This is seriously the best Hazelnut Praline Cake and possible the easiest too! This festive Cake consist of a melt in your mouth buttery hazelnut sponge cake, silky hazelnut mousseline cream and crunchy, deep praline paste! To finish, an easy yet showstopper white chocolate shards decoration is added, that will make you look like a Pro and certainly impress everyone!
How does this Hazelnut Praline Cake taste? Wonderful natural hazelnut flavours across 3 layers: hazelnut sponge, hazelnut praline paste and hazelnut mousseline cream. With the help of my step by step tutorial I will walk you through the recipe, let´s get started!
My Top 5 Baking Tips for home bakers
- Read the recipe carefully including my tips and recommendations on how to avoid and fix typical issues during baking this Hazelnut Praline cake
- Avoid using substitutes and changing the recipe unless you are aware of how to fully reformulate the recipe in order to keep the balance in texture as well as flavour. Reducing sugar, replacing egg, using ingredients not on the right temperature etc. will all have an impact on your baking
- For consistent, happy baking experience always measure your ingredients with the help of a Digital scale. Cup measurement is provided as an indicative figure only and might be used for less complex and large batch recipes however it is not an appropriate method for more delicate, complex cakes like this Hazelnut Praline cake
- Did you know that most home ovens can significantly under or oven run? Also, oven temperature hugely drops when opening the oven door therefore it is recommended to always pre-heat the oven above the required baking temperature.
- Temperature is so important when it comes to baking and accurate oven temperature is key, can make or break any recipe. Make sure you invest into an inexpensive Digital oven thermometer to avoid under baked, burnt, sad looking cakes
Some important notes regarding the INGREDIENTS of this Hazelnut Praline Cake recipe
For the Hazelnut sponge
- Flour: AP or lower protein content flour works the best to make this buttery hazelnut sponge If you want to be a Pro when it comes to deciding what type of flour to use in your baking, please read my article in here
- Hazelnut flour: This Hazelnut praline cake has all the natural hazelnut flavour not just in the filling, but also in the sponge. You can either buy finely grated hazelnut flour or make your own by pulse blending hazelnut then sift it to get rid of bigger chunks. Make sure, you do not over process the hazelnut as eventually it will become oily and loses its powder texture
- Sugar: Use simple granulated sugar. If you want to learn about the different types of sugar and how to use them in baking, please read my article in here
- Salt: An essential ingredient in most of the dessert recipes. Balances flavour and enhances other ingredients
- Butter: Use always unsalted as you want to be in control of the quantity of the salt. I am using 82% fat content butter in all my recipes. Butter will need to be creamed with sugar so make sure it is on room temp and soft enough (but not melted)
- Egg: Room temperature as always
For the Hazelnut Mousseline cream filling
- Milk: Use high fat content milk, the highest you can get! It makes a huge difference when it comes to deepness of the taste
- Sugar: Simple, white granulated sugar is perfectly fine
- Egg: Some recipes call for whole egg however I strongly advise to use egg yolk only for the best texture and flavour. Perhaps try my pavlova recipe if you want to use up your egg whites? Other, maybe not so obvious note is that the colour of your egg yolk will dictate the colour of your pastry cream.Farm eggs make super yellow pastry cream, on the other hand supermarket eggs usually way more pale
- Flour: Flour is one of the thickening agent in this pastry cream recipe, use AP flour. No, it won’t taste like flour!
- Starch: Corn starch is the other thickening agent in the recipe, theoretically you could only use flour OR only starch however I prefer 50%-50%.
