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Coffee-Cocoa Snack Cake

Featured in our 2018 Christmas Guide
Scott Phillips

Yield: Yields one 9-inch-square cake.

Servings: sixteen.

The coffee in this recipe intensifies the chocolate flavor of this super-moist cake. I  suggest you use a freshly ground, medium-bodied variety, such as Colombian.


  • 5 oz. (10 Tbs.) very soft unsalted butter; more for the pan
  • 1-2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 7-1/4 oz. (1-1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pan
  • 2-1/2 oz. (1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup) unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not  Dutch-processed)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1-1/2 cups good-quality brewed coffee, cooled  to warm


  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and  heat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 9-inch-square baking pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a square of parchment, butter the parchment, and then flour the bottom and sides of the pan. Tap out any excess flour.
  • If mixing by hand, put the softened butter and sugar in a medium bowl. Using a wooden spoon, cream them until smooth, about 1 minute. Switch to a whisk and blend in the eggs one at a time. Stir for another 30 seconds, until the batter is smooth and the sugar begins to dissolve. (If using a stand mixer, put the butter and sugar in the bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream until smooth, about 1  minute. Blend in the eggs one at a time, mixing just until incorporated, about 20 seconds. Then switch to a whisk and blend in the rest of the ingredients by hand.) Mix in the vanilla and salt. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder directly onto the batter. Pour in the coffee. Gently whisk the ingredients until the mixture is smooth and mostly free of lumps.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out with only moist crumbs clinging to it, 40 to 43 minutes. Set the pan on a rack to cool for 20 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edges of the pan, invert the cake onto the rack, and remove the pan. Invert again onto another rack and let cool right side up until just warm.

Make Ahead Tips

The cake can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to five days.

Try drizzling pieces of the cake with a little warm ganache.


Give the butter plenty of time to warm up. You can tell your butter is soft enough if it squishes when poked lightly with a finger.


Rate or Review


  • mowse | 03/05/2018

    So, I do not have a 9x9 square pan, instead, I ended up using two eight inch rounds. I am currently eating the trimmings while I wait for the cakes to finish cooling so I can frost them. It is some of the best chocolate cake I have ever baked or even had. This will be my new go-to chocolate cake recipe. It is easy and so very yummy.

  • aruttan | 10/21/2017

    This is my go to chocolate cake recipe. I brew my coffee just a bit stronger than I drink and that seems to work well. I like denser cakes and the butter (vs oil) gives me that as well as still being quite moist. I add a coffee mocha icing to it. The most reliable recipe out there.

  • Leisa_VA | 05/19/2016

    The cake is good, but I feel that 1.5 cups of coffee is too much--the center of my cake, though testing done, the cake feels loosey-goosey to me. Would prefer something firmer. I would not make this again, but would opt for another recipe.

  • Anya_Fare | 06/04/2015

    This might be the best chocolate cake I have ever had let alone made. I'm a tentative baker but this recipe has never failed me. I up the salt a little which makes it caramelly. I've added ground sour cherry seeds (mahlab,) lavender, and nutmeg. I've switched out some of the coffee for rose or bitter orange blossom water. I've dusted it with powdered sugar. Iced it with peanut butter frosting. Spooned stewed fruit on top. Even soaked it with booze and lit it on fire! It seems to cook perfectly no matter what size or shape pan(s) you use. (It makes beautiful mini Bundt cakes.) And it stays moist for ages. I think even very accomplished cake makers would be quite thrilled with this. I know it has impressed some of the most jaded guests I have.

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