Where there is a special occasion around here, you can bet there will be a at least 2 different cakes. If it’s one of the kids’ birthday (when I say kids, I mean even neighbor’s kids), there is a request for a layer cake. If it is one of the adults birthdays, most likely, it will be a chocolate espresso layer cake.
I have so much fun making layer cakes! I really do! If I didn’t feel compelled to have to actually take a nice photo of it, I would be making more of them. I much prefer a simple bundt cake or a single layer cake with a luscious layer of frosting on top. Those kinds of cake are so easy to slice and photograph.
It’s slightly nerve-wracking to think about slicing that first slice. I want to take a photo of the finished cake so badly and share it here, but what if it looks awful when I finally take that first slice out? I probably should’ve used a q-tip and cleaned the frosting in the middle here a little, but who am I kidding? I’m not a professional food photographer. I created this cake out of love for a special birthday (actually, we were celebrating 2 special March birthdays!!), and it didn’t matter how pretty the cake looked for photos to anyone but me! Just a warning, this post is a little longer than normal because I’m sharing a story. Carry on to the recipe if you only are here for cake (I won’t be offended!).
Will anyone notice that the cake is a little lopsided? Did I frost it evenly around the sides? Is there enough frosting in the middle? All very important questions to those that look at my photos, but to those that are going to get to enjoy a slice, completely irrelevant information. Unless you’re dealing with my best friend’s father-in-law (from Sicily, no less!), who used to own many different restaurants and is quite the chef and quite the expert pizza maker. He sat at the end of the table and giggled and told me in Italian that the cake was leaning a little to one side, while tilting his head looking at it. Did anyone else care? Not really. Did he care? Not so much. He told me he was just letting me know, as he dug into his second slice.
Ahhhhh…now to go forward with this cake. Isn’t this why you came here?
some notes: As for the recipe working? It’s a Hershey’s chocolate cake recipe. I’ve seen it around the web since I originally posted it here a few years back. Other bloggers have made it and their post has been pinned millions of times. But this is really from Hershey’s with a slight tweak that I like to do sometimes, adding the espresso, buttermilk, and decrease the sugar amount a little. I use mom’s frosting. It’s a keeper recipe. It’s very similar to this cake (that happens to be vegan if you need a good vegan chocolate cake recipe) and this cake, which is a really nice single layer cake with chocolate frosting on top. I had some gorgeous raspberries and added them on top for a pop of color. You could omit that part and keep it just frosting and absolutely nobody will complain. I guarantee!
Here is link to my marshmallow frosting (7 minute frosting).
Hershey’s cake with a couple of adaptions.
Chocolate Espresso Layer Cake
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: approx 30-35 minutes
Ingredients (10-12 servings)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
- 2 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup hot espresso (use decaf if you’re worried about the caffeine or even just boiling water instead)
- see link above recipe
*If you don’t have buttermilk on hand (I usually never do), simply add one tablespoon of white vinegar to a liquid measuring cup. Add the milk to the vinegar until it reaches one cup and let mixture stand at room temperature for about 5 minutes. It should be curdled. Give it a whirl with your spoon…look, you just made your own buttermilk!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with baking spray (or if you prefer, butter the bottom of each pan and line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter the parchment paper).
*If you use the butter/parchment paper method, dust the pans after adding the butter to the parchment paper with cocoa powder. Shake out the excess and set the pans aside while you prep the batter.
In a medium sized bowl, add the cocoa powder and chocolate chips. Pour in the hot espresso and stir together until you have a smooth chocolate mixture.
In the bowl of your stand mixer (if you don’t have a stand mixer, in a medium sized bowl), mix together on low speed the sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined. In a small bowl, mix together the eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla, stopping the mixer to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to combine all the flour mixture. Add the buttermilk mixture a little at time into the flour mixture and mix together until combined.
Slowly add the melted chocolate mixture and mix until combined; stop the mixture and scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to incorporate all of the chocolate mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes (mine were ready at about 28 minutes), or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cakes in their pans for about 20 minutes. While the cakes are cooling, you can prep whichever frosting you are using, or use my frosting recipe.
See link above for my frosting recipe.