A cake needed frosting. Fast. As it seems to be the norm these days, I had left the making of a cake for an office party until the very last minute. Not quite sure of what the plan would be, I whipped up a basic vanilla chiffon cake, into which I had baked some chocolate chips. And now I was looking at my two round disks of yellow cake, weighing the options – I didn’t really have time for buttercream nor did I want a boring chocolate frosting. Strawberries or any other frosting worthy fruit are not in season and I only had an hour before the party.

Luckily, I was at work, where I have a wide array of ingredients at my disposal. I walked out for some air and some inspiration which came with the small cup of espresso I was holding. Mocha frosting. Perfect for an afternoon cake and a potluck party where everyone else would be contributing holiday themed goodies.

I used some of the frosting to fill the cake too so you can halve the recipe if you just need it for the outer layer (it calls for an ungodly amount of butter). The sweetness is balanced by the intense acidity and bitterness of the espresso. To keep the frosting smooth, make sure to sift the powder sugar.

As I was in a hurry and I didn’t have time to apply one coating, let it harden and then continue, I only frosted the cake once and then hid the mistakes with rosettes of whipped cream, a pastry chef’s best friend.

The cake was an incredible success, long gone before ginger breads and pumpkin pies and what began as a whim might very well end up as a staple.




6 C Powder Sugar, sifted

1 pound Butter, softened

1/3 to 1/2 C   Espresso or strong coffee

1/4 C      Chocolate chips

1 Vanilla Chiffon cake cut into two rounds


  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter and sugar on high until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add the coffee in small amounts and taste in between. Mix until well combined.
  3. Remove 3/4 to 1 cup of the frosting and mix about 1/4 cup chocolate chips. Use it to fill the cake.
  4. Use the rest to frost the cake.


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Filed under baking, cooking, desserts

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