Dark Chocolate Walnut Cake

This Dark Chocolate Walnut Cake has a sophisticated European vibe with ground walnuts and dark chocolate. It’s moist, not too sweet, and super delicious!

rich dark chocolate walnut cake

This chocolate walnut cake is a lovely little snack cake for all seasons

It’s moist, dense and sweet, but not too sweet. Bittersweet chocolate and good quality cocoa powder give a deep rich chocolate presence. Buttermilk and vanilla in the frosting brings out a whole different chocolate ‘personality’.  The original recipe calls for two layers, I like it better as one; it has a nice, casual, tea time vibe about it.

A slice of dark chocolate walnut cake

what you’ll need for this simple chocolate cake

  • bittersweet chocolate
  • cocoa powder
  • flour
  • butter
  • brown sugar
  • granulated sugar
  • confectioner’s sugar (for the frosting)
  • eggs
  • buttermilk
  • ground walnuts
  • baking soda
  • vanilla extract


dark chocolate walnut cake topped with crushed walnuts

This cake sits right at the top of my favorite cakes list

The deep dense chocolate goes really well with the strong walnut presence since both have slight bitter undertones. It makes for a very sophisticated flavor profile. The frosting is richly chocolate but fluffy, and makes a lovely contrast in texture.

chocolate walnut cake being sliced

I favor cakes that can be eaten at breakfast, or as a snack at tea time. Except for rare occasions like birthdays and holidays I don’t see the point of making anything specifically for the end of a meal. This cake qualifies for both, so its a real hero of a cake. But whenever you serve it, make sure to set a strong cup of black coffee down beside it.

Chocolate Walnut Cake on parchment paper

you can never have too many chocolate cake recipes!

3.46 from 96 votes

Dark Chocolate Walnut Cake

This Dark Chocolate Walnut Cake has a sophisticated European vibe with ground walnuts and dark chocolate, it's moist, not too sweet, and super delicious!
Course Dessert
Cuisine European
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Yield 12 servings
Calories 523kcal
Author Sue Moran



  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granualted white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup ground walnuts, measure them after grinding


  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • a few Tablespoons buttermilk, as needed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ground walnuts for garnish


  • Set oven to 350F
  • Butter and flour a 9-inch spring form pan.
  • Melt the chocolate on the defrost setting, or 50% power of your microwave. (Or over a bowl of simmering water)
  • Mix the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda into a small bowl along with the ground walnuts.
  • Cream the butter using a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  • Add both sugars and beat until fluffy.
  • Beat in eggs 1 at a time.
  • Beat in vanilla, then melted chocolate.
  • Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions each, beating just until blended after each addition.
  • Spread the batter into the pan and bake until a tester inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 35 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack.
  • For the icing, melt the chocolate as above and set aside. In a large bowl cream the butter and add in the sugar and cocoa powder, beating until smooth. Beat in 2 tablespoons of buttermilk and the vanilla. Beat in the melted chocolate. Thin with buttermilk if it's too stiff to spread nicely. This makes enough frosting to cover the cake with a thick layer, but I like it just on top.

Cook's notes

  • I think it would be fairly easy to make this cake gluten free, either with a good gluten free baking mix in place of the all purpose flour, or maybe even almond flour. If you eat gluten free you'll also love my Amazing Quinoa Chocolate Cake!
  • adapted from Bon Apetit 1995


Calories: 523kcal | Carbohydrates: 66g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 74mg | Potassium: 205mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 53g | Vitamin A: 539IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 2mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although theviewfromgreatisland.com tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    May 24, 2021 at 4:18 pm

    Sue, Can I substitute the buttermilk or is it essential for it to be this awesome?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      May 24, 2021 at 4:23 pm

      You can go with milk, or half and half, no problem.

  • Reply
    Lia Reynolds
    May 10, 2021 at 9:04 am

    Hi, is it 1/2 a cup and a stick of butter or just one stick? Thanks ??

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      May 10, 2021 at 9:59 am

      It’s just 1/2 cup, Lia, I clarified that.

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