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Mar 20, 2024

Chocolate-Espresso Cakes with Burnt Caramel

These amazing little chocolate-espresso cakes are filled with a mocha French butter cream and topped with a fabulous burnt caramel sauce. 

Chocolate-Espresso Cake with frosting and caramel on a plate.


These little cakelets are moist, chocolate-y, and have a hint of espresso flavor that's there mostly to enhance the flavor of the chocolate. I have to admit, this is probably the best chocolate cake I have ever made or tasted. Seriously. 

The cakes are layered with French buttercream, which is a frosting made with beaten egg yolks tempered with a super hot sugar syrup that is slowly added to the beaten egg yolks in order to Pasteurize them without scrambling them. It's definitely a high wire act. 

After that, you beat a lot of butter using the "cube method," which involves running your mixer and adding cubes of butter, one at a time, until each is fully incorporated. It does require some patience. 

You then drizzle the cakes with an amazing burnt caramel sauce. 

You'll need to reserve some of the hot sugar mixture from the French buttercream and, when you are ready, cook the sugar mixture until it is dark amber and then add some cream, butter, vanilla, and a bit of salt. 

The flavor of the caramel is amazing. Just let it cool before drizzling it over the tops of the cakes. 

Chocolate Espresso Cake turned out on a cutting board.

To Make these Cakes:

You don't need a special pan to make these little cakes. You bake a single layer cake in a 9-inch by 13-inch cake pan and then cut the cakelets with a cookie or biscuit cutter from the larger cake. You should get about 15 mini cakes depending on your cutter size. I used a biscuit cutter that is 2 1/4 inches across

The hardest part was resisting eating up all of the bits of cake between the little cake circles. If you can't bear to throw the chocolate cake scraps away, freeze them for using for cake pops later. 

Cut outs of 15 chocolate espresso cakes.

French Buttercream:

While I've made Swiss buttercream, this is the first time I've made French buttercream. I must say, I like it even better, probably because all of the fat in an egg is in the yolks, which likely makes the frosting extra creamy. 

The trick is to bring a sugar and water mixture to 240 degrees F (the "soft ball stage") and then pour the hot mixture down the side of the bowl of your stand mixer after you have beaten the egg yolks to a light foam. The heat of the sugar mixture "cooks" the egg yolks without scrambling them. 

After that, add the cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt. Finally, begin to incorporate the butter, one tablespoon at a time. This requires quite a bit of patience, but it's worth it. 

This buttercream is amazing. 

Three Chocolate-Espresso Cakes with a measuring cup of Burnt Caramel ready to pour.

For the Burnt Caramel:

After boiling the sugar and water for the buttercream, reserve half of it for making the caramel sauce. 

How do you divide screaming hot liquid sugar in half? I didn't want to risk breaking a glass measuring cup with the hot liquid, so I set out two equally-sized metal measuring cups and then just poured the liquid from the pan into each until the levels of the sugar mixture seemed to be equal. I poured one back into the pan and drizzled the other one down the side of the stand mixer into the egg yolks. 

Once you're ready to make the burnt caramel, reheat the remaining sugar mixture until it becomes dark amber and then stir in the cream, a bit of butter, vanilla, and salt. Let the mixture come to room temperature before drizzling over the assembled cakes. 

Equipment You May Need:

Stand mixer: A hand mixer might work, but you'll need a lot of stamina while incorporating the butter into the frosting. 

Biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter, for cutting the cakes. 

Candy thermometer: for the hot sugar mixture. 

Three Chocolate-Espresso Cakes with Burnt Caramel.


You can make the cake a day in advance, cool it, and wrap it in plastic wrap, storing it at room temperature. I made mine the night before, wrapped it, and then made the frosting and caramel the next morning. 

You can also assemble the cakes, minus the caramel, and place them in an airtight container at least a day in advance. The cake seems to stay moist for a long time. When ready to serve, drizzle the cakes with the caramel. 


I ended up with quite a bit of extra buttercream so you might want to scale the recipe to about 3/4. You could also use the buttercream to mix with the extra cake scraps to make cake truffles. Roll them up and freeze them until you are ready to coat them in ganache. 

I also ended up with a lot of extra caramel. You can save it in the fridge for up to 30 days for serving over ice cream, filling sandwich cookies, and adding to your coffee with a little bit of whipped cream. 

You can pipe the frosting on the cake and between the layer or simply use an offset spatula to spread it over the layers. Either way, the cakes are amazing. 

