Chocolate Espresso Cake

Baking sweets is starting to be an every weekend occurrence.  Whereas I used to be immune to the smell of something sweet and chocolaty baking in the oven, the sweet tooth I gained with my last pregnancy is still with me. Bummer. I asked Brogan what he wanted to bake today and he said birthday cake. Well, it’s no one’s birthday, so we just made cake.

I modified a German Chocolate cake recipe I found in one of Blake’s chefy cookbooks by adding some instant coffee. I once watched an episode of Barefoot Contessa and Ina Garten swore by adding a little instant coffee to chocolate desserts because it would enhance the chocolate flavor. She was right. I took it a step further and added some coffee to the chocolate frosting too. I attempted to make just a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, but perhaps I added a little more instant coffee that Ina… and what I ended up with was definitely a chocolate espresso cake. I’m not complaining.

This cake is very light and moist. The coffee is more prominent in the frosting, but the whole thing is just perfect together. We topped it with shaved Hershey bar… just because.  I’ve not made many cakes from scratch, and this one was very easy to do well. This cake also allowed me to hone my icing skills – I finally got it! See below for what I did to properly ice this cake. Hope you enjoy!

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Chocolate Espresso Cake

1 cup sifted flour (or a tad less for “lazy” flour – that’s what I do)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp instant coffee
1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
1 1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Chocolate Espresso Buttercream Frosting (recipe below)
Hershey’s milk chocolate bar (for garnish on top of cake)

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour two cake pans.
2.) In a bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and instant coffee. Set aside.
3.) Using an electric mixer, cream butter, sugars, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Slowly add eggs with mixer on slowest setting.
4.) Alternate adding flour/cocoa mixture and buttermilk. Beat just until all ingredients are fully incorporated, but do not over-beat.
5.) Divide batter equally between the two cake pans. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Chocolate Espresso Buttercream Frosting

2 sticks butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp instant coffee
1 box powdered sugar (16 oz)
1 tbsp half and half

1.) Cream butter and vanilla with an electric mixer. Add cocoa powder and instant coffee. Slowly add powdered sugar and then add half and half. Beat until smooth.

To frost the cake…

1.) Place first layer of cake on a cake plate. Place a scoop of frosting on the cake and spread evenly. This one doesn’t have to be pretty.
2.) Place the second layer on top of the first. Make sure the side that was in the bottom of the cake plate is face up (it frosts easier). Start with icing the sides of the cake. Put a decent amount of icing on an offset spatula and rotate cake spreading frosting in a straight line around the cake. Apply more frosting about every 4 to 5 inches.
3.) Using the remaining frosting, place large spoonfuls around the top of the cake. Starting in the center of the cake, spread the in a circular motion toward the outside edges. Make sure the frosting stays thick, or else it will pull up the top of the cake.
4.) Using a large knife, shave Hershey’s bar by chopping it very thin. Then chop perpendicular to the first cut to achieve fine shavings. Sprinkle chocolate shaving on top of cake.

Chocolate cake in oven

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Chocolate frosting

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Chocolate Cake


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