- Vanilla: Vanilla is THE heart of making pastry cream! Avoid using artificial vanilla. There are several great brands for fine, pure vanilla, I use Nielsen massey which I love and really recommend. I use vanilla bean paste instead of vanilla extract for my pastry cream for the deepest, most delicious vanilla cream
- Butter: Use unsalted as per above. Room temperature is key here. If too cold, it won’t incorporate properly. If too hot/liquid, it will make the pastry cream runny. We will use butter twice, first when making the pastry cream then when making mousseline cream out of the pastry cream
- Hazelnut Praline Paste: What makes this Hazelnut Praline Cake super delicious is the hazelnut praline paste used both as a filling layer also in the pastry cream. Hazelnut Praline is effectively a paste that consists 50% hazelnut and 50% sugar. I prefer buying the praline paste online but it can be easily made at home by mixing toasted hazelnut with hot dry caramel, letting the mixture cool and harden then blending them together with a food processor until it becomes a paste. Make sure, that your blender is strong enough to make praline paste, it is quite and effort for the mixer that is why I prefer to buy ready made. I absolutely adore hazelnut praline paste, it is a sweet, nutty paste with a super deep flavour. Not too thick, not too thin, mixing it with chocolate or pastry cream can take it to the next level. If you decide to purchase it, instead of making at home, make sure you buy pure praline paste that is 50% nut (typically hazelnut) and 50% sugar
For the White chocolate shard decoration
- Chocolate: The chocolate decoration makes this Hazelnut praline cake stand out from other boring hazelnut cakes! (and the hazelnut praline paste!) Obviously you will need some chocolate to make chocolate decoration, it can be dark, milk or white, chose your preference. However worth to remember that not all chocolate are created equal, recipes that require chocolate decoration or chocolate work, the quality of the chocolate goes way beyond taste. You might have recognized that by simply melting chocolate you won´t achieve shiny results. Well, you will need couverture chocolate if you want to replicate those beautifully chocolate decorates you see on Instagram or in professional pastry shops! In this recipe I am using Callebaut White chocolate (callets), this is a high-quality chocolate (yet affordable) that contains a higher percentage of cocoa butter than the average supermarket chocolate. The additional cocoa butter, combined with proper tempering technique gives the chocolate a more shiny look, a firmer “snap” when broken, and a creamier, more smooth texture. Couverture type of chocolate is used by professionals and by home bakers who want to take their chocolate work to the next level. It is usually sold online in a bigger pack eg. 1 kg and perfect to make recipes that requires high quality chocolate. I order mine from Amazon and surprisingly the price / kg it is not even so much more expensive than a low quality supermarket chocolate. Couverture chocolate is not a must in this recipe, but it is worth to remember that the quality of the chocolate decoration will be simply in line with the quality of the chocolate you use so try to buy the best you can access
My top 5 tips regarding the TECHNIQUE of making this Hazelnut Praline Cake recipe
1. How to make the hazelnut sponge cake layers
This is my favourite, super simple buttery cake layer I also use in mousse type of cakes. It is made of equal amount of egg, butter, flour and sugar spread evenly in a large tray and baked in a fairly short time, 8-10 minutes. I replaced some of the flour with hazelnut to make it a hazelnut sponge that is extra delicious in this Hazelnut Praline cake. Feel free to play around with other ingredients eg. replace some part of the flour with cocoa powder, walnut flour, almond flour or even matcha to make a different type of cake. Do not expect a tall fluffy sponge cakes, in fact it is rather dense (but not dry) and low in height. Its function is more to provide a layer in between filling, so not the classic sponge cake. For classic tall and fluffy sponge cake, check my recipe in here.
For baking you can use any large tray you have, they key thing here is to spread the cake batter thin and evenly in the tray. I was using my new silicone 33x33cm (12,8inch) baking tray that is called Silicone roulade mat from Silikomart. It´s brilliant, spreading the cake batter is super easy (use a Offset spatula) and the cake bakes evenly.
Bake the cake for 8-10 minutes, make sure you do not over bake it as it can results in drying out.
Once cake cools, cut out 4×15 cm circles – those will make the cake layers for the Hazelnut Praline cake.
2. How to make pastry cream for the hazelnut mouseline cream
Pastry cream is the most delicious rich, silky and creamy custard like cream filling used in many types of dessert, like mousse cakes, fruit tarts, eclair or as a base to fill this Hazelnut praline cake. You will have to make a pastry cream first that will be turned into mousseline cream at later stage with fluffy, soft butter. I have a whole detailed Baking Guide with tons of tips about making the perfect pastry cream (Creme Patissiere), make sure you read it in here.
- In a large enough bowl with the help of a Hand whisk, mix together sugar and egg yolk until slightly fluffy for about 1-2 minutes
- Mix in corn starch, flour, and vanilla with until thoroughly incorporated and have a smooth paste
- Bring milk to boil in a saucepan on medium heat then remove it as soon as it starts simmering. Make sure it is simmering but not crazy boiling, see m tips above
- Pour the warm milk over the egg yolk mixture slowly while whisking vigorously with a Hand whisk. This stage is effectively tempering the egg yolks and the mixture should already start to slightly thicken
- Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook on medium heat for a few minutes until it thickens. Concretely it is approximately 1 min after the first boil. It might get lumpy first, don’t worry just keep whisking and the cream will get smooth and glossy. It’s worth to keep a good quality (so that the milk won’t burn in it) small/medium sized saucepan for making pastry cream only
- If in doubt, strain the pastry cream for a lump free, creamy end result
- Add in room temperature soft butter and mix with a Rubber spatula until completely incorporated. It is worth to add the butter in 3 stages and mix well after each addition.
