Sour Cream Mocha Cake

This sour cream mocha cake, made with unsweetened chocolate and instant espresso, is incredibly moist. Perfect dinner party dessert.

Sour Cream Mocha Cake Recipe

I’ve had this recipe in my files for quite some time. I got it from a friend, Joseph Moran, who’s fanatical about perfecting a recipe. I’m not exactly sure where he got the inspiration for this incredibly intense and moist cake, but I do remember him spending months fiddling with the precise proportions of butter, cream, eggs, and flour. And lemme say, he nailed it. The cake requires unsweetened chocolate, chocolate extract, and instant espresso, so it’s a very “adult” dessert. Some friends have complained they get a caffeine buzz if they eat it before going to bed. So? You can make it with decaffeinated espresso; the flavor isn’t affected.–David Leite

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 espresso 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 each cake onto another rack to cool completely.
  • Make the espresso frosting
  • 6. Dissolve the espresso granules in the water. Pour the espresso 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.)
  • Assemble the cake
  • 7. Frost the cake as usual. Devour immediately, also as usual.
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