White Mocha Cake with Espresso Caramel Buttercream

If you voted on Facebook for my birthday cake of choice this was the winner! This cake is not for the faint of heart. It is loaded with white chocolate, espresso, half and half and butter; a delicious combination that results in a tender, beautifully textured cake full of my favorite flavors. If one shot of espresso is not enough, I added a buttercream infused with an espresso caramel sauce. It’s like caramel that has gone to the dark side. Together this cakey team is a force (lol!) to reckon with.


In graduate school there was a local coffee shop called The Beanery that served amazing white mochas. My scientific partner in crime, Kristine, and I made many a trip to their corner shop to fuel our Biophysics calculations. I have been a fan of this white chocolate espresso combination ever since. My latte love inspired this White Mocha Cake.A-mocha-double-web

If you have made a cake with coffee or espresso before you may have noted that the flavor fades after a day or two. To ensure that this cake maintained a coffee kick I added ground espresso beans and steeped them in half and half to not only permeate the batter but to act as a time-released flavor maker.A-mocha-anglewebI also melted rich white chocolate into the half and half-espresso mix to create a union of coffee-shop flavors that fill out the cake. I chose a white chocolate with a high cocoa butter content, the Casa Luker 34% Nevado White Chocolate, which was graciously sent to me by Ayi from Pastry Portal. This white chocolate has an intense cocoa butter flavor which shines through in this cake .A-lazy-mocha-webThe buttercream on this cake is really something special. One of the benefits of making Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC) with my crazy method is that you can add flavors from the beginning stages. This allows you to incorporate more intense flavors than would be possible if you added them at that end as with traditional SMBC methods. The addition of espresso to the caramel sauce really elevates the flavor profile. It takes on something of a rich toasted marshmallow flavor. The caramel itself is a beautiful mahogany that tints this buttercream with a warm butterscotch hue. I made this SMBC with white sugar but you could increase the molasses notes by using brown sugar in addition to the caramel. Yum!A-mocha-lay-down-webAll of these strong flavors give this cake somewhat of a manly edge. This would make an awesome cake for Father’s Day or an incredible groom’s cake.  Not just for the men in your life, the fine texture and white chocolate warmth draw a feminine edge as well.

I hope you enjoy this birthday cake choice of mine!

Happy baking!

