Chocolate Coffee Cake (One Bowl)
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Classic Chocolate Coffee Cake is the perfect indulgent dessert, made with gluten free flour, brewed coffee, and espresso powder, ready with just one bowl in 45 minutes!
Because this gluten-free cake is really indulgent, I paired it with a lighter Mascarpone Frosting. For a quick treat (less than 2 minutes!) check out this Gluten Free Chocolate Mug Cake! For another indulgent layer cake idea, check out this Chocolate Carrot Cake!
Classic Chocolate Coffee Cake is a staple for birthdays and holidays in this house. It’s similar to my Gluten Free Chocolate Cake which has a rich chocolate flavor, but with an extra kick of espresso. I’ve also added sour cream, which gives this cake an incredibly moist texture and indulgent flavor.
This moist cake recipe uses two 9-inch cake pans. This lets you add a layer of frosting in the middle, just like a cake from the bakery. I use round cake pans but you can use whatever shape you have.
You can also use this recipe to make a sheet cake, but the cook time may be more or less depending on the size.
Ingredients You’ll Need
Gluten Free Flour. I use a cup-for-cup gluten free flour mixture. Gluten free flour blends can vary in flavor and texture, try to stick with a good brand that has xanthan gum in the mixture already.
If you’re not gluten free, you can use the same amount of regular all-purpose flour.
Granulated Sugar. Just regular white granulated sugar. You can also use a combination of white sugar and light brown sugar for a little bit of a deeper flavor.
Cocoa Powder. You want to use unsweetened cocoa powder for this recipe. You can also use dark cocoa powder, but the cake will be dark chocolate which means slightly less sweet/more bitter.
Leavening. I use a combination of baking soda and baking powder, which gives the cake a nice rise without over-doing it.
Hot Coffee. You want to use a bold cup of coffee, but don’t worry too much about this. Just set the coffee pot on the ‘bold’ setting. I’ve done this with both light and dark roast, and both work just fine. You want to use hot coffee, so set it to brew right before you start measuring out your ingredients.
Salt. Salt helps balance the sweetness and flavor of the cake. I find that 1 teaspoon salt does the job, I wouldn’t add much more than that. You can cut it in half if you’re worried about sodium. Kosher salt and sea salt both work.
Eggs. Eggs are a binder, and help hold everything together, while the egg yolks also add a small amount of fat.
Sour Cream. Sour cream is the secret ingredient! It adds a lot of moisture to the cake, and also helps add some acidity which helps the leavening ingredients and you get a great rise. This is how we’re going to get a moist indulgent chocolate cake.
If you don’t have sour cream, you can replace it with heavy cream, half and half, or regular milk. The sour cream being the best, and heavy cream being the second best option. Substitute 1 cup sour cream with 1 cup milk or heavy cream. Or dairy-free milk if you need it.
Vanilla Extract. Vanilla adds some flavor and balances really well with the coffee.
Cinnamon. Cinnamon helps bring out the chocolate flavor and also pairs really well with it.
Espresso Powder. Espresso powder helps bring out the deep chocolate notes, and also adds some additional coffee flavor (because we’re going for chocolate and coffee here!).
Vegetable Oil. Vegetable oil adds some fat, but also helps keep the cake texture moist. You can substitute this with applesauce for slightly less fat while maintaining the moisture.
You can also substitute the vegetable oil with unsalted butter. If you do this, cream together the butter and sugar in the beginning before adding the other ingredients.
How to Make Chocolate Coffee Cake
- In a medium bowl, whisk together all of your dry ingredients.
- Whisk in the wet ingredients (sour cream, eggs, vanilla, and vegetable oil) until well combined. While whisking, slowly add brewed coffee, whisking until everything is mixed together, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl for any pockets of dry ingredients.
- Grease two 9-inch baking pans with butter or non-stick spray and lightly dust them with flour. Pour the chocolate cake batter evenly into the two prepared baking pans.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
How to Make Mascarpone Frosting
You can read more about how to make the perfect mascarpone frosting here!
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese (cold)
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream (cold)
- Using the whisk attachment on the stand mixer, whisk together the mascarpone, powered sugar, and vanilla extract on medium speed until just combined.
- Increase to medium-high speed and slowly add the heavy cream. Once completely added, stop the mixer and use a spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Turn the mixer back on medium and mix until stiff peaks form, about 2-3 minutes. Be careful not to over-mix. Use immediately, or refrigerate the frosting until ready to use.
