Mocha Cake

For New Year’s Eve Matt requested a decadent chocolate cake. I debated a couple of different frosting options (chocolate, vanilla, and even peanut butter) before deciding that the best complement would be coffee buttercream and dark chocolate ganache. Thus, the mocha cake was born. I definitely need to invest in some proper cake decorating tools, but, looks notwithstanding, this cake was amazing.

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The chocolate cake base is an adaption of the classic Hershey’s cake. I’ve been using it for years and it never disappoints. It’s perfectly chocolatey and amazingly moist. For the buttercream, I went with an American buttercream since it is a bit less finicky than my favored Swiss meringue. I added brewed coffee to get a subtle flavor and a few drops of food coloring for color (though next time I would go without). The ganache is a classic dark chocolate ganache that was added between layers as well as the top to give it an extra boost of chocolate. And for the garnish, I tempered some chocolate and made some chocolate covered coffee beans. These are tasty on their own but do pack some serious caffeine – we learned the hard way that it’s not wise to eat them before bed!

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Check out the recipe below and let me know if you give it a shot!

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Mocha Cake

  • Difficulty: medium
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Chocolate Cake

This recipe is adapted from Hershey’s and produces three 9″ cakes.

  • 3 oz dark chocolate – I use Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips, but feel free to use the chocolate of your choosing. Semi-sweet or milk chocolate will yield a sweeter cake.
  • 1 cup freshly brewed coffee, hot 
  • 1 cup buttermilk 
  • ½ cup canola oil 
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature 
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract 
  • 2 cups all purpose flour 
  • 2 cups sugar 
  • ¾ cup Dutch process cocoa powder – I use Ghirardelli 100% cocoa, but any cocoa powder will work
  • 2 tsp baking soda 
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 heaping tsp coarse kosher salt 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour cake pans.  
  2. Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl. Pour the hot coffee over it and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Stir together until smooth.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, canola oil, eggs and vanilla. 
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt on low until combined. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the buttermilk mixture. Increase the speed to medium and beat until combined, 20-30 seconds. 
  5. With the mixer running on low, slowly pour the coffee/chocolate mixture into the batter and mix until just combined. Give the batter a few turns by hand with a spatula to make sure everything is well incorporated. 
  6. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes. 

Chocolate Ganache

  • 8 oz dark chocolate chips
  • 8 oz heavy whipping cream
  1. Place chocolate in small bowl
  2. Heat cream in microwave or on stovetop until simmering – do not let boil.
  3. Pour cream over chocolate and let sit for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Stir until smooth.

Note: ganache will thicken as it cools. Allow to cool to your desired consistency. For this cake, will want it to be spreadable and not overly thick.

Coffee Buttercream

  • 1.5 C butter 
  • 4-4.5 C powdered sugar, sifted 
  • 3oz brewed coffee, cooled 
  • 2 T heavy cream
  1. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, add butter and beat on high until light and fluffy (~5 minutes).
  2. Sift in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating for 2-3 minutes after each addition (this will help keep the icing from becoming grainy).
  3. Once all powdered sugar has been incorporated, add coffee and cream and beat on high for 5-10 minutes until smooth and fluffy.

Note: the buttercream may break and appear curdled after the addition of the liquid. This can happen because buttercream is an emulsion and we’re incorporating a lot of liquid into the fat – sometimes more than it can handle. Don’t worry! Continue to mix on high and it will come back together. This happens to me all the time and, without fail, a few additional minutes is all it takes to bring the buttercream back together.

Assembly

  1. If cakes are very domed, level-off the tops with a serrated knife.
  2. Place one cake on plate or cake stand.
  3. Spread ~1/3 cup of buttercream on the cake and drizzle 1/3 of the ganache over the top. If ganache is runny, pop in the fridge or freezer for 5 minutes to allow it to set.
  4. Place second cake on top of ganache and repeat step 3.
  5. Place third cake, top down on top and spread a thin crumb coat of buttercream on top and sides of cake.
  6. Place cake in freezer for 10-15 minutes to allow crumb coat to set.
  7. Frost cake with remaining buttercream.
  8. Drizzle remaining ganache on top and garnish with chocolate covered coffee beans, if desired.

 

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