White chocolate mocha layer cake features the flavor of your favorite coffeehouse drink in both the cake and the frosting. Top it off with a few chocolate-covered espresso beans!
Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. Each recipe in our menu this month features coffee in some form: espresso granules, coffee grounds, brewed coffee, coffee extract, etc. I’m hosting this month!
I love coffee. My 6-year-old knows I don’t do anything in the morning until after I’m done my coffee. I love coffee cocktails. I love coffee-flavored desserts. Coffee can be used in so many ways, it made sense to make it this month’s Progressive Eats theme.
The traditional mocha is a combination of chocolate and coffee. I took inspiration from one my favorite latte flavors — white chocolate mocha latte — and made this white chocolate mocha layer cake. Not only is the frosting flavored with white chocolate mocha, but the cake itself is, too!
The cake has a nice, dense crumb, almost like a pound cake. If not eaten in a day or so, it can become dry, so you might want to use a trick that professional bakeries swear by: soak your cake with a simple syrup (maybe even a coffee-flavored simple syrup!). It’s quite easy: combine 1 cup of water with 3/4 of a cup of sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to medium and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add 1/4 cup of espresso or strongly brewed coffee. Set aside to cool. Brush half of the syrup over each cake layer.
The buttercream frosting is probably my favorite part (after all, isn’t cake just a delivery system for frosting?). Swiss meringue buttercream is my favorite frosting, because it’s not too sweet yet not too buttery. The mildness of the frosting is the perfect vehicle for showcasing the white chocolate mocha flavoring.
The recipe below makes a LOT of frosting, so if you like a thicker coating, go ahead and slather it on. I won’t judge. The grand finale on this delicious cake are the dark chocolate-covered espresso beans. They are available at specialty stores like Trader Joe’s, online, and even at “treasure hunt” stores like Marshalls and Home Goods.
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For the cake:
- 6 oz high quality white chocolate, chopped
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 10 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp coffee extract
For the frosting:
- 10 large egg whites
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cool, but not cold
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp coffee extract
- 8 chocolate-covered espresso beans
Make the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray.
- Bring an inch of water in a saucepan to a boil. Remove from the heat. Place the white chocolate in a small metal bowl, and place over the saucepan. Allow the chocolate to melt gently, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir on low with the paddle mixer. Add the softened butter and 1/4 cup of the milk, stirring on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened, and then increase the speed to medium and beat for 1-1/2 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- In a large measuring cup or small mixing bowl, combine the eggs, the remaining 1 cup of milk, and the extracts. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture in two batches, beating for 30 seconds after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl again and fold in any unincorporated ingredients that may have stuck to the sides of the bowl.
- Add the melted white chocolate and beat on low just until combined. Divide the batter between the two prepared pans and smooth out the top, and bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes. The cakes will be done when a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.
Make the buttercream:
- Bring an inch of water in a saucepan to a boil. Reduce the heat to allow water to simmer. Remove the bowl of chocolate from the heat. Place the white chocolate in a small metal bowl, and place over the saucepan. Allow the chocolate to melt gently, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.
- Combine egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, and set over the pot of simmering water, whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 140 degrees F, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
- With the whisk attachment, begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take from 5 to 10 minutes or so).
- Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth).
- Add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined. Add melted white chocolate and beat on low just until incorporated.
Assemble the cake:
- Place one layer of cake on a cake plate or board. Spread 1/2 cup of frosting over the top of the layer, then place the second layer on top.
- Apply a thin coating of frosting of the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- Apply a heavier coating of frosting all over the cake. Smooth with an offset cake spatula.
- Place about 1/2 cup of frosting in a plastic piping bag fitted with an open star tip. Pipe 8 swirls on the top of the cake, and place a chocolate-covered espresso bean on top of each swirl.
- Cover cake and keep refrigerated until 30 minutes before ready to serve.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1036 Saturated Fat: 43g Cholesterol: 200mg Sodium: 278mg Carbohydrates: 97g Sugar: 72g Protein: 9g
Cake recipe adapted from Wood & Spoon
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If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.