Frequently Asked Questions
Coffee helps bring out the chocolate flavors in the cake, in the same way that salt helps balance the sweetness of the cake. You won’t get a lot of coffee flavor from a small amount of espresso powder, but you will get less bitter notes and more chocolate notes overall.
This chocolate cake uses bold brewed coffee, as well as espresso powder. This is to bring out the indulgent chocolate notes, but also to give some coffee flavor as well. It’s the perfect balance of sweet chocolate and roasty coffee.
We’re keeping this chocolate cake moist with several ingredients that you don’t want to substitute if you don’t have to.
The sour cream adds fat and also acidity, which helps keep the cake moist. And the vegetable oil is also a source of fat that adds indulgence to the cake.
You also want to make sure not to over-bake the cake, and keep your oven at the right temperature. If the oven is too hot or the cake is baked too long, it can dry out.
Store chocolate coffee cake in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days. If you use a dairy-based frosting, then refrigerate the cake for up to a week wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.
Freeze this cake for 3-4 months in an airtight container. I usually place the cake in the container, then wrap the container in aluminum foil or a layer of plastic wrap, to help prevent freezer burn.
Defrost in the refrigerator the day before (to prevent condensation), then bring completely to room temperature before eating, or it will taste stale.
How to Make Chocolate Coffee Cake Dairy Free
You can make this recipe dairy free with some easy substitutions!
- Instead of sour cream use the dairy free milk alternative of your choice. I usually use almond milk, but you can use whatever you have. Canned full-fat coconut milk would also be a good option.
- If you’re making this vegan, use 1/2 cup of applesauce to replace the two eggs. And check that your sugar meets vegan standards.
More Chocolate Lover Recipes
- I used mascarpone frosting as a middle layer, and to frost the entire cake. Then I added chocolate sprinkles around the top, and dusted it with cocoa powder. You can also use it in a piping bag if you want it to be even more decorative.
- This cake would also go well with chocolate buttercream or cream cheese frosting.
- Add a crumb layer to the unfrosted cake layers before frosting completely. This is a thin layer of frosting that’s added before the final layer, to help prevent crumbs from spreading into the cake decoration. Here’s more on the crumb layer.
- You can use an electric mixer, or make this with just a whisk and a spatula. A stand mixer is more convenient but a mixing bowl won’t be much trouble. If you do use a stand mixer, try to use a baking paddle attachment that scrapes the sides of the bowl while you mix.
- Add a cup of chocolate chips or dark chocolate chips for even more chocolate flavor. Dust them with flour before adding to the cake batter.
- If you don’t have vanilla extract, try almond extract for a different flavor combination.
- The batter is a little on the thinner side, but that’s ok, it will still bake up just fine!
- If you don’t want to make frosting, you can also just dust with powdered sugar decoratively.
- I grease my baking pans, but you can also cut out a circle of parchment paper and line the bottom of the pans with it. Use a pen to trace the bottom of the baking dishes on the paper, then cut it. Then just lightly grease the sides of the pan.
If you loved this recipe, be sure to leave a 5 Star review below, and tag me with a photo of your finished recipe on Instagram @Jacqui_DishingDelish!
Classic Chocolate Coffee Cake
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1 3/4 cups gluten free all-purpose flour, cup-for-cup
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder, double acting
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup hot coffee, strong brewed
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 Whisk
- 1 medium bowl
- Preheat oven to 350°F, and lightly grease two 9-inch baking pans.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together all of your dry ingredients. Whisk in the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, and vegetable oil until well combined.
- While whisking, slowly add brewed coffee, whisking until everything is mixed together. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl for any pockets of dry ingredients.
- Pour the cake batter evenly into the two baking pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow cake to cool before removing from the pans and decorating.
- I grease my baking pans, but you can also cut out a circle of parchment paper and line the bottom of the pans with it. Use a pen to trace the bottom of the baking pan on the paper, then cut it. Then just lightly grease the sides of the pan.
- I used mascarpone frosting as a middle layer, and to frost the entire cake. Then I added chocolate sprinkles around the top, and dusted it with cocoa powder. You can also use the mascarpone frosting in a piping bag if you want it to be even more decorative.
- This cake would also go well with chocolate buttercream or cream cheese frosting.
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