Mocha Chocolate Cake

I love when birthdays are coming up in my family because, you guessed it, I get to make a cake. Unfortunately, this is the third year in a row that I won’t be with my dad on his birthday because I went back to school early again, but I still made him a cake. I asked him what kind of cake he wanted, knowing that he would of course say something that had to do with chocolate, and he asked for a mocha chocolate cake. So, that’s what I gave him. Happy birthday dad!

The actual cake layers are your typical chocolate cake. I loved this cake recipe because the inside was moist and decadent, but it was still dry enough to handle and frost easily. Plus, it didn’t dome too much, which is awesome. Then, it’s frosted with a mocha chocolate frosting. I made the frosting recipe myself, and I’m pretty proud of it. I wanted to make sure you could really taste the coffee, since there was very little coffee in the cake and none in the ganache.

So, in the frosting, I use cocoa powder to make it chocolatey, of course. Then, I also used instant espresso powder and actual brewed coffee. Plus, I used brewed coffee to brush on the tops of the cake layers to give it just a little extra boost of coffee flavor. I don’t really like coffee and I thought it tasted too coffee for me, but that’s exactly how I knew it was perfect. This really was an amazing cake. My mom approved of it, which says a lot. I don’t like coffee and even I liked it.

Overall, A+ cake. Great for a chocolate lover’s birthday, like me dads (Happy birthday dad!). Happy baking!

Mocha Chocolate Cake

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: one two-layer 8" cake; about 14 servings

A two-layer decadent mocha chocolate cake with a rich, creamy coffee frosting and a homemade chocolate ganache dripped around the sides.


  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup Dutch-processed cocoa, sifted
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp.baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • ¾ cup strong brewed coffee, hot
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 3½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. instant espresso powder
  • 2 Tbsp. brewed coffee, hot
  • 1+ Tbsp. milk
  • 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate
  • 3 oz. heavy whipping cream
  • ~2 Tbsp. brewed coffee, hot


    Make the cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two round 8-inch cake pans and place parchment on the bottoms.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, quickly mix together all the dry ingredients through the salt.
  3. In a large glass measuring cup, add the vegetable oil, buttermilk, coffee, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk together, then slowly pour into the mixer bowl while the mixer is on low speed and mix just until combined.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then flip out onto a wire rack to cool completely. For easiest assembly, wrap in plastic wrap (once cool) and place in the freezer to harden.
    Make the frosting:
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed. Add the cocoa powder, then 2 cups of the confectioners' sugar, one cup at a time.
  2. Mix in the espresso powder and vanilla, then the brewed coffee. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix well. If the frosting is still too thick, add one or more tablespoons of milk until you've reached the desired consistency.
    Make the ganache:
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream until it begins to simmer/boil. In the meantime, measure out the chocolate chips and place them in a small, heatproof bowl.
  2. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips, wait 30 seconds, then mix until the chocolate and cream are completely combined. Set aside or refrigerate until use.
    Assemble the cake:
  1. Place one cake layer on a cake round or stand. Brush the top of the cake layer with some hot brewed coffee. Place a dollop of frosting on top and spread to the edges. Place the second cake layer on top and brush again with some hot brewed coffee. Use almost all the remaining frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake.
  2. If you refrigerated the ganache, microwave for a few seconds, then spread a large amount on the top of the cake. Microwave the rest for about 15 seconds to thin it out, then place it in a plastic Ziploc bag. Cut off the tip of the bag and drip some down the sides of the cake all around the edges. Use a small spatula to smooth out the top of the cake again.
  3. Place the remaining frosting in a pastry bag with a star tip and pipe swirls around the top of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve, and afterwards too (ganache should always be refrigerated).
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Recipe adapted from Liv for Cake

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