Chocolate Cake with Whipped Mocha Ganache Frosting
True story… I’ve never been much of a cake person.
Well, let me clarify… I’m not a plain cake person. One of those cookie cutter, store-bought yellow or white sheet cakes slathered with icing just isn’t my thing. However, my excitement over cake goes up exponentially if the cake is either chocolate or contains lots of awesome flavors (I’m talking things like coconut, caramel apple, pineapple or *ahem* peanut butter).
I’ve always had a soft spot for chocolate cakes that are uncomplicated in nature with a bit of a flair… things like Coca-Cola cake, Mrs. Dill’s chocolate cake, better than “anything” cake, and ho ho cake. This cake definitely falls into that category – it’s a very simple chocolate cake that has a devil’s food flavor to it, and is topped with the most amazing whipped ganache frosting. With espresso powder and Kahlua, it’s certainly not for the faint of heart!
I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I’m a huge Ina Garten fan… she’s my food and entertaining hero. When she comes out with a new cookbook, I read it cover to cover. I did just that when her Make It Ahead book was released and immediately bookmarked three quarters of the recipes. This cake was one of those recipes and I was dying to make it… a simple chocolate cake with a fabulous flair – right up my alley! My Chief Culinary Consultant stood over the finished cake and said it smelled so good that he wanted his smash his face into it… now that’s a sure sign of a successful cake!
If you love chocolate and coffee and silky smooth ganache, you’ll want to run into the kitchen to make this.
One year ago: Pizza Burgers
Two years ago: Tomato Mozzarella Tart
Three years ago: Hot Corn and Cheese Dip
Seven years ago: Pasta Fagioli
Chocolate Cake with Whipped Mocha Ganache Frosting
For the Cake:
- 1¾ cups (218.75 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ cup (170.25 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- ⅔ cup (166.67 ml) hottest tap water
- ⅔ cup (57.33 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
- ⅔ cup (157.73 g) half-and-half
For the Frosting:
- 12 ounces (340.2 g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
- 1¼ cups (297.5 ml) heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon Kahlua
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13-inch pan; set aside.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda, then stir in the salt.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl, then add the vanilla and beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated and the batter is smooth.
- In a medium bowl or large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the hot water, cocoa powder and espresso powder until smooth. Add the half-and-half and whisk until smooth.
- With the mixer on low, add the flour and chocolate mixtures alternately in thirds, beginning and ending with the flour. With a rubber spatula, scrape down the bowl and ensure that the batter is well-mixed.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before frosting.
- Make the Frosting: Place the chocolate, butter and espresso powder in a large bowl. Pour the cream into a small saucepan and place over medium heat until it simmers. Remove from the heat and pour it evenly over the chocolate mixture. Let stand for 1 minute, then gently stir with a rubber spatula until everything is melted and smooth. Stir in the Kahlua and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Scrape down the bowl and beat the frosting with a handheld mixer on high speed for ONLY 15 to 20 seconds, until the mixture forms soft peaks (if you overbeat it, it will curdle). Immediately spread on the cake and serve. The cake can be stored, covered, at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!
Gosh, way too much liquid! Made a nice mocha sauce for ice cream but definitely not the consistency of ganache
I would have skipped the espresso powder I think, at least in the frosting. I found it made it just a bit too bitter for my taste. Loved the consistency and ease of the frosting; I’m partial to a moister chocolate cake (not that this was dry) so this won’t be my go-to, but I will definitely try the choc frosting again minus the espresso powder!
I made this cake for my grandson’s birthday. It was a hit! Just omitted the coffee and glazed with milk chocolate ganache instead of the mocha frosting.
Thank you for sharing.
I love your best chocolate cake recipe which you also use for your Oreo cake. I think it’s the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had. That being said, do you think it would go just as well with this ganache or is this cake recipe better with it in your opinion?
I made this cake and it is delicious. Been trying to find a recipe with “intense” chocolate flavor. This is it! I had read the reviews and my cake took exactly 20 minutes like the recipe said. The frosting (ganache) was another story…30 minutes in the fridge and I tried to whip the ganache. No Bueno! So, having read those comments…back into the fridge for another hour. And success, it never set up and got stiff but was fluffy. I did refrigerate the cake, just to “set up” the frosting to my liking. Great cake!
