Years ago, my mom discovered the best chocolate cake recipe anyone in our family ever had, and for years we’d make it just because. No birthdays necessary. It was the kind of cake you looked forward to all day. Rebe and I would come home from school and instead of having a “normal” snack, we’d eat chocolate cake straight from the cake plate. How we were thin children, I’ll never know.
We’d take chocolate cake on picnics, eating far less dinner than we wanted so we could save plenty of room for the deliciousness that was to come. There’s even a photo of Rebe, our cousin Christina, and me on vacation, chocolate cake slathered all over our mouths, looking happy as clams.
The best chocolate cakes have cake that is almost better than the frosting; where the cake is so moist that you can practically eat it sans frosting. (Of course you should eat it with frosting, because frosting is epic.)
To make the most flavorful chocolate mocha cake possible, I used two types of coffee flavorings: brewed coffee and DeLallo’s Instant Espresso Powder. The brewed coffee provides a great acidity, while the espresso powder heightens the intensity of the mocha flavor.
The frosting is a velvety buttercream. I didn’t want to make it too hard, as the moist cake deserves an equally soft frosting. It makes it so every bite in your mouth instantly melts. Seriously.
Tips on how to make a layer cake
If you’re nervous about making this chocolate mocha cake because it’s a layer cake, I gotchu. As long as you keep the following tips in mind, you’ll be able to make any layer cake easily.
First and foremost, layer cakes don’t have to have lots of layers. Just two layers will do! In this mocha cake recipe I’ve explained how to make both a four layer cake and a two layer cake. If this is your first time attempting a layer cake or simply can’t be bothered to frost all those layers, go for the two layer cake option. The baking time is the exact same, but your layers will be slightly thinner (this will still be a massive cake, don’t you worry!).
After you’ve taken the cake out the oven, you have to let the layers cool completely before you frost them. Many new bakers make the mistake of frosting a warm cake, which results in runny frosting every single time.
Once the cake layers are cool, spread a spoonful of frosting onto the plate or cake stand and then pop your first layer on. That tiny bit of frosting will help the first layer of the cake stay still while you frost it. Then, dollop a healthy amount of mocha buttercream frosting onto the first layer and spread it out evenly (you don’t need to take it down onto the sides of the cake yet!).
Repeat this process until you reach the top layer of the cake. You’ll want to use a little less frosting on the top layer, just FYI. Then you can spread the rest of the frosting onto the sides of the cake as evenly as possible. Because this chocolate mocha cake is drizzled with chocolate ganache, don’t fret if parts of your cake look a little rough. The ganache covers all sins!
Let me know if you have any other questions about frosting cakes or making layer cakes. Always happy to help you guys out!
(PS. Get 10% off your order on DeLallo.com when you use ‘BROMA10’ at checkout!)
Preheat oven to 350°F. If you’d like to do a 4 layer cake, grease and line 4 6-inch cake pans with parchment paper. If you’d prefer a 2 layer cake, grease and line 2 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa powder, flour, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk oil, eggs, and buttermilk.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, whisking until no lumps remain. Pour in brewed coffee, mixing until just combined.
Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 25 mins (the time should be the same for both cake pan sizes), or until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
To make the frosting, place butter in a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (an electric hand mixer also works). Cream the butter on high speed for 1 minute, then turn speed to low and add in cocoa powder. Mix until combined, then add in powdered sugar, espresso powder, and brewed coffee. Beat until combined.
Frost cake by placing first cake layer onto a cake stand and topping with a healthy dose of frosting. Spread evenly, then repeat with two additional layers. On the top layer, use a little less frosting. Then, use the remaining frosting to create a thin layer on the sides of the cake, using a blunt knife to spread evenly. Place into fridge or freezer while you make the ganache.
To make the ganache, heat the cream over a double boiler on low heat. Once the cream is scalding (near boiling but not boiling), remove from heat and stir in chocolate. Drizzle ganache over the cake’s edges, then over the entire top, again using a blunt knife to smooth things over evenly.