I used to avoid toffee. It was just too crunchy and the bits of sugar would get stuck in my teeth and I’d have to try and fish it out with my tongue while trying to look like I wasn’t. No? Just me? I could never bring myself to fish it out with my fingers in public, although I’ve seen many people do it without batting an eye. Ick. I’ve always been partial to caramels and their chew until I made my own toffee. Unlike brittle or a not-so-great toffee, good toffee not only breaks into delightful shards in your mouth (as opposed to the jagged, sharp chips) but disintegrates into a caramel liquid that is pleasant on the tongue and doesn’t stick to your teeth.
This cake is an ode to toffee and coffee. I call it a mocha cake because there are layers of chocolate cake in the center and chocolate + coffee = mocha. If I had it my way though, it would really be a toffee coffee chocolate cake. What a mouthful.
The cake itself is well balanced with a salty sweet coffee toffee and its chocolate cake. But if you really don’t want to go through with this over-the-top cake, I’m pleading with you to at least try the toffee. That is one worth taking your time making.
Toffee Mocha Cake
(For a step-by-step video of how I put it together, check out my stories on Instagram (@thebusyspatula)!)
You will need:
Chocolate Cake (recipe below)
Salted Nut Coffee Toffee (recipe below)
Coffee Ganache (recipe below)
Coffee Swiss Meringue Buttercream (recipe below)
Espresso Beans (optional)
- On a cake board, place one layer of your chocolate cake.
- Spread a thin, but even layer of the coffee buttercream.
- Spread a layer of the coffee ganache.
- Top with the coffee toffee.
- Repeat two more times.
- Crumb coat the cake with leftover buttercream and set in freezer for about 10-15 minutes or until the buttercream is firm.
- Remove cake from freezer and frost entire cake smoothly.
- Garnish the bottom of the cake with crushed coffee toffee.
- Place cake in freezer until firm, about 20-30 minutes.
- While cake is in the freezer, put the leftover ganache in a squeeze bottle and warm up ganache in a cup of hot water. You want the ganache to be runny enough that it will drip down the sides but not so hot that it will melt the buttercream.
- Remove cake from the freezer and do a ganache drip down the side of the cake. Fill the top smoothly with coffee ganache.
- Place cake in freezer to set.
- In a pastry bag fitted with a star pastry tip (I used Wilton’s 1M), swirl buttercream all around the edge of the cake.
- Dust the tops of the buttercream with crushed leftover toffee, and garnish each swirl with one espresso bean.
1 ¾ c. flour
2 c. sugar
¾ c. cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 c. buttermilk, shaken
½ c. vegetable oil
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 c. hot coffee
- Preheat oven to 350˚ and grease and line the bottom of four 6” cake pans with parchment paper.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, both cocoa powders, baking soda, baking powder and salt until fully combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until combined.
- With the mixer speed on low, add the egg mixture to the flour mixture until combined.
- Turn off the mixer. With a spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl to fully incorporate the two mixtures.
- Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the hot coffee to the batter. Once added, raise the speed to medium until completely homogenous.
- Divide batter evenly amongst the four cake pans and bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the cake pans halfway.
- Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out of cake pan and move onto wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Salted Nut Coffee Toffee:
1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 ½ tsp. espresso powder
1 ½ tsp. molasses
¼ tsp. kosher salt
nuts (I used walnuts and sunflower seeds)
flaky salt (I used maldon sea salt)
- Prepare a sheet pan lined with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- On medium-low heat in a small to medium HEAVY saucepan with a candy thermometer attached, mix butter, sugar, espresso powder, molasses and kosher salt together. (I’m emphasizing heavy because I’ve tried with a lighter pan and I ruined my first batch.)
- Whisk mixture constantly until temperature reaches 285˚F.
- Pour mixture onto the sheet pan and sprinkle your nuts and then the flaky salt.
- Let cool and break into shards.
For the Coffee Ganache:
120 ml. heavy cream
180 g. white chocolate
2 tsp. espresso powder
1 tsp. coffee emulsion
- In a microwave safe bowl, heat heavy cream and white chocolate for one minute. Whisk mixture together until it becomes homogenous. If the white chocolate did not fully melt, microwave at intervals of 30 seconds until melted.
- Add in espresso powder and coffee emulsion and whisk.
- Pour onto the mocha cake layer and put cake in fridge to set the ganache. About 30 minutes to an hour.
Coffee Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1 ¾ c. sugar
1 tbsp. espresso powder
7 large egg whites
a pinch of kosher salt
5 ½ sticks unsalted butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. coffee emulsion
- Simmer an inch of water in a medium pot.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk egg whites, espresso powder, sugar and salt together.
- Place the bowl over the pot of simmering water and whisk the egg white and sugar mixture continuously until the mixture becomes lighter and no longer grainy.
- Remove the bowl from the pot and transfer the bowl into the mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
- Mix on high until mixture becomes white and fluffy, and cool (check for this by seeing if the outside of the bowl is cool to the touch).
- Add in vanilla extract and butter one stick at a time until a silky smooth frosting forms.
- Add 2 tsp. of the coffee emulsion and whip until light brown and homogenous.