Making this again!!! So excited!! Chocolate cake craving and this is the best!
I notice that you use a glass dish to cook your cake in … is this correct as I always use a metal baking pan.
Hi Heather, You could use either unless a recipe specifically states otherwise.
I make a large birthday cake every month, and this is now my go-to chocolate cake. Easy to make, it comes our perfectly moist every time. And so chocolately! Tons of compliments from the group. I especially love the whipped frosting. Light, but decadent. This is a winner!
The frosting does not want to whip? What can I do?
I have managed to get it to whip. Just chilled it to cold and beat it for as long as it took to get thick.
Glad it worked out Doris!
I’ve made this cake three times and passed on the recipe once already. I LOVE this cake. It’s not sweet and the ganache instead of a regular icing is wonderful.
Whoa..this sounds marvelous! I have a favorite chocolate cake recipe that I would like to try this with (my recipe makes 2 8″ or 3 6″ rounds). Would I need to double the frosting recipe if I wanted to frost and fill with this delish sounding ganache? Thank you.
Hi Paula, I would double the frosting recipe to fill and frost the cake. Enjoy!!
Do you have recipe to make this cake as a nine inch layered cake
Hi Marq, I do not, sorry!
Can I substitute cake flour for the all purpose flour?
Hi Henrianna, I have not tried this, so I can’t guarantee the results.
i am from Pakistan and Kahlua is not available here. What is it and what can be its substitute??
Hi Rabia, It is a coffee-flavored liqueur.
And…. what can you substitute it with?
Any alternative for half n half?? As it is not available where i live..pls lemme know..i really do want to try this cake
Hi Sameera, You can use an equal mixture of whole milk and heavy cream.
Do you think that I can use oil instead of the butter? I want it to be lactose free.
What do you think?
Hi Lia, I have not made that substitution and I think it could affect the texture and taste. If you try it, let me know how it turns out.
I made this for my hubs birthday. While I LOVE the cake part, the frosting was a bit too bitter for us. The instructions just say “dark chocolate” – I used 60% cacao and it was much, much too dark. I generally love dark chocolate and prefer it over milk, but this was a bit overwhelming. Next time I will try a lighter chocolate. Can you share the cacao % used in this recipe?
Hi Jessie, I used 60% cacao; you could always go to semisweet if that’s too dark for your tastes!
I have made your ganache many times and its perfect every single time. Thank you so much for the recipe. I have a few questions. Can I substitute white chocolate for the dark? Have you ever done that? Does it hold up the same? Thanks!!
Hi Amy, Using white chocolate would likely create a softer ganache, as there is more milk in white chocolate.
Made this cake yesterday with Frangelico instead of Kahlua and used dark chocolate chips in the frosting; only kept frosting in fridge for 15 minutes, then whisked and poured over cake. Used a round spring form pan and baked about 45 minutes. Turned out great! Not quite enough batter for two tiers, though.
emm,I can smell the strong chocolate odor.
Best chocolate cake I’ve ever had, although I do not like the Kahlua in the frosting. I plan to omit it next time. I will make this again for sure.
Woww…It’s Very easy and quick. I LOVE your recipe. Thanx for Sharing this recipes. I made it and it was so yummy.Everyone loved this delicious chocolate cake,your cake looks so wonderful, so yummy, and I will be making this again! http://bit.ly/1P5M0wj
The measurements for the hottest tap water, the 1/2 and 1/2 and the unsweetened cocoa powder are showing up as empty squares. Would you please let me know what they are?
That’s so odd! Very sorry about that – they are each ⅔ (two-thirds) cup.
What is ⅔ cup half-and-half last in your ingredient list.
Hi Medina, Half and half is a common ingredient sold in the U.S. – it is essentially half whole milk and half heavy cream.
Hi. I was wondering can I just use milk instead of half and half?
Hi Melony, Ideally you should use a 50/50 combination of whole milk and heavy cream in order to replicate half-and-half.
