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White chocolate layer cake with hazelnut espresso buttercream is a cake worthy of a celebration! recipe via itsybitsykitchen.com #cake #layercake

White Chocolate Layer Cake with Hazelnut Espresso Buttercream

White chocolate layer cake with hazelnut espresso buttercream is a cake worthy of a celebration!

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Chilling time 8 hours
Total Time 9 hours
Servings 8
Author Kelsie


Cake layers:

  • 6 ounces white chocolate finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 16- to 18-ounce box white cake mix
  • 1 cup whole milk at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature

Hazelnut espresso buttercream:

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons Frangelico
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 to 5 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup very finely chopped toasted hazelnuts + additional hazelnuts for decorating if desired

Dark chocolate espresso ganache drip:

  • 4.5 ounces dark chocolate finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream*
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder


Cake layers:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 8-inch cake pans with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper, spray the paper with cooking spray, and set pans aside.
  2. Combine the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 15-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until mixture is melted and smooth. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat on low speed with an electric mixer until just combined. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and beat to combine. Turn mixer to medium speed and beat for 2 minutes. Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and bake 28 to 32 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
  4. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then carefully invert onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.


  1. Beat butter on medium speed until very smooth. Add the Frangelico, espresso powder, and salt and beat 1 minute more. Add 5 cups of powdered sugar and mix on low speed until combined. Beat in 1 tablespoon of milk to combine. Turn mixer to high speed and beat for 3 minutes, until very light and fluffy. If frosting is too thick, add additional milk or cream. If it’s too thin add additional powdered sugar.


  1. Transfer about 1 cup of the frosting to a small mixing bowl and fold in the chopped hazelnuts. This will be your filling.
  2. If your cake layers have domed, use a serrated knife to trim them so they’re even. Place one of the layers on a cake stand and spread the filling into an even layer over the top. Top with remaining cake layer. Apply a thin coat of frosting to the outside of the cake, then refrigerate to set, about 30 minutes. (This is your crumb coat and will prevent cake crumbs from getting in the frosting on the final layer.)
  3. Spread remaining frosting over the crumb coat.
  4. Refrigerate cake for at least 8 hours, or overnight.


  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a large bowl. Place the heavy cream in a small saucepan set over medium heat and warm the cream until it just begins to steam. Stir in the espresso powder, then pour the warm cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 3 minutes. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Transfer the ganache to a reusable plastic piping bag and snip off the tip (or a large zip-top plastic bag and snip off one of the corners, or a plastic squeeze bottle).
  2. Take cake out of the fridge and gently squeeze a circle of ganache around the top edge of the cake, applying a little extra pressure at certain points to create drips. Carefully spread the remaining ganache over the top of the cake. Top with chopped hazelnuts, if desired. Refrigerate to set the ganache, then slice the cake and serve.

Recipe Notes

*This was exactly the right amount of heavy cream for my ganache drip—I used Trader Joe’s dark chocolate. Depending on the brand of chocolate you use, you made need a little more or less heavy cream; you want the ganache to be thin enough to drip nicely down the cake but not so thin that it runs. If you use milk or white chocolate, you’ll most likely need heavy cream.