White Mocha Cake with Espresso Caramel Buttercream


  • 1 cup (8 fluid ounces, or 240 milliliters) half and half*
  • 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) finely ground espresso beans
  • 7 ounces (198 grams) white chocolate, chopped if in block form
  • 8 ounces (227 grams) unsalted butter, softened-1 cup
  • 3 large eggs cool
  • 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) vanilla extract
  • 14 ounces (397 grams) granulated sugar-2 cups
  • 12 ounces (340 grams) all-purpose flour-2 ½ cups
  • 1 ounce (28 grams) potato starch or cornstarch-about 4 tablespoons
  • 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon (4 milliliters) salt
  • For the Espresso Caramel:
  • ½ cup (120 milliliters) water
  • 7 ounces (198 grams) granulated sugar
  • ½ ounce (14 grams) corn syrup
  • ½ cup (120 milliliters) whipping cream
  • ¼ teaspoon (1 milliliter) salt
  • ¼ cup (60 milliliters) brewed espresso or double strength coffee
  • 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) vanilla extract
  • For the Buttercream:
  • 9 ounces (255 grams) Espresso Caramel sauce
  • 8 ounces (227 grams) granulated sugar
  • 8 ounces (227 grams) egg whites
  • 16 ounces (454 grams) unsalted butter, cool room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (177 C). Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with Baker’s Joy or grease and flour.
  2. In a microwave safe container with a pour spout that is at least 3 cups (720 milliliters) in volume, combine the half and half and the espresso beans. Heat in microwave on high until hot, about 1-2 minutes; watch carefully to avoid boiling over. Add the white chocolate and whisk to combine. Heat again briefly if necessary to melt chocolate completely. Cool for a few minutes and then whisk in eggs and vanilla and cool to room temperature
  3. Beat butter and sugar for 2 minutes on medium-high speed of mixer. Sprinkle in dry ingredients to distribute. Turn mixer on low and mix to moisten dry ingredients. Pour in espresso-egg mixture gradually with speed still on low speed, then increase speed and beat on medium for one minute until well combined and smooth.
  4. Pour into prepared pans and bake for about 30-35 minutes until the cake is well done. Do not under bake or this rich cake will be unstable. The cake should begin to settle back on itself on the edges. Cool 10 minutes in pan and then turn out to a cooling rack. Cool completely if using immediately, or wrap in two layers of plastic wrap if using later. Frost the cooled cake with Espresso Caramel Buttercream or your buttercream of choice. Enjoy!
  5. *If you don't have access to half and half you can use 2/3 cup (160 mL) low fat milk (1-2% fat) and 1/3 cup (80 mL) heavy cream (36%), or 3/4 cup (180 mL) whole milk (3.25%) and 1/4 cup (60 mL) heavy cream for the equivalent of half and half.
  6. Note: This cake makes two thick 8-inch layers that rise to the top of a 2-inch tall pan. Alternatively you could bake this in three 8-inch round pans or two 9-inch round pans if you choose.
  7. For the Espresso Caramel:
  8. Place the water in a heavy bottomed medium sauce pan and add sugar carefully to the middle of the pan. Add corn syrup without stirring. Cover and bring to a boil without stirring over medium high heat. Remove lid, add a candy thermometer, and heat until the mixture reaches 300 F (149 C). Reduce heat to low and heat to 350 F (177 C) watching carefully to avoid overheating and burning the sugar.
  9. While the sugar cooks, combine the cream, salt and espresso in a microwave safe container and heat until hot (1-2 minutes) taking care to ensure that the mixture does not boil over.
  10. When the caramel reaches 350 F (177 C) immediately remove from heat and pour in 1/3 of the cream mixture. Be careful! This will emit scalding steam like crazy! When the bubbling subsides pour in the remaining cream mixture in two batches and stir well to combine. Stir in vanilla extract.
  11. Note: Making homemade caramel is totally not necessary for this recipe. To save time buy a good quality store-bought caramel and stir 2 teaspoons espresso powder dissolved in 2 tablespoons water into 9 ounces of caramel. Use this in the following buttercream.
  12. For the Buttercream:
  13. Whisk Espresso Caramel, sugar and egg whites together in a microwave-safe bowl; Make sure the mixture is well mixed so the sugar can protect the eggs from cooking. Heat the mixture in the microwave for 2-4 minutes on high in 30 second intervals whisking well after each 30 second heating. Heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture reaches 160 f/72 C. (Alternatively this step can be carried out in a double boiler over simmering water). Pour the syrup into a cake pan or shallow metal bowl and chill in the freezer for 15-20 minutes until it is quite cool.
  14. Meanwhile, beat the butter in a mixer for 2 minutes on high until the butter is lighter in color and aerated. Add the cooled syrup in two additions to the butter beating 1 minute after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat 30 seconds until smooth; use immediately.
  15. You can store this buttercream at room temperature for 2 days, in the refrigerator, tightly sealed, for 2 weeks or in the freezer for 2 months.




124 thoughts on “White Mocha Cake with Espresso Caramel Buttercream”

    1. U.S. half and half is a light cream which can vary in fat from 10.5% to 18%. It is often used as cream for coffee. I usually don’t have half and half on hand either but use 2/3 cup low fat milk (1-2% fat) and 1/3 heavy cream (36%), or 3/4 cup whole milk (3.25%) and 1/4 cup heavy cream for the equivalent of half and half. My substitutes run right about 12.5%. I will add this to the recipe to eliminate the confusion 🙂

  1. I am so glad to see this posted. Thank you! The white chocolate cake has eluded me for a couple of years (mainly because the first attempt was such a disaster that I kinda gave up on it) and the recipes I saw seemed to always warn that the cake “will fall”. But no longer will I have to live a white-chocolate-cake-less existence. No longer! 😀

  2. Hi Summer can you please tell me what should i use as a substitude to half and half, we dont have such things in Greece!

    Thanks for this post!

    1. From about.com :Definition: Half and half is a dairy product consisting of equal parts light cream and milk.

      With a fat content of between 10.5 percent and 12 percent, half and half falls between light cream, which contains anywhere from 16 percent to 29 percent butterfat, and whole milk, which has about 3.5 percent butterfat.

      Half and half is the equivalent of what’s known as “half cream” in the U.K.

