This Chocolate Espresso Layer Cake is one of our most loved cakes on the blog. As soon as you take a bite, you will see why! A beloved rich chocolate cake with just the right amount of espresso and frosted with mom’s marshmallow frosting recipe. It’s a hit at every special party!
Originally published April 13, 2015, updated on February 3, 2020.
Since it’s already February and you may or may not have CHOCOLATE on your mind…I thought it might be fun to explore some amazing chocolate recipes we just love! Like this spectacular chocolate layer cake! Another chocolate cake we adore is this Chocolate Rye Crumb Cake…the crumb topping is fantastic!
Does this cake recipe work?
How to make the best chocolate espresso layer cake?
- COCOA. There are two options for the cocoa powder: Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa or regular unsweetened cocoa powder. Usually I go with Dutch-process as it has such a lovely color and rich flavor. Go for the unsweetened cocoa powder if that’s all you have on hand. The cake will be fantastic!
- OIL. I went with sunflower oil. Sometimes I use coconut oil. Another fantastic idea is olive oil (extra-virgin). It does have a stronger flavor and my kids aren’t too crazy about it.
- COFFEE. I used fresh brewed espresso. You could use decaf if you don’t need any extra caffeeine kick. Also, hot water is an option.
What frosting goes best with chocolate cake?
Can you make this chocolate cake vegan?
Can I make this cake single layer?
What is an easy way to decorate a chocolate cake?
This is Hershey’s famous chocolate cake with a couple of adaptions.
Chocolate Espresso Layer Cake
- 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 sunflower oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup hot espresso use decaf if you're worried about the caffeine or even just boiling water instead
- MARSHMALLOW FROSTING
- 1 cup of granulated white sugar not powdered sugar
- 4 egg whites room temperature
- 1/3 cup of water
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 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.
- MARSHMALLOW FROSTING
- In a medium saucepan, bring the 1/3 cup of water, sugar, cream of tartar to a boil. Do not stir the sugar mixture as it will cause it to crystallize. Boil until you have thick clear bubbles ( should only take about 5 minutes and reads a temperature of 245 F). Be careful not to boil even 1 second longer. *(If a mistake happens and you do boil the sugar too long and end up with an amber colored sugar mixture, don’t throw it away. Add some heavy cream and you have an amazing caramel sauce. soon as it comes to a rapid bubble, because it will turn amber, and than you would have to quickly make a different recipe, and add heavy cream, which would be “caramel sauce”).
- In a metal bowl, add all the egg whites, and beat the egg whites until starts to get a little thick and forms soft peaks. Set your timer for 7 minutes. Now slowly (take care and do not let this boiling hot sugar syrup burn you) add the sugar syrup only a little at a time and beat on high speed for 7 minutes.
- On the last minute, beat in the vanilla extract. The frosting will be fluffy and light. My mom recommends adding a drop of food coloring if you want to be daring.
- Place the first layer of cake on a revolving cake stand. I like to have a layer of foil paper under the cake or even a cardboard round. The foil paper is just pieces of foil that can be pulled out easily without messing up the bottom of the cake when you’re done frosting.
- Spread about one cup of the frosting on the cake using an offset spatula. Spread it around evenly. Add a little more if needed until you like how thick the middle layer will be.
- Carefully place the second layer of cake on top. Use the offset spatula to spread on the rest of the frosting evenly around the sides and top of the cake. Make sure you evenly spread it around the sides of the cake. You could toss on some fresh raspberries on top (like I did)or even grate on some chocolate on top. Cake is best when served at room temperature.