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Rich chocolate cake flavored with coffee and topped with a creamy coffee buttercream.
If you are a coffee lover, today’s cake was absolutely made for you. Because as a self-proclaimed coffee enthusiast, this cake, which came to us right at the beginning of quarantine life, became entirely housed in OUR home as I was unable to take it to a social gathering it was made for.
So. Needless to say… Probably 75% of this cake wound up in my personal belly. And I have no regrets.
Since this post is a part of #SpringSweetsWeek, I can’t go on without saying a gigantic THANK YOU to Door County Coffee for providing me with coffee for this incredible cake.
They sent us LOADS of coffee, which we have been slowly working our way through everyday. They have a line of “classic” flavors (like black & tan) and some more interesting ones (like brownie batter).
We’ve loved everything we’ve tried so far, and we MEGA thank them for fueling our quarantine coffee consumption over the last 2 weeks!
Before I go on about exactly what this cake entails, I will tell you that you’ve seen this cake before a couple times. If you’re a regular around here, you know I am the world’s biggest fan of using a recipe in many different forms.
That said, we originally used this chocolate cake recipe back in my dark chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting. We used it again in my chocolate bundt cake from this past winter. It’s a solidly perfect chocolate cake recipe, so mess with it we will not!
My original chocolate cake recipe calls for coffee, but for today’s mocha cake recipe, we’re taking that coffee and we’re compressing it down down down into a more concentrated form of the same coffee.
Much like we’ve done with a champagne reduction in my champagne layer cake and a Guinness reduction in my Guinness cupcakes, we’re going to start with a lot of coffee (keep reading) and bring it down to 1 and 1/4 cup total.
Depending on how much coffee flavor you’d like going on in your cake will determine how much coffee you’re starting with, so let’s work backwards.
I wanted a decent coffee flavor but I also knew I would be getting a good amount of coffee flavor from the coffee buttercream, so I brewed 32oz of coffee and went from there.
Wondering how we prefer to make coffee? A French press has been our coffee love language for a long time now. No other way! And this particular press makes up to 34oz!
I took my 32oz of coffee, poured it into a saucepan, and boiled it down to 1 and ¼ cup. Actually, back track, I boiled it down a little too far down to a smidge more than 1 cup, so I just added a little water back in to bring the total amount of liquid to 1 and ¼ cup.
This concentrated coffee gives the chocolate cake its mocha essence and turns it into a coffee flavored cake quite easily. The flavor is not overpowering, but it’s definitely there. Subtle yet deep. It’s lovely!
The mocha cake frosting, though, is where the real love is, my friends. This stuff was so good, we couldn’t stop sampling it, and I almost ran out of what I needed to actually decorate the cake. Oops!
So THIS COFFEE BUTTERCREAM (!!!!).
Y’all. You need this on everything from here on out. Maybe even your morning cup (ok, maybe that’s too far).
It’s super simple– it’s based on my classic vanilla buttercream recipe, but instead of using milk/cream for the liquid, we’re using straight up coffee. I just went with straight brewed coffee, but if you’re feeling saucy, go ahead and make more concentrated coffee for this step. Totally your preference!
You’ll just want to make sure you use cooled coffee, otherwise your precious coffee buttercream will curdle. And we definitely don’t want that!
The combo of the chocolate mocha cake + the smooth coffee buttercream frosting is very truly a coffee lover’s dream. This mocha cake was one of those cakes we kept taking bites of and saying “oh my gosh, it’s SO GOOD.” We just couldn’t stop.
And with a cup of coffee on the side? I mean, there’s no better combo.
I am such a fan of layer cakes, because they’re so pretty. And they’re SO fun to customize on the outside, even if you just want to keep it super simple.
You may choose to leave this cake plain or even “naked,” but as you can see, I chose some chopped chocolate as my decor along with some simple coffee buttercream poofs on top.
Garnish like I did with finely chopped chocolate, chocolate shavings, chocolate covered espresso beans, chocolate (or otherwise brown) sprinkles, or whatever sort of garnish that tickles your fancy and screams “mocha.”
You can really do no wrong on the outside when the inside is full of so much chocolate + coffee flavor. This is a dessert for the coffee dessert books.
Coffee lovers… UNITE! I can’t wait for you fellow lovers to try it!
Mocha Cake with Coffee Buttercream
- 3 to 4 cups (720-960mL) brewed strong coffee we prefer to use a French press
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (200g) packed brown sugar
- 2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup (69g) Dutch processed cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- ½ cup (120g) vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup (227g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 4 to 5 cups (480-660g) powdered sugar
- ¼ to ⅓ cup (60-80mL) strong coffee cooled
- pinch of salt
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the brewed coffee to a boil and allow to simmer until it reaches 1 and ¼ cup (4 cups will take about 20 to 25 minutes).
- If you take it down too low, add water to bring level back up to 1 and ¼ cup. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC). Grease and flour (or use homemade cake release) two 8-inch round cake pans. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract until completely combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the coffee, and whisk or stir the batter until everything is combined.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 28-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out mostly clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire cooling rack before assembling.
- In a medium size bowl with a handheld mixer or in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until smooth (about 3 minutes).
- Decrease mixer speed to low. Add powdered sugar, cooled coffee, and salt. Increase mixer speed to to high and beat until completely combined (approximately 2-3 minutes). If frosting is too thick, add more liquid to desired consistency. If it is too thin, add more powdered sugar.
ASSEMBLE THE CAKE
- Trim cooled cake layers to create a flat surface. You can do this with a large serrated knife or a cake leveler. I sliced each of my layers into two, so I had 4 layers of cake. Place one layer on a plate or cake stand and cover the top with coffee buttercream. Spread evenly with an offset spatula.
- Place next layer on top, cut surface down, continuing until you've used all of your cake layers. For a sturdier cake, refrigerate at this point for about 10 minutes.
- When cake is slightly chilled, remove from refrigerator and spread more frosting on the top and around the sides. Decorate with chopped chocolate, if desired. Serve. Leftovers stay fresh, covered tightly, at room temperature up to 5 days and in the refrigerator up to 1 week.
- Make ahead: prepare cakes and frosting up to 1 day in advance. Cover cakes tightly and keep at room temperature or in the refrigerator until ready to assemble. Refrigerate prepared frosting in an airtight container until ready to use. Unfrosted cake layers may be frozen, wrapped tightly, up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before assembling. Frosted cake can be frozen, wrapped tightly, up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.