Have you ever tried dipping pretzels in Nutella? My, oh my. If you have, you know that it’s sweet and salty heaven. These two flavors belong together, and I love the pairing so much that I decided to make a cake recipe out of them: layers of pretzel-flavored cake with Nutella buttercream, topped with Nutella ganache and pretzel bits for added crunch. I was a little skeptical of whether or not I’d be able to pull these flavors off in cake form, but it totally worked!
Let’s talk about this pretzel-flavored cake, cause you’re probably wondering how that’s done. I essentially used the same method as my Milk & Cereal Cake – ground up some salted pretzels into a fine crumb with a food processor, whisked them together with the dry ingredients, and added them right into the cake batter. Surprisingly, it worked! The cake has a wonderful flavor of salted pretzel, yet it’s still cakey, tender, and sweet. It even smells like pretzel when you’re baking it! The little tiny flecks of pretzel in the cake crumb end up flavoring it perfectly without going stale or getting lost in the sweetness of the cake.
Next, I whipped up some Nutella buttercream for filling and frosting these pretzel cake layers. I’m not gonna lie, this stuff is so tempting. I found myself dipping the extra pretzels into it along the way and I feel like I could write a whole separate post about how delicious that is! It’s silky smooth and the chocolate hazelnut flavor of Nutella really shines in this recipe. It’s not subtle at all, nor is it too over-the-top in sweetness. I want to try this stuff with my Chocolate Cake recipe next!
To take this cake beyond, I added a Nutella ganache drip and plenty of crushed pretzels for extra crunch. The Nutella ganache uses the same method as any chocolate ganache: bring some heavy whipping cream to a scant boil, pour it over the Nutella, and whisk it until smooth. It works beautifully as a drip, and I think it’s the best tasting ganache of all time. Then again, I’m really just a sucker for Nutella.
This cake recipe is a little non-traditional when it comes to flavor, but it is so delicious! If you’re a fan of pretzels dipped in Nutella and salty-sweet flavor combos in general, you’re going to love this cake. If you’re not sure if you’re a fan of pretzels dipped in Nutella, go drop everything and try it right now. You will not regret it!
Sweet & Salty Pretzel Nutella Cake
Layers of salty-sweet pretzel cake paired with decadent Nutella buttercream, Nutella ganache, and pretzel bits.
- 1 1/2 Cups (70g) salted pretzels (equals about 2/3 Cup when finely ground)
- 2 1/4 Cups (220g) cake flour, sifted before measuring
- 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 Cup (226g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 3/4 Cups (358g) granulated white sugar
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 Cup (112g) sour cream, room temperature
- 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 Cup (300ml) whole milk, room temperature
- 2 Cups (452g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 7 Cups (840g) powdered sugar
- 1 Cup (300g) Nutella
- 4 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 Tbsp whole milk, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 Cup (300g) Nutella
- 3/4 Cup (180ml) heavy whipping cream
Make the Pretzel Cake
Preheat the oven to 350˚F and prepare three 6-inch cake pans or two 9-inch cake pans by spraying the sides with cooking spray and fitting a parchment or wax paper circle to the bottom of each pan.
In a food processor, grind the salted pretzels into fine crumbs. Keep in mind that 1 1/2 Cups of whole pretzels equals about 2/3 cups of finely ground crumbs. Place the ground pretzels into a medium sized bowl and add the sifted cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer (a handheld mixer works fine too!), cream the butter for on high for two minutes until it's light and fluffy. Add in sugar and continue to mix on high for another two minutes, scraping down the bowl and paddle as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix for one minute on high, scraping down the bowl and paddle once more.
With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the milk slowly and mix until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and give it a few stirs to make sure there are no lumps (without over-mixing). The batter will be slightly thick, but pourable.
Pour batter evenly into prepared cake pans (no more than 2/3 of the way full) and bake for 30-35 minutes. They're done when they spring back to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pan for five minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack for an additional few hours of cooling. Make sure they're entirely room temperature before applying any frosting.
Make the Nutella Buttercream
With a hand mixer or paddle attachment on your stand mixer, cream the butter on medium-high until it’s creamy and light in color, about 5 minutes.
Add the sifted powdered sugar a few cups at a time, scraping down after each addition and making sure each cup is fully incorporated before adding the next one. Add the Nutella and beat on med-high for a full minute. Add vanilla, milk, and salt and mix on medium-low for another minute until fully incorporated.
Make the Nutella Ganache
Measure Nutella into a heatproof bowl and set aside. In a saucepan over medium-high, heat the heavy whipping cream until small bubbles form (just before the start of a rolling boil), stirring constantly with a whisk. Once the cream begins to boil, remove the pan from the heat and pour the cream over the Nutella. Let sit for about 30 seconds before whisking together until the consistency is uniform and well blended. Let it cool to room temperature before using on the cake.
Once the Pretzel Cakes have cooled completely, use a cake leveler to torte them before filling and frosting with the Nutella Buttercream. To create the design pictured, create a smooth Nutella Buttercream finish and add salted pretzel bits around the bottom third of the cake.
Place the cake in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before dripping with Nutella ganache (here are some drip cake tips for success if you need them!), then place the cake back into the refrigerator for another 5-10 minutes to let the Nutella ganache set up. Finish by piping swirls of Nutella Buttercream around the top edge of the cake with Wilton Tip 1M and add more salted pretzels wherever you'd like!
Make ahead tips:
- The pretzel cake recipe can be made ahead and stored at room temperature, covered tightly in plastic wrap, for one day. Alternatively, you can cover with plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to two months before thawing to room temperature.
- The Nutella buttercream can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for one day. Alternatively, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. When you’re ready to use it, bring it back to room temperature and re-whip with your stand mixer to bring it back to piping/frosting consistency.
- The Nutella ganache can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two weeks. When you’re ready to use it as a drip, microwave it in 10 second increments, stirring after every interval until your ganache is room temperature and uniform in consistency.
Did you make this recipe? I want to know how it went! Leave a comment below and be sure to tag @sugarandsparrowco on Instagram to show me your cake creation. I love to see my recipes out there in the world!