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Apr 26, 2023

Vietnamese Coffee Cake

This Vietnamese coffee cake incorporates the flavor of Vietnamese coffee into an amazing chocolate and coffee dessert. 

Vietnamese Coffee Cake on plates.


This cake is not a cake from Vietnam that's served with coffee. Instead, it's a cake topped with an amazing sauce inspired by Vietnamese coffee. 

The chiffon-like cake is light and airy and flavored with cocoa powder and Chinese five spice. It's then topped with the Vietnamese coffee-inspired sauce and a layer of whipped cream, sugar, vanilla, and mascarpone.   

What is Vietnamese Coffee? 

Typically, it's an individually brewed cup of coffee made with a "phin," which is a four-piece filter gadget that you place over your cup that already has about a one-inch layer of sweetened condensed milk. When you first add the coffee, the layers of milk and coffee are distinct. 

Once you've brewed your coffee over the condensed milk, mix everything together and pour it over ice for an amazingly delicious, sweet, and strong iced coffee. 

This description is simplistic but it does describe Saigon-style Vietnamese coffee. Evidently, there is also Hanoi-style coffee, which includes whipped egg yolks. 

The coffee beans are "robusta," which are very strong and high in caffein. 

Vietnamese Coffee Cake Ingredients in bowls and plates.

This amazing cake consists of three components. First, there is a chiffon-like chocolate five spice cake layer. The cake is a single layer that you make in a 9- by 13-inch cake pan. What I love about this cake, besides the light and airy texture and flavor, is that it stays fresh for at least four days. 

The second component is the Vietnamese coffee inspired sauce. It adds so much strong and sweet coffee flavor and adds more moisture to the cake. The sauce is also amazing over ice cream or mixed into milk over ice. 

The final component is a whipped cream and mascarpone topping. This topping was a revelation. It's the perfect formula for making whipped cream in advance... up to three or four days in advance! It would make the perfect frosting for and angel food cake or topping a cheesecake without having to add stabilizers. It will be my make ahead go-to whipped cream from now on. 

Vietnamese Coffee Cake Slice on a plate.

Coffee was first introduced to Vietnam by the French in the mid 1800s. Today, Vietnam produces 20 percent of the world's coffee beans (, retrieved April, 2023). Because milk is not a Vietnamese staple, the French had to import it... thus, the addition of shelf-stable condensed milk. 

Ingredients in this Vietnamese Coffee Cake (shopping list):

This cake was inspired by a cake from The Slanted Door restaurant of San Francisco's cookbook.  In the book it is called "chocolate tres leches cake." The recipe was re-jiggered by Milk Street Magazine (a magazine to which you need to subscribe if you don't already). 

The Slanted Door, created by chef Charles Phan, is temporarily closed but will hopefully re-open. 

For the Cake:

Cake flour

Cocoa powder: I used Dutch process, but natural would be fine too. 

Chinese five-spice powder

From your pantry: Baking powder, kosher salt, sugar, vegetable oil, vanilla

For the Coffee Sauce:

Instant espresso powder (do not substitute instant coffee)

Sweetened condensed milk, milk, vanilla extract, and salt

For the Whipped Cream:

Heavy cream

Mascarpone (the magical secret ingredient)

Powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and kosher salt

Vietnamese Coffee Cake components.


You can make all of the components in advance. The sauce and the whipped cream will keep fresh in the refrigerator up to three to four days. 

Keep the cake covered in plastic wrap in an airtight container for up to three days at room temperature. If the cake gets a little dry, you can always poke holes in the cake, a la tres leches cake, before pouring over the sauce. 

This cake is sooooo good!!

More Vietnamese-Style Recipes You May Also Enjoy:

Zucchini and Carrot Salad

Beef Stew

Pan-Fried Halibut with Lemon Grass

Meatballs with Rice Noodles

Pork and Shrimp Spring Rolls

Chicken and Rice Soup

Quick Beef Pho

More Cake that is Coffee Flavored:

Walnut Espresso Cake - the frosting is amazing. 

Mocha Latte Coffee Cake - topped with a delicious cinnamon pecan streusel. 

Welcome to #BrunchWeek! This event has been around for over 7 years. It’s a fun way to share our love for all things brunch related to help celebrate Mother’s Day! We have 11 bloggers sharing over 30 recipes this year!! That’s 30 plus delicious recipes to help celebrate mothers, family, and friends. If you’re putting together a brunch, then you’ll appreciate all the variety this event offers! From cocktails to baked goods and even sandwiches, there’s something for everyone.

Here are today’s #BrunchWeek recipes:

Vietnamese Coffee Cake serving with sauce.

Vietnamese Coffee Cake

Vietnamese Coffee Cake
Yield: 12 servings
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Prep time: 45 MinCook time: 25 MinTotal time: 1 H & 10 M
This Vietnamese coffee cake incorporates the flavor of Vietnamese coffee into an amazing chocolate and coffee dessert.


For the Cake
  • 160 grams (1 1/3 cups) cake flour
  • 42 grams (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 large room temperature eggs, eggs and whites separated
  • 264 grams (1 1/3 cups) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
For the Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Whipped Cream
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone
  • 1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt


For the Cake
  1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9- by 13-inch cake pan with spray oil and line the bottom with parchment paper that has been cut to fit the bottom of the pan. Spray the paper with spray oil.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, five-spice powder, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, a cup of the sugar, the water, oil, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the egg yolk mixture and whisk until combined.
  4. In a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on medium-high for about a minute. While the mixture is running, slowly add the 1/3 cup of sugar and whip until everything is thick and shiny and holds soft peaks, about 3 minutes.
  5. Fold 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula to lighten it. Add the rest of the egg whites and fold until combined. Scrape the batter into the pan, smooth the top, and bake for about 25 minutes, rotating halfway through.
  6. Cool the cake on the pan in a wire rack for an hour. Turn the cake out onto a wire rack and then re-invert it onto a platter.
For the Sauce
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the boiling water and espresso powder to dissolve.
  2. Whisk in the condensed milk and fresh milk, the vanilla, and the salt. Refrigerate until ready to serve the cake.
To Make the Whipped Cream
  1. Beat the all of the ingredients together with an electric mixer on low until everything is fully combined and frothy. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium high and beat until you have soft peaks.
  2. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
To Serve the Cake
  1. Top each piece of cake with a tablespoon or two of the sauce and a dollop of the whipped cream.
  2. Optionally, you can top each piece with a dusting of cocoa powder.


Adapted from Milk Street Magazine, September/October 2017

Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)

21.96 g

Sat. Fat (grams)

8.81 g

Carbs (grams)

54.69 g

Fiber (grams)

1.68 g

Net carbs

53 g

Sugar (grams)

41.98 g

Protein (grams)

8.03 g

Cholesterol (grams)

95.05 mg
cake, chocolate, coffee
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Would you like to comment?

  1. Oh my goodness, that looks good! I can think of so many things that sauce would be tasty on too!

  2. I love all three components! I'm a fan of Vietnamese coffee, and mixing whip with mascarpone is soooo good. This coffee cake sounds amazing.

  3. Love that you have the conversion from grams to cups, but is 1/3 cup of cake flour correct for a 9x13 cake?

    1. Nice catch. I hate when I do that. Fixed! The grams were correct.

  4. Perhaps not commonly served with coffee, but I would serve it with the Vietnamese coffee. Gives me more excuses to make it.

  5. I just ordered some Five Spice so I can give this a try. I adore all things coffee!

  6. This looks so delicious! And that sauce on top! It really is the "icing" on the cake! Yum!


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