Mocha Cake

The cake is light, fluffy, and soft, and the icing is a luscious combination of extra smooth coffee and cocoa, buttery but not greasy. To get the authentic taste, you will need to use Nescafe coffee granules. You can also use espresso granules (= coffee taste is bolder and more pronounced) or Starbucks VIA Italian roast (=icing has bitter and sour notes), but it’s up to you if you want to use what you have available. You will also need amaretto, an Italian almond liqueur to finish off the flavor and must not be skipped. I’ve never tried to substitute it with anything, so I cannot advise you on that for now. I’ll try making this with almond extract next time and see if that can be used!

Please enjoy!

Mocha Cake

The recipe can be made into a two-layer 9-inch round cake or a roll. I’ve included instructions for the roll in the recipe Notes if you want to take a stab at it.



For the Cake:

  • 6 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coffee/espresso granules [Nescafe instant coffee recommended]
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • ? cup canola oil
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar

For the Mocha Buttercream

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, soft, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon coffee/espresso granules
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 5 teaspoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 teaspoons amaretto

TOOLS & EQUIPMENT: hand mixer or stand mixer, 2 9”x2” cake pans, 2 baking sheets, parchment paper cake comb (optional, for decoration); OR a 10.5”x15.5”x1” jelly roll pan if making a roll


1.    For the Cake: Preheat oven to 375°F with racks in the upper middle and lower middle positions. Spray two 9”x2” round cake pans with baking spray, and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.

2.    Whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) over low, then medium speed, until creamy and light yellow in color.

3.    Dissolve espresso or coffee granules and cocoa powder in water and vanilla in a small bowl, getting rid of lumps while stirring. Pour into the butter-sugar paste, along with canola oil, and beat until well combined.

4.    Remove large bowl from stand mixer (if using one) and sift cake flour and baking powder over it. Stir with a wooden spoon until well blended, scraping the sides of the bowl once.

5.    Whisk egg whites and cream of tartar into stiff peaks in a medium bowl, and fold into the mocha batter, a dollop or two first to liquefy the thick batter, and then in thirds.

6.    Divide the batter between two cake pans and place each pan on a baking sheet. Bake on two racks for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pans and exchanging the pans between racks halfway through. The cake is done when the tops become golden brown and the cake tester comes out clean when inserted in the middle.

7.    Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then carefully turn over on the wire rack, right side up. Cool completely before icing.

8.    For the Buttercream: Whisk sugar and egg whites for 3 to 5 minutes in a medium heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (water should not touch the bottom of the bowl), until meringue is hot to the touch. The sugar granules will be dissolved and you will be left with a fluffy marshmallow cream-like froth.

9.    Remove bowl from heat and beat for 5 minutes with a hand mixer set to medium speed, or pour into a bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment to mix.

10.  Add half of the butter and beat with a hand mixer (or paddle attachment for stand mixer) until smooth before adding the next half to combine. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula and give it a quick stir. Beat again on medium-high for another 6 to 10 minutes to thicken.

11.  Dissolve cocoa and espresso/coffee granules in water, vanilla extract, and amaretto in a small bowl. Pour into the buttercream and beat for 2 minutes, scraping the sides at least once.

12.  To Assemble the Cake: Dot 3 3”-wide parchment paper strips with buttercream. Use the icing to stick the 3 strips into a triangle on a plate or cake stand. Dot the center bottom of the cake with icing, and place cake on top of the strips. These will keep your plate clean while frosting the cake.

13.  Spoon about ? cup of frosting on top and spread it evenly with a flat metal spatula. Place the second layer of cake and spread a thin layer of icing over the entire cake and let it stand for 15 minutes. Spread a thicker layer of frosting over the side, working from the bottom up to the top. Frost the top by placing a mound of icing and spreading it to the side. You can decorate the cake with the remaining frosting as you wish.


1.    To decorate: You can use a cake comb to create ridges on the side of the cake. The traditional Goldilocks mocha roll and cake are decorated using a cake comb. I added finely grated chocolate at the top.

2.    To make a mocha roll: From Step 6 onwards — Pour batter into a 10.5”x15.5”x1” jelly roll pan (sprayed with cooking spray and lined with a sheet of wax paper, and another coat of cooking spray) and bake for 12 to 15 minutes with the rack on upper middle position, rotating the pan halfway through. What I usually do is bake for 6 minutes and rotate and add minutes as needed to let it bake thoroughly. It is done when the top is golden brown and cake tester will come out clean. Lay flat a dry kitchen/tea towel that’s slightly larger than the pan and dust with a thin layer of powdered sugar. Remove cake from the oven and turn pan over onto the towel. Carefully peel the wax paper and scooping the towel from underneath, slowly roll the towel and cake together. Cool on a wire rack with the seam side down. After about an hour, unroll and remove the towel, spread a generous layer of mocha buttercream. Depending on your preference, you can put as much as half on it. Re-roll the cake and frost the outside and sides. OR you can use the other half of the icing to fill another roll. [Instructions to make the butter cream is the same.]

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