Hi It looks so delicious!!
I really want to make it by using your recipe ..but the ingredient shows in ‘cup’..I don’t know how to translate it to gram..what is the total amount for one cup? Then I can divide them accordingly.
If you can provide me that will be appreciated..since I was trying to convert them..still not sure if they are correct..
Thank you in advance!
Hi Liliane, There is not one standard conversion for cups to grams since the volume of ingredients can differ dramatically. I would recommend using this chart to convert each individual ingredient:
Can we use the same recipe and make Cupcakes instead? Does it has a strong flavor of coffee? I wonder if kids will eat it if we make with the coffee flavor. Thanks.
Hi Vanisse, I have not tried converting this recipe to cupcakes, so I can’t say for sure how they would turn out. The frosting has a very strong coffee flavor, I probably wouldn’t serve it to kids.
I converted this recipe to cupcakes, baked for 25 mins and they turned out perfect! Although the frosting was a different story, still in the process of figuring out how to get it to soft peaks!
Could you please clarify what 1/2 and 1/2 is. Thanks :)
Hi Tania, It’s a combination of half heavy cream, half whole milk. (The product half and half is a common product in the US).
Hi I’m from Pakistan and i really want to make this cake. It’s looks yummy but I have ono problem. Half and half isn’t available in Pakistan. Is there any subsitute?
Hi Meena, Half and half is essentially ½ heavy cream and ½ whole milk, so you can use that combination as a substitute.
This took 45 mins give or take a minute or two. Has anyone else run into this or it could be my oven I suppose. Thanks!
Okay-I don’t see any reviews from anyone who’s actually made this…lol…Am I missing something?
I make stuff from this website all the time, and it’s always been wonderful. Every time. This is the first time I’ve had any problems…
I was wondering if the 20-30 mins at 350, for a 9-13″ pan is correct. That’s more like cupcake times. I just checked it at the 20 min mark any it was still liquid and bubbley…only the edges had started to set…I checked it again at 30 mins and it’s still completely liquid in the middle. It jiggles when I opene the oven door.
I omitted the expresso powder but I like whatever coffee does to chocolate so I used 1/3c plus half of 1/3c of hot coffee instead of the 2/3c of hot water. The batter tasted great, and i didn’t think that it would affect the recipe this much. I’ll report back in my total cooking time. I am at 35 mins now and my toothpick is completely covered..
Forgot to mention but I used fat free 1/2 and 1/2 in the cake recipe. My little effort to save a few calories.
i do the same thing to save a few, the land o lakes fat free half and half is wonderful substitute.
This cake was delicious. I too had to bake it about 45 minutes in a metal pan. In addition, for the frosting, I adjusted the directions for heating the cream. I used chocolate chips. I did not chop them. Instead I put 1/2 of the heavy cream in a pyrex 4 cup measuring cup with the chocolate and expresso powder. I heated it for 1 minute at a time (1200 watt microwave). It took 3 minutes to melt the chocolate and it was a nice glossy look. I then added the Kahlua. I refrigerated it. I took the other 1/2 of the heavy cream and whipped it with a pinch of cream of tartar. I left them both separately in the refrigerator until the cake was cooled. I then folded the whipped cream into the cooled heavy cream, chocolate and expresso and Kahlua. I did beat the mixture for 15 or 20 seconds after folding in the cream as it just didn’t seem to be well distributed and I could see streaks of the white. After the brief mixing with the hand mixer, it looked great. I tasted it and it was delicious. (I would make it a bit sweeter the next time.) In all honesty, I forgot to tell my husband and son, that it had expresso and Kahlua in it. They thought they were getting regular chocolate cake and frosting. They didn’t particularly like it. When I told them it was mocha, they said oh, that’s great then. Hope this helps someone else. If there is a way to microwave something, I am the ‘Queen of the Micro’. I even proof my yeast breads in it.
Can’t decide between a fruit cake (not sure this is how it called) or a chocolate cake. Any recommendation from professional baker around here? Cause’ in my opinion these two are just delicious and difficult in the same level.
