**Happy Anniversary!!**Recipe 46: Dark Chocolate Espresso Cake

Today marks 1 whole year from my very first post here at Greenhorn Gourmet. I’m so happy! This year has really flown by. This website started as a post-final exams stress reliever, and it took forever to figure out the details. By the time it was launched, I had probably about a million ideas for recipes. Whittling them down and working through different cameras and kitchens, we’re better than ever.

So here’s to 1 whole year! Thanks to everyone who’s stuck with me, as well as those that are new to this site. I hope that you are inspired to try something new in the kitchen and enjoy cooking even just a little bit more than normal.

We have a lot of exciting recipes to come!

Now, for the good stuff.

When  I was trying to come up with a suitable recipe, I wanted something that I’ve never made before, in an area that I wasn’t really comfortable in yet so I could test myself to see how much I’ve learned over this year. I’ve only made one other cake from scratch, and that was years ago. It was HORRIBLE. Seriously, it tasted like a sponge. So I’ve managed to avoid that long enough to warrant another try.

Was this a challenge? Oh yes. Especially because I had to doctor a par-baked cake due to having to dash out the door for an important engagement. But….the end result was definitely worth it. A warning: This recipe takes some time and a little skill. But once it’s made, you’ll be happy you tried it.

Recipe 46: Dark Chocolate Espresso Cake

Helpful sites as well as an idea of where most of the recipe originated:

  1. http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/tools-and-techniques/how-to-bake-a-cake2.htm
  2. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/mocha-buttercream-chocolate-espresso-cake/
  3. http://www.wilton.com/recipe/Mocha-Buttercream-Icing

Total Time: 3 hrs

Yield: 1, 9″ round, 4″ high cake



  • 8 tbsp dark chocolate chips, gently melted in the microwave
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1&1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp instant coffee powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Coffee syrup-

  • 1 cup brewed coffee (I used the cold brew from this morning)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp espresso vodka (Sobieski makes a killer version)

((combine and microwave until reduced to 75% original volume))

Mocha buttercream-

  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (softened)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened chocolate powder
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp milk


For the cake, start by preheating your oven to 350F. I always recommend getting a thermometer that lives in your oven so you know if you have the right temperature. My oven was off by at least 25 degrees!

Gather/prepare ingredients as directed in the cake ingredient list, and start by creaming your butter with an electric mixer. Add your eggs, vanilla, and sugar until nice and fluffy. In another bowl, sift your flour, salt, baking soda, and instant coffee powder together until combined. Start your mixer up and add your dry ingredients and buttermilk in increments, alternating so the batter doesn’t get too dry or too wet.

Prepare your pan (I use a 9″ spring-form pan) by lining the bottom plate with foil and latching the ring around it. Spray with a generous helping of cooking spray (I used Pam w/ flour) and use a spatula to carefully spoon the batter into it. Tap to level.

Bake 40-45 minutes, until a wooden skewer comes out clean when testing the center of the cake.

In the meantime, lets make our syrup and our frosting.

For the syrup, the point is to keep the un-frosted cake nice and hydrated. The syrup will get brushed on the surface of the cake and form a nice barrier from air. It’ll also make icing the cake a cinch!

Combine your old coffee, sugar, and espresso vodka in a heavy-duty glass measuring cup. Microwave in increments of 30 seconds until the sugar is fully dissolved and the volume of the liquid is reduced by a quarter. (Only 3/4 cup remaining.)

Set aside to cool.

For the frosting, we want a nice fluffy mixture, but something dense enough to us a piping bag with. Cream your fats on medium speed with an electric mixer. Add your chocolate powder, instant coffee, and vanilla. Now add your powdered sugar and don’t freak out if it looks REALLY dry. This is normal. Add the cream in a nice stream, and then the milk until the frosting is nice and smooth again. Set aside until you’re ready to ice the cake. You can cover with a tea towel and keep it in the fridge.

Now that your cake is done, let it cook for 10 minutes before releasing the side ring of the spring form pan. Run a knife around the cake to make sure none of the sides are sticking, then gently release the latch and lift the ring off the base plate. Let cool to room temperature.

If you messed your cake up, like I did, and need to seriously level it out, you’re in luck. I got a great idea from TLC’s “Cake Boss”. Find the lowest point of your cake and stick a skewer in at that point. Carefully mark on the skewer the height of the cake and remove it. Use that mark as a measure as you make your way around the outside of the cake and stick toothpicks in every 2 inches or so at that height. (See photos and links for this if you need clarification). Once you’ve put your toothpicks along the entire perimeter of the cake, get a nice long piece of dental floss. Lasso it around the cake and rest it on top of the toothpicks. Bring the ends together and use the dental floss to cut through the cake at a perfect level. Remove the damaged pieces and seal your cake with the coffee syrup.

Additionally, brush a generous layer of coffee syrup along the sides of the cake to keep them hydrated.

Now, ice your cake in a smooth layer. I used a star tip, a plastic pastry coupler, and a freezer bag to ice my cake. Then I dusted the icing with unsweetened chocolate powder for a nice effect. Get creative!!

This was quite the undertaking, and I know I’m going to be hurting for sleep tomorrow, but I’m very happy with the results! I hope you enjoy this cake as much as I do. I’m bringing the whole thing to work tomorrow, so I hope they like it too!

Cheers, and Happy Anniversary!


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