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Coffee-Chocolate Layer Cake with Mocha-Mascarpone Frosting

Coffee-Chocolate Layer Cake with Mocha-Mascarpone Frosting

As if this chocolate layer mocha cake wasn't enough, it's made with strong coffee and mascarpone cheese. You have been warned.



  • 3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 teaspoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 3/4 cup hot water


  • 1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 2 8-ounce containers chilled mascarpone cheese
  • Bittersweet chocolate curls (optional)

Recipe Preparation


  • Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 325°F. Generously butter two 9-inch cake pans with 2-inch-high sides; dust with flour, tapping out any excess. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper.

  • Sift 2 cups cake flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add brown sugar and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions, beating just until blended after each addition. Gradually add hot espresso-water mixture, beating just until smooth.

  • Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on rack 15 minutes. Run small knife around sides of pans to loosen cakes. Invert cakes onto racks; lift pans off cakes and remove parchment. Place wire rack atop each cake; invert again so top side is up. Cool completely. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap each cake in plastic and store at room temperature.


  • Sift cocoa powder into large bowl; add espresso powder. Bring 1 cup cream to boil in small saucepan. Slowly pour cream over cocoa mixture, whisking until cocoa is completely dissolved, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup cream and sugar; stir until sugar dissolves. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours. Cover; keep chilled.

  • Add mascarpone to chilled cocoa mixture. Using electric mixer, beat on low speed until blended and smooth. Increase speed to medium-high; beat until mixture is thick and medium-firm peaks form when beaters are lifted, about 2 minutes (do not overbeat or mixture will curdle).

  • Using pastry brush, brush off crumbs from cakes. Place 1 cake layer, top side up, on platter. Spoon 1 3/4 cups frosting in dollops over top of cake. Using offset spatula, spread frosting to edges. Top with second cake layer, top side up, pressing to adhere. Spread thin layer of frosting over top and sides of cake. Chill 10 minutes. Using offset spatula, spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake, swirling decoratively. Top with chocolate curls, if desired. Cover with cake dome; chill. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving.

