Mocha Cake

I’m not sure at what age it becomes socially inappropriate to bake oneself a big birthday mocha cake, slather it in mocha cream cheese frosting, and then smother crushed chocolate covered espresso beans all over the top, but I sincerely hope 29 isn’t it.

Triple Chocolate Mocha Cake

I also hope it remains appropriate to have a slice of said mocha cake for breakfast, accompanied by the free Starbucks birthday coffee (a mocha to match). Overkill? On birthdays, no such limits apply.

Triple Chocolate Mocha Cake. This is the best chocolate cake recipe!

In sitting down to write this post, I’m trying to decide whether or not I feel 29. The answer is yes. And no. I love my late 20s for the sense of deeper comfort with myself they’ve given me. I’m more settled and happy with the no-hips nerd I’ve always been but would have wished away 10 years ago. I’m a gloriously awful dancer, still love 90s music, and could probably wear the same button down chambray shirt every day for the rest of my life. I’ve also been immeasurably blessed to have traveled many incredible places and to now live in my own home, doing what I love every day. Hey world, I’m 29.

World's Greatest Chocolate Cake—Mocha Chocolate Bundt Cake with Mocha Cream Cheese Frosting

29

At the same time, 29 scares me a little. Yes, I’ve visited faraway places and achieved things of which I am proud, but my list of goals and hopes for the future is a lengthy one, and it changes more often than I like admitting. Ten years ago, if you had asked me where I would be right now, I would have definitely answered home with three kids. Now, nothing seems that definitive at all. Sure, I’m a homeowner, but I’m still insisting on birthday cake smothered in candy and licking the frosting right out of the bowl. I’m 29, and I feel young and old at the same time. It’s completely trite and completely true.

Mocha Cake Recipe with Mocha Cream Cheese Frosting

Perhaps I was channeling my own sentiments of age ambiguity when I baked this mocha cake, because it’s the dessert representation of grown up-tastes meeting childhood favorites. The cake itself is majestically moist and decadent, and I can best describe it as a melt-in-your-mouth brownie sponge cake. It’s my vision of the perfect chocolate cake, one that I imagine tastes like the cake that Bruce Bogtrotter devours in Matilda, one of my favorite childhood books, but with a grown-up hit of espresso.

Though I’m sure a simple dusting of powdered sugar would be sufficient for this mocha cake, it is my birthday wish that you slather it liberally with mocha cream cheese frosting. I’m not usually a big frosting fan as I find most too sweet, but this lightly tangy, richly chocolaty, and coffee-spiked icing is good enough to stand as a dessert all its own. Try it dipped with salty pretzels or graham crackers—just be sure you frost the mocha cake first, or you may wonder why you suddenly don’t have enough to cover its backside…

Mocha Cream Cheese Frosting for a Mocha Cake

The final touch is a sprinkle of a grown-up candy, dark chocolate-covered espresso beans. The beans provide the mocha cake’s most pronounced coffee flavor, so if you aren’t a die-hard coffee lover, feel free to omit them or use chopped regular dark chocolate instead.

This mocha cake recipe will yield enough batter to bake one eight-inch round cake or a half-size, six-cup bundt cake (I use and love this half-size bundt cake pan). If you’d like to bake a full sized, two-layer cake or 10-cup bundt, simply double the batter. For the larger bundt, you likely will need to adjust the baking time as well.

Triple Chocolate Mocha Cake with Mocha Cream Cheese Frosting

Although I do not know everything this year or the ones to follow have in store, for today, I am finding respite in one solid, comforting fact: I will never ever be too old for chocolate cake.

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Mocha Cake

A moist and decadent mocha cake recipe, topped with mocha cream cheese frosting. This is a must for all chocolate and coffee lovers!

Yield: 1 small bundt cake or 1 8-inch round cake

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Ingredients:

For the Cake

  • Butter, for greasing the pan
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, plus extra for the pan
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooloed
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

For the Frosting

  • 4 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon brewed coffee (room temperature or cold)
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Chopped chocolate covered espresso beans, for decorating

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and lightly dust with cocoa powder a 6-cup bundt pan or a 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pan, tapping out the excess. If using a round cake pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter and dush with cocoa again.
  2. Into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl, briskly whisk together the all purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until well combined and no lumps remain.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla until well blended. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Then, keeping the mixer running on low, pour in the coffee and mix gently, just until combined. Scrape the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure all ingredients are blended.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean (either of the two pans will bake in this amount of time). Remove from the oven, place the pan on a wire rack, then let the cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Carefully invert onto a serving plate.
  5. Prepare the frosting: in a large mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  6. In a small bowl, stir together the coffee, espresso powder, and vanilla extract so that the espresso powder dissolves, then add the mixture to the bowl with the cream cheese and butter and beat until combined. In a separate bowl, sift together the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the powdered sugar mixture to the cream cheese. Mix until well blended. Add a little more liquid coffee or powdered sugar as needed to reach the desired consistency. Spread over the cooled cake. Sprinkle immediately with chopped chocolate covered espresso beans. Dive in!

