living the sweet life

Dark Chocolate Hot Fudge Cake with Nutella Mousse

Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday dear Sara
Happy birthday to meeeeeee

So I’m 25 years old. WHAT.

My birthday was two weeks ago and to celebrate myself, I baked a cake. For me. (And for friends because let’s be real, I shouldn’t eat an entire cake by myself.)

Trying to figure out what I wanted to make was stressful because this is actually the first time I’ve made myself a birthday cake (I think?) and there was all sorts of pressure in my head. The ideas I didn’t chose this time definitely will become a cake at some point, but this one just kind of stuck with me. I wanted a relatively easy cake that didn’t need a crazy amount of decorating time because I didn’t want to spend my ENTIRE birthday on a cake. Just part of it.


I ended up baking the cake, had lunch with my roommate, dessert at the restaurant I work at, watched the sunset by myself up the PCH, and then had drinks with friends! A good, low key and ideal way to ring in my birthday.

But back to this cake, because that’s what is important here. Growing up, I absolutely looooved Ferrero Rocher’s. One of my favorite treats, seriously. The amount of times my cousin and I would sit at the table after a huge family dinner and just pig out and make ourselves sick off them.. Too many times to count. They weren’t around for regular dinners, but anytime we had a large table set for all 24 of us for a holiday (particularly Thanksgiving), they were always there. And I always ate them.

Love them.

Anyway, so this cake. I probably should have spent a little more time prepping the mousse because it was still a bit too soft to ‘decorate’ with (as evidenced by it oozing out the sides), but I’ve made those adjustments below. The chocolate cake was delicious! I’ve never used dark cocoa powder before, and I definitely will be using it again in the future. I had made my own hot fudge sauce earlier that week, so I replaced some of the liquids of the original recipe with that and it just created a delicious, rich, and not too sweet cake. Perfect. As for the mousse, if I realized that it was always as easy as just two ingredients, I would have been making it that much sooner. My friends loved it and ate the leftover mousse with a spoon. And so did I.

Other than the time for the mousse to chill, this cake is low maintenance but BIG in flavor. This cake will definitely be making another appearance soon. Hopefully a little more put together, but I can’t make promises.

Dark Chocolate Hot Fudge Cake with Nutella Mousse

makes three 6-inch round layers

For the Cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup hot brewed coffee
1/2 cup hot fudge sauce
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

For the Mousse:
1 cup (~ 9 oz) Nutella
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

6-9 Ferrero Rocher’s, optional (but not really)

For the mousse: In a microwave safe bowl, add nutella. Microwave for 10-15 second intervals until nutella is easily stirred. In a large mixing bowl, whip heavy cream until soft peaks are formed. Gently fold whipped cream and nutella together. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. (the longer the better)

For the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Outline the three 6-inch cake pans on a sheet of parchment paper and cut out the rounds. Grease the bottom and sides of pans with butter. Put a parchment paper round in each pan, pressing down so it sticks to the butter. Sprinkle and coat the pan with cocoa powder (roughly 1 teaspoon). Tap out extra into next pan until all are coated.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add oil, buttermilk, coffee, hot fudge, eggs, and vanilla. Mix at medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl halfway through if needed. Split the batter evenly between the 3 cake pans. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh each pan to make sure they’re equal. The batter will be liquidy – don’t worry.

Bake for 20 minutes, check the cakes with a toothpick, and then rotate the pans in the oven. Bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until the toothpick comes out clean. Be careful not to over bake.

Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Use a knife and loosen the edges of the cake from the pan. Gently flip the pans and rest the cake layers face down on the wire rack. Let the layers cool completely.

To assemble the cake: If necessary, trim any doming off the cake to make sure layers are as flat as possible. Place first layer on a plate. Add about 1 cup of mousse (or however much you want), and gently spread it until about 1/2 an inch from the border. Add second layer and then more mousse. Add final layer and remaining mousse. You can keep it the rustic “naked” look or you can spread mousse around the outside of the cake. Keep cake refrigerated until ready to serve.

[source: cake adapted from here, mousse adapted from Bakers Royale]

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