This PUMPKIN HAZELNUT CRUNCH CAKE is over-the-top good and will be one of your new favorite fall desserts. All the FLAVORS OF FALL come together to create a fantastic and unusual cake that is perfect for all of your holiday celebrations. A moist, lightly spiced PUMPKIN CAKE is filled with a crispy HAZELNUT CHOCOLATE bar and then topped with a creamy WHITE CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN SPICE frosting. Yum!
I love fall. Everything about fall just makes me smile. And every year I can’t wait to bake with my FAVORITE FALL INGREDIENT: PUMPKIN!
The Moist Pumpkin Spice Cake
Every good cake begins with an incredibly good cake mix. And this one is INCREDIBLY GOOD! AND MOIST. This cake is made with pantry ingredients plus PUMPKIN PUREE.
Which is a pantry ingredient in my home.
This time of the year I always keep extra pumpkin on hand for FALL BAKING. Which means I have A LOT of pumpkin puree. That way when I need a pumpkin fix, there are no mad dashes to the store!
My requirements for a GOOD PUMPKIN SPICE CAKE is very simple, it must MOIST and LIGHTLY SPICED. I love pumpkin spice but I find I need it to be JUST RIGHT. This cake has all of the WARM SIGNATURE SPICES that are classic PUMPKIN SPICE: cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground ginger.
The Hazelnut Crunch Filling
So what makes this pumpkin hazelnut crunch cake DIFFERENT FROM ALL OTHER PUMPKIN CAKES out there? Well, this hazelnut nut crunch filling is just one of the things that makes this cake so great. Melted chocolate, chopped hazelnuts, and toasted rice cereal come together to create a unique cake filling. This is not your usual creamy cake filling. It is a BIG, THICK, CRISPY, HAZELNUT CHOCOLATE BAR that is sandwiched between the two cake layers.
However, keep in mind that it can make the cake a little tricky to cut when the chocolate sets up so make sure you have a nice sharp knife.
The White Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Frosting
Frosting makes or breaks a cake for me.
Have you ever had a cake with a heavenly cake base and then an overly thick, too sweet frosting? Straight on the side of the plate that frosting goes for me.
Well not this one.
I like my frostings to be LIGHT, AIRY, SOFT, CREAMY, and LIGHTLY SWEETENED. This frosting ticks all of those boxes and more. It begins with a creamy cream cheese and butter base before adding SIGNATURE PUMPKIN SPICE and WHITE CHOCOLATE.
The perfect flavor combinations that pairs perfectly with the pumpkin cake.
You probably didn’t know that PUMPKIN AND WHITE CHOCOLATE ARE LIKE PEANUT BUTTER and JELLY. But they totally are.
The perfect pair.
Pumpkin Hazelnut Crunch Cake Recipe Notes
“Naked” Cake Style
This recipe is made “naked style” which means there is NO ICING ON THE SIDES.
I have a confession to make.
I stink at frosting cakes. They rarely turn out for me. That is why I LOVE the “NAKED” STYLE CAKE because it LOOKS PERFECT.
Every. Single. Time.
However, if you prefer a more traditional cake then just double or triple the frosting recipe and you will have plenty of icing to completely surround the cake (or even add some on top of the chocolate hazelnut filling. Hmmm…..
Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch Filling Thickness
As I mentioned earlier, this filling is not your usual filling. You literally have a CRISPY CHOCOLATE BAR in the middle of your cake. And it is BIG! Feel free to play around with the filling a bit. The thinner the chocolate hazelnut crunch filling, the easier the cake will be to cut when the filling sets.
Or just go big and use all of the filling. I went BIG and NO REGRETS!
I tried SEVERAL METHODS to shaping the hazelnut crunch filling. FIRST, I tried spreading the filling in a 9 inch pan and let it harden before putting it on the cake. SECOND, I spread it directly on the cake while the filling was still warm. The edges were more symmetrical in the first method but I found I preferred to just spread it on the cake. The result was a more RUGGED EDGE but I think it added a little EXTRA CHARACTER to the cake.
HAZELNUTS are delicious but, unfortunately, they can be on the PRICEY side. Fortunately, this recipe called for ONLY 1/2 CUP of hazelnuts so look for the smallest bags of nuts at your local grocers. They are usually about 1/2 cup. Perfect for this recipe! For the 1/2 cup of hazelnuts I only paid $2.50!
Recommended Type of Chocolate
For THIS RECIPE I used SEMISWEET CHOCOLATE but you can use what ever you want. MILK CHOCOLATE, BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE, DARK CHOCOLATE, OR WHITE CHOCOLATE, they would all be wonderful in this recipe. Try a few and let me know what your favorite is!
Pumpkin Hazelnut Crunch Cake with White Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Frosting
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 3 cups all purpose flour
Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch Filling
- 1 bag semisweet chocolate chips (or chocolate of choice)
- 1 1/2 cups toasted rice cereal
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts finely chopped
White Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Frosting
- 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
- 2 tbsp whipping cream
- 1 stick salted butter room temperature and very soft
- 4 oz cream cheese room temperature and very soft
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground ginger
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg (under 1/8 tsp)
Make the pumpkin cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease two 9 inch round cake pans.
- In a large bowl combine the vegetable oil, eggs, sugar, and pumpkin puree.
- Mix until just combined with a hand held mixer.
- In a small bowl combine the rest of the dry ingredients and stir well (sift the dry ingredients if preferred).
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low speed for one minute and then medium speed for 2 minutes.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 33-38 minutes, until the tops are golden brown, the center is set and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.
- Allow to cool in the pan for about 30 minutes, then remove the cakes from the pans and allow to cool for another 30 minutes.
- Level the cakes if needed by cutting off the tops with a large serrated bread knife to create a level surface for the filling and icing.
Make the Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch Filling
- Line a 9 inch round cake pan with parchment paper with, edges hanging over the sides.
- In a medium, microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate chips.
- Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between, until the chocolate chips are melted and smooth.
- Add the toasted rice cereal and hazelnuts. Gently stir and fold until well combined.
- Spread 2/3 of the hazelnut crunch filling over one of the cooled cake layers and spread out evenly. Use 2/3 of the filling for a thinner filling, use all of it for a thicker filling. Note: the thicker the filling, the more difficult the cake will be to cut.
- Top with the second cake layer.
- Optional step: refrigerate the cake for about 10 minutes to allow the hazelnut crunch to set up a bit. Or just leave at room temperature for a softer, but easier to cut cake.
Make the White Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Frosting:
- In a small bowl add the white chocolate chips and cream.
- Microwave for about 30-45 seconds until the chocolate just begins to melt.
- Stir well until smooth and creamy. Set aside to cool.
- In a medium bowl combine the butter and cream cheese.
- Cream together with a handheld mixer until well combined.
- Add the cooled white chocolate sauce (make sure it's not hot) and mix well.
- Add the vanilla and mix well.
- Add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, ground ginger, and nutmeg. Mix with a handheld mixer until light and fluffy.
- Spread on the top of the cake for a "naked" cake style.