Gourmet Made Deliciously Simple

Ina’s Chocolate Cake with Mocha Frosting

Ina's rich chocolate cake with generous mocha frosting is undeniably one of the best chocolate cakes out there! That mocha frosting is what really makes this cake!

Ina’s rich chocolate cake with generous mocha frosting is undeniably one of the best chocolate cakes out there! That mocha frosting is what really makes this cake!

Ina's rich chocolate cake with generous mocha frosting is undeniably one of the best chocolate cakes out there! That mocha frosting is what really makes this cake!

Last week, we celebrated Garrat’s birthday. Nothing fancy, just 2 of us, at home. (If you’re on snapchat, you probably saw that. My username is shineshka, btw. If you wanted to follow along and see what I do all day.)

Guess what he asked for his birthday cake? “Pumpkin Mousse Pie!!” Boooooring! I’ve already made like 5 of those this fall, and he wanted another one. “Whatever you want, darling!”, I said, thinking to myself, it’s not a birthday without a cake. And pie doesn’t count. So I decided to bake the pie AND a cake. This pregnant lady was craving a chocolate cake. What can I say…

While flipping through Ina’s “Make It Ahead” cookbook, I found this amazing-looking chocolate cake with mocha frosting! I repeat, mocha frosting!! That was it. I was baking it for my husband’s birthday to satisfy my own craving!! ?

Ina's rich chocolate cake with generous mocha frosting is undeniably one of the best chocolate cakes out there! That mocha frosting is what really makes this cake!

Though it was a sheet cake in the book, I made it into a layer cake. I didn’t change much in the recipe, but since I didn’t have half & half, I substituted milk and heavy cream for it.

Just like any of Ina’s recipes, this one didn’t disappoint! Rich and decadent, this chocolate cake is everything you’d want from a chocolate cake. Here is step-by-step visuals for you.

Ina's Chocolate Cake- step by step photo tutorial

Like I said earlier, mocha frosting is what really makes this cake. As much as I love my chocolate mousse filling, I think this mocha frosting is my new favorite! And sooo easy to make too! The only thing is that it’s best when served right away, while it’s still beautifully luscious and soft.

I mean, it’s still great the next day after being refrigerated, but it’s firmer and not as luscious.

Ina’s make ahead tip: You can bake the cake in advance and freeze it for up to 2 months. And then make the frosting the day you plan to serve the cake.

Ina's mocha frosting- step by step photo tutorial

“How easy is that?” (Insert Ina’s voice.) Easy and delicious, I tell ya!

My husband reported that the cake was a huge hit at the ranch too! Yay! ??

Ina's rich chocolate cake with generous mocha frosting is undeniably one of the best chocolate cakes out there! That mocha frosting is what really makes this cake!

So, when are you going to make this cake? I’m sure it’s just a matter of when, and not whether or not you’ll make this cake. Am I right?

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Ina’s Chocolate Cake with Mocha Frosting

Ina’s rich chocolate cake with generous mocha frosting is undeniably one of the best chocolate cakes out there! That mocha frosting is what really makes this cake!

Yield: 12 servings


For Chocolate Cake:

  • 1 ¾ cups (220gr) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup hot water
  • 2/3 cup (64gr) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) milk (I used whole milk, but any milk will work)
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 12 tablespoons (170gr) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (400gr) sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

For Mocha Frosting:

  • 12oz (340gr) bittersweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons (45gr) unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon Kahlúa
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
  2. Line two 9-inch (23cm) round cake pans with parchment paper. Then generously spray the bottom and sides with a cooking spray.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a big jug, combine hot water, cocoa powder, milk, heavy cream and espresso powder.
  5. In a large mixing bowl with paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  6. Add 1/3 of flour mixture, mix the batter on low speed, then add half of the liquid ingredients. Continue alternating the dry and liquid ingredients and mixing the batter until smooth, scraping down the sides.
  7. Evenly divide the batter into the prepared cake pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pan for 5 minutes. Then remove onto wire racks, peel off the parchment paper and cool completely.
  8. To make the frosting, combine chocolate, butter and espresso powder in a medium bowl.
  9. In a small saucepan, heat the cream to simmer over medium heat. Pour it over the chocolate and mix until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is nice and smooth. If needed, warm up the mixture in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  10. Add Kahlúa and vanilla extract. Cover and refrigerate for no longer than 30 minutes. The mixture should be cool, but not cold.
  11. Beat the chocolate mixture on medium high speed until soft peaks form. Make sure not to overbeat the frosting, or it’ll curdle.
  12. To assemble the cake, spread half of the frosting on one layer of the cake.
  13. Place the second layer and spread the remaining frosting. If desired, dust with sprinkles. It’s best to serve the cake the same day, while the frosting is fresh.