- Pastry cream needs to completely cool before using it. Place the cream into a shallow bowl or container and cover the entire surface with plastic wrap to avoid skin forming on top. Store in fridge
3. How to make the hazelnut mousseline cream
Crème pâtissière is the perfect base for other custard like creams:
- Crème Diplomat: Crème Diplomat is a lighter version of the French Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière). Basically it is Crème Pâtissière with added whipped cream and gelatin (optionally). Whipped cream makes it lighter and fluffier and the gelatin makes it more stable. Gelatin is not strongly needed, depending on the type of cake
- Crème Mousseline: Crème Mousseline is classic Pastry Cream enriched with fluffy butter that makes the pastry cream extra rich and also more stable to pipe kind of like a butter cream but way more delicious.
For this Hazelnut Praline cake I find Creme Mousseline is richer, more stable especially for beginners who might not be fully aware of how to cook thick pastry cream and how to properly fold it with cream without breaking it.
The process is simple however you have to be careful with the temperature of the ingredients:
- It is very important that the pastry cream is cooled down but not cold meaning either let it cool on room temp or cool it in the fridge then let it come back to room temp
- Butter needs to be soft. Soft butter means soft enough without hard butter chunks for the mixer to cream it but do not melt it in the microwave as melted butter can´t be creamed
- If either pastry cram or butter is too cold you won´t be able to whip up the mixture properly as either butter will stay in chunks or the entire mixture will break and curdle
- So once pastry cream set but not cold and butter is soft, move butter into your Stand mixer fitted with your whisk attachment and start creaming the butter for a few minutes until it becomes fluffy
- Once butter is creamy and pale add in praline paste and whip until combined
- Then, start adding the room temp pastry cream in 4 steps (adding always 1/4 only) while mixer is still on
- Cream mixture until it reached a fluffy, pipeable consistency. This will take about 3 minutes
- Make sure you do not over whip the cream at this point as it can get runny
Voila, your delicious, fluffy filling is ready to fill the Hazelnut Praline cake !
4. How to assemble this Hazelnut Praline Cake
Assembling the Hazelnut Praline cake is super quick once you have all the necessary elements ready: 4 sponges, hazelnut praline paste and the hazelnut mousseline cream
Use a Mousse cake ring (adjustable in size) and set it to 15 cm (the size of the sponges). I like to use Acetate cake collar in the cake ring but it is not a must. They layers will be the following from bottom to top:
Sponge – 25 g Praline paste – 200 g Mousseline cream
Sponge – 25 g Praline paste – 200 g Mousseline cream
Sponge – 25 g Praline paste – 200 g Mousseline cream
So 4 layers of sponges, 3 layers of Praline paste and 3 layers of Cream. When you are building any cake, it is worth to measure the quantity of the cream filling by a Digital scale so each layer is filled with the same amount of cream. I recommend to use a piping bag to pipe the Mousseline cream, way easier and more neat than any other method.
Once the Hazelnut Praline cake assembled, leave it in the Mousse cake ring (adjustable in size) and let it set in the fridge over night. Next day, cover the side and top with the remaining cream and decorate the side with roasted & chopped hazelnut.
5. How to make chocolate shard decoration for this Hazelnut praline cake
The chocolate shard decoration is what makes this Hazelnut Praline cake a true celebration cake! It is actually a simple yet visually very attractive way to decorate any cake, once you tackle the chocolate tempering, it is eay peasy.
There are various methods to temper chocolate, for home bakers and with small batch of chocolate, I recommend the “seeding method” that is super easy and can be achieved with a microwave and thermometer, eg. Infrared thermometer gun. It might sound complicated and too scientific, but in fact it is really easy. Remember, you only have to learn how to temper chocolate once and after you can make beautiful chocolate decorations any time you wish! All you need to do is melt chocolate to a certain temperature then add more chocolate chips (that is called callet, it is already tempered and it is NOT the same as supermarket chocolate chip!!) into the melted chocolate – that will bring down your chocolate temperature to the so called working temperature. That´s it! If you can access couverture chocolate, the required temperatures are stated on the bag. In my case, for the Callebaut White chocolate (callets) I have to warm up the chocolate to 45C then cool it down to 28-29C by adding more chocolate.
Please check my hot chocolate bomb tutorial where I go in much more detail into the topic. Oh and why not try that recipe too?!
So once you have your tempered chocolate ready, spread chocolate over parchment paper in an even, thin layer with the help of a large Offset spatula, and roll up the parchment carefully. Place the rolled up chocolate into the fridge for 1hour. If you tempered the chocolate correctly, it should set in the fridge and once you unroll the parchment, the chocolate “sheet” should break up naturally into shards. How genius?! Love how easy and visually appealing this decoration is, try it!
