Mocha Cake with Coffee-Glazed Almonds

Take a bite out of this mocha cake!

welcome to the coffee extravaganza: this kahlua-spiked mocha cake is held together with coffee-scented buttercream and sprinkled with coffee-glazed almonds. 

it’s the holidays, i’m officially off until dec 26th (yeehaw). i’m definitely a broken stand mixer at this point, but: i’m ready to hibernate under a blanket, with breaks to let friends into the house and have them bring snacks and boba. the holidays are tiring in between the fun, and maybe i’ve been unwilling to admit to myself. yet here we are: baking isn’t that fun. it’s a lot of second guessing measurements and trying to follow instructions. that millennial baking trend hit me young and now i’m not as into it?? making cakes like this fits into my work/friends/eat/potato life as well as marketers and avoiding q4 burnout these days. here’s one last layered cake hurrah for now.

this mocha cake is inspired by the kahlua chocolate bundt cakes of my youth. add a good cloud of sour cream and a glug of kahlua to chocolate cake mix and the other mix-ins, pour into a bundt pan, serve dusted with powdered sugar. and it’s tasty – it’s chocolate cake. in true “let’s overcomplicate everything” mentality, i recoiled away from box cake mix and came up with this mocha cake. it has my favorite chocolate cake from ina garten, with some of the coffee replaced by kahlua. it gets layered with coffee swiss meringue buttercream and coffee glazed almonds for the kind of cake that coffee haters (in general, or those who like their coffee black instead of ice cream-y coffee) should stay away from. all that moist cake, which can definitely be more kahlua saturated if you sub out more of the coffee in the cake or brush some onto the baked cakes, separated by bands of silky buttercream and topped with crunchy, sugary almonds. not a bad bye-for-now-homemade-layer-cakes cake.

A chocolate layer cake filled with buttercream and decorated with coffee-glazed almonds and dark chocolate shards.

1 year ago: white peppermint cake | matcha ginger beer fizz
2 years ago: furikake chex mix | almond cherry bostock
3 years ago: herby rice with grapes and pecans | dng review 2016
4 years ago: pumpkin spice waffles | peppermint mocha cookies
5 years ago: vanilla coconut quinoa pudding | french toast casserole
6 years ago: cranberry bliss barsyaki manju

5 from 2 votes
Take a bite out of this mocha cake!
Mocha Cake with Coffee-Glazed Almonds
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
55 mins
Total Time
1 hr 55 mins
This mocha cake has a little coffee everywhere: Kahlua baked into the cake, coffee beans ground into the almond topping, coffee infused into the buttercream.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: almonds, buttercream, cake, chocolate, chocolate cake, coffee, frosting, icing, ina garten, kahlua, martha stewart, mocha, swiss meringue buttercream, vegetarian
Servings: 20 people
Calories: 386 kcal
Mocha Cake
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk room temperature
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup hot, strong coffee
  • 1/3 cup Kahlua
Coffee-Glazed Almonds
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar or honey or maple syrup or agave
  • 1 tsp instant espresso powder
Coffee Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter room temperature, cut into tablespoons
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 T instant espresso powder
  • 2.5 oz melted dark chocolate
Mocha Cake
  1. Sift the dry ingredients. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Slowly add to the dry. Add the coffee and Kahlua, then stir just to combine.
  2. Pour into two buttered and lined 8” round cake pans. Bake at 350F for 35 to 40 minutes (I used 9” pans, which baked for 25 minutes), until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
Coffee-Glazed Almonds
  1. In a dry skillet over medium-low heat, toast the almonds until light tan, 5-10 minutes. Add the sugar and espresso. Stir frequently until the sugar melts down and coats the almonds. The almonds should be really dark, since this will ensure they stay crunchy and the almost burntness cuts through the sweetness. Remove from heat and cool completely. Break up any big chunks.
Coffee Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  1. Whisk egg whites, sugar, and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water until sugar has dissolved (you can rub some between your fingers, but I just feel around the bowl with my whisk).
  2. Whisk on medium-high speed (please use a stand mixer unless you want to whip for 30 minutes using a hand mixer; I wish I was kidding) until stiff peaks form and the bowl is cool to the touch, about 10 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment. Add the butter 1 chunk at a time, beating until it disappears before adding the next one. Beat until the buttercream is pale and fluffy. If it separates, just keep whipping and the buttercream will fix itself (why can’t everything be like this?). If it’s super soft, put it in the fridge for 10 minutes, then try whipping it again. Mix in the espresso powder until combined.
  1. Use the back of a spoon to spread a long oval like shape of chocolate onto a nonstick baking mat. Use all the chocolate, then let all of the chocolate harden. Once the chocolate is hardened, peel away from the baking mat. Set aside.
  2. Trim the tops of the cakes off with a long serrated knife.
  3. Place one cake on a serving plate, then spread 1/3 of the buttercream onto the cake to the edges. Place the other cake on top, and press down slightly.
  4. Use the rest of the buttercream to frost the outside, then press the chocolate ovals/shards into the sides of the cake. Sprinkle the coffee-glazed almonds on top.
Recipe Notes

Mocha cake adapted slightly from Ina Garten. Coffee Swiss Meringue Buttercream adapted slightly from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.

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5 Replies to “Mocha Cake with Coffee-Glazed Almonds”

  1. Enjoy your break my darling!! Loving the flavors of this cake and it looks so pretty! Have a Merry Christmas!! Xoxo

  2. Heather, these flavors are seriously awesome! Love the way you decorated that cake, too! Gorgeous! Hope you had a nice break, but it sounds Iike it was not long enough.😕

  3. This cake was a huge hit today! I added chopped chocolate- covered coffee beans to the top with the almonds. Wish I could show you. Thank you!5 stars

    1. i’m so glad it worked out! chocolate-covered coffee beans on top sound delicious. not sure if you have facebook/instagram, but you can post the picture on one of those and tag me (@deliciousnotgorgeous) if you’d like (:

  4. I made this cake for a friend’s birthday only direction he gave me was coffee flavor with nuts. I had never made Swiss Meringue Buttercream and thought 💭 it would be harder than it was. My friend’s review was that the cake is awesome!!5 stars

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