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Mocha Celebration Cake

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If you are a home baker you likely get saddled with the responsibility (and joy!) of making birthday cakes for friends and family. My family has a few great bakers in it so I share the load with them, but when it’s my turn I like to pull out all the stops and try to impress. I’m not a very competitive person … except when cooking and baking. Nothing conjures ‘oooohs’ and ‘aaahhhhhs’ like a tall, towering, dark chocolate cake. Pair it with an easy chocolatey frosting and a flavorful mocha filling and you are set.

This particular cake is uncomplicated and delivers on flavor, texture and size – it feeds a crowd!  I recently made it for a friend’s birthday and upon first bite he declared ” I hope you’re blogging this!” and so here we are. Every baker needs a go-to chocolate cake (or two, or three …) and when I get the question, “Will you make the cake?” I often turn to this one because I know it can’t lose.

Chocolate Cake

This cake is a cinch to make (mix it by hand!) and bakes up perfectly like an old fashioned chocolate cake should. If you are making this cake and NOT making a mocha filling or frosting, you can switch the cold coffee out for milk without any ill-effects. However, the coffee imparts less of a true coffee flavour in the cake and simply enhances the chocolate flavour from the cocoa. I also sometimes fill it with a layer of strained raspberry jam (no seeds) and frost it with a vanilla butter cream. This recipe is also great for 24 cupcakes.

preheat the oven to 350° 

¾ C vegetable oil

1 C plain yogurt

1 ½ C cold coffee

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 ¼C flour

2 ½ C sugar

1 C cocoa

2 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

Grease and cocoa 2 8×2 inch cake pans. Set aside.

Whisk together the oil and yogurt in a large bowl. Add the eggs, whisking to combine. In a measuring cup or small bowl, measure the cold coffee and add the vanilla and vinegar.

Whisk together the dry ingredients. Once mixed, add ½ the dry mixture to the large bowl with the yogurt, oil and eggs. Stir to combine, adding ½ the coffee mixture. Repeat with remaining dry and coffee until the full batter is incorporated. Try not to over mix.

Divide the batter into your prepared pans and bake for 45 minutes at 350° or until a cake tester in the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes, invert and release cakes. Allow to cool completely before splitting, filling and frosting.

For the Chocolate Frosting and Mocha Filling

Keep things simple by using the same Master frosting inside and out – each tweaked to satisfy the flavours of deep chocolate and the balance of coffee.

In a mixer, whip ½ C unsalted butter with 1 tsp vanilla. Slowly add 4 C of icing (confectioners’) sugar.  Add 2 Tbsp cocoa. Beat until fluffy and well incorporated, adding milk, 1 tsp at a time until desired consistency. You want it to be fluffy, spreadable and light.

Divide the frosting into 2 bowls.

In bowl #1 add 1 tsp super-fine espresso or instant espresso. This is the filling for between the cake layers.

In bowl #2 add 2 more Tbsp of cocoa and any milk you need to keep it spreadable and soft. This is the exterior icing.

To assemble

Place 1 split layer of cake (you should have 4 from the 2 cakes). Spread with one third of the mocha filling. Stack and repeat until all 4 layers of cake are assembled with 3 layers of filling. Frost with the chocolate frosting. if not serving immediately,  refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator 30 mins before serving. Serves 12-16

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