Chocolate Overload Cake with Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting

overhead shot of a chocolate overload cake


This recipe for chocolate overload cake was first published on The Culinary Jumble in November, 2016. The recipe and blog post have been amended, but the images remain the same. 

Although this chocolate overload cake might look pretty, it caused me a more than a few hair-raising moments along the way. The pressure was on: this one had to be good because it was my 12 year old son’s birthday cake. Why is it that when something is important, everything goes wrong, especially when you’re baking for guests? 

I am somewhat of a procrastinator and baking is no exception. Of course I left it to the last minute. Like you do when it’s important. Not. Scouring Pinterest with increasing desperation, I came across a delicious-looking chocolate mint cake by The Sweetest Menu. It grabbed my attention because it had a luscious dark sponge you could almost taste just by looking at it. The recipe intrigued me, too:  it asked for oil instead of butter. It also required adding hot water right at the end just before baking.


overhead shot of a chocolate overload cake


Up for a challenge, I set to work with my eight year old (who all of a sudden wants to help me bake – how cool is that?). Everything was plain sailing until adding the water. It looked so terrifyingly wrong that I seriously doubted it was going to work. I also realised at the last minute that I hadn’t added the coffee (I always use coffee in chocolate cakes and was going to add it into the hot water). So, with a heavy heart, I shoved the pans into the oven not expecting a great deal.

How wrong can a girl be? How wrong? The sponge has to be one of the best I’ve ever had. It was a beautiful rich, dark hue (just as anticipated) and was incredibly moist. It tasted heavenly. 


side view of a slice of chocolate overload cake


Then, there was the frosting for my chocolate overload cake. First the good news: I decided on a Nutella cream cheese frosting, and I tell you something, I don’t think I ever want to go back to fudge! Dee-vine! The bad news:  I had wanted to make a “naked” cake, where there is just a hint of frosting, topped with a drip ganache.

Well, the drip idea went out of the window when I couldn’t make the top part of the cake anywhere near flat (I know you are supposed to cut the whole top bit off but who in their right mind wastes cake. Come on). The end result would have been more torrential downpour than drip.


side view of a slice of chocolate overload cake


So, I settled for just the naked look, only I just couldn’t get it to look right at all. Absolutely dejected, I ended up going for a thick coating of frosting with a swirly pattern instead. After spending hours decorating the cake and still not satisfied, I finally left it alone and slunk off up to bed.

However, on looking at the cake the following morning with fresh eyes, I was actually pleasantly surprised.

I am sure you don’t need me to tell you that this is not a healthy cake. The amount of chocolate precariously balanced on top of it is frankly obscene, let’s be real here. I also feel a little guilty when using Nutella in shameless quantities. But you know what? That’s how my newly 12 year old wanted it to be, and so I have no regrets. And if you make this for someone you love – you won’t either!

This is a huge cake and will provide 10-14 slices, depending on how large they are.


Chocolate Overload Cake

Course Cake
Cuisine American



  • 280g flour (see note 1)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla sugar (see note 2)
  • 80g cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • teaspoons baking soda
  • 300g white sugar
  • 90g brown sugar
  • 250ml milk (see note 3)
  • 180ml vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 250ml hot water (see note 4)


  • 150g butter (softened)
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 200g Nutella
  • 250g icing sugar


  • Any chocolate or candy you like (and as much as you want)


  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (230°F) and line and/or grease two 8" pans.
  • In a large bowl, sift the flour, vanilla sugar, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda. Stir in the white and brown sugar.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the milk, oil and eggs until well combined.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold together. Slowly add the hot water (it should be recently boiled) and stir until everything comes together. Don't overmix, there will still be a few lumps left in the batter (also note that the batter is supposed to be runny, so don't panic!).
  • Divide between the two prepared pans as equally as you can and then bake side by side for around 30-35 minutes. The cakes are ready when they bounce back when gently pushed on the top, and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and leave the cakes in the pans for around 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • In the meantime, prepare the frosting. Beat the butter and cream cheese together until light and smooth, then add the Nutella. Finally add as much icing sugar as is needed to achieve a thick frosting consistency.
  • To assemble the cake: Carefully slice off the tops of both cakes (if they are uneven). On the flat side of one of the cakes, smooth over some of the frosting (enough to give a nice coverage). Place the other cake on top and gently push down.
  • If you'd like a super smooth finish, crumb coat the cake. Leave the crumb coat to harden (about 20 minutes in the fridge) and then add a second thin layer of frosting, using it to cover any imperfections or holes, especially between the two cakes. Again, leave it to set a while. Finally, add the last, thick layer of frosting all over the cake, and finish off by using a small palette knife to make swirly shapes.
  • If you are not bothered about crumbing the cake, just smooth the frosting all over the cake, making a pretty pattern (as mentioned above).
  • Pile any chocolate or candy you like on top. Add this while the frosting is still soft and not set. Leave in the fridge for a while for the frosting to harden completely (I left mine overnight). Cut into slices and serve. Enjoy!


  1. The original recipe called for regular all-purpose flour, but you can substitute with a straight swap of spelt flour, without noticing a great difference. 
  2. I used vanilla sugar in this recipe. Substitute this for 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract if you prefer.
  3. The original recipe called for buttermilk but I used 2% milk.
  4. The original recipe called for hot water, but I'd planned to add one tablespoon of instant coffee - I would recommend adding it as it intensifies the chocolate flavour.



Other Nutella recipes you might like (click on the images):

a picture of a kladdkaka with a slice removed a Nutella doughnut with a huge bite taken out of it picture of Nutella babka facing front with a slice cut




Chocolate Overload Cake with Nutella Cream Cheese FrostingChocolate Overload Cake with Nutella Cream Cheese FrostingChocolate Overload Cake with Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting

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