Adapted from my Salted Chocolate Olive Oil Cupcakes

// All images and text ©/Well Plated.

Did you try this recipe? I want to see! Follow Well Plated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

Cakes of birthdays past:

About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

50 comments

  1. happy birthday friend!! and the cake is the way to celebrate your birthday, no matter if you are 29 or 92. 

  2. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ERIN!!!!!!!  I don’t think there should be any age limit on baking for yourself–this cake looks fun and delish!  Have a healthy and fantastic birthday day!

  3. Happy happy birthday Erin! I hope I’m never too old to dig into a beauty of a cake like this! Candy and all. :)

  4. Happy birthday!! This cake looks absolutely perfect. Whenever I read Matilda as a child (which was a lot, since it was also one of my favorites), I always wished I could try that cake. Thanks to you, now I can!!

  5. Happy Birthday Erin! (And I’m definitely making this cake!)

  6. Happiest of birthdays to YOU, pretty lady! This cake looks divine. I turned 28 a few months ago, and I remember feeling much the same way.  I’m a fan of getting older! But I’m definitely not where I thought I’d be at this age – and I’m ok with it. (Most days) Hope you enjoy your day!!
    P.S. A half-size bundt cake? Where have I been?! I need this in my life. 

  7. Happy birthday, Erin! I hope it’s a great one! And I’ll be making this chocolate cake for my birthday this year.

  8. I’m in chocolate heaven! This cake is fabulous! Have a Happy Birthday!

  9. A very happy birthday, Erin! There’s nothing inappropriate about baking your own cake. It guarantees you get what you want, and what you want looks supremely delicious. Hey, you’re never too old to lick the bowl or load it up with candy. Stay young, my friend, and enjoy your special day. Cheers to 29! 

  10. Hey girl-Happy 29th Birthday!! My Dad’s birthday is tomorrow and he’ll be 70 (WOW) already! Then my birthday is June 8th and I’ll be 38! Oh my goodness! Time flies!  I still love chocolate and I know I always will! I hope you have a great day and God bless you!! That cake looks so yummy! 

  11. Oh, Erin, what a lovely day for a birthday – May Day! I hope you get bundles of bouquets today! It is amazing what you’ve accomplished in your 29 years – give yourself a big pat on your back! When I was growing up, I always thought my mother was 29 (for every birthday); she had several friends who were “always 29” too! This cake sounds absolutely divine! Will make this for sure! Have a happy day and year!

  12. This cake looks delicious!  Happy birthday!

  13. Happy birthday to YOU! What a wonderful post, and wonderful sentiments. I actually look forward to baking my own cake, because it’s doing something that’s just for me instead of for others! So enjoy that gorgeous mocha cake, girl, and happy birthday!!!

  14. (Continued): Darling picture, Erin! Great shirt! Are you at your favorite bakery? Looks awesome!

  15. Any age is perfect for this cake! Wish I could share a slice with you. Hope you have a happy happy birthday!!

  16. 29 is a good year, Erin. Enjoy it, and enjoy everything you’ve accomplished. No qualifiers.
    This cake is amazing, too. I want it for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Every day.

  17. Happy Birthday, Erin!! This cake is gorgeous!!!

  18. I need an excuse to make this cake and now I definitely need a half-size bundt cake pan, too.

    Happy, happy birthday! Isn’t it crazy how much our dreams and lives change over the years? Kind of amazing, too, though.

  19. Happy Birthday Erin! I just turned 29 too! 1986 twins : ) Turning 29 was the birthday that I really felt like a grown up. Looking forward to enjoying this last year of my 20’s and all the excitement it will bring. Hope you have a great day celebrating! And this cake? Amazing!

  20. Have a wonderful birthday, my smart, beautiful daughter! That cake looks incredible!

  21. Happy Birthday sweet friend!  It’s totally OK to make yourself a cake especially when it looks like this divine chocolate one.

  22. Happy, Happy Birthday, Erin! I share many of your sentiments about life/dreams/expectations in  my late 20’s.  Thanks for sharing! And this mocha cake is to-die-for!

  23. YES to cake for breakfast on your birthday! Happy 29th! And oh my word, Matilda is the best book ever! LOVE Roald Dahl :)

  24. Happy Birthday! The cake looks amazing, I wish I could try it but it’s a bit tricky to bake while backpacking. It will definitely be on my list  for once I’ve returned home though. You have made me feel a bit better about my own 29th birthday this year, although you seem to have achieved so much for your late twenties. An inspiration! Have a fantastic day and enjoy the rest of your cake (if there is any left).