Some other hazelnut recipes for you to try
Chocolate Hazelnut Praline Sable cookie – I cannot think of an easier, prettier, more delicious Christmas cookie than this Chocolate Hazelnut Praline Sable cookie! Buttery, sweet shortcrust cookies sandwiched together with the most delicious chocolate hazelnut praline filling! Recipe in here
Hazelnut Chocolate Bonbon – This home made Chocolate Hazelnut Bonbon recipe is literally a few minutes effort and will certainly impress everyone! Bonbons are the perfect bite size treats but also can be the most appreciated handmade gift! Recipe in here
Chocolate Hazelnut macaron – This Chocolate Hazelnut macaron recipe is a dream for chocolate and hazelnut lovers in a lovely, bite sized French macaron format. The macarons are filled with silky chocolate ganache and hazelnut paste with the most delicious natural nutty flavor. Recipe in here
Triple Hazelnut tart – This Triple hazelnut tart recipe is the most amazing French tartlet for hazelnut lovers but what makes it even more special is the gold chocolate disk decoration melted on top! Contrasting layers of melt in your mouth hazelnut Pâte Sablée tartlet shell, silky hazelnut ganache, and crunchy hazelnut. Recipe in here
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RECIPE CARD – Hazelnut Praline Cake
Hazelnut mousseline cream
- 375 g Whole milk 3% fat
- 75 g Granulated sugar
- 60 g Egg yolk approx. yolk of 3 eggs
- 20 g Corn starch
- 20 g AP flour
- 2 teaspoon Vanilla bean paste
- 80 g Unsalted butter room temperature soft – will be mixed into pastry cream straight after it is cooked
- 100 g Praline Paste
- 80 g Unsalted butter room temp soft – will be whipped into pastry cream once cream is cooled
- 80 g Hazelnut chopped
- 100 g Callebaut WhiteChocolate (callets) +7% (7g) tempering
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
Start with preparing pastry cream
- In a large enough bowl with the help of a Hand whisk, whisk together half of the sugar (50 g) and egg yolk until slightly fluffy
- Add corn starch, flour, and vanilla with until thoroughly incorporated and have a smooth paste
- Bring milk and the other half of the sugar (50 g) to boil in a saucepan on medium heat ,then remove it as soon as it starts simmering. Make sure it is simmering but not crazy boiling, see tips above
- Pour the warm milk over the egg yolk mixture slowly while whisking vigorously with a Hand whisk.
- Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook on medium heat for a few minutes until it thickens. Concretely it is approximately 1 min after the first boil. It might get lumpy first, don't worry just keep whisking and the cream will get smooth and glossy. It's worth to keep a good quality (so that the milk won't burn in it) small/medium sized saucepan for making pastry cream
- If in doubt, strain the pastry cream for a lump free, creamy end result
- Add in room temperature butter and mix with a Rubber spatula until completely incorporated. It is worth to add the butter in 3 stages and mix well after each addition.
- Pastry cream needs to completely cool down before using it for any dessert. Place the cream into a shallow bowl and cover the entire surface with plastic wrap to avoid skin forming on top
- Once pastry cream set, prepare the mousseline cream by whipping room temp butter first
- Whip in praline paste for 1-2 minutes
- Start whipping in the room temp pastry cream in 4 stages until cream reaches a stable yet fluffy texture. Do not over whip the mixture as it can become runny
- Pre-heat oven to 180 C / 356°F
- Cream room temp butter with icing sugar for a few minutes until it becomes pale and fluffy
- Mix in egg, one at a time and whip the mixture further
- Sift in flour & hazelnut & salt mixture, fold with a Rubber spatula until fully combined
- Let the sponge cool in the tray then cut out 4 x 15 cm circles
- Set your Mousse cake ring (adjustable in size) to 15 cm as the size of the sponges, use Acetate cake collar if you wish. Start building up the cake from bottom to top in the following order: sponge, praline paste, mousseline cream, sponge, praline paste, mousseline cream, sponge, praline paste, mousseline cream, sponge. Use a Digital scale to divide the cream and praline paste equally between the layers
- Let the cake set in the fridge overnight or minimum 4 hours
- Place the remaining cream into the fridge
- Carefully remove the Mousse cake ring (adjustable in size) and cake collar, spread a thin layer of mousseline cream on the side and top of the cake. Decorate the side with chopped nuts
- Temper Callebaut WhiteChocolate (callets) and spread it over a sheet of parchment paper in a thin and even layer then roll it up. Let it set in the fridge for 60 minutes then carefully start rolling the parchment out The chocolate should should naturally break into shards as you are rolling it out. Decorate the cake with the chocolate shards