It all started when my Li’l Nugget asked for a wedding cake for her birthday, but what does a 5-year-old know about weddings? She described something made with cakes of different sizes stacked on top of each other and they had to be chocolate, of course.
So I made her a tri-level chocolate espresso cake with a secret compartment cut into the center, filled with sugar star sprinkles. Frosted with pink meringue, this cake made Daisy absolutely giddy!
It was so good, that I made it again in the form of cupcakes for her party that Sunday, dressed pretty in pink and orchid blossoms.
For the next 5 months, I would use every excuse to bake it, taking it along to dinner parties and play dates, shamelessly using my beloved friends and family as guinea pigs just so I can tweak the recipe. See what I do for you?
If you don’t have the time to make meringue, use fresh whipped cream. If you’re even more pressed for time, just slap some Nutella on there and soak up all the oohs and aahs. Add fresh berries or sprinkles, both or nothing at all. No matter how it’s dressed, this cake guarantees to have you sneaking trips to the fridge at ungodly hours in the night.
Admission is the First Step to Recovery
I confess – I’m a hopeless chocoholic. This recipe embodies my favorite things…chocolate, coffee, cake. Cocoa powder teams up with melted chocolate and intense espresso for an irresistible aroma that should be bottled up and sold as a fragrance. The problem with cocoa, if you can believe there is such a thing, is its tendency to dry out the cake. Finding a good balance gets you both irresistible flavor and moist texture.
Chocolate Espresso Cake
4 oz ( about 1/2 cup) good quality chocolate, melted
1 cup melted butter or vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz (1 cup) espresso (LavAzza)
1 cup sour cream
4 large free-range eggs
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 tsp baking powder
4 Tb coffee liqueur (optional)
Nutella and fresh berries for garnish
Melt butter with the chocolate.
Add milk and vanilla. Stir to combine.
Brew espresso and add to chocolate mixture.
Add sour cream.
Gently beat eggs and add to the chocolate mixture.
Preheat oven to 350*F.
Butter and flour 2 round cake pans.
Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into a large bowl.
Drizzle chocolate mixture into flour bowl a bit at a time and mix gently
until a smooth batter forms.
Divide batter between pans and transfer to hot oven.
Bake 30-35 mins.
Remove from oven and allow cakes to rest 10 mins in the pans.
Run a knife along the edges of cakes and flip onto wire racks.
Optional: While the cakes are still warm, brush coffee liqueur over the tops.
Frost with fresh whipped cream, Nutella or 5-minute meringue frosting.
For an extra special effect, torch the meringue and decorate with faux orchid blossoms and/or fresh berries.
Back to Basics
I love baking with my little sweetheart and, if it’s something she’s excited to eat, she’s more than happy to help make it. We make this chocolate espresso cake together, by hand, using nothing but a bowl and wooden spoon, without running the noisy mixer.
Daisy mixes gently as I drizzle the chocolate-butter potion into the bowl. In no time, a smooth, chocolaty batter magically appears and while it’s baking in the oven, we lick the bowl clean, giggling like little girls.