Hazelnut-Espresso Coffeecake


The aromatic flavors of toasted hazelnut, espresso, and cinnamon are captured in a whole grain crumb dotted with chocolate. Finished with an espresso glaze, this coffeecake begs for a cup of Joe like no other.


Hazelnut-Espresso Coffeecake by Cakewalker

I have a confession.

I wasn’t a fan of hazelnuts.

It’s not that I totally dislike the nuts; their flavor just rests on a lower rung of my palate. Oh, I’m not sure―perhaps there was an off putting experience which lingered from childhood, the pinpoint eludes me. For those of you who’ve done the math, this also means I’ve never tried Nutella. Even blended with chocolate, I’m not enticed to allow the nut to rise on the flavor ladder. So for the better part of my life I’ve overlooked the nut. Until now.

Why, you ask? I’m staging 2015 to push boundaries, to try new flavor profiles, and to revisit ones left behind, ignored.

Cakewalker - mini bottle of Frangelico liqueurIf you don’t normally stock Frangelico and don’t care to shell out for a full bottle of the liqueur, consider buying a mini at a fraction of the cost.

I received this book, a gift from Mrs. W, and in thumbing through it, I knew in an instant I wanted to make the cover cake. I had pegged it for the first post of the year. But as I flipped through the almond-colored pages of the sturdy bound book, this coffeecake with its robust espresso flavor, whole grain qualities and yes, hazelnuts, intrigued me.

Through this exercise, hazelnuts have most definitely risen in my hierarchy of preferred flavors. Does this mean I’m ready to dive into a jar of Nutella? Hold on to your horses, cowboy. I’ll contemplate it while I enjoy a slice of this lovely cake.

Hazelnut Espresso Coffeecake by CakewalkerRecipe slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour

Hazelnut-Espresso Coffeecake

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 5 minutes

Yield: One 10-inch tube cake, serves up to 16

Serving Size: One slice

Hazelnut-Espresso Coffeecake

The aromatic flavors of toasted hazelnut, espresso, and cinnamon are captured in a whole grain crumb dotted with chocolate. Finished with an espresso glaze, this coffeecake begs for a cup of Joe like no other.


  • 1 3/4 cup whole, blanched hazelnuts (8.75 ounces)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons Frangelico liqueur
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (6 ounces)
  • Glaze
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus 2 to 3 tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 3 tablespoons warm milk


  • Preheat the oven to 300° F. Grease a 10-inch tube pan.
  • Toast and grind the hazelnuts: spread the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Place in the oven and toast until fragrant and golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove nuts from the oven; place on a rack to cool. Increase oven temperature to 350° F.
  • Once the nuts have cooled to lukewarm, transfer them to a food processor bowl fitted with the blade. Add the all-purpose flour. Pulse in short bursts until the nuts are finely chopped. Place the nut-flour mixture in a large mixing bowl.
  • To the mixing bowl add the whole wheat pastry flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Mix until well blended. Make a well in the center and add the butter, eggs, milk, espresso powder and Frangelico. Beat on low speed until combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. On medium high, beat the batter for about one minute until the ingredients are well blended. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for at least 15 minutes before turning it out onto the rack to cool completely.
  • For the glaze, place one cup confectioners’ sugar in a small mixing bowl. Dissolve the espresso powder in the warm milk; add to the sugar and whisk to combine until smooth. Brush the cake all over the top with a coat of glaze; allow glaze to set up―about 20 minutes. Repeat after the first coat sets up. There should be 2 to 3 tablespoons of remaining glaze. To this add 2 to 3 tablespoons additional confectioners’ sugar, whisking it in until smooth, thick, and drizzle consistency. Using a fork, allow the thickened glaze to drizzle over the top of the coffeecake. Serve when the drizzled glaze has set.


Can’t find blanched hazelnuts? It’s easy to do at home: add whole hazelnuts to a pot of rapidly boiling water; boil for 45 seconds to one minute. Strain nuts in a colander and immediately rinse under cold tap water, or place in a bath of ice water (strain again in this case). Spread nuts out on a single layer of paper towel to begin air drying. Pinch the skins off of the nuts; set aside to dry before toasting.

Frangelico liqueur is optional, use hazelnut syrup as a substitute.

For added crunch, stir in some extra rough chopped toasted hazelnuts along with the chocolate in the batter before baking.


Hazelnut-Espresso Coffeecake from Cakewalker

This coffeecake pairs splendidly with a soft or beaten coffee as depicted above. This beverage takes humble instant coffee (or espresso powder―I used Medaglia D’oro) and gives it coffeehouse star quality. My gal Jenni shows you how to let your inner barista out with this recipe. Enjoy!


  1. Well Brooks, I AM a fan of hazelnuts and Frangelico! Love, love, love! Can’t wait to give this cake a try. I’ll let you know how it comes out.

  2. I’ve never tried Nutella either. Of course I’ve never made a coffee cake, so that explains a lot. I think it’s because (and the exact pinpoint eludes me) but I think I thought (when I was a kid) that coffee cake had coffee in it. Silly, huh? GREG

    • Brooks Walker says

      Ha! Your comment brings a smile, Greg. Not certain you’re back stateside, but I’ve been enjoying your Uruguay posts. Cheers!

  3. Wow!! How lovely! I bet that tastes amazing!

    • Brooks Walker says

      It’s as scrumptious as it appears Raven, and the whole wheat goodness is a bonus! Thank you for the comment.

  4. I’m making this. I mean not as in sometime down the road, nope, I’m going to make it today. I have a whole bunch of hazelnuts I did not use over Christmas and a huge bottle of Frangelico also calling my name. Plus about 4 jars of Medaglia D’oro. I always worry I’ll run out so when I see it I pick up a jar.

    So…I saw the craze over the Indian coffee and can I share I just don’t get it. My Indian friend has made it for me when I visited and I just missed a regular cup of coffee so bad I couldn’t stand it! I mean so bad that I gave her a nice coffee pot so the next time I’m there for the weekend I don’t have to suffer with Nescafe. 🙂

    And last but not least. Don’t mistake Nutella for anything but what it is Brooks. Yes, hazelnuts but so much goo and additives I think it’s horrid. There is an Italian Hazelnut spread that is fantastic and of course you can make your own. And I say this assuring you I’ve tried. My daughter loved it so I bought it and every time I decided to give it another shot I was reminded of why I did not like it. Just too thick or something. Try this if you can find it; it’s organic so just nuts and chocolate. Maybe I just don’t like emulsifiers?


    OK, now off to bake. My neighbors already say thank you. 🙂

    • Brooks Walker says

      Barb, I’m thrilled you’ll be making the coffeecake―I hope you and the neighbors will enjoy it. I appreciate your candor regarding Nutella and the link for the organic spread. Happy baking, and let me know how it goes!

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