Dairy free, gluten free Nutella cake heaven

One of my favorite cakes growing up was Sarah Bernhardt: a dense almond cake with chocolate cream and topped with a chocolate glaze, named after the French actress of the same name. Tasting like chocolate covered marzipan, it was wonderfully rich and sweet. The only thing better than this chocolate covered cake was my aunt’s yellow cream covered cake: the same almond cake but covered in a thick cream made from egg yolks, sugar, and heavy cream–this cake is called Suksessterte in Norwegian, which translates to Success Tart. Whenever we asked her for the recipe, she would say she had lost it, though we always suspected she just wanted to keep it a secret.

After I moved to the States, my mom once looked at my handwritten recipe book and, in her Norwegian bluntness, exclaimed: “This isn’t Sarah Bernhardt! It’s the wrong cream! You have to change it. I’ll give you the real recipe.” And she was right: the cream I use in the States is one I’ve created. Since the original recipe uses raw egg, which are safe to eat in Norway but a salmonella poisoning hazard in the United States, I had to create a new recipe, one that was as similar to the original as possible.

A while ago, I was looking for almond meal and discovered hazelnut meal in the same section in the grocery store. I just had to buy it and had an epiphany: if I substituted hazelnut for almond, it should taste like Nutella! So this is that recipe.

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Ingredients for the cake

4 egg whites

1 1/2 C / 200 g powdered sugar

2 1/3 C / 200 g ground almonds/almond meal


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Prepare a standard size spring form pan. Whisk ingredients together and pour into pan. Using a spatula, even out the top. Bake 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick tested in the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely.

Ingredients for the cream

6 tbsp dairy free butter, softened

1 lb / 450 g icing sugar

1/2 C / 55 g cocoa

3 tbs strong coffee

1 1/2 tsp vanilla


Beat all ingredients until smooth. Spread evenly over the top and sides of the cake. Note: if using a softer vegan butter, such as Melt (what I used), consider using more icing sugar to compensate; the cream should be soft enough to spread but not runny. If it’s still too soft, place the cream in the fridge to harden a bit; stir again before spreading it on the cake.

Ingredients for the glaze

2/3 C / 1.5 dl icing sugar

3 tsp cocoa

Strong coffee


Mix icing sugar with cocoa. Add just enough coffee to make a liquid glaze. Pour the glaze on top of the cream and spread evenly. Decorate immediately, if desired. Store chilled, serve at room temperature. The cake freezes well, but if frozen with the cream, it may sweat a little when defrosted and not look as pretty, but it will taste equally delicious.  



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