Chocolate Mocha Cake Recipe

Julianne Bayer Dell | Beyond Frosting

This Chocolate Mocha Cake is a 3-layer moist chocolate cake with a coffee infused buttercream. It's awesome as a birthday cake.

Twenty nineteen must be the year of chocolate cakes, I just can’t get enough. I am obsessed with my moist chocolate cake recipe, so it’s not so surprising how many different chocolate cakes I’ve made recently.

Chocolate Mocha Cake Photo

I’ve actually been holding onto this Chocolate Mocha cake for a while, but can you blame me?

It’s a moist chocolate cake made with a dark brewed coffee and covered in a mocha frosting and chocolate shavings. Every bite is so heavenly.

Chocolate Mocha Cake Picture

I first made a variation of this frosting when I made my mocha cake with Kahlua buttercream. You can absolutely spike your frosting for this cake with Kahlua if you want to, but if you’re looking for a kid friendly version, then just follow the original recipe.   

The cake itself is super easy. It’s an oil-based cake, so it’s really quick to come together and you can get it in the oven in 10 minutes.

Chocolate Mocha Cake Image

When stored properly, it stays moist for several days, and that is in part due to the sour cream in the recipe. I get a lot of questions about substitutions for the sour cream.

If you don’t have sour cream, I recommend using a non-fat Greek yogurt.

You’ll notice the cake isn’t overly sweet, and it’s more of a mild chocolate flavor that complements a sweeter a frosting.

Chocolate Mocha Cake Pic

When it comes time to pick a cocoa powder for the cake, I often use Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder, it’s one reason this chocolate cake is so dark. Regular cocoa powder will work as well, but I prefer the dark cocoa myself.

You can bake this cake in three 8-inch rounds or two 9-inch rounds, you’ll just need to adjust the baking time accordingly, and you’ll definitely have some leftover frosting. Personally, I love the look of the 3-layer cake.

Once your cake is baked and cooled, it’s time to make the frosting. The mocha frosting is so dreamy. It’s whipped to perfection and bursting with coffee flavor.

File 1 - Chocolate Mocha Cake

This frosting is flavored with a mix of strong brewed espresso and also powdered espresso. The brewed espresso gives the frosting that toasted brown color and gives a subtle underlying mocha flavor.

You’ll brew the espresso with 1/4 cup of hot water and 1 tablespoon of espresso powder and then allow it to cool completely. I usually throw it in the freezer. Then measure about 2 tablespoons of the brewed espresso to add to the frosting.

File 2 - Chocolate Mocha Cake

Use a pastry brush to spread the leftover espresso on the chocolate cake before you assemble them.

Then there’s the espresso powder itself that is added directly to the frosting. This is what gives you the burst of coffee. Without this, the mocha flavor isn’t very strong, so I highly recommend adding it.

Assembling the cake is quite easy. I loved adding the chopped chocolate to the outside of the cake. Simply take 4-6 ounces of chocolate and chop it up with a sharp knife. Then press it into the sides of the cake right after frosting the cake. You can use any leftovers to sprinkle on top.

File 3 - Chocolate Mocha Cake

The contrast of the dark chocolate and mocha cake is pure dessert bliss.

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Chocolate Mocha Cake Recipe

    10 Servings


For the Cake:
  • 1 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar, (285 g)
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 3 large Eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract, (15 ml)
  • 1/2 cup Light Sour Cream, (118 ml)
  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour, (280g)
  • 1/2 cup Natural Cocoa Powder, (55g)
  • 1 tablespoon Espresso Powder, (5g)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder, (9g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda, (2g)
  • 1 teaspoon Salt, (5g)
  • 1 1/4 cups Coffee, (355ml)
For the Frosting:
  • 1/4 cup Hot Water, (59ml)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Espresso Powder, (38g), divided
  • 2 cups Unsalted Butter, (459g), cold
  • 8 cups Powdered Sugar, (1041g)
  • 1 tablespoon Heavy Whipping Cream, (15ml)
  • 2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract, (10ml)
  • 4-6 ounces Dark Chocolate, chopped (113-170g) (optional)


For the Cake: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare three 8-inch round baking pans, line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the sides. Prepare your bake even stripes if desired.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract.
  3. Beat on medium speed until the eggs and oil are well incorporated and the batter is lighter in color. Next mix in the sour cream and beat until well combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.
  5. Alternate half the dry ingredients followed by half of the coffee and mix just until the flour starts to incorporate.
  6. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
  7. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir the batter from the bottom to the top to ensure it’s well mixed.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between the three pans, about 1 2/3 cups of batter per pan.
  9. Bake at 350°F for 20-24 minutes. Rotate your pans in the oven halfway through baking.
  10. Test the cake for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, your cake is done.
  11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

For the Frosting:

  1. Prepare the espresso. In a microwave-safe dish, heat the water until it’s almost boiling and add 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder, stirring until it’s dissolved.
  2. Place the espresso in the freezer to cool it down. Once cooled, measure out 2 tablespoons of brewed espresso to add to the frosting and brush any leftovers over top of the chocolate cake layers prior to assembling.
  3. Cut the butter into pieces. Using the paddle attachment, whip butter for 3-4 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Beat until butter looks light in color.
  4. Alternate adding 2-3 cups of powdered sugar at a time with a portion of the liquid ingredients: brewed espresso, heavy cream and vanilla extract.
  5. Ensure all the powdered sugar is well combined and beat for 2-3 minutes before adding additional powdered sugar. Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons espresso powder into the prepared frosting.
  6. Once all ingredients have been added, whip for 3-4 minutes until the frosting is light and airy. If the frosting is too thick, add additional heavy whipping cream 1 tablespoon at a time.

To Assemble this Cake:

  1. Level off your cakes by removing any domes.
  2. Place a dollop of frosting on your cake board and place the bottom layer of cake over that.
  3. Pipe the first layer of frosting, pipe in circles working outside edge to the middle. Spread evenly with an offset spatula.
  4. Add the second layer of cake and add the remaining frosting. Place the third layer of cake on top.
  5. Use you offset spatula to press any excess frosting onto the edges of the cake.
  6. To finish, pipe the frosting along the outside edge of the cake using a large open round tip, or a cake icer tip. Then use an offset spatula or icing smoother to create a smooth edge.
  7. Chop the dark chocolate into thin and small pieces and gently press into the sides of the cake.
  8. Fill the piping bag with the remaining frosting to pipe the rosettes on top. Sprinkle to top with leftover chocolate. Store in an airtight container.




Cooking Method:
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Related Recipes:
Cake Recipes, Frosting Recipes, Dessert Recipes, Party Food Recipes, Baking Recipes, Baked Recipes, Chocolate Recipes, Coffee Recipes
Recipe Yields:
1 3-layer Cake
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:
Related Post:
Author: Julianne Bayer Dell
Recipe Yields: 1 3-layer Cake
Prep Time: 60 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 80 minutes

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1 slice
Servings Per Recipe 10

Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 449
Calories 1138

% Daily Value*
Total Fat 56g
  Saturated Fat 28g
Sodium 333mg
Total Carbohydrate 153g
  Dietary Fiber 2g
  Sugars 126g
Protein 6g

* Percent Daily Value are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
** Nutrition Facts are estimated based on ingredients and data provided by Fat Secret. Please consult a doctor if you have special dietary needs.
Julianne Bayer Dell

About Julianne

Julianne loves all things dessert, and shows it on her blog, Beyond Frosting. She's sharing shortcuts to create decadent desserts using cake mix as our Cake Mix Fanatic!

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