All I can resist but not chocolate, I love this cake
Hi! I am just wondering – I just made this cake and can’t wait to try it! I had trouble with the frosting though and was wondering if I was supposed to let the mixture cool before beating it into soft peaks? Mine turned out more like an icing…
I’m just seeing yesterday’s posts from Julie and Junglewife, and I’m glad to see that I wasn’t alone with the frosting issues. I also had to increase the baking time to 45 mins. It was disappointing not to have the ganache frosting turn out as anticipated, and I didn’t have any confectioner’s sugar to thicken it up, but the cake still came out well. The icing moistened the cake in a way the ganache probably wouldn’t have.
I was super excited to make this cake to bring to a friend for a surprise, as it was his birthday. The baking time for me ended up being 45 minutes, and the ganache did not turn out as expected. I wondered about whipping the cream when it was still hot, but went ahead and followed the instructions. It did not thicken, let alone form peaks, so I added confectioners sugar to turn it into a more traditional icing. The guests never suspected that there were any problems and thought the cake was delicious, but I did wonder about these problems that I encountered. Now that I am reading other bakers’ comments, I feel a little bit better :-D
Hi Gloria, The code in the recipe cut out a sentence. Yes, the ganache should be refrigerated for 30 minutes before whipping. I’m so sorry about that, and have fixed the problem in the recipe!
Hi Michelle – thanks for the correction. I will be sure to cool the ganache mixture the next time I make the frosting (and there will definitely be a next time because it was *that* good). The cake went in even less time than it took to make it. So even though I was disappointed with the end product because of the missing fluff, nobody else was and it was a huge hit. Thanks so much!
I just finished making this cake but much to my disappointment, the frosting did not turn out. The soft peaks did not form. Do you have any insight into what I may have done wrong? It wasn’t a complete wash as I added icing sugar to thicken up the mixture and still used it. Any help would be MUCH appreciated as I dont take these failures lightly.
I had the same problem today! I looked up other Whipped Ganache Frosting recipes online, and I came to the conclusion that the mixture is supposed to be chilled before you whip it. Anywhere from 1-2 hours. I think it was left out of the recipe by accident. Not your fault, it is an omission of the recipe. Hope this helps :-)
I hope Michelle replies with a correction to the recipe, if necessary
Hi Julie, The code in the recipe cut out a sentence. Yes, the ganache should be refrigerated for 30 minutes before whipping. I’m so sorry about that, and have fixed the problem in the recipe!
okay, I am making the cake now. Or rather, I’ve made the cake and am making the frosting (the cake took about 45 minutes to bake!) I feel like I’m missing something in the frosting recipe… are you supposed to cool the ganache before you whip it??? I don’t see anything like that in the directions, and I’ve baked quite a bit but never made whipped ganache frosting before, and I just don’t see how it will whip up if it’s still warm???
Ugh, the code in the recipe cut out a sentence. Yes, the ganache should be refrigerated for 30 minutes before whipping. I’m so sorry about that, and have fixed the problem in the recipe!
Cake is fine I baked it in glass pyrex dish and it needed more time, it was delicious Hubby’s birthday cake thanks!
I’m still baking this cake past the recommended time and it still jiggles in the middle and isn’t done. Are you sure that the time stated is right?
I’m finding the same! I’m approaching the 50 minute mark and it STILL isn’t cooked properly. Maybe we both have strange cookers?
I love cake but I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to flavours. Chocolate is definitely my favourite!
Whipped ganache is what dreams are made of. Love this cake.
Congratulations on completing your Whole30. I’m on day #13 and know I”ll complete the task, but looking forward to reading about your experience. I find the cravings are gone but I also don’t have anything in the house that I should not eat. Don’t know how you did that, especially making good things for Sunday Suppers. Feeling better, sleeping much better. Hoping to keep grains, sugar and dairy out of my diet for a good long time. Oh, is it possible for Daddy to hold Joseph until he falls asleep and then you cut?
What kind of chocolate do you suggest for the frosting? The cake looks wonderful.
