Monday, October 10, 2011

Chocolate Espresso Cake

It was my hubby’s birthday recently. He absolutely loves his birthday. In fact, he calls it the official start to the holiday season – that is how much he loves his birthday. We have the official countdown: two days prior to the actual day is “birthday eve eve” then one day prior is “birthday eve”, the day of his birthday is the kick off to the holiday season and the day after his birthday is a “sad day” since the festivities are over.

My goal was to make it a fun day of celebration. Our neighbors extended an invitation to take my hubby and I out to breakfast on his birthday. It was a relatively new breakfast place in town. They had my absolutely favorite breakfast item on the menu - the dutch baby pancake. It was perfectly cooked with that Yorkshire pudding texture with a tender inside and crispy outside. It came with this tart lemon syrup sauce that was too die for. We headed out later to our favorite wine and tapas bar downtown where we each enjoyed a flight of wine along with tasty bites that ranged from mac & cheese with truffle oil to mini duck confit steamed buns.

We dined the night prior at Lark Creek with my parents and enjoyed a 2005 Petite Syrah from Grgich Hills that we brought to the restaurant. The waiter offered dessert, but I had already prepared a special birthday cake at home.

I first had this delectable delight at Jean’s House from Lemon and Anchovies. I was blown away by the subtle combination of the coffee and chocolate. It is such a beautiful pairing that brings out the best of each ingredient. The cake was super moist and just full of stunning flavor profiles.

I wanted to make a special birthday cake for my hubby and the cake at Jean’s house was the first thing that came to mind. When she let me know it was an Ina Garten cake, I knew that it would be easy to make and taste divine. I made a couple slight changes to the recipe by taking out the egg yolk in the frosting and adding more vanilla and confectioner sugar: otherwise Ina does beautiful recipes that are simple and divine.

Chocolate Espresso Cake


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment paper; butter the paper. Dust the pans with flour, tapping out any excess.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour with the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt at low speed. In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the oil, eggs and vanilla. Slowly beat the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until just incorporated, then slowly beat in the hot coffee until fully incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then invert the cakes onto a rack to cool completely. Peel off the parchment paper.


7 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (used 50% cacao)
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate at high power in 30-second intervals, stirring, until most of the chocolate is melted. Stir until completely melted, then set aside to cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat for 1 minute, scraping down the side of the bowl. At low speed, slowly beat in the confectioners' sugar, about 1 minute. In a small bowl, dissolve the instant coffee in 2 teaspoons of hot water. Slowly beat the coffee and the cooled chocolate into the butter mixture until just combined.

Set a cake layer on a plate with the flat side facing up. Evenly spread one-third of the frosting over the cake to the edge. Top with the second cake layer, rounded side up. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and side of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before slicing.


  1. Wish one of those plates was for me. Yum Lisa. Looks fab!

  2. It almost looks too good to eat!

  3. Happy Birthday! This cake looks like a keeper Lisa, sounds like a wonderful day.
    I like your wine choice at Lark Creek;-)

  4. Oh wow! This looks amazing! I so want a slice right now :) Thank you for sharing such a great and beautiful recipe, looking forward to your next one!

  5. I wish I liked coffee because I bet I'd love that cake if I did. Oh, and we love Lark Creek. Favorite place to eat. :)

  6. Happy birthday!! the cake looks so good, i'll have a hard time eating this, will stare at it most of the time :) lovely photo :)

  7. Oh my goodness!! What a way to start my morning, I turn on the computer and looky here! Wow. This cake is positively stunning. My husband's favorite flavor theme as well. A big Happy Birthday to your husband!! And btw... your photos are gorgeous.

  8. This is just too much! So decadent, so creamy, so need this right now!
    Thanks for sharing, I am inspired to try it.
    Well done.

  9. This looks divine! Could go for a piece of chocolate cake on this rainy day. We will definitely try this recipe out ,thanks for sharing!

  10. Wow, this cake looks amazing. More dessert posts!

  11. Your husband sounds funny, I like his style. I hope the tapas were from Va Da Vie, yumm. You will have to share your new breakfast spot. I've been wanting to come over and feast my eyes on this cake, it's been a long week. Hope you have a great weekend. I love coffee in cake, wish I could get the kids on board. Might have to make a mini just for me.

  12. Gosh...the cake looks so dang sexy!!! Beautiful cake stand too.

  13. The cake looks great and I would love a piece. May I keep the fork? GREG

  14. Oh, my, look at the hunka cake. I remember it well from Jean's house, and it really is the best cake to celebrate a birthday, isn't it? Happy belated to Charles!

  15. tried this the other tasted great. really yummmm....Thanks a lot for sharing...

  16. Your chocolate espresso cake is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing the recipe and picture.

    Mike @ Gourmet Food

  17. Great cake. Made it twice this week after a great first trial. yum!

  18. I feel the same way about my birthday as your hubby! I may just have to make this for my birthday coming up! Thanks for sharing :-)

  19. Made this today and it was very good. I will make again. Frosting did not show one egg yolk on list of ingredients. I found original recipe showing one yolk. Cake was very moist and very little coffee flavor. Frosting had a stronger coffee flavor.

    1. So glad that you liked it! I think it is one of the best cakes around. Smile. I actually chose to eliminate the egg yolk from the frosting since I am not into raw eggs but it sounds like it worked for you. I agree the coffee flavor comes from the frosting. Hope you have a great week!

  20. Made this cake for my husband's birthday today. It's a great chocolate cake...and I loved the frosting!!

  21. Made this cake and it was very good

  22. I made this cake and it's in the oven as I type...can wait to taste it!!!

  23. This cake looks fantastic, I will most definitely give it a try in one of the weekends to come. Many thanks for the share!

  24. This is my most favorite chocolate cake recipe ! my cakes always come out perfect everytime. They are so moist and flavorful.
    I use it all the time. Everyone who eats it absolutely loves it !
    This recipe is fool proof, anyone can make it !


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