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Take a bite out of this mocha cake!

Mocha Cake with Coffee-Glazed Almonds

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
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes
Servings 20 people
Calories 386 kcal

Ingredients

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

Assembly

  • 2.5 oz melted dark chocolate

Instructions

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.

Assembly

  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.