June 13, 2011

Mocha Cake with Almond Buttercream Icing

A sweet friend of mine was turning 40 and I just HAD to bring her a cake. She loves coffee, so I decided to make a mocha cake. Since I decided all of this on the spur of the moment, I had to wing it on the recipe. She insisted I share the recipe, which I don't have since I made it up (which she doesn't believe, but it's the truth). So here is my best recollection.

Start with a chocolate cake: one from a box or my buttermilk chocolate recipe here. Bake the cake as directed and let cool. Make a simple syrup (basically liquid and water in some fashion). I used brewed espresso and regular sugar. Since I didn't measure I'm guessing about 1/8 c of espresso and 1/4 c sugar. You could use coffee and honey, strong kool aid, orange juice concentrate, even coke. Whatever you choose it should be thick and almost syrupy. This means you need to add enough sugar to make it thick or boil off some of the water (ie: put the liquid and sweetener in a pot and bring it to a boil. Let it continue boiling until the steam carries off enough of the water to thicken the liquid).

I poked some holes in the chocolate cake with a knife to let the syrup really sink in. Then poured a small amount of the super sweet espresso over the top of the chocolate cake. It's really important not to use too much of the liquid or you end up with more of a trifle or tres leches cake (ie. wet cake). You just want to flavor the cake, not drown it. If you pour too much, you can always mop some up with a paper towel (I learned this the hard way).

For this mocha birthday cake I frosted it with an almond buttercream. I always make my own icing because it is seriously way better than store bought. Do you know what is in canned icing or the kind that comes on grocery store cakes? It's shortening, solid vegetable oil, no taste only fat. I figure if you are going for a treat (and icing really is a treat) you might as well enjoy the taste. You could you only butter, but then you run the risk of a melted cake look, much like the Amazing Fresh Strawberry Cake. The best idea is to create an icing that doesn't melt in a warm room like butter tends to do. In my opinion, the best icing combines the wonderful taste of butter with the stability of shortening. This is the icing recipe I like most.

I didn't get a photo of this cake {I made it again and took a photo this time!} since I was driving the kids somewhere that night and barely finished frosting it in time. I love cramming in baking between real life. It's a little escape for me. If only there weren't so many calories to escape from!


1/2 c strong coffee
1/2 c cup sugar

Combine the two in a saucepan and heat in a low simmer for 15-20 minutes. Cool and then carefully spoon over the cake layers. I saved some of the syrup to sprinkle on the top of the cake. You could also garnish with coffee beans or chocolate shavings.


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