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Chocolate Espresso Cake with Mascarpone Frosting

December 26, 2015

I made this cake again for my friend Tracy’s birthday with testing out some modifications.  First I swapped out the chocolate cake recipe for my standard one here .  I then tried to boost the coffee flavor in the cake by adding 2 tsp of espresso powder to the mix. I couldn’t taste it and think it would probably take a lot for that flavor to come through after being baked so I’d just leave the extra espresso out next time.

I also was low on Dutch processed cocoa and couldn’t find any in the store.  Instead I found Hershey’s special dark with a blend of Dutch processed cocoas.  So I baked up the cake using half that mix and half Dutch.  The result again wasn’t significant taste difference but I did notice much more voluminous cakes.  The dose of natural cocoa with the amount of baking soda in the recipe yielding more carbon dioxide conversion and a fluffier/taller cake.

Notice not just the color but also texture difference between them

Natural cocoa on top, then dark/dutch blend, Dutch on bottom

As for the frosting I used the same recipe (full 1 1/3 cup sugar).  With the cake being a 3 layer cake this time it was still a lot of frosting.  Plenty of extra.

The best way to boost the espresso flavor is lightly dusting the frosted cake at the end. The frosting will make the espresso look wet after a while so if you want it to look dry dust it just before serving.


Happy Birthday Bill! Next to Jim, Bill has eaten and received the most cakes of mine. I can recall a German Chocolate Cake, Triple Threat Mint Chocolate Layer Cake, Kit Kat Cake, Tiramisu, Boston Cream Pie, and Moist Chocolate Cake with Ganache.  I gave him a few suggestions knowing chocolate was a must and he chose an espresso twist.

This one took a lot of researching to find one I liked.  I have not made a cake using brown sugar (that I can remember) or one with mascarpone cheese for frosting.  The batter was very liquidy.  I tried adding chocolate chips (even mini) and they sunk.  I wouldn’t include chocolate chips next time.  The cake was good, but I prefer my more standard chocolate cakes like the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake or Moist Chocolate Cake.  The frosting recipe definitely made enough for the cake plus lots of extra.

Not being a coffee drinker I wasn’t quite sure how or what to buy for espresso powder.  Espresso powder is an intense dark rich concentrated fine powder that is quick dissolving for instant coffee.  I read somewhere it is hard to find, but I had no problem in my small local store.  I’m guessing living in Seattle has something to do with that… The frosting had the perfect amount of espresso and the cake was a little less, so I added 2 tsp of espresso to the original cake recipe as shown below.

Prep Time: 20 min cake + 15 min frosting
Cook Time: 40 min
Chill Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 15 mins
Yield: Two 9-inch round layer cakes
Taste: Good

Cake finished 2


2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
6 tsp instant espresso powder dissolved in 3/4 cup hot water

1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbs instant espresso powder
1 1/2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
1 1/3 cups sugar
16 ounces of chilled mascarpone cheese
Bittersweet chocolate curls, or mini chocolate chips (optional)

Cake slice



1) Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 325°F. Generously butter two 9-inch cake pans with 2-inch-high sides; dust with sugar or cocoa powder, tapping out any excess. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper.

2) Sift 2 cups cake flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl.

3) Using electric mixer, beat butter in a separate large bowl until smooth. Add brown sugar and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes.  Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, scraping down sides after each addition. Mix in vanilla.

4) Add flour mixture to the wet batter in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions, which you should drizzle in, beating just until blended after each addition.

5) Gradually drizzle hot espresso-water mixture, beating just until smooth.

6) Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on rack 15 minutes. Run small knife around sides of pans to loosen cakes. Invert cakes onto racks; lift pans off cakes and remove parchment. Place wire rack atop each cake; invert again so top side is up. Cool completely.

NOTE: Cakes can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap each cake in plastic and seal in a Ziplock and store at room temperature.

Mascarpone Frosting

Mascarpone Frosting


1) Sift cocoa powder into large bowl – this will be the bowl where you add mascarpone, so use a mixer bowl or another large bowl; add espresso powder.

2) Bring 1 cup cream to boil in small saucepan. Slowly pour cream over cocoa mixture, whisking until cocoa is completely dissolved, about 1 minute.

3) Add sugar in 3 parts and when it dissolved, add in 1/2 cup cream. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours.

NOTE: The above steps for frosting can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; keep chilled.

4) Add mascarpone to chilled cocoa mixture. Using electric mixer, beat on low speed until blended and smooth. Increase speed to medium-high; beat until mixture is thick and medium-firm peaks form when beaters are lifted, about 2 minutes (do not overbeat or mixture will curdle).


1) Using pastry brush, brush off crumbs from cakes. Place 1 cake layer, top side up, on platter. Spoon frosting in dollops over top of cake. Using offset spatula, spread frosting to edges. Top with second cake layer, top side up, pressing to adhere. Spread thin layer of frosting over top and sides of cake. Chill 10 minutes. Using offset spatula, spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake, swirling decoratively. Top with chocolate curls, if desired.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; chill. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving

Filled, but not yet frosted.

Filled, but not yet frosted.



From → Dessert

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