This grain-free chocolate cake with mocha buttercream is super decadent and perfect for the coffee-drinking chocolate lover in your life.
It’s Friday, and I brought cake! Grain-free chocolate cake with mocha buttercream, to be exact. It’s my favorite paleo chocolate cake base (from the Black Forest Cake recipe in Paleo Planet) with a classic, very non-paleo mocha buttercream frosting. The cake layers are rich and tender, and the mocha buttercream hits you mainly with chocolate, but has just enough of a coffee kick sneaking up from behind to keep things interesting. The chocolate-covered coffee beans on top provide a welcome crunch and yet another layer of chocolate and coffee flavor.
I made this cake a couple of weekends ago for my future mother-in-law’s birthday. She grew up in Brazil, which grows a huge portion of the world’s coffee and cacao, and is a big fan of both. This cake was a hit with her and with the rest of the family. It’s so rich that we got a full 20 slices out of it.
I was worried the coffee flavor would be too much for my nieces, who originally were quite suspicious of the chocolate-covered coffee beans on top. Those ended up getting the seal of approval, too, though–after eating the bean on her piece, my nine-year-old niece started sneaking beans off the remainder of the cake to go with the rest of her slice.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this cake has a classic buttercream frosting, which means copious amounts of powdered sugar. I buy organic powdered sugar at Whole Foods, which is made with sugar and tapioca starch instead of cornstarch, so it is grain free. This is definitely a special occasion dessert in my book. However, if you want a more paleo-friendly way to enjoy this cake, you’ve got options! The cake itself is paleo-friendly, and it’s also delicious layered with whipped coconut cream and perhaps some fresh fruit. Below is a photo of the Black Forest Cake from Paleo Planet, which is this cake recipe filled and topped with fresh cherries and whipped coconut cream. When fresh cherries aren’t in season, you could try this with any berry you can find.
I hope you make this grain-free chocolate cake a part of one of your upcoming special occasions!
- 2¾ cups lightly packed finely ground almond flour
- ¾ cup tapioca flour
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (Dutch processed preferred)
- 1½ teaspoons espresso powder
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon flaky sea salt
- 1 cup honey
- ½ cup raw or coconut sugar
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons melted ghee or butter
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 6 large eggs
- 4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature (I use Kerrygold)
- 1.5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
- 1-2 tablespoons espresso powder dissolved in a splash of hot water*
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- About 20 chocolate-covered coffee beans
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of two 9 x 2-inch round cake pans with parchment paper, and grease the paper and the sides of the pans with ghee or coconut oil.
- Sift the almond flour, tapioca flour, cocoa, coffee, and baking soda into a large bowl, discarding any coarse bits of almond flour that remain in the strainer. Whisk in the salt.
- Whisk together the honey, sugar, melted ghee, and vanilla in another large bowl. Add the eggs and whisk until smooth.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold with a spatula until just combined.
- Transfer the batter to the pans and bake until just set, about 30 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake should come out with a few small crumbs attached.
- Place the pans on a wire rack to cool for about 15 minutes, and then loosen the cakes by running a small knife around the edges of the pans. Carefully invert each cake onto a plate and remove the parchment. Return the cakes to the rack, right side up, and let cool completely.
- Beat the butter in a large bowl with a mixer or whisk until smooth, about two minutes. Beat in all the remaining ingredients except the powdered sugar. Sift in about ¾ cup of powdered sugar at a time, beating until smooth after each addition.
- Place one layer on a cake stand or plate and top with a layer of mocha buttercream. Place the other cake layer on top and frost the top and sides. Use an offset spatula to smooth the sides if desired, and create a spiral swirl on top of the cake with a spatula or spoon. Using a frosting bag fitted with a star tip (I used a small star tip, but would have used my Wilton 1M if I'd been able to find it) to pipe 16-20 round swirls around the edge of the top of the cake. Top each swirl with a chocolate-covered coffee bean.
- Serve at room temperature. Refrigerate the cake if you frosted it more than four hours before you plan to serve it (bring back to room temperature before serving). Leftover cake keeps well in the fridge for several days.
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