I think we can all agree that chocolate and coffee are two of the best flavors in existence. Together or separate, they are two of my favorite vices. So, I thought why not pair them together for this sweet treat?
That’s where this Chocolate Espresso Cake comes into the picture. Here you’ll find layers of chocolate cake, stuffed with espresso morsels, and topped with an espresso cream cheese frosting.
Chocolate Espresso Cake Recipe Walkthrough
While a layer cake recipe can look intimidating to make from scratch, I think you will find that this recipe is fairly simple. After all, the frosting is only a two step process!
All you need to get started on this cake is a mixing bowl, stand mixer, and cake pans. You can definitely get away with not using a stand mixer, if you prefer. A hand mixer will work just fine! The frosting does require some vigorous whipping, but nothing a hand mixer can’t handle.
If you keep reading, you’ll find step by step instructions with photos for visual aid and helpful notes to assist you along the way. However, if you’re feeling confident, feel free to scroll down to the recipe card down at the bottom of this post.
Making the Cake
Like most cakes, this recipe consists of wet and dry ingredients. All you have to do is accurately mix the two together, as directed, before folding in some espresso morsels and baking.
My biggest tip for making this cake is to ensure that all of your refrigerated ingredients are brought to room temperature before starting. Having all of your ingredients the same temperature goes a long way in assisting the ingredients with mixing together.
Step 1: Mix together self rising flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder.
Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
Step 2: Cream together the butter and sugar.
Using the paddle attachment of the stand mixer, cream together softened butter and sugar. Mix on medium to high speed, until all of the butter is incorporated into the sugar, about 3-5 minutes.
Step 3: Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
With the mixer on low speed, add each egg, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. You can speed up the mixer after the egg has mostly mixed in to speed up the process, if you wish.
Step 4: Add the milk and water.
Mix on low to medium speed until both are well incorporated. Try not to mix on high speed, or the liquid ingredients will splash all over your kitchen.
Step 5: Add the dry ingredients.
Mix on low speed until everything comes together. Careful not to overmix!
Step 6: Fold the espresso morsels into the cake batter.
Using a rubber spatula, fold the espresso morsels into the cake batter. This is also a good time to scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl to catch any lumps that may have been missed.
Step 7: Pour the cake batter into two prepared 8 inch cake pans and bake at 350ºF for 25 minutes.
Prepare the cake pans by generously greasing with butter and lining the bottoms with parchment paper, to prevent any sticking.
Once the batter is poured into the cake pans, bake at 350ºF for 23-25 minutes or a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Another way to see if the cake is done, is using a thermometer. Once the cake reaches 210ºF in the center, it is done baking.
Making the Frosting
The base of this Espresso Cream Cheese Frosting is from my tried and true plain Cream Cheese Frosting recipe. You can find it on my Devil’s Food Oreo Cupcakes recipe, Holiday Oreo Cupcakes recipe, and a chocolate version here.
It’s the same simple recipe with the addition of instant espresso. All you have to do is cream butter and cream cheese together before whisking in powdered sugar, instant espresso, vanilla, and salt.
Step 1: Beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth.
Using the paddle attachment on the stand mixer, cream the softened butter and cream cheese together on medium to high speed for 2-3 minutes.
You will want to pause and scrape the bowl down halfway through, to prevent any lumps from sticking to the bottom of the mixing bowl.
Step 2: Add powdered sugar, instant espresso, vanilla, and salt.
Switch to the whisk attachment, and whisk the remaining ingredients together. Start on low speed and gradually increase to high speed as the sugar incorporates, until the frosting thickens, about 3-5 minutes.
You’ll want to pause halfway through and scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl here, as well.
As a tip, putting the frosting in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before frosting the cake will create a firmer frosting to work with.
Once the cakes have cooled, you’re free to frost it. In the photos here, you’ll see that we did a “naked” look on the cake. This was more for an aesthetic look, versus taste preference.
There is enough frosting in the recipe to completely frost the cake, which I would encourage. The creamy, fluffy frosting is a great addition and texture contrast with the cake layers. So, frost away!
Let us know if you make this Chocolate Espresso Cake, down in the comments below. We would love to hear your thoughts and feedback!
If you like this recipe, check out a few of our other cake recipes like our famous Grandma’s German Chocolate Cake recipe, our Triple Chocolate Cake recipe, or our Peanut Butter Cake recipe, to name a few.
For the Cake
- 2/3 C (50g) Cocoa Powder
- 1 1/2 C (175g) Self Rising Flour
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 stick (113g) Unsalted Butter, softened
- 1 1/4 C (240g) Sugar
- 3 Eggs, room temperature
- 1/3 C (79ml) Milk, room temperature
- 1/3 C (79ml) Water, room temperature
- 2/3 C (125g) Espresso Morsels
For the Frosting
- 1 stick (113g) Unsalted Butter, softened
- 1 pkg (8oz) Cream Cheese, softened
- 2 3/4 C (400g) Powdered Sugar
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 2 tsp Instant Espresso, mixed into 4 tsp of water
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1/3 C (75g) Crushed Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans, optional topping
Making the Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Prepare two 8" x 3" round cake pans by generously greasing the pans with butter and lining the bottom of the pans with parchment paper.
- In a medium size mixing bowl, add the self rising flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Whisk together until fully combined. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, mix the softened butter and sugar together.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- Add the milk and water, mixing on low to medium speed until both are incorporated.
- Add the flour mixture and mix together on low speed until just combined.
- Gently fold in the espresso morsels.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- After 5 minutes, turn the cakes out on onto a wire rack to completely cool before frosting.
Making the Frosting
- Once the cakes have cooled, start the frosting in the stand mixer.
- Using the paddle attachment on medium speed, cream together the softened cream cheese and butter. Be sure to scrape the bowl down halfway through to prevent any lumps from forming.
- Add the powdered sugar, instant espresso, vanilla, and salt.
- Using the whisk attachment on low speed, gently whisk until the sugar is mostly incorporated. Increase to high speed and whisk until stiff peaks begin to form in the frosting.
- Frost the cake and enjoy!
- Optional: Blitz chocolate covered espresso beans in the food processor for a nice, textured topping for your cake.
Espresso beans are optional. We liked them for a bit of texture and decoration, but they are not necessary to enjoy the cake!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 14 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 473Total Fat: 23gCarbohydrates: 62gProtein: 5g