Recipe by Abigail Johnson Dodge,Reviews SectionIt’s an amazing recipe...I took out my cakes at 35 min instead of 40 and they turned out perfect after letting them finish baking in the pan.AnonymousHouston, TX07/02/20Definitely a keeper! I finally made this cake yesterday, and it's a hit! This will be a "go-to" for me from now on. I would like to know how they made the frosting so dark on the cake in the photos. While my frosting did not turn out gray (how in the world?), is wasn't the nice deep, rich chocolate color seen in these photos. It was a luscious, creamy, dreamy milk chocolate color - with a luscious, creamy and delicious flavor! It was more mousse than frosting, and we love it! I think I might serve it on it's own - I'd also recommend forgoing the traditional layer cake in favor of a trifle or even individual dessert cups. Yes, definitely a keeper!!Irisheagle92Lexington, KY06/19/20I made this cake and loved it! I used black cocoa powder and it made the cake nice and dark but the icing still turned out grey. I would like to know what made this look so dark! A video would be great. It still was amazing!DeidreWrightEvansville, IN05/08/20Taste alone deserves 5stars, but gave 4 because of the color difference. I’m glad I read other comments before making it, so I was prepared. The only modification I did was used SPECIAL DARK baking cocoa, instead of the regular. The cake is dark, but the icing isn’t. I don’t mind the color contrast. Overall taste really is phenomenal!!40 minutes at 325degrees what not bear enough time. I had to add 30 minutes cook time. As far as the frosting yes it did make a lot of frosting. The color difference was no big deal to me. I would not call it a fraud or misrepresentation of anything. Different natural cocoa powders are different in color. I used Hershey’s natural unsweetened cocoa powder and didn’t have issue with color difference. I did right when serving the cake add whip cream to the top and sliced strawberries. I also altered the recipe to make this gluten free and sugar free since I have celiacs disease and am an insulin diabetic. It was an amazing cake !!!! Will definitely make this againBlueyes4evaNew Port Richey FL04/30/20It is nowhere near as dark as the picture. But who cares? It's the best cake I've ever made; it's what I now make for my own birthday every year! I would like to nominate it for a video feature and perhaps a reshoot on the photo?SarahFowlerWolfeSacramento, CA04/28/20Both layers collapsed in the middle while cooling, then when I peeled off the parchment, all air went out of the center. I ended up with high sides and a nearly flat center...yet so light and airy. What did I do wrong?Melissa MorseMassachusetts04/27/20It's very good, but a little dense, almost a brownie like consistency. I feel like using baking soda instead of baking powder would have made it a lighter cake. The cake in the photo doesn't match, but that's not such a terrible mistake and could be made to look the same with black cocoa powder.I found a photo of what everyone is talking about. The photo of this cake following the recipe looks like a fudge round cake. It has a light brown icing and darker brown cake. I was wanting to try this recipe, but I'm not interested in having to change measurements and ingredients for a trial run.Supply, North Carolina04/20/20This looks like Satan purchased my cold, dark soul for chocolate (fair trade)AnonymousPrince Edward Island, Canada04/13/20If you want dark colored cake, do not use black food coloring as someone suggested- that will make your frosting grey. Use dark colored coco powder.The recipe was obviously changed.. cake and frosting in no way matched the picture. I think the recipe that the cake in picture was made from used black cocoa. Just wonder why the recipe was changed?? Black cocoa could have been listed as an option..Pipedreamer65Houston, Texas11/01/19This cake was amazing! Compliments from everyone! Cake with super moist and frosting was delicious. No, the frosting does not look like the picture but I just didn't show anyone at the party the picture and everyone thought it was great. I actually thought it contrasted nicely with the dark cake. It does make a lot of frosting so make sure you put a lot in the layer. The frosting isn't super sweet. Use it all. Next time I make it I'm going to add a little bit more espresso to both the cake and the frosting. They could both take a little more. Definitely a keeper!Red ChickenCrystal Lake, IL06/16/19Nice recipe, but there is a way to give us the ingredients in grams or oz??? It is easier for many than use cups!!!AgathatSwitzerland06/15/19If you want to get a black frosting like that, just try adding some black gel food coloring to the frosting. Seems like a pretty small issue for a pretty good recipeAnekitrinaSarasota06/05/19The cake was fine, spongey and moist. It's really hard, however, to enjoy even a beautiful sponge when the frosting looks like wet cement. Was food coloring used before frosting? Was the right picture published with the right recipe? I like that it wasn't too sweet -- that was great! Could we use 60 or 70% chocolate for the frosting instead of powder? I'm scrambling to figure out how you got that picture and make something more appetizing for my friends & family.Made this tonight. Followed the recipe to the T. Frosting is a very light color as is the cake. Very tasty either way with a very pronounced coffee flavor, but looks nothing like the picture that was posted. .SarahscipioneLeviton, NY 05/12/19This was a flipping disaster. I followed this recipe to the T and it was a crumbly mess. There is no way the cake in that picture is the cake in this recipe.YoupeiceofSchilloOklahoma City05/12/19I haven't made this yet, but as I read it, I realized that the frosting would have to be light brown. I'm fascinated that every reviewer so far has mentioned the disparity between the photograph and the actual appearance, but BA has studiously ignored the comments. Hey, guys, how about paying attention to your customers?Margaret BloebaumCalifornia03/25/19Such dishonestly. If you change an ingredient from the author's recipe in the photo shoot (what is clearly what happened here), THEN CHANGE THE PRINTED RECIPE! The black frosting looks cool and your readers shouldn't have to be scurrying to try and figure out how to recreate it. Or is that too hard to understand?AnonymousAn Angry Place 02/15/19Absolutely delicious! However...the frosting pictured above could not possibly be the frosting in this recipe. Whipping that much mascarpone into it makes it quite light in color. I would definitely recommend it...just don't expect it to look dark like that.rosafaeriePortland, Maine02/14/19It looks delicious. I will make this cake for sure.Countrygirl01Birmingham,Al02/13/19Loved the cake recipe....however, my frosting color was nothing like the deep dark chocolate in the photo. It looked more like a mocha color. Is the recipe quantity for cocoa correct in the ingredient list?eatwell1Marblehead, MA10/31/18This is a chocolate lover's delight. The photo is misleading as the frosting becomes a lighter, more milk chocolate-looking color. The recipe warns not to over mix the icing so it doesn't curdle. I've never had that happen, but I think I "caught" it just before. Mixing in a stand mixer for barely a minute was enough. It was rather thick and I used a hot knife to spread and smooth it. The amount is plentiful, but I will never complain about too much icing!It was delicious. Had none of the frosting problems others mentioned. Even the people who weren't fond of chocolate liked it. I used King Arthur's Black Cocoa and a little more espresso. My only issues were that it was far too much frosting. Even though I used a generous amount, there was lots left. Half would be enough. And I feel ripped off by the photo. I knew from the start that the frosting color in the photo couldn't be right for whipped cream and marscapone, but a recipe photo should depict the actual recipe.AnonymousPrinceton NJ05/20/18

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