Chocolate-Espresso Cake with a fork and one bite removed.

The Cake Slice Bakers Logo.

Each month The Cake Slice Bakers are offered a selection of cakes from the current book we are baking through. This year it is The Cake Book: Beautiful Sweet Treats for Every Craving by Rebecca Firth. We each choose one cake to bake, and then on the 20th - never before - we all post about our cake on our blogs. There are a few rules that we follow, but the most important ones are to have fun and enjoy baking & eating cakes!

Follow our Facebook and Instagram pages where you can find all of our cakes, as well as inspiration for many other cakes. You can also click on the links below to take you to each of our cakes. If you have a blog and are interested in joining The Cake Slice Bakers and baking along with us, please send an email to thecakeslicebakers at gmail dot com for more details.

The Cake Slice Bakers also have a Facebook group called The Cake Slice Bakers and Friends. This group is perfect for those who do not have a blog but want to join in the fun and bake through this book.

The cover of The Cake Book.

Our choices for March 2024 were ~

Banana Rum Cake

Chocolate Espresso Cakes with Burnt Caramel

Chocolate-Espresso Cakes with Burnt Caramel on a small plate.

Chocolate-Espresso Cakes with Burnt Caramel

Chocolate-Espresso Cakes with Burnt Caramel
Yield: 15 cakes
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Prep time: 3 HourCook time: 1 H & 15 MInactive time: 1 HourTotal time: 5 H & 15 M
These amazing little chocolate-espresso cakes are filled with a mocha French butter cream and topped with an amazing burnt caramel sauce.


For the Cake
  • 400 grams (2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 226 grams (1 cup/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 149 grams (2/3 cup) sour cream, room temperature
  • 270 grams (2 cups) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 85 grams (1 cup) Dutch process unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup hot and strong espresso or coffee
For the French Mocha Buttercream
  • 300 grams (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 25 grams (1/3 cup) unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 452 grams (1 pound/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 32 pieces
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
For the Burnt Caramel
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt


To Make and Assemble the Cakes
  1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees F and spray a 9 inch by 13 inch cake pan with baking spray. Line it with parchment paper, leaving some overhang so that you can lift the cake out of the pan.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, and espresso powder on medium speed until fluffy and light, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat until incorporated. Add the sour cream and beat for one minute. Set the bowl aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Place a sieve over the stand mixer bowl and sift half of the flour mixture into the bowl. Stir with a rubber spatula until combined. Sift the rest of the flour mixture into the bowl and stir until just combined.
  5. Add the hot coffee/espresso to the mixture. Return the bowl to the mixer and mix until just combined.
  6. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Lift the cake out of the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
  7. Using a 2 1/4 inch biscuit or cookie cutter, cut the cake into 15 cake rounds. With a serrated knife, divide each round into two layers. Frost the middle and top with the French buttercream with a piping bag or a spatula and drizzle with the burnt caramel.
To Make the French Mocha Buttercream
  1. Add the sugar and water to a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F.
  2. In the meantime, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks on medium speed for four minutes, until light and foamy. Slowly pour half of the sugar mixture from step one into the egg yolk mixture. Drizzle it down the side of the bowl, avoiding hitting the whisk. Leave the rest of the sugar mixture in the pan for making the caramel.
  3. Turn the mixture up to high and run until the bottom of the bowl is cooled. Turn the mixture to medium and add the cocoa powder, espresso, and salt.
  4. Add the butter, one chunk at a time, making sure each one is incorporated until adding the next one.
  5. Once you've added the butter, add the vanilla and beat for an additional minute.
To Make the Burnt Caramel
  1. Heat the saucepan with the rest of the sugar mixture over medium heat until the color is a deep amber. Remove from the heat and add the cream, whisking constantly. Add the butter, vanilla, and salt, and whisk until smooth. Let cool completely.

Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)

28 g

Sat. Fat (grams)

17 g

Carbs (grams)

40 g

Fiber (grams)

2 g

Net carbs

38 g

Sugar (grams)

29 g

Protein (grams)

4 g

Cholesterol (grams)

136 mg
cake, caramel, mocha
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Would you like to comment?

  1. If this is the best chocolate cake you have ever had, it is definitely going on my to make list.

  2. I agree with you on this is the best chocolate cake ever, totally! I kind of eyeballed the splitting of the sugar syrup - will remember your way to split it up, that's a better way. Love your photos!

    1. I'm not so good at eyeballing the pan, lol. I need a pan with measurement markers!


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