September 20, 2011

Birthday Week: Chocolate Kahlua Cake with Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Buttercream {Naptime Entertaining}

Kahlua Birthday Cake

The Occasion: My Birthday!

Menu: Dinner out, birthday cake for dessert!

Attendees: Party of 3!

Naptime Goals: Bake cake and make frosting. Frost cake once it has cooled!

Don’t forget BIRTHDAY WEEK on The Naptime Chef! This is my second birthday week post; see below for Birthday Favorite Things Giveaway details!

The other title of this post could be “What Kelsey makes when she is in charge of her own birthday cake” or “what to bake when you are ready to drown in chocolate.” As some of you know, I bake my birthday cake every year and is it always has a chocolate focus. Don’t feel sorry for me, I love to bake so it is really a bit of a treat. On this special day I know my sweet husband will come through with the great gifts and dinner out, but he doesn’t bake and I certainly don’t expect him to learn just for my benefit. This year my cake was inspired by the flavors of nutella. I was in the mood for something rich and chocolaty, with notes of hazelnut and coffee.

When I was first thought of making this cake I envisioned a classic two-layer scenario. But then I spied a three-layer cake at the store and realized I’d rather add an extra layer and make the cake small and taller, instead of extra-wide and short. I whipped up the batter while my daughter took a (rather lengthy) after school nap and made the buttercream while it baked. After everything had cooled, about an hour later, I frosted it right on the cake stand. It was a gorgeous sight to behold and I almost banned everyone from cutting into it for at least 24 hours so we all could stand back and admire it. But, naturally, I couldn’t wait that long and was wielding a huge kitchen knife the minute we got home from dinner.

Birthday Cake

The cake had the mild chocolate coffee flavor I was hoping for, each bite was a symphony of chocolate, hazelnut and coffee with just a hint of salt. We devoured slice after slice until a few pathetic pieces were left, which I promptly put in the fridge to scatter over ice cream later in the week. All in all it was a gorgeous naptime baking birthday cake which I highly recommend to anyone – whether you are put in charge of baking your own cake, or one for someone else.

Rules for Birthday Week Favorite Things Giveaway (including: Favorite Cookbook, Tea, Cookies, Tote Bag (above), Mixing Bowls (above) and Cookie Spatula):

1. Leave a comment sharing a what your FAVORITE birthday cake flavor is!

2. Subscribe to The Naptime Chef newsletter (upper right hand corner) – I’ll check!

3. Become a fan of The Naptime Chef on Facebook

4. Extra Entry: Share the link to this post with your friends on Facebook and link to @TheNaptimeChef Facebook fanpage

5. Extra Entry: Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter and link to hashtag @TheNaptimeChef

6. Extra Entry: Follow me on Stumbleupon and stumble this entry by clicking the green thumbs up

7. 6 Extra Entries: Write a blog post between now and Thursday September 22nd about how you celebrate birthdays in your family and include a recipe for a favorite birthday cake or birthday dish and tell your readers about this post with a link back to it. You will be listed in the post next Friday September 23rd as an official sponsor.

8. Contest will run from September 15th at 7:00am through Saturday, September 24th at 7:00am. Winner will be announced on Sunday September 25th at 7:00am. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours a new winner will be drawn. Winner be selected by

9. Giveaway items can only be mailed within the continental US.

*Giveaway items generously donated by Andrews McMeel, OXO Good Grips and JMcLaughlin.


Chocolate Kahlua Cake with Salted Hazelnut Chocolate Buttercream


1 ½ cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups superfine sugar
3 teaspoons instant espresso dissolved in ½ cup boiling water
6 eggs
2 tablespoons kahlua
2 tablespoons whole milk
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Frosting:

12 ounces semisweet chocolate
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate
5 large egg whites
1 ½ cups superfine sugar
1 pinch cream of tartar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons hazelnut extract
1 cup lightly toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour 3 8-inch cake pans and set aside.

2. Beat the butter and sugar together for 10 minutes, until light and airy. Meanwhile, dissolve the espresso in the boiling water and set aside. Sift the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt and set aside.

