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Chocolate Hazelnut Torte with Spent Grain Flour

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte with Spent Grain Flour

For this recipe, I partnered with Grain4Grain.

This Chocolate Hazelnut Torte is a twist on a traditional walnut torte, layered with a light spent grain and hazelnut sponge, whipped cream, and a fluffy chocolate hazelnut ermine frosting.

What is Spent Grain Flour?

Spent grain is the grain left after the mashing process in brewing. During mashing, the grain is steeped in hot water, and the starches are broken down into simpler sugars and then removed. The spent grain left behind consists mostly of proteins and fibers, and is alcohol-free because it is removed before fermentation. Spent grain is often thrown away. 

Grain4Grain is a company that upcycles spent grain from microbreweries, keeping it out of landfills and turning it into a healthy flour for baking. Grain4Grain’s flours are low in carbs and high in fiber, protein, and essential minerals. It is ideal for low-carb baking, or even just to make a sugary dessert a bit healthier.

Ingredients for the Chocolate Hazelnut Torte

Grain4Grain Barely Barley Spent Grain Flour – This is a great recipe to use for spent grain flour, because a nut torte often does not contain any wheat flour. Instead, the whipped eggs in the cake provide all the body and leavening it needs. Spent grain flour is low in gluten and simple carbs, and has a deep, earthy flavor that makes it a good substitute for nuts.

Hazelnuts – You can substitute any other nut in this recipe. If you would like for it to be nut-free, you can substitute an additional 1/2 cup of spent grain flour.

Separated Egg Whites and Yolks – The eggs need to separated for this torte. You will whip the egg whites first, but add them in last to add volume and leavening to the batter. You’ll beat the yolks with the sugar, which will also make the batter fluffier and lighter.

Hazelnut Liqueur – If you don’t have this or don’t want to use it, substitute 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

Cornstarch – The cornstarch is the thickener for the pudding that you’ll use in the ermine frosting. You can substitute 3 tablespoons of flour if you’d rather.

Cocoa Powder – I recommend using dutch process cocoa because it has the best flavor.


Chocolate Hazelnut Torte with Spent Grain Flour

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte with Spent Grain Flour

Recipe Notes for the Torte

  • Whip the egg whites prior to mixing up the cake batter. You can store them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them. 
  • You will beat the egg yolks and sugar for this cake much longer than usual. As you continue beating on high speed for between 1-3 minutes, the mixture will turn pale yellow, increase in volume, and thicken to the consistency of a thin pudding.
  • Make sure to switch to a spatula to stir in the flour. This will help keep the egg whites from deflating.
  • To fold in the whipped egg whites, use a large rubber spatula. Add 1/3 of the egg whites at first, and use the spatula to gently turn the batter over on top of the egg whites. Repeat this motion, sometimes starting from the middle of the batter, and sometimes starting from the edge of the bowl, scraping it to make sure all of the batter gets mixed in. Repeat with the remaining egg whites. Fold until there are no longer any obvious white streaks, but be careful not to stir too quickly or overmix, because this will deflate the batter.

Recipe Notes for the Frosting

  • When making the pudding, be sure to stir the cornstarch-and-water slurry right before adding it in. The cornstarch has a tendency to settle on the bottom.
  • After the pudding begins to boil, whisk constantly so that it won’t burn.
  • Let the pudding cool completely before you make the frosting, or it will melt the butter. Also make sure that the butter is well-softened, or the frosting may be lumpy. 
  • If you don’t have a turntable to use when cutting the cakes in half, place them on an upside-down cake pan or plate. This will make it easier to see where you are cutting without a plate rim getting in the way.

For more recipes that use spent grain flour, try my Chocolate Peanut Butter Skillet Cookie or my Gingerbread-Spiced Apfelkuchen.


Chocolate Hazelnut Torte with Spent Grain Flour

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte with Spent Grain Flour

Prep Time 50 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Cooling Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 55 mins
Course Dessert
Servings 24 Slices


For the Torte:

  • 1 1/2 cups Barely Barley Spent Grain Flour (180 g)
  • 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts (75 g) (or substitute additional 1/2 cup spent grain flour)
  • 1 tablespoon, 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 large egg whites
  • 1/4 cup sugar (50 g)
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar (150 g)
  • 1 tablespoon hazelnut liqueur or 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk

For the Chocolate Hazelnut Ermine Frosting:

  • 1 1/2 cups milk (355 ml)
  • 1 cup sugar (200 g)
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa powder (37 g)
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch (28 g)
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened (340 g)
  • 1 cup chocolate hazelnut spread (295 g)

For Assembly:

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream (355 ml)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped hazelnuts (150 g) (optional)


Make the Torte:

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C) and spray two 9-inch cake pans with nonstick spray. In a medium bowl, combine the spent grain flour, ground hazelnuts, baking powder, and salt. Stir until fully combined.
  • In a large bowl, with an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. Continue to mix, adding the 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, until the egg whites form stiff peaks. Store the whipped egg whites in the refrigerator until ready to add.
  • In a large bowl, with an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and 3/4 cup sugar on high until the mixture is pale yellow and has a pudding-like consistency, about 1-3 minutes. On low speed, mix in the hazelnut liqueur or vanilla extract and the milk.
  • Switch to a baking spatula and sprinkle half the flour mixture over the batter, stirring with the spatula until just combined. Repeat with the second half of the flour. Add half of the whipped egg whites, folding them into the batter with the spatula until just combined. Repeat with the second half of the egg whites, folding until there are no more white streaks, but being careful not to overmix.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake at 350° F (180° C) for about 22-25 minutes, or until the cakes are lightly browned on top and spring back a little to the touch. Allow the cakes to cool for at least 45 minutes before assembly.

Make the Frosting:

  • In a 2-qt saucepan, whisk together the milk, sugar, and cocoa powder. In a separate cup, stir together the water and cornstarch until well combined. Set this aside and cook the milk mixture over low heat until the sugar dissolves and it begins to boil. Add the cornstarch mixture and whisk thoroughly. Continue to cook, whisking continuously, until the mixture thickens into a pudding. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool for at least 45 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the softened butter until it is slightly fluffy, with no lumps. Add the chocolate hazelnut spread and mix again until it is fully incorporated. Next, add about 1/3 of the cooled chocolate pudding and mix on medium speed until the frosting begins to look like a fluffy pudding. Repeat twice more with the remaining pudding, scraping the sides of the bowl so the frosting is mixed thoroughly.


  • Add the heavy cream to a large bowl and use an electric mixer to whip the cream on high speed until it becomes fluffy. Chop the hazelnuts.
  • Cut your cakes into 2 layers, using a long, thin knife and rotating the cake as you go. You will end up with a total of 4 layers. Place a cake layer on your serving plate, then cover it with 1/4 of the chocolate frosting. Use a spatula to spread the frosting out to the edges of the cake. Sprinkle some of the chopped hazelnuts over the frosting, then top with 1/3 of the whipped cream. Repeat these steps with the remaining cake, frosting, hazelnuts and whipped cream. Top the final cake layer with the chocolate frosting and hazelnuts only.
  • This cake should be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
Keyword cake, chocolate, frosting, hazelnut, nutella, spent grain flour, torte