Holiday cake with chocolate and hazelnuts

This Chocolate and Hazelnut Celebration Cake recipe from John Whaite is the ultimate showstopper for any special occasion. Combining the richness of brownies with the decadence of chocolate cake, it promises to wow your guests with its irresistible flavors.

But what sets this cake apart is the delicious toffee lace that adorns its top, taking it to a whole new level of sophistication and indulgence. These intricate details take this dessert from simply delicious to a professional masterpiece that will impress even the most discerning palates.


  • 200g dark chocolate (or gluten-free alternative), coarsely chopped
  • 300 g skinless hazelnuts (blanched).
  • 150g dark muscovado sugar
  • 150g golden powdered sugar
  • 6 eggs, 5 separated
  • 250g dark chocolate (or gluten-free alternative), finely chopped
  • 220 ml double cream
  • 30g salted butter, chopped, plus a little butter for greasing
  • 200g golden powdered sugar
  • about 20 skinless (blanched) hazelnuts
  • 20 cocktail sticks or wooden skewers
  • duct tape

Preparation steps

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/gas 3.
  2. Grease and line a 23cm loose-bottomed cake tin with baking paper.
  3. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water.
  4. Allow the chocolate to slowly melt and then set aside to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, pulse the hazelnuts in a food processor until coarsely chopped.
  6. Add the sugar and puree again until you get a fine, sandy consistency.
  7. Place in a mixing bowl and add 1 whole egg and 5 egg yolks.
  8. This will be a very stiff dough, but with a little elbow grease it will come together.
  9. When everything is well incorporated, stir in the melted chocolate.
  10. Place the remaining egg whites in a clean bowl and whisk until medium peaks form.
  11. Add a quarter of the egg whites to the dough and stir, then carefully fold in the rest.
  12. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.
  13. A skewer inserted into the center should come out reasonably clean, but the best sign that it’s done is a smooth top with perhaps a few cracks and a slight springiness to the cake when lightly poked.
  14. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool completely in the tin.
  15. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
  16. Place the cream and butter in a small saucepan and heat until the butter melts, but do not let it boil.
  17. Pour over the chocolate and let it melt for 1-2 minutes, then stir until you have a smooth, glossy ganache.
  18. When the cake has cooled, remove it from the pan and place it on a cake stand or platter.
  19. When the ganache has cooled to a spreadable consistency, spread it generously over the entire surface of the cake – as neatly or as messily as desired.
  20. Place a large pot over medium heat to get hot.
  21. Add the sugar and continue heating until dissolved.
  22. Increase the heat and allow the pan to bubble, swirling the pan from time to time, until the caramel turns a beautiful amber color – but don’t stir or the caramel will crystallize.
  23. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the caramel to cool and thicken to the consistency of golden syrup. If it gets too solid, just put it on a low heat to let it melt again.
  24. Poke each hazelnut with a cocktail stick or wooden skewer – be careful not to poke at the seam or the hazelnut will burst.
  25. Place a sheet of baking paper on the floor directly under your work surface – this will catch any drips of caramel.
  26. Spread the hazelnuts through the thickened caramel and coat very generously.
  27. Using some tape or a wedge, secure the cocktail skewer under a heavy pan on the counter so that the caramel-covered hazelnut hangs over the edge.
  28. Allow the caramel to drip to the bottom like a stalactite and set.
  29. Repeat with all the hazelnuts and let the caramel set.
  30. When the caramel has hardened, use scissors to carefully cut the fine strands of caramel from the sturdier, decorative tips.
  31. Arrange the hazelnuts in the center of the cake, tips facing up.

Nutritional Information

Equipment and tools

  • mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Pot
  • baking tray
  • parchment paper
  • Cake tester or toothpick
  • Cooling rack

Allergen information

This chocolate and hazelnut holiday cake may contain the following allergens:

  • gluten
  • Eggs
  • milk
  • Tree nuts (hazelnuts)

Please take necessary precautions if you or anyone eating this cake has allergies or intolerances to any of these ingredients.

Storage and leftovers

How to store the cake:

  1. Allow the cake to cool completely.
  2. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container.
  3. Store in a cool, dry place or refrigerator for up to 5 days.

If you have leftovers, you can enjoy them later. Simply follow the storage instructions above.

Health Benefits of Chocolate Hazelnut Celebration Cake

Enjoying a slice of Chocolate Hazelnut Celebration Cake will not only satisfy your sweet tooth, but it also offers some surprising health benefits. This delicious cake combines the richness of dark chocolate and the nuttiness of hazelnuts, creating a treat that will not only tantalize the taste buds but also benefit your overall well-being.

1. Dark chocolate for heart health

The recipe calls for 200g of dark chocolate, which is an important source of healthy antioxidants. These antioxidants, particularly flavonoids, have been linked to numerous heart health benefits. Regular consumption of dark chocolate can help reduce the risk of heart disease by improving blood circulation, lowering blood pressure and preventing plaque buildup in the arteries.

2. Nutrient boost from hazelnuts

The Chocolate Hazelnut Celebration Cake contains 300g of skinless, blanched hazelnuts. Hazelnuts are packed with essential nutrients, giving this treat a nutritional boost. These nuts contain high levels of healthy fats, fiber, proteins, vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, magnesium and calcium. Adding hazelnuts to your diet can boost brain function, support bone health and aid digestion.

3. Reduce glycemic impact with muscovado sugar

Using dark muscovado sugar in this recipe provides a richer and more complex flavor compared to refined white sugar. Dark muscovado sugar is processed less, retaining more of its natural molasses content. This type of sugar has a lower glycemic index, meaning it results in a slower, more consistent rise in blood sugar levels. It can be a great option for people who want to control their blood sugar levels or for people with diabetes.

4. Boost good cholesterol with eggs

The recipe contains 6 eggs, 5 of which have the yolk separated. Eggs have often been controversial because of their cholesterol content. However, recent research has shown that eating eggs in moderation can actually increase levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), often referred to as “good” cholesterol. HDL cholesterol helps remove harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol from the bloodstream, reducing the risk of heart disease.

5. Additional treat: Double cream and butter

While cream and butter contribute to the richness and creaminess of the cake, their high saturated fat content makes it important to consume them in moderation. However, these ingredients can still provide some benefits. Saturated fats are a necessary part of a balanced diet because they provide a concentrated source of energy and aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.


As you can see, the Chocolate Hazelnut Celebration Cake not only satisfies your sweet cravings, but also packs a surprising nutritional punch. With dark chocolate, hazelnuts, muscovado sugar, eggs, cream and butter, this treat offers a combination of antioxidants, essential nutrients and potential health benefits. So enjoy a slice or two, knowing that you are doing something good for your body too!

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