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slice of cake on a plate with a fork and a bottle of milk behind it

Chocolate Mocha Cake

Chocolate mocha cake is a must for anyone who loves the combination of chocolate and espresso!

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 3 hours
Cook Time 26 minutes
Cooling Time 8 hours
Total Time 3 hours 26 minutes
Servings 10
Author Kelsie


Cake layers

  • Chocolate cake layers
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm coffee


  • 4 ounces full-fat cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream well chilled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mocha buttercream frosting

  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 6 to 10 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
  • 4 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Chocolate drip

  • 5 ounces dark chocolate finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


Cake layers

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray 3 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray.
  2. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper, spray the paper with cooking spray and set pans aside.
  3. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium mixing bowl. (If your cocoa powder has a lot of clumps in it then sift it before mixing with the flour.) Whisk to combine, then set aside.
  4. Combine the sugar, butter, and vegetable oil in a large mixing bowl and whisk vigorously to combine. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla.
  5. Use a rubber spatula to mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, then slowly mix in the coffee, stirring until just incorporated. (Take care to scrape the bottom of the bowl while you’re mixing to ensure all of the dry ingredients are incorporated.)
  6. Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 26 to 32 minutes, until the cakes spring back when touched gently with your fingertip.
  7. Let cake layers cool in pans for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pans and carefully remove. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before filling and frosting. Take care not to over-bake or the cake layers will be dry!


  1. Beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a medium bowl until smooth, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  2. With mixer on medium speed, gradually beat in the heavy cream.
  3. Once all the cream has been added, turn the mixer to high and beat until the mixture forms stiff peaks, then beat in the espresso powder and vanilla until fully combined.
  4. Refrigerate while you work on the frosting.


  1. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until very smooth.
  2. Add 4 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar, the cocoa powder, 6 tablespoons of the milk or cream, and the espresso powder, vanilla, and salt. Mix on low until combined, stopping a few times to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  3. Turn mixer to medium and beat until frosting is very smooth. Add additional powdered sugar if frosting is too thin and additional milk or cream if it is too thick.


  1. Use a long serrated knife to trim your cake layers if they’ve domed. Set one layer on a cake stand or cardboard cake circle.
  2. Transfer about 1 cup of frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe a thick circle of frosting around the edge of the cake layer. Spread half of the filling inside the circle.
  3. Top with a second cake layer and repeat the process of piping and filling the circle.
  4. Use the remaining frosting to frost your cake. Chill the cake in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before adding the drip. (If you’re not adding the chocolate drip then you can decorate the cake and serve now.)

Chocolate drip

  1. Heat the heavy cream in the microwave for 30 to 40 seconds, until very hot but not boiling.
  2. Place the chopped chocolate in a large bowl. Pour the warm cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 3 minutes. Whisk until completely smooth.
  3. Transfer the ganache to a plastic squeeze bottle (or a large zip-top plastic bag with one corner snipped off). Squeeze a circle of ganache around the edge of the cake, applying a little extra pressure at certain points to create drips.
  4. Carefully spread the remaining ganache over the top of the cake. If desired, decorate the top of the cake with chocolate-covered espresso beans. Refrigerate to set the ganache, then slice and serve.
  5. Uneaten cake can be stored (covered) in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer (tightly wrapped) for up to 3 months.

Recipe Notes

  • You can store your cake layers overnight to fill and frost the next day. Cool them completely, then wrap tightly with plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to a day.
  • “Stiff peaks,” as specified in the filling section, means that when you pull the beaters out of the filling mixture, the filling should hold its shape rather than fold in on itself.
  • Use more or less espresso powder in the frosting depending on how deep a coffee flavor you want your frosting to have.
  • The chocolate drip is an extra step you can skip if you want; your cake will still be delicious without it!