Chocolate Cake with Caramel and Espresso Icing

By using a fresh dark-roast espresso, you'll get a true, deep coffee flavor. Stay away from instant espresso.


I had always been a five-cup-a-day, take-it-black coffee drinker—three in the morning, one at lunch, and one in the afternoon. Standing a tall 5 feet, 2¼ inches, there might be some truth to the idea that coffee stunts your growth! I inherited the habit from my grandpa Raffetto, who liked his coffee black and thick as tar with burnt toast each morning. When my allergies were at their worst, I started watching my daily caffeine intake, so this icing has become my special treat. By using a fresh dark-roast espresso, you'll get a true, deep coffee flavor. Stay away from instant espresso.

Yields: 1


For the Espresso Icing

  • 4 c. non-hydrogenated palm shortening
  • 2 c. unbleached powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 c. agave nectar
  • 1/2 c. safflower oil
  • 1/4 c. chopped unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/4 c. brewed dark-roast espresso

For the Caramel Sauce

  • 4 c. evaporated cane juice
  • 1 c. water
  • 1/2 c. agave nectar
  • 1 c. coconut milk
  • 1/4 c. non-hydrogenated palm oil shortening
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea salt

For the Cake 

2 tsp. golden flax seed meal
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. warm water


Dry Ingredients 

  • 1 1/4 c. flour
  • 3/4 c. evaporated cane juice
  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. arrowroot
  • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground chipotle peppers (cayenne or chili powder works well also)

Wet Ingredients 

  • 1 c. vanilla soy or rice milk
  • 1/3 c. safflower oil
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp. vanilla bean paste (or ¾ tsp. vanilla extract)



  • To make the icing: Place the shortening in the bowl of a standing mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on high speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, slowly add the powdered sugar, and beat until incorporated.
  • Raise the mixer speed to medium. Add the agave nectar and oil. Mix until fully incorporated and the icing is fluffy with a glossy appearance.
  • In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and then let cool. Add brewed dark-roast espresso and the melted chocolate to the icing with the agave nectar and safflower oil. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container. Icing will keep for up to 2 weeks refrigerated or 1 month frozen. After refrigerating, bring to room temperature and beat in a standing mixer to restore the texture before using.
  • To make the caramel sauce: Combine the evaporated cane juice, water, and agave in a medium saucepan. Stir lightly to incorporate. Make sure the sides of the pan are clean.
  • Place the pan over high heat and cook until the mixture boils and starts to caramelize, about 20 minutes. Do not stir. Right when it turns dark golden brown, remove from the heat. Sugar burns very easily at this stage, so watch carefully!
  • Immediately, but slowly, stir in the coconut milk and shortening. Stir in the sea salt and let cool completely before using. To store, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
  • To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease four 6-inch round cake pans by spreading non-hydrogenated palm oil with a pastry brush. Trace and cut out four 6-inch circles of parchment paper and place on the bottom of each greased pan.
  • In a small bowl, combine the flax seed meal and warm water. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed until incorporated.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Add the flax seed meal mixture.
  • With the mixer on medium speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix on medium-high until all the ingredients are incorporated and the batter is smooth, about 2 minutes.
  • Divide the batter among the cake pans and smooth the tops with a flat spatula or spoon.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into a cake comes out clean. If there is still batter on the toothpick, continue to bake for another 5 to 10 minutes. (Baking times will vary depending on your oven and the thickness and size of the cake layers.)
  • Let the cakes cool completely in the pans. Cover the pans tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate preferably overnight, or for at least 1 hour. This will ensure the cakes set up properly and be much easier to work with.


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Cake Magazine: Chocolate Cake with Caramel and Espresso Icing
Chocolate Cake with Caramel and Espresso Icing
By using a fresh dark-roast espresso, you'll get a true, deep coffee flavor. Stay away from instant espresso.
Cake Magazine
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