Chocolate Coffee Cake: Coffee Cake For Real

by Pamela

chocolate cake, cofee cake, chocolate coffee cake, espresso buttercream frosting

While I’m away enjoying a little R&R, I’ve asked a few of my friends to fill in for me and share some of their delicious creations with you.  Today, I’d like you to meet Ken from HungryRabbitNYC.  As his name implies…he hails from New York.  I live vicariously through Ken and his scrumptious baked goods.  I have been known to, on occasion, lick my monitor when viewing the photos of his beautiful baked creations (and this one was no exception).

Coffee Cake … for real

Greetings to all you Belly lovers. When Pamela asked me to do a guest post for My Man’s Belly, I was thrilled but with one reservation. I know you visit her blog regularly not only to see what Pamela has cooked but, like me, to read her witty Relationship Advice column. I can only offer something a bit different.

Since Hungry Rabbit has fully evolved into a dessert/baking blog, I naturally want to bake something that captures the energy and personality of My Man’s Belly. Both Pamela and I are participating in the Nudie Foodie project. Since I had the privilege of previewing some of her shots for the upcoming book/calendar, all I can say is, “chocolate chocolate, chocolate.” So after sipping a few of her “get me in trouble” cocktails, I finally figured out the appropriate post for here.

As Memorial Day launches us into summer, vacations, and . . . experimentation, it’s a time of optimism. Something about Memorial Day gives me the freedom and possibility to yearn for more. Maybe it’s my Leo/Virgo nature. More likely, it’s got something to do with being hungry for something new.


Let’s get the summer started with a bit of an energy booster. So, instead of baking a typical treat for a holiday weekend, let’s make a real coffee cake—Chocolate Coffee Cake with Espresso Buttercream. The rich, moist layer of chocolate cake is laced with espresso. The buttercream is full of coffee essence.

Enjoy the weekend, have a piece of cake, and hangout with family and friends.


Recipe: Chocolate Coffee Cake

Summary: recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated


For Cake:

  • 4 Ounces Semisweet or Bittersweet Chocolate (chopped fine)
  • 1/4 Cup Dutch-Processed Cocoa (sifted)
  • 2 Tablespoons Instant Espresso Powder
  • 1/2 Cup Boiling Water
  • 2 Cups (10 ounces) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, plus additional for dusting cake pans
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 12 Tablespoons (1½ sticks) Unsalted Butter (softened)
  • 1 Cup (7 ounces) Granulated Sugar
  • 2/3 Cup (about 4¾ ounces) Packed Light Brown Sugar
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Table Salt
  • 4 Large Eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4 Cup Sour Cream (room temperature)

For Espresso Buttercream Frosting:

  • 5 Sticks (1-1/4 pound) Unsalted Butter (softened/room temperature)
  • 5 Cups (20 ounces) Confectioners’ Sugar (sifted)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Table Salt
  • 4 Tablespoons Instant Espresso Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Teaspoon Coffee Extract
  • 4 Tablespoons Heavy Cream


For Cake:

  1. Position oven rack to lower-middle position; preheat oven to 350℉. Combine chocolate and cocoa and espresso powder in small bowl; pour boiling water over and let stand to melt chocolate, about 2 minutes. Whisk until smooth; set aside until cooled to room temperature.
  2. Spray two 9-inch-round by 2-inch-high straight-sided cake pans lined with parchment rounds with nonstick cooking spray. Dust pans with flour, and knock out excess. Set aside. Sift flour and baking soda into medium bowl.
  3. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter, sugars, and salt at medium-low speed until sugar is moistened, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
  4. Reduce speed to medium, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down bowl if necessary. Beat in vanilla until light and fluffy, about 45 seconds. Stop the mixer and add chocolate, beat on medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds.
  5. With mixer running on low speed, add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream (in 2 additions), beginning and ending with dry ingredients, and beating in each addition until barely combined. Finish by stirring batter by hand with rubber spatula, scraping bottom and sides of bowl, to ensure that batter is homogenous (batter will be thick). Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans; spread batter to edges of pans with rubber spatula and smooth surfaces.
  6. Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then invert cakes onto greased wire rack; peel off and discard paper rounds. Cool cakes to room temperature before filling, about 1 hour. Cut each cake into two even layers with serrated knife, set aside.

For Espresso Buttercream Frosting:

  1. Dissolve instant espresso in extracts and cream. Set aside.
  2. In standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add confectioners’ sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down bowl and increase speed to medium, beat until fully combined, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.

Cake Assembly:

  1. Place one cake layer on serving platter or cardboard round, using an off-set spatula, distribute about 1 cup buttercream evenly on cake, spreading to very edge of cake and leveling surface. Place a second cake layer on top of buttercream and repeat with buttercream and cake layers until you have all four layers. Finish frosting top and side of cake with remaining buttercream.

Quick notes

You can alternately pipe and decorate the cake with any technique you know.