3. Once the butter is fluffy add the eggs and mix well. Then add the rum, milk and espresso and beat until incorporated.

4. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the flour mixture until just combined. The batter will be very fluffy. Evenly distribute it amongst the three baking pans and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool for about 10 minutes in their pans, then remove them and place them on wire racks to cool completely.

5. To make the buttercream: Combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a heatproof bowl and warm them over simmering water for about 6 minutes, or until warm to the touch. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate together in the microwave and stir together. Set aside.

6. Place the cooled egg whites in a mixing bowl and whip until they hold stiff peaks. Then beat it the butter in small pieces, followed by the salt, melted chocolate and hazelnut extract. The frosting should be fluffy and light!

7. Frost the cake between each layer and all along the outer edges and top. Then, scatter the hazelnuts all along the top of the cake and press them along the sides as well. Serve!

Naptime Notes

Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

The hazelnuts are completely optional but I love the look they give and the texture they lend to the cake!

Naptime Stopwatch

30 minutes prep time, 50 minutes bake time

Naptime Reviews

This was definitely the ultimate birthday cake for me. I love the not-to-sweet chocolate flavor along with the undertones of coffee and hazelnut.



28 Responses to “Birthday Week: Chocolate Kahlua Cake with Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Buttercream {Naptime Entertaining}”

  1. Milisa Armstrong says:

    That is a truly amazing cake!

  2. Dkkporter says:

    My favorite birthday cake is German Chocolate. I could eat the frosting on just about anything and be a happy woman!

  3. my favorite is old fashion rhubarb cake.  My birthday is in May so in Wisconsin it one of the first items from the garden after a long winter and wet spring!

    • Anonymous says:

      I would LOVE rhubarb cake for my birthday – yum! But the only rhubarb I have right now is frozen…

  4. Maria says:

    Love this cake! Hope you had a wonderful birthday!

  5. My favorite is German chocolate.

  6. Mmm, I might have to say THIS is my favorite cake now! 😉 I love salted anything in desserts, and hazelnuts are such a great flavor.

    I love a classic cheesecake for my birthday, and Jason likes German chocolate for his.

    Happy Birthday again!

  7. Tina Engberg says:

    I’m a fan of Red Velvet Cake for my birthday, though a Lemon Cake does well too, in my book.

  8. Diane M. says:

    My mom and I share a birthday and we always have an ice cream cake with fudge swirls, delish!

  9. jenn says:

    Lately I have really liked Ina Garten’s Beatty’s Chocolate Cake with Gale Gand’s Quick Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.  I let my 4 year old cover it in sprinkles.  We adjust the frosting color depending on his whims:)  I also halve the recipe sometimes just to make a single layer round cake when it’s just the 3 of us enjoying.

  10. I’m allergic to hazelnuts, but I still want to make this cake. I guess I could substitute almonds/almond extract, or maybe even coconut/coconut extract! So many yummy possibilities 😉
    My favorite birthday cake would be a framboisier. It’s one I make myself for my birthday on an almost-yearly basis (here’s a link to it on my blog:

  11. Miranda says:

    I really love lemon bundt cake!

  12. Anonymous says:

    What a nice birthday cake to make for yourself – I think it’s even better that you make your own cake for your birthday – that way you get exactly what you like!

  13. Donna Currie says:

    I like the way you think. I made my own birthday cake last week and it was chocolate with a mocha ganache. Oh yea!

  14. I made a burnt sugar cake for myself a few years ago and it was amazing.  Happy birthday!

  15. DeliciouslyOrganic says:

    This cake looks heavenly! My favorite cake is chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream.  Happy Birthday! 

  16. Lynn says:

    Happy Birthday! What a gorgeous cake, I love the flavours you chose too. My favourite birthday cake is a fraisier, my parents always used to get me that for my birthday as I kid.

  17. Heather Thompson says:

     WOW.  This is pretty much the most ridiculously awesome cake I’ve ever heard of.  Can this one be my favorite if I haven’t tasted it yet?  Until I try this one, I guess carrot cake will suffice.

  18. Lily says:

    This looks soooo good. i gotta say, i’m a sucker for both kahlua AND hazelnut.

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  20. laketa says:

    Is there anyway to make this amazing frosting without the egg whites?

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