I used bittersweet, but I think I would have preferred semi-sweet. It’s a matter of your taste. There is no added sugar so pick the chocolate with the sweetness you want. Semi-sweet and bittersweet are both considered to be “dark” chocolates.
Hi Peggy, I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao chocolate. I thought it worked out well and wasn’t too bitter. You could also use semisweet chocolate.
This makes a perfect recipe. My kids would love it. Thanks a lot for sharing this recipe :)
This cake looks so delicious! I could take a slice right now :)
I’m just wondering…why kosher salt? Also do you know the fat content of heavy cream? We have a variety here -10%, 18%, 35% and 48% (oh yeah, thick enough to stand a spoon up in). This looks divine! I love coffee and chocolate together. I’ll be making this for work.
Hi Wendy, Ina Garten tends to use kosher salt in most of her recipes; you could always substitute table salt, but be sure to check a substitution chart for the salt you usually buy. I do not know the fat content of the heavy whipping cream that I used – it was not marked anywhere on the carton.
Typically heavy cream has about a 36% fat content or more, so I would recommend either using the 35% you have or combining some 35% cream with some 48% cream to create a new mixture with a fat content between those two. Hope this helps!
This cake looks like a dream! The smooth creamy frosting on top of a moist chocolate cake, ahhh I’m sold.
Looks fantastic! Do you think this would work as a layer cake? Any adjustments that should be made? Thanks so much for yet another wonderful recipe!!
I have not tried it, but the amounts would work. The baking time may need to be decreased a bit?
You would need to add 1/2 extra cake batter to do a layered cake in two round spring form pans. I wanted to do this, but instead made a higher cake in one spring form pan because there wasn’t enough batter in the recipe as written. Just butter and flour the pan first to keep cake from sticking. Takes about 45 minutes to bake, although if you make more batter and split between two pans, you can cut down the baking time.
That cake looks so delish! Would go great with some fresh coffee!
your pictures tho! gosh i want to eat my screen. YUMMERS.
This looks so good I can almost smell it! Hahaha. Sorry to ask another substitute question, I know their probably annoying, but I want to use the frosting/ganache for a filling for my 7 yr olds bday cake. If I leave out the kalua & espresso will I need to add something else for proper consistency? Thanks so much!
Hi Sara, Nope, you don’t need to add anything if you omit the Kahlua and espresso. Enjoy!
I’m also a huge Ina Garten fan. Coincidentally, right after I read this post I read this: “I love Ina Garten. She’s one of the few people on Food Network who can actually cook,” he says. “When Ina Garden roasts a chicken, she roasts it correct. When Ina Garten makes mashed potatoes, those are some solid mashed potatoes. In many ways I want Ina’s life.” Anthony Bourdain
This is my kind of cake to make. I like to eat “fancier” cakes, but I hate making them. Even layer cakes.
Just printed the recipe. Definitely making this cake. The frosting is right up my alley and I cannot wait to taste it. One question. How do you keep your glass 9×13 dish so clean?????
Haha I don’t know, I just wash it every time I use it! I don’t do anything special.
I just have a question I would love to make this cake, but instead I would prefer an all-purpose flour that would be gluten free. Do I need to make any adjustments on ingredients listed for the batter?
Hi Carmen, I have not done any baking with gluten-free flour substitutes, so I can’t say for sure how this recipe might be affected.
This looks divine! My daughter’s 16th birthday is on Monday and she LOVES chocolate… this looks like the perfect cake for her! Although I’m not opposed to using Kahlua for her cake, we don’t have any in the house… do you think the frosting would still be okay if I omitted it? Or what if I substituted Bailey’s instead.. we DO have a plethora of that in the house! ;-)
Hi Makala, Yes, you can omit the Kahlua, no need to make any other adjustments. You could use the Baileys :)
This looks delicious. I want to make it right now! So, it’s okay to not keep this in the fridge even with the heavy cream in the frosting?
Hi Marla, Correct, you do not need to store this in the refrigerator.
Thank you! You always do such a great job responding in a speedy manner. I just want U to know I really appreciate that.
Aww, thank you for the kind note! I try my best, sometimes I get a little backed up on responses, but try to catch up quickly!