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.

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

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

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.

29

About This Coffee Lover’s Chocolate Mocha Cake

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.

Recipe Adaptations

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).

  • To Make a Two-Layer Cake. If you’d like to bake a full sized, two-layer cake, simply double the batter.
  • To Use a Larger Bundt Pan. For a 10-cup bundt pan, double the batter. You likely will need to adjust the baking time as well.

Triple Chocolate Mocha Cake with Mocha Cream Cheese Frosting

More Decadent Chocolate Dessert Recipes

Mocha Cake Recipe 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.

Triple Chocolate Mocha Cake

Mocha Cake

5 from 2 votes
A moist and decadent mocha cake recipe, topped with mocha cream cheese frosting. This is a must for all chocolate and coffee lovers!

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Total: 1 hr 10 mins

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

Ingredients
  

For the Cake:

  • Butter for greasing the pan
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus 2 tablespoons, 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 at 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Prepare the frosting: in a large mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  • 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!

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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60 Comments

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  1. 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 ;-)

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

  3. 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 :)

  4. 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 :)

  5. 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

  6. 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!! 

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

  8. 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.

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

    1. Wonderful Anna! Thanks for taking time to let me know and a very happy birthday to your husband too!

  10. normally I don’t like cake (too dry). I’m a brownie person all the way. but my husband likes “fluffy” cake, so I’m always looking for chocolate cake recipes for him. when I took it out of the oven it looked so good I had to try it and I LOVED it . OH MY GOODNESS, this cake was wonderful! it was so fudgy and moist, yet fluffy enough for my husband! this is the best chocolate cake I have ever made, and I’ve tried lots of them. I’m trying your snickerdoodle bread this afternoon. I’m sure it’ll be just as good!5 stars

    1. HOORAY Laurie, I’m so glad to hear it was the perfect cake for both you and your husband! Thanks so much for giving the recipe a try and taking the time to leave this wonderful review!

  11. hey I just wanted to say thanks for this awesome recipe! I just made a double batch as a layer cake for my friend’s birthday tomorrow and it’s the prettiest cake I’ve ever made — and of course I just had to level it and got to taste it too, and of course it’s absolutely perfect, and of course no one in my house can stop eating the leftover frosting. can’t wait to share it!!!!5 stars

  12. Hello,

    Is there a reason for the use of low fat buttermilk and cream cheese and also the pastry flour?

    1. Hi! Whole wheat pastry flour makes the cake extra tender and provides some whole grains. You could use all purpose flour instead. The buttermilk and cream cheese are essential to make the recipe turn out well; I chose low fat to save a few calories, but you can use regular buttermilk and regular cream cheese if you like.

  13. Can I replace the cheese with something else please ?
    I don’t want to use cheese as an ingredient/frosting

    1. Hi V! I haven’t tried to replace the cream cheese in this recipe, so I’m afraid I don’t have any specific advice to offer. However, you could try using the frosting recipe from this Instant Pot Cake instead. I hope this helps!

  14. 1. I’m not a coffee drinker although I love coffee flavored desserts. So I don’t have a coffee maker. Can I use instant coffee (such as Nescafé) instead of a freshly brewed hot coffee?

    2. I am unclear on the size of a “small” Bundt pan. How many cups capacity is that Bundt pan?

    3. If using round pans, can I use a 9 inch round pan instead of 8 inch? (Since 9 inch is all I have) Would this change the bake time or temperature?

    THANK YOU!!!

    1. Hi Deb! 1) I’ve only tested this with brewed coffee – personally I don’t love the taste of instant coffee, but I think you can still use it here. 2) It is a 6-cup pan. 3) If you use a 9 inch round pan, the cake will be thinner, so I’d suggest checking the cake early; you can keep the bake temp. the same. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

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