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Chocolate, coffee liqueur layer cake with chocolate buttercream & hazelnut truffles


This decadent, delicious chocolate cake comes with all the extras to dazzle - hazelnut truffles, a ganache drizzle and lashings of coffee liqueur soaked into the cake and in the buttercream!

I've added some gold bling for it to be a worthy Christmas dinner centrepiece, with gold Christmas tree candles, edible gold shimmer powder dusted across top, and a little 23k gold leaf!

Whilst it looks like there are a lot of ingredients, and components, it is deceiving - it's actually a relatively simple cake to make. Break it into manageable steps, and stay organised. Both the truffles and the coffee liqueur syrup can be made ahead of time. The truffles could be enrobed in chocolate as well if you liked, which would give them a nice contrasting 'snap' when you bite into them, but simply rolling in the cocoa powder is fine also, the hazelnut centre will still give a good contrast. Roughly chopped hazelnuts would also be great sprinkled around the top of the cake to give more crunch.

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50g dark couverture chocolate in small uniform sized pieces

150g unsalted butter, chopped

250ml hot strong black coffee (1 cup)

200ml buttermilk (room temperature)

50g sour cream (room temperature)

350g caster sugar

75g brown sugar

2 large free range eggs, room temperature

1 large egg white

300g plain flour, sifted

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bi-carb soda

40g cocoa powder

pinch salt


½ cup hot water

½ cup caster sugar

½ cup Coffee liqueur like Kahlua

1 shot (30ml) Strong espresso coffee


250g unsalted butter

500g pure icing sugar

50g cocoa powder

100g dark couverture chocolate, melted

30ml espresso coffee (1 shot)

65ml coffee liqueur (eg. Kahlua) * or more to taste

½ tsp sea salt flakes


90g dark couverture chocolate

30g unsalted butter

1 tblsp thickened cream

20g liquid glucose (not essential, but will give more ‘drizzle’)


150g dark couverture chocolate

150g thickened cream

hazelnuts (1 per truffle)



Combine chocolate, butter and coffee in large microwave safe bowl, and melt on medium heat, stirring regularly until completely melted and combined (or melt in bowl over saucepan of simmering water, stirring).

With a whisk, add buttermilk and sour cream into the completely melted chocolate butter mix:

Stir in sugars til combined.

Stir in lightly beaten eggs til combined.

Fold in flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarb and salt (sifted together)

Portion cake mix into 2 equal quantities in baking paper lined cake tins (I used 20cm dia in the picture).

Bake at 170 deg C, until cooked (skewer comes out with some sticky crumbs on it when poked into centre, but not liquid).

Let cool in tins.


Bring sugar and water to boil, and simmer for 5 mins. Add coffee and liqueur. Cool.


Beat very softened (but not melted) butter briefly, til creamy

Add icing sugar ½ cup at a time, and beat well between each addition, to avoid graininess

Add melted chocolate, beat til combined

Add coffee liqueur, until you’re happy with the consistency. Add more if you like!

Add sea salt flakes


Place all ingredients in microwave safe bowl and heat until melted, stir to combine. Or heat in a bowl over a simmering saucepan of water.


Bring cream to boil, then combined with chocolate using a whisk. Cover with cling film touching the surface. When set, scoop teaspoons of ganache into your hand, and roll into a truffle ball, with a roasted hazelnut in the centre of the truffle. Roll into cocoa powder.


Cut rounded top off each cake to give a flat surface. Then cut each cake in half horizontally, so you have four layers of cake.

Place the first layer (the bottom of one of the cakes) on a plate or cake board, and drizzle cooled liqueur syrup over the top of the bottom layer, then smother with frosting, then place another layer on top. Repeat with each layer, drizzling each layer with syrup, and finish the top layer with the base of one of the cakes (upside down) facing upwards, so you have a nice even flat surface on the top of the cake. Cover cake with remaining buttercream frosting, top and sides, using a palate knife.

Refrigerate until cold and set.

Top with ganache drizzle, which should not be too hot, but warm enough to be fluid and drizzle down sides of the cake.

Refrigerate until set.

Place truffles on top of cake before or after refrigerating, your choice.

Cut cake using a hot knife. Run the knife from top of cake to base, and slide the knife out the bottom of the cake (rather than lifting it back up the top, and messing up the ganache).

Bring cake to room temperature before eating.


Replace coffee liqueur with other liqueur of choice .... orange liqueur like Grand Marnier or Cointreau are delicious with the chocolate/hazelnut combination.



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Read more, in 'frequently asked questions'

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