Homemade Chocolate Coffee Cake is made with sour cream for a super moist crumb and hot coffee for a decadent chocolate flavor. It’s topped with a light and airy coffee buttercream for the perfect complement. This one-layer cake can fit your busy schedule for a quick, easy weeknight dessert.
Coffee is more than a morning cup of joe in our house. I love adding coffee to chocolate cake and fudge cupcakes to enhance the chocolate flavor. But we also love it as the primary flavor in desserts like this easy and flavorful chocolate coffee cake.
As a trained pastry chef, I love simplifying recipes for a quick and easy bake! You’ll only need standard baking ingredients, coffee, and less than 1 hour to create this bakery-worthy dessert. This cake is versatile so that you can make it into a small layer cake or cupcakes. Let me show you how to make it!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Made in under 1 hour. Chocolate coffee cake is a quick and easy recipe for your busy schedule. The batter and coffee frosting each come together in less than 10 minutes.
- Single layer. No need to frost and stack a cake. This cake has minimal steps and looks irresistible (we love how easy it is to slice and serve single-layer cakes!).
- Easy to prep ahead. A quick-to-make cake plus one that’s easy to prep ahead is a win-win for a weeknight dessert. You can bake it and frost the cake just before serving or freeze for a last-minute sweet treat.
Ingredients You'll Need
- All-purpose flour. Gives the right amount of tenderness to the cake (not too dense and not too cakey).
- Sugar. We’re using granulated sugar to sweeten the cake batter. Powdered sugar sweetens the frosting and creates a smooth and creamy consistency.
- Cocoa powder. Adds a rich, chocolatey flavor to the cake. I prefer Dutch-processed cocoa powder since it has a milder and smoother flavor than natural cocoa powder. Make sure to sift your cocoa powder to remove any clumps.
- Baking soda and baking powder. Leavening agents that contribute to the rise of the cake for a light and fluffy texture.
- Salt. Enhances the flavors of the other ingredients, especially the sweetness.
- Sour cream. Adds moisture and richness to the cake and creates a tender crumb. The acidity of sour cream activates the baking soda. Use full-fat sour cream for the best results.
- Coffee. Enhances the flavor of chocolate without adding a coffee flavor to the cake. You can use regular or decaf coffee.
- Vegetable oil. Adds moisture to the cake and creates a soft and tender cake. The oil gives a lighter texture to the cake compared to butter. Use vegetable oil or any mild oil.
- Eggs. Adds richness (especially the extra egg yolk) and contributes to the rise of the cake.
- Vanilla. Always use pure vanilla extract for the best flavor.
- Instant coffee. The key ingredient for the coffee buttercream. You can use instant coffee or espresso powder for this.
- Heavy cream. You’ll need a bit to dissolve the coffee granules and thin out the frosting, but feel free to use any milk.
- Butter. Adds a delicious flavor to the coffee frosting. Stick with unsalted butter to control the amount of salt in the buttercream.
Easy Ingredient Swaps
- Greek yogurt. Switch out the sour cream for Greek yogurt. It’ll still add moisture and richness to the cake.
- Hot water. If you prefer to omit the coffee from the cake batter, you can substitute it with hot water.
- Natural cocoa powder. If you already have natural cocoa powder, then use that. It has a more acidic flavor than Dutch-processed cocoa powder but will still work.
Helpful Tools for Making Homemade Cake
- 9x9-inch square pan. If using a dark metal pan, set the oven temperature to 325°F/177°C.
- Parchment paper. If you don’t have parchment paper, you can grease your pan with butter and lightly flour it.
- Digital kitchen scale or measuring cups. Using a scale will give you the most accurate measurements.
- Mixer. You’ll need a mixer for the frosting (a handheld or stand mixer will work!).
- Measuring spoons.
- Whisk. Used to whisk the cake ingredients.
- Mixing bowls. You’ll need a large one to whisk the dry ingredients and a medium one for the wet ingredients.
- Rubber spatula.
Before you begin: Bring the sour cream and eggs to room temperature and read the recipe from start to finish. Preheat the oven to 350°F/177°C and line a 9x9-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
How to Make Chocolate Cake
Whisk dry ingredients. Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Whisk wet ingredients. Whisk the sour cream, coffee, vegetable oil, egg, yolk, and vanilla in a separate bowl.
Combine ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk.
Fill and bake. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake.
How to Make Coffee Buttercream
Dissolve the coffee. Whisk cream and the instant coffee to dissolve, then add vanilla.
Beat the butter. Beat until smooth and creamy.
Add sugar and salt. Mix in the powdered sugar and salt.
Add coffee. Mix in enough of the coffee cream mixture for desired consistency. Beat on medium until light and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Tips for Making the Best Cake
These are some of my tried and true tips and tricks for making the perfect cake and buttercream every time:
- Weigh your ingredients. Using a scale takes the guesswork out of measuring and gives consistent results.
- Use room temperature ingredients. Bring your eggs and sour cream to room temperature for the batter. Doing this will allow your ingredients to be incorporated evenly and smoothly.
- Sift the cocoa powder and powdered sugar. Breaking up any lumps will allow your batter and buttercream to come together with a smooth consistency.
- Cool your cake completely before frosting. As tempting as it is to frost your cake while it is still warm, please wait until it is completely cooled! If you don’t, your frosting will melt and become a soupy mess.
When a coffee craving hits, this is a favorite for a weeknight dessert. But when I’m hosting friends for dinner who love coffee, I love baking this cake ahead of time. Here’s how to prep ahead of time and store leftovers:
- Leftover cake. If you have any leftovers, store your cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Any longer than that, transfer to the refrigerator. Cake with buttercream will hold well in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Make ahead. Keep the completely cooled cake in the pan and tightly wrap with aluminum foil. Store it at room temperature overnight. Make the coffee buttercream just before decorating the cake (or frost the night before and keep covered!).
How to Freeze Cake for Easy Prep
We love freezing cakes to fit busy schedules. This chocolate coffee cake is super simple to make, but you can also plan ahead and store it in the freezer for a last-minute dessert or freeze the leftover cake.
- Leftovers. Wrap the leftover cake with plastic wrap and place it in an airtight container. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
- Whole cake. Wrap the cake unfrosted with plastic wrap and aluminum foil for the best texture. Freeze for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator or on the counter, and frost it up to 1 day before serving.
Note: You can place coffee buttercream in a freezer-safe resealable bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months. Allow the frosting to thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bring it to room temperature to re-whip and frost the cake.
Frequently Asked Questions
It enhances the chocolate flavor in the cake without adding a coffee flavor. The coffee flavor comes through in the buttercream.
Absolutely, you can use decaf coffee in the cake batter and decaf instant coffee in the buttercream frosting.
Yes! You can fill cupcake liners halfway and bake at 350°F/177°C for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
I hope you love this Chocolate Coffee Cake as much as we do and that it becomes a family favorite! Please leave a comment below, I love reading your feedback. And if you’d like to make this recipe later, don’t forget to pin it on Pinterest. Happy Baking!Print