Did you know, all the best chocolate cakes have coffee in them? True story. I learned this over summer when frantically searching for a fail-safe chocolate cake recipe for my daughter’s second birthday party. Two talented foodie friends each shared their top recipes, and BOTH had espresso in them. I was hesitant. Coffee? In a child’s birthday cake? Would it send the kids crazy? Would it taste too strong? No, the truth is, a good chocolate cake needs a little coffee to take the sugary edge off, and bring out the rich cocoa flavour.
I tested both recipes, and even tried omitting the coffee… but the coffee-less version was a flop! So, I wholeheartedly recommend a shot of espresso in every chocolate cake you ever bake. (And yes, I dressed this cake up for the aforementioned kids’ birthday party, and fed it to a room full of toddlers and parents… no caffeine issues – promise!).
This deliciously moist chocolate cake doesn’t taste overly coffee-flavoured at all, there’s just a subtle hint of espresso, but it brings out the cocoa flavour perfectly. (If you’re after a stronger caffeine kick, add two shots of espresso and hold back a little on the water in the cake mix).
For the cake
1 cup plain flour
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup dutch cocoa powder
1 shot Nespresso Arpeggio capsule (cooled)
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water
50g whole roasted hazelnuts
For the easy chocolate buttercream
250g unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
3/4 cup dutch cocoa
1 tablespoon milk
few drops vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 180º F. Butter a 22cm cake tin, and line with baking paper.
Sift all dry ingredients into a large bowl and stir to combine.
Add milk, espresso, oil, egg, and vanilla to the dry mixture and whisk together.
Once all ingredients are well mixed, reduce mixing speed and carefully add boiling water to the mixture.
Pour into your pre-papered cake tin, and bake for 35 minutes. Test with a metal skewer – when inserted into the cake, it should come out clean.
Remove cake from the oven, flip onto a baking rack, peel away baking paper and allow to cool.
For the buttercream icing, sift icing sugar and cocoa together, removing any lumps.
Whisk softened butter to form a creamy consistency, slowly adding cocoa sugar mixture until icing resembles a milk chocolate colour. Add a few drops of vanilla, to taste. Add milk as required if mixture becomes too dry to whisk. You may not need all this mixture for your cake but it’s hard to whisk a smaller quantity than 250g!
Once cake is completely cooled, ice generously with chocolate buttercream icing, and scatter whole roasted hazelnuts on top.
The cake spread with Lucy’s easy buttercream icing. Photo – Caitlin Mills.
Add fresh hazelnuts on top for some crunch!Photo – Caitlin Mills.
Chocolate coffee cake – a little bit grown up. Photo – Caitlin Mills.
Chocolate cake with a kick! Photo – Caitlin Mills.