Chocolate Mocha Cake

March 23, 2014

chocolate mocha cake | une gamine dans la cuisine

"There is no exquisite beauty...without some strangeness in the proportion."
~ Edgar Allan Poe 

I'm completely aware that my blog is prone to impromptu meanderings (its arbitrary author often finds herself reaching for wild strawberries only to draw back handfuls of lemongrass). Yes, I know I once stood firm in my aversion to chocolate on chocolate, but maybe I spoke too harshly and too soon. As it stands, I stand corrected. Sorely. This provocative deity is mind blowing.  It's the elusive chocolate cake one dreams about - the seemingly intangible memory, a slice of sheer, unadulterated bliss that spreads blossoming tendrils through the body like a drop of red hot ink on clear, still water.

Peut-être que je t'aime?

chocolate mocha cake | une gamine dans la cuisine

What makes this particular cake stand layers and crumbs above its predecessors? I don't think the credit falls on any one component, rather it's a deep symphony of perfectly tuned flavours and textures coming together in a way that's not too timid or overbearing.

Most chocolate-on-chocolate cake is excruciatingly arrogant and brazen. The chocolate simply overwhelms itself, talking in frenzied circles until falling flat and pouting on a disappointed fork. This cake is slow and methodical and intelligent. It has a tender, soft, richness that doesn't deluge the senses. I'm super-stoked with the frosting! Finally, a chocolate frosting that helps me understand the lure of chocolate frosting. Its texture is silky and it tastes like a reassuring mug of hot buttered cocoa on a wintery evening.

This cake was for my sister's birthday. Normally I would silently scoff and snort at her repeated requests for something overtly chocolate. I'm so utterly overjoyed to have listened, for once, to my older sister. (The steadfast Thor to my puckish Loki.) xo

chocolate mocha cake | une gamine dans la cuisine

Chocolate Mocha Cake
makes one 8-inch double layer cake
adapted from The Vanilla Bean Blog

for the cake
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup room temp. buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 room temp. eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup fresh brewed coffee, still warm

for the frosting
6 oz good quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (I used Ghirardelli)
1 cup (that's 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temp.
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter two 2-inch deep by 8-inch round cake pans, line bottoms with parchment paper, butter the parchment, then dust pans with a light coating of flour.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients. Slowly stream in the warm coffee and mix on low speed until just combined, scraping down the edges and bottom of the bowl as needed. {Note: The batter will be very thin.)

Divide batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly pressed or when a thin tester comes out clean. Remove pans from oven and place onto a cooling rack. Cool for about 30 minutes before releasing cakes.

Once the cakes are cool, place one layer onto cake stand or large dish (don't forget to remove the parchment paper). Remove second layer from pan and set it aside as you prepare the frosting.

Frosting: Prepare a double boiler - Fill a medium saucepan with about 1-inch of water and bring the water to a slow simmer. Find a large heatproof bowl that fits snugly over the saucepan (make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch simmering water). Place chopped chocolate into heatproof bowl and place the bowl over simmering water. Stir chocolate until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from heat and allow the chocolate to come to room temperature.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on med-high speed until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Beat in egg, vanilla extract, and salt till combined. Turn the mixer down to low speed and slowly add confectioners' sugar - about 1/4 cup at a time. Once all the sugar has been added, beat on med speed for about 5 minutes, scraping down the edges of the bowl as needed.

On low speed, add the room temp. melted chocolate. Beat until just blended into the butter mixture (try not to overmix).  Immediately spread onto cooled cake.

With a small offset spatula, spread the first cake layer with frosting. {Note: Try not to use too. You will have *just* enough frosting for the entire cake.} Place second cake layer on top (be sure the sides match up). Finish frosting the top and sides of cake.

chocolate mocha cake | une gamine dans la cuisine


  1. I love seeing your chocolate creations,chocolate is the ingredient after my heart. Beautiful post and cake Valerie!

  2. Thank you, Gintare. Methinks chocolate will soon give my beloved lemons a run for their money. :)

  3. It must be the day for chocolate cakes...I made one as well, although mine doesn't look nearly as pretty as yours!

  4. Ah, this cake is just what my Sunday evening of bleary blog redesigning is missing. Any chance you still have a sliver left?! Swooning over that frosting!

  5. Very tempting! That is one of my favorite flavor combinations.



  6. your smoothness in the frosting of this cake is like perfectly ironed 800 thread count sheets! perfecto!

  7. Welcome to the dark side:-) I love that there is cinnamon and ginger in the cake.

  8. This is one of the most beautiful cakes I've seen, looks so elegant!

  9. Your sister is one lucky girl! I can see why she requests chocolate. This cake looks divine!!!!

  10. that is one beautiful cake! I'm so in love with the ginger and cinnamon in there!

  11. You have every flavor I love in this cake. I don't think I could share it.

  12. It's possible that you could talk me out of my own chocolate on chocolate aversion. How could I not love a cake that is intelligent, and a frosting that "tastes like a reassuring mug of hot buttered cocoa on a wintery evening"?

    You? Loki, the trickster? I don't believe it - you've sent far too many good recipes my way.

  13. your cake is very pretty! one question for the frosting, the egg yolk is uncooked, is that ok? or i can use cream to replace the egg yolk?

  14. @BON C: I know not everyone is comfortable with consuming raw eggs but as long as they're certified organic, I think it's okay. Having said that, you can use cream if you prefer. I don't know if the frosting will be as shiny but it should taste just as wonderful. (Maybe start with 1/2 Tablespoon and add a bit more as needed.) :)


Thanks for visiting, and for taking the time to read through my ramblings!
If you have a recipe comment or question, I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Baking!
♥ Valerie


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