    2. U.S. half and half is a light cream which can vary in fat from 10.5% to 18%. It is often used as cream for coffee. I usually don’t have half and half on hand either but use 2/3 cup low fat milk (1-2% fat) and 1/3 heavy cream (36%), or 3/4 cup whole milk (3.25%) and 1/4 cup heavy cream for the equivalent of half and half. My substitutes run right about 12.5%. I will add this to the recipe to eliminate the confusion 🙂

  3. Hi, Summer. Thank you for your awesome recipes. I wuold like to know what is “half and half” and if that has any substitute good enough for you to recommend. Thank you again! Silvia

    1. I’ve found it! It is OK if you mix whole milk + cream? Does it have any other characteristic we should be aware of? Thanks!!

      1. I always use a mix and have no problems! Here is the substitute that I use: 2/3 cup low fat milk and 1/3 heavy cream, or 3/4 cup whole milk and 1/4 cup heavy cream for the equivalent of half and half at about 12.5% total fat 🙂

    1. It is ground espresso beans. I buy whole beans and grind them myself but you could easily buy pre-ground or purchase a small amount from your favorite coffee shop if they sell in small quantities. You could also use finely ground coffee beans like what you use to make drip coffee. 🙂

        1. Hi Kim, That would work as well. My objective using beans was to provide lasting espresso flavor. Powdered or liquid espresso tends to mellow rapidly over a few days so it depends on how fast you will eat it and how much coffee flavor you like. 🙂

  4. We don’t have half and half in Australia either. Can we substitute with half whipping cream and half whole milk or can we use a reduced fat whipping cream. I’ve tried to google an alternative as I’d like to make this cake. I might experiment anyway.

  5. In Australia I found a blog that says if you use extra light cream 12% fat as half and half is 12% fat. Does this sound right?

    1. I usually don’t have half and half on hand either but use 2/3 cup low fat milk and 1/3 heavy cream or 3/4 cup whole milk and 1/4 cup heavy cream for the equivalent of half and half. This may actually be more consistent than U.S. half and half which can vary from 10.5% to 18%. It seems your extra light cream falls right in line with my substitutes which run right about 12.5%. I hope this helps! Sorry for the confusion. Sometimes I don’t realize what is not available in other places 🙂

  6. Wow! I wanted to try the white chocolate you talk about above, but couldn’t believe the cost of it! Can you buy smaller amounts of it? I couldn’t find anything on their site indicating that you can. I’d love to use that white chocolate, but not at that price. Do you have a recommendation for another white chocolate to use, or can I use any type of white chocolate? I LOVE white chocolate and want to make this cake, but just don’t know if I can justify that price.

    1. Hi Norma! Yes, that bulk amount is a lot of chocolate for a home baker! Here is a link to the Pastry Portal facebook page which offers a 2 pound option. I am not quite sure if you can find this volume on their site but I will dig around and check with Ayi. I was also given a discount code for my readers “CAKEPAPERPARTY” with which you can save 5%. I will also check to see if that is just for the large bulk amount or the smaller amount too, but you could give it a go and see if it works. Other white chocolates would work but this one has the highest cocoa butter content I have seen and really gives a rich flavor. I hope this helps!

  7. Thanks very much! I look forward to hearing what you find out about the discount code and whether or not they also over smaller amounts.

    1. I hear you! If I don’t make it I don’t get birthday cake or at least not one I would love to eat 😉 Yes this cake could be easily covered with fondant.

      1. Thank you for responding! Jessica Harris’ posts led me to your blog. More power to you both 🙂 thanks again!

  8. Hello Summer, how do you get the thick layer of icing in between your cake layers. I end up with thin layers and i like the nice thick layers. Many thanks.

    1. I just start with a large blob in the center of the cake and work it toward the edges. You could add a generous amount and spread it then use a thin bladed knife in the middle to peek and check your depth. If it seems thin to you add another dollop and work it flat over the top of your existing layer. It can be helpful too to weigh the amount of buttercream you add to a layer so you can replicate it with subsequent layers. I hope that helps! I don’t use a very exacting science 🙂

  9. Hi Summer

    I’m not a coffee drinker, but I love to bake with coffee, can you buy a 1/4 cup of espresso from a donut shop like dunkin’ donuts.

    1. Anywhere that sells espresso would sell you a couple of shots. I am not sure about dunkin’ donuts. Does anyone else know? Starbucks would for sure. 🙂

  10. Thank you for this YUMMY recipe, cake is sooooo good and buttercream is amazing! The problem is the buttercream is too good that I’m just eating it by itself from the bowl and I can’t stop.. Lol

  11. The taste of this cake is sooooooo lovely!!!! But my cake sank in the middle……what must have gone wrong??? I used 28% white chocolate…..beat the butter and sugar for 4 mins and the final batter for 2 mins as I have only a hand held beater……also my cake rose beyond the top of the pan just slightly…….do you think it was overbeaten?

