I’ve had this mocha cake recipe in my files for quite some time. I got it from a friend, Joseph Moran, who’s fanatical about perfecting recipes. I’m not exactly sure where he got the inspiration for this incredibly intense and moist cake, although I do remember him spending months fiddling with the proportions of butter, cream, eggs, and flour.
The cake requires unsweetened chocolate and espresso. It’s a very “adult” dessert. Some of my friends even complain they get a caffeine buzz if they eat it late at night. You can make it with decaffeinated espresso if that’s a concern. Rest easy, the flavor won’t be affected.–David Leite
LC Notes of Coffee and Chocolate Note
Instant coffee? Instant espresso? Can I use either? Aren’t they the same? Good questions–and the same ones our Fearless David had. Instant coffee is made from freeze-dried coffee. Instant expresso is made from, well, we think you can figure it out. You can use either in this recipe, although you’ll get a bigger BLAM with espresso. (That doesn’t mean you have to run out and buy some espresso if you happen to have a small jar of instant Maxwell House hanging around. Don’t worry, we won’t tell.)
And what’s with this chocolate extract nonsense? Well, it really isn’t balderdash. It lends a deeper, more chocolate-y flavor to the cake. Again, no need to run off to the store for some, but do consider trying it sometime. If you’re bereft of chocolate extract, just skip it and instead use a total of 1 tablespoon vanilla extract.
One more thing: Don’t even think of using a stand or hand mixer for the frosting. Only a food processor can whip that sucker into silky clouds of coffee goodness.
Sour Cream Mocha Cake Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 25 M
- 1 H
- Serves 8 to 10
- For the mocha cake
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, grated
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 5 teaspoons instant espresso granules, dissolved in 1 cup of hot water
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pans
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon chocolate extract (or omit and up the amount of vanilla to 1 tablespoon)
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
- For the coffee frosting
- 1/4 cup instant espresso granules, dissolved in 5 tablespoons of cold water
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- Make the cake
- 1. Slide a rack in the middle of the oven and crank the heat to 350°F (175°C). [Editor's Note: Make that 325°F (160°C) if you're using dark non-stick pans.] Butter two 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Butter and flour the paper, tapping out any excess flour.
- 2. Melt the chocolate, either iin a microwave on medium or in a pot set over another pot filled with an inch of simmering water. (Make sure no water splashes into the chocolate or it’ll seize and become grainy.) Set aside to cool until just warm.
- 3. Meanwhile, dump the sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
- 4. Whisk together the hot expresso, sour cream, canola oil, butter, and vanilla and chocolate extracts in a medium bowl. Pour this coffee-sour cream brew into the dry ingredients in the stand mixer and mix on low until just blended, about 30 seconds. Slowly drizzle in the beaten eggs and mix on medium until smooth. Plop the melted chocolate into the bowl and beat until the batter is uniform in color, about 15 seconds. The batter will be thin, but that’s how it should be.
- 5. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of each cake and invert them onto another rack to cool completely.
- Make the mocha frosting
- 6. Dissolve the coffee granules in the water. Pour the coffee mixture into a food processor and add the butter, sugar, and heavy cream. Process the mixture until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. The frosting will look hopelessly curdled and destroyed at first, but then just when you’re about to lose all faith, it will come together beautifully. Honest.
- Frost the cake
- 7. Frost the cake, as usual. Devour immediately, as usual.
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Sour Cream Mocha Cake Recipe © 1999 Joseph Moran. Photo © 1999 Emily Sandor. All rights reserved.