For step-by-step photos and additional notes, read the post above.

Ina’s Make-Ahead Tip: You can bake the cake and freeze it for up to 2 months, and then whip up the frosting the day you’re planning to serve.

Original recipe is from “Make It Ahead: A Barefood Contessa Cookbook” by Ina Garten

All images and text ©Shinee D. for Sweet & Savory


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All photographs and content on Sweet & Savory by Shinee is copyright protected, unless otherwise noted. Please do not use any of my photos without my authorization. If you would like to share my recipe, you may re-write the recipe in your own words, or simply link back to this post for the full directions. Thank you for your cooperation!

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  1. If I wish to put frosting one the sides of the cake, do you think that kit kat fingers would stick to this mocha frosting? Or Is it better to make Beatty’s chocolate cake and frosting and stick kit kat
    fingers to the sides?

  2. Hi

    your recipes looks great. I guess I can follow it because of your detailed step by step procedure.
    I’ll surely try them


  3. Hi! Will there be enough frosting for a layer between the rounds and to completely cover?

  4. I am making this cake for Saturday night how far ahead. Can I make the cake and refrigerate it without icing it? Make the cake ahead, freeze it and make the icing on Saturday am and ice it? What do you suggest?

    • Hey, Joanne. You can wrap it tightly and refrigerate it for 1-2 days. Or you can even freeze for 1-2 days, I think it’ll keep moister if you freeze it. Make the icing on Saturday for sure. Let me know it turns out.

  5. I could not find bittersweet choclate at my local grocery store. Can I substitute another chocolate?

  6. Ina garten says to beat frosting for just a few seconds or it will curdle. I am still beating, and it is not forming peaks, or curdling for that matter. Any suggestions

  7. Just a post-script to my comment posted October 31st. Made this cake for my neighbour’s 50th birthday. We got together with the other  neighbours to celebrate now everyone wants me to do their birthday cake. Huge hit and soooo good. Thank you again!

  8. This is a mouth-watering cake!!
    Looks fantastic, and I’m craving a huge slice 🙂

  9. Oh yum!  This looks amazing!  I’m a huge chocolate fan and when you add mocha in the mix?  Well, I’m a goner.  

  10. Oh my goodness, this looks fabulous!  

  11. Oh. My. God! This is looking so good I really need to go grocery shopping today and make this because who cares my birthday is 4 months away? I am going to celebrate whatever! This cake is so so sooooooo good!

  12. oh boy! Mail me a slice wontcha?!

  13. omg…chocolate cake = fat kid.  that’s me!  This cake looks like a celebration definitely waiting to happen!  Visiting form Lou Lou Girls Linky Party! 

  14. Do you think it has to have kahlua? i have never used it and would have to buy a whole bottle just for this. It looks delicious.

    • I think since it’s a mocha frosting, it needs that coffee aspect. But I totally understand you not wanting a whole bottle for just a tablespoon. 🙂 Maybe you could add a bit of very strong coffee, or increase espresso powder by a teaspoon? Hope this helps, Debbie.

  15. Thank you for posting this recipe – it is exactly what I’m looking for! My next door  neighbour is turning 50 and he’s a chocoholic and he’s Italian so he’ll love the espresso chocolaty flavours combined. We’ll get together with the other neighbours and we can all enjoy this amazing cake together – plus it will help ease the pain of turning 50. 

    • Janet, what a lucky neighbor you’ve got!! It’s so very nice of you. This cake really is the chocoholic’s dream cake. The fudge frosting is to die for! I hope you all enjoy the cake and the celebration!

  16. I love Ina! My son used to fall asleep to her voice when he was a baby–it was the only thing that worked 10 years ago! She is just so soothing and makes anything delicious!

  17. This looks totally fabulous! So rich and chocolatey and that mocha frosting really sounds fantastic 🙂

  18. We are totally in sync! I made this the other week too!! Barefoot Contessa never ever disappoints. 🙂 I’m with you!!!