Preparation time:  25 Minutes

Cooking time:  30 Minutes

Number of servings (yield): 8

Meal type: dessert

Culinary tradition: USA (General)

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)


Welcome to My Man's Belly! Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the site or if there's a recipe you'd like to see here. Have a great day.


Shahanara Hussain January 31, 2017 at 5:48 pm

I baked this cake for my sons 19th birthday. He loves chocolate and coffee combination and this is just the perfect cake recipe.
It came out delicious, moist and full of coffee flavour.

Pamela January 31, 2017 at 6:00 pm

Hi Shahanara, I’m so glad you and your son enjoyed this cake. I’ll be sure to let my friend know how much you enjoyed it.

Corey October 26, 2015 at 10:10 am

SO GOOD! Just made this and it was complimented as “possibly the best dessert I’ve ever made” and I make a lot of dessert!

One note–on the buttercream frosting, make sure you add in the cream/espresso mixture! 🙂

Pamela October 26, 2015 at 10:21 am

So glad you like the cake and got major compliments on it Corey. My friend Ken, who wrote that post, is a baking genius!

Lindsey November 17, 2014 at 3:29 pm

I made this cake this morning for my father’s birthday, he love anything with coffee in the title. I have to say that it was a HUGE hit. This cake is absolute perfection an I will definitely be making it again!!!

Pamela November 18, 2014 at 7:35 am

Hi Lindsey, I’m so glad this cake made you and your dad happy. 🙂

RogerB March 9, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Only six and a half sticks of butter to make this? You could squeeze a couple more sticks into the recipe?

Pamela March 10, 2014 at 8:08 am

Well Roger, 7 sticks of butter seemed to be ridiculous. 😉

Casey Lauren November 1, 2011 at 2:46 pm

The only thing I would change for next time is maybe halving the icing recipe. I also might up the butter/cream ratio, making it more creamy instead of buttery.

Casey Lauren October 13, 2011 at 7:23 am

This is ridiculously amazing!!! I made it early this morning and even did the chocolate-covered espresso beans. I halved the recipe so its only a 2-layer…and I also forgot the boiling water! But somehow it still turned out wonderfully. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

Pamela October 20, 2011 at 12:37 pm

I’m so glad to hear you liked this cake. My friend Ken, is an AMAZING baker. It’s a good thing that we don’t live closer together, because I’d be gaining weight left and right.

Elizabeth @Mango_Queen October 4, 2011 at 6:28 am

How did I not see this post? This is absolutely divine !!!!! I am printing this now. I must bake thisChocolate Coffee Cake right away! Thanks for sharing the recipe. I already know this will be a winner here at home 🙂

Jenn June 26, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Oh this cake sounds soooo good.

Carolyn Jung June 23, 2011 at 9:24 am

Coffee and chocolate truly are one of the most fabulous combinations in life. This cake marries both of them in one gorgeous package.

Vanessa June 23, 2011 at 8:23 am

This cake looks delicious. I love the combination of coffee and chocolate!

Quyen - Kitchen Runway June 9, 2011 at 11:00 pm

Oh this cake looks amazing! My husband & inlaws are huge coffee fans – I think I’m going to have to whip this up for them soon!

foodwanderings June 7, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Mmmm Pammy & Ken, two of my faves, exactly how I imagined it. Those slice snapshots afre just to die for!! Ken, beautifully written and Pammy I hope you enjoyed your time away!

The Food Hound June 1, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Oh I am SO loving this!! I am not a coffee person, but I love coffee flavored things like yogurt, ice cream… and frosting!! This might be the Booze Hound’s birthday cake since he hooks himself up to a coffee IV every morning 🙂

An Alaskan Cooks | Alaska Food and Wine June 1, 2011 at 10:19 am

This recipe is definitely a “buzz worthy” cake. It takes a great deal of encouragement to get me to switch from cooking mode into baking mode, but this may be the push I needed today. Merci!

Barbara | Creative Culinary May 31, 2011 at 11:10 am

So right up my ‘I love anything with espresso in it’ alley. I didn’t know you had ‘officially’ become a baking blog but now that I think of it Ken…why, yes you have! Beautiful too.

Evan May 31, 2011 at 7:06 am

I would be all over this dessert! Such a coffee fiend over here. Great guest post! 🙂

raquel.erecipe May 30, 2011 at 9:22 pm

I always love cake…really nice…frosting looks creamy =)

Brian @ A Thought For Food May 30, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Oh that frosting looks marvelous… actually, the whole thing looks fantastic. It’s just as sexy as Pamela is 😉

The Cilantropist May 30, 2011 at 9:25 am

This espresso buttercream frosting sounds finger-licking good! Can I swipe a piece? 😉

Yuri May 30, 2011 at 8:51 am

Pamela, so glad I found your blog and what a nice surprise to find one of Ken’s recipes here! I would love to try one of your cocktails some day 🙂 Ken, this cake is GORGEOUS! Happy Monday 🙂

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