secret in this business.
In terms of health, I also was able to stop taking medication for clinical depression and an anxiety disorder this past year and haven’t had any real issues in that regard. The fear is still there but it seems to be fading a bit as I go longer without those low points going too low. I still have swings but that might just be how I am – it’s hard to tell when you can’t remember a time without mental illness, and I have no past without it to compare to. But it’s slowly becoming a new normal and it’s good. You can read a little more about that here.
I feel so lucky to be healthy, and despite all the stress of not having anywhere to live for the past few months, it’s okay. Graham keeps reminding me that we’re lucky to have each other, to be healthy, to have enough to eat, etc. and we are. I mean that this is my job is ridiculous.
I’m not sure how many of you have stuck around long enough to see all five birthday cakes. Maybe the past three? Or maybe this vegan chocolate hazelnut cake is the first you’ve seen. If you want to look at the past iterations, you can search birthday cake in the sidebar (or click that link). My personal favourites are the vegan orange coconut cake from last year and Graham’s birthday cake from this summer, a vegan chocolate raspberry cake. Not mine, I know, but I’ve always wished I had a summer birthday and would love to make a cake with fresh berries for my birthday.
This vegan chocolate hazelnut cake is clearly perfect for Christmas and holiday baking, too – just look at those festive photos! Adding the pomegranate was a last minute decision but as this cake is so rich I think it needs those little pops of fresh fruit. They help cut through the ganache a bit. If you’re making this at another time of year then go for berries, 100%.
Coconut milk and dark chocolate make up the vegan chocolate ganache here, but I want to make a note on that. I used to always make it just with the cream from the coconut milk (like in my chocolate banana babka) but have since switched over to making it with everything in the can, water and all. I had done it by mistake while testing these chocolate apricot tarts but it worked so well, and it’s a bit easier than having to carefully separate the cream. You’ll see much the same recipe in that chocolate raspberry cake too.
I find that making the ganache this way makes it a bit softer, and more like icing, instead of the consistency of chocolate truffles. There’s no need to whip it to make it spreadable either. Here’s the catch, though. Depending on the type of coconut milk you use, it sometimes doesn’t solidify fully. I’ve had that happen with cheaper brands here, but never in Canada, I’m not sure why.
If that happens, and the mixture is staying in a pourable state, I just very gently reheat it. Then following the same method as making the ganache in the first place, I pour that warm mixture over another 50 grams of finely chopped chocolate and then let it cool again. It works every time.
So if you’re making this for the first time, I recommend making the ganache the night before or even a couple of days in advance just in case. Make sure you let it sit for at least six hours before panicking and adding more chocolate, though, because it might just not have cooled fully. Otherwise, go for cream only and follow the directions for this whipped chocolate ganache.
The cake is a bit dense, almost like a brownie, because the hazelnut flour tends to weigh things down a bit. I really like cakes like this for the colder months. Hazelnut and chocolate is a classic combination, you can’t go wrong.
I baked this in a type of bundt tin, like this, which I didn’t want to do, but I couldn’t find the other base for the springform. If you make it in a regular springform or cake tin, watch the cooking time carefully as a bundt obviously bakes a bit faster and you’ll have to increase the cooking time. I know tins like that aren’t so popular in North America but I tested & photographed this last week while we were dog sitting for my godmother and it was all she had. I’m positive that a normal cake tin would work, it just might need an extra five minutes baking time.
Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with Chocolate Ganache
This vegan chocolate hazelnut cake is perfect for holiday baking, birthdays, or just any time you want some chocolate cake! It's a bit on the denser side, almost like a brownie-cake combination, because of the hazelnut flour in the mixture. If you're big on chocolate you'll love this - the cake is ultra rich and decadent, with an easy coconut milk chocolate ganache.
- 200 grams / 1 1/2 cups light spelt flour
- 100 grams / 1 cup hazelnut flour
- 100 grams / 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 70 grams / 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 375 ml / 1 1/2 cups nondairy milk oat, almond, etc
- 125 ml / 1/2 cup olive oil*
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 400 ml / 1 can full-fat coconut milk
- 100 grams / 1 bar dark chocolate**
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F and grease a 26cm / 10 inch bundt tin with coconut oil. Sprinkle some cocoa powder into the pan using a fine sieve to really make sure it won't stick.
Sift the spelt flour, hazelnut flour, coconut sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the milk, olive oil, and vanilla.
Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and gently stir until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared baking tin, then bake on the centre rack for 28-32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Cool the cake on a rack for 15 minutes before removing the sides of the pan. Let the cake cool completely before icing.
Finely chop the chocolate and place it into a heat safe bowl.
Pour the coconut milk into a small saucepan and heat over low-medium until just simmering. Once it's hot, pour it over the chocolate and let it sit for 30 seconds before whisking to combine.
Add the vanilla and check for sweetness. You can a teaspoon or two of maple syrup if needed. Cover and chill in the refrigerator until set, at least four hours.
To ice the cake, use a large spoon to stir the ganache to soften it slightly. Top the cake with it, using the back of the spoon to create a swooping pattern. Gently press hazelnuts and pomegranate arils into the top of the cake, and serve. It will keep, covered and in a cold place, for up to three days.
• I know that this type of baking tin might not be part of your kitchen so if you want to use a normal springform or cake tin, just watch the cooking time and test with a toothpick to make sure it's done. I'm guessing an extra 5-8 minutes will do the trick but I haven't been able to test that.
* Any light tasting oil will work here - olive, grape seed, avocado, etc. Avoid coconut as it will make the cake too dense when it cools.
** If, after cooling completely, your ganache is still too runny, follow these instructions: Chop another half chocolate bar (50 grams) and place into a heat proof bowl. Very gently reheat the ganache (preferably in a glass bowl over simmering water) and then pour over the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for 30 seconds before whisking to combine, and then cover and cool fully again. This may happen if your coconut milk is very thin, so try to use a variety that you know includes a good amount of solid coconut cream.