  25. Happy Birthday Erin! I don’t think one can ever be too old for a decadent birthday cake. 29 looks great on you girl! I hope you have a great one :)

  26. Happy Birthday! I hope you get to enjoy some of the haunts around Milwaukee. Maybe a trip to Colectivo for more coffee? Their coffee is always a special treat for me on my flights back to Minneapolis from Milwaukee. 

  27. Happy Birthday!!! This cake looks delicious and totally birthday worthy… Enjoy it.

  28. Whenever you ask yourself, “Should I be too mature for this?” 99% of the time your answer should be, “NO!” and do it. The day you stop asking yourself if you should do this silly, fun, harmless thing is the day you become old. Enjoy your day and go for it!

  29. Cassidy Stockton Reply

    Happy happy happy birthday! This cake looks amazing! 

  30. Happy Birthday, Erin! This cake looks amazing! You should totally have it for breakfast and there are no calories on your birthday!

  31. Not inappropriate at all to make yourself a STUNNING cake for your birthday! Happy birthday, sweet Erin!

  32. happy birthday erin! my 29th birthday cake was a funfetti cake with tons o’ sprinkles made by my husband. this year for my 30th (this past monday…yikes) he made me cinnamon rolls. not really a grown up bday dessert but oh well! :) they were super tasty. enjoy your day! (and i still have to go get my free starbucks bday coffee before it expires!) :)

  33. Happiest birthday wishes, dear friend! I am so blessed to have gotten to know you this year. You are such a gem and I have learned so much from you and your wisdom — including the idea that this mocha cake is the right thing to do for one’s birthday. I couldn’t agree more. xoxo

  34. Happy, happy birthday to you, lady! This cake looks like the perfect birthday affair: over-the-top and yet just right. I hope you have a lovely day!

  35. My mouth is actually drooling just looking at those pictures. That cake looks STUNNING, Erin!! Pinned :)

  36. Happy Birthday, Friend! I wish we could celebrate in person with a cocktail and this cake. It’s FAB. Glad you went over the top with it! I hope you have a wonderful weekend! XO

  37. Wishing you a very happy birthday, Erin! I will be turning 27 in June, and I really understand what you mean about the age. This cake looks perfect for celebrating!

  38. Happy birthday! I would like slice or two of this cake :D

  39. Happy Birthday Erin! That cake looks delicious! I love the espresso beans!!

  40. If you ever ever give up your yummy cake for breakfast that you experience with pure joy on your birthday, then that is THE time to examine your life. It would be a sign that it had gone a bit sideways. Happy Birthday! And what a luscious cake!

  41. This is such a gorgeous cake my dear. Happy birthday. I wish you all he best. You look so beautiful and young. Have a wonderful Sunday ;-)

  42. Congratulations on your birthday! With such a beautiful and scrumptious looking cake the celebrations must have been great! Take care, Carlos

  43. Happiest of birthdays to you Erin! I agree you never feel as old as you think you are gonig to. In fact, everything just gets better I think. It’s wonderful to see how you are living it up with this full on cake. Hope you are enjoying your birthday weekend :)

  44. Happy birthday! I love all the mocha goodness here, from the frosting to the espresso beans. I just got a bundt pan and I’m excited to put it to use :)

  45. Oh no! How did I miss your birthday?? Happy Happy Birthday! You share my brother’s birthday and my son Brian’s birth year! Hope you had a really lovely day! I can see that your breakfast was delectable, lol. I love chocolate and coffee and just happen to have espresso beans. I can’t wait to try this! Just remember that you are where you are because that’s where you are meant to be. Everything in God’s time, not ours. Have a delightful year! You’ve been delighting me with your creatively written blog and delicious recipes for a long time. Thank you, and again, Happy Birthday! God bless you.  <3

  46. Happy happy birthday Erin! I loved this post because I feel the same in so many ways. I will be turning 28 soon and now the big 30 is on the horizon, even though I still often feel like a teenager. I am proud of what I have achieved and yet still unsatisfied with those dreams that have yet to come to past. But at the end of the day, all I want for my birthday is a big huge piece of chocolate cake. Have a great day!! 

  47. Happy belated Erin! Hope you had a great time celebrating!! Love this gorgeous cake! It’s perfect!

  48. Happy belated birthday Erin! And what an incredible cake to celebrate with too…. I don’t think you can ever go wrong with a good, rich and decadent chocolat-y flavoured cake.

  49. Made this for my husband’s birthday and it was delicious!  Moist and chocolatey, with just the right amount of coffee flavor. Thanks!!

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