    1. It could be overbeating but most likely it is undercooking. These rich cakes need to be fully baked or they just don’t have enough understructure to hold them up. They generally need to be baked 2-3 minutes beyond when a toothpick comes out clean. Next time I would try beating a little less and making sure it bakes long enough. Glad you liked the flavor!

      1. Thanks Summer! I tried a new batch…..same result 🙁 both the times I had to bake about 45 min for a toothpick to come clean! also, the cake fell in the oven….not after coming out…….I have checked my oven temp too…..

        1. Oh no! That is terrible, and a spendy cake flop too. Are you at a high altitude? This cake does end up full in the pan but an increased altitude might cause additional problems. If you dare to make it again I would split it into three 8-inch pans. The decreased depth will make a big difference in stability. Also I would decrease the sugar by 20% because your white chocolate has more sugar and because sugar has such an effect on cake structure. Also, you may consider decreasing your oven temperature by 25 F. When cakes bake lower and slower they develop a better understructure and are less likely to recoil or sink. I am so sorry for these issues! Sometimes little things can make a sizeable difference. Sending happy cake thoughts!

          1. Oh I am totally going to conquer this….I don’t stay at an altitude… Will try the changes you have suggested….I am too much in love with the flavour to give it up….thanks a tonne for your help

  12. Another winner, Summer! I made a special cake for my father’s 75th birthday and used this recipe. Everyone loved it! Your buttercream recipe was so easy to make and the espresso caramel was delicious. I can’t thank you enough!

  13. Hi summer, I just realized I only have 4oz of white chocolate, do you think it will be ok or do I need to go back to the store?

    1. I think you will be fine with the 4 ounces. You may want to add a touch more butter and sugar to replace the fat and sugar you are missing but it should work with no problem. 🙂

  14. Another question as I just reread your comments. Is this cake carvable and will it hold up to fondant? I was thinking of making it into a coffee cup shaped cake.

    Thanks again

  15. If I can figure our how to post a pic to you I will, this will be my birthday cake too and I can’t wait!!!!

  16. Hi Summer! I’m a new reader and really excited to try your recipes. I’d love to make these recipes for a friend’s birthday in cupcake form. Is it possible to convert the cake into cupcakes? How would that change the baking times/temperatures? Thanks for any insight you can lend!!

    1. Hi Jen, So glad to have you here! This cake is so rich that trying to convert it to a cupcake may prove frustrating. I would suggest making the Essential Vanilla Cupcakes and converting them to a white mocha flavor. Just add the ground espresso with the dry ingredients and mix in the melted and cooled white chocolate with the butter, sugar and oil. I would cut back 2 tablespoons each of the oil and sugar since the white chocolate will add extra fat and sweetness. Bake as per the recipe. You can use the Espresso Caramel Buttercream from this recipe as listed. I hope this makes sense. Let me know if you have any other questions!

    1. I would do 1 1/2 times the recipe. You may want to bake it at 325 also. In a larger pan this cake will need a slow rise to develop the structure properly. Good luck! 🙂

  17. Hi I just made this frosting but turned very buttery or should I say cottage cheese like. This happened to my smbc whenever I add berries puree to it. Just like how it turns when if you accidentally add a little water to it. Please tell me how to fix it.

    1. If it is cottage cheese like, it means that it is separating and falling out of emulsion. This usually occurs if the mixture is too warm or too cold or if your ingredients are out of proportion. I have added 1/4 cup of water to my SMBC and not had it break, but temperature matters and also how you add it. You can usually get the buttercream to come back together if you beat the mixture on high speed for several minutes. If it is too warm you may need to cool the buttercream for 10 minutes in the fridge before you beat it. If the mixture is too cool, warm a portion of it or let it sit out at room temperature until acclimated. If this doesn’t work you can always add another stick or two of butter. Butter is what contains all of those lovely emulsifying proteins and that allow you to create a creamy smooth buttercream. Best of luck!

  18. I made this last night and it came out amazing! You are a genius with the SMBC method, so easy and the texture was amazing. I was only making a 6inch cake so I used the extra batter to make cupcakes. I filled the molds almost completely full to limit the falling and they came out great! Thank you so much for an amazing recipe!

  19. I was just going to ask what you think about making this in 6″ cakes, but it looks like someone did it successfully above. I always bake at 325, for longer period of time. What does it mean when you say “the cake should begin to settle back onto it’s edges?
    Last question, if I may. Does this crust enough to stencil on it?

    1. The settling means that it will start to lose a tiny bit of volume/height when it becomes set. This buttercream contains too much butter to crust unfortunately. Best of luck! 🙂

  20. Right- I just read your size matters article and don’t think I will dare try a 6″ pan. Looks like 2 – 8″ rounds are the way to go.

  21. Hi Summer, I made the cake and frosting and let me tell everyone- it is fabulous! The buttercream is so silky smooth and delicious. I am used to American buttercream and am thrilled with this recipe ( disappointed that I can’t stencil on it, but I’ll get over it). I only had a few issues: The cake was a bit dry- it did sink slightly in the middle while in the oven at 325degrees and had pulled away from the edges of the pan a bit, clean toothpick, left it for 1-2 min more.( 2- 8″ pans, which were only about half full) I do brush a Kahlua simple syrup over the layers anyway, but wondered why it was dry- could I have overcooked it? I watched my mixing time carefully. 2nd- OMG- cannot make caramel sauce! Could not get the temperature high enough, I won’t embarrass myself to tell you how long I cooked it on low, then finally decided it tasted burnt, even though it only up to 330-340. Threw it out and bought Trader Joe’s Caramel Sauce and made it with your recommendations- FABULOUS and only took 5 min. I’m going to make the cake again ( this one was a test), this weekend. Thank you so much!

  22. Addendum to above- Everyone loved this cake! It was fabulous- so flavorful with fluffy light buttercream- the Trader Jose’s Caramel sauce was a success since I failed at making my own. Even those who don’t like espresso or mocha- cleaned their plates. Still need to figure out why the cakes sink so much. I even tried a flower nail in the middle, hoping that would cook it but didn’t. So I made it twice, sliced off the top halves that were sunken, instead of torting. Anyway- the cake turned out dense but still fabulous. Yummy,

  23. Hi, Summer – made the caramel sauce with freshly brewed espresso and it turned out beautifully thank you – the icing is yummy and very smooth. The only thing is, that I am a real coffee freak and I can taste the caramel more than the coffee flavour. I will be making the cake 2 days from now. Can I intensify the coffee flavour with a simple sugar syrup and Kahlua on the cake or will it affect the texture significantly? Or, when I rebeat the icing prior to filling the cake can I add a little coffee essence? I just wondered whether the coffee flavour will intensify once the cake is filled and don’t want to overdo it. We are still eating our way through the little bit of mud cake we had left from last weekend’s birthday. You were right. The cake is just as moist on day 4 and the flavours have mellowed and melded. The harshness of the very strong coffee that I added has merged beautifully with the chocolate flavour. The Mud Cake is my new go to moist chocolate cake.

    1. I would add more coffee flavoring to the buttercream in the form of paste or crystals that are dissolved. You can also just add more espresso to the final product. Add to taste! This cake is not spongy enough to do super well with a syrup so I would add it to the buttercream for that reason. 🙂

  24. Hi there Summer. I too had the same sinking problem with the cake. I weighed everything accurately, followed your instructions to the letter and checked the oven temp through glass door to ensure all was perfect and did not open the door to check on the cake till the time was 90% up. Brand new baking powder straight from my friend’s bakery. The cake and I looked at each other and one layer went down in the middle as if I had put a pin in a balloon! The other sunk slightly. I checked the cocoa butter content of the white chocolate I used, it was Callebaut but only 26% and our half and half in Canada is 10%. Do you think that I should have added a little more butter to make up for the lower fat content of the liquid and the chocolate? I will try the cake again but I think I will make it in 3 8 inch for more control. Since I needed the cake for tomorrow I went back to my old White Chocolate cake recipe and added in the espresso – it worked beautifully but I don’t think the flavour is as robust as yours since my uses egg whites only and superfine sugar plus milk not cream. Thanks for all of your insight and lovely and imaginative recipes.

    1. Thanks Lesley, This is a bit of a picky cake because it is so rich. I don’t think you need the extra butter because that would make it more rich. You can try lowering your oven temperature 25 degrees and make sure you bake it all the way. The three pans should help too. Adding an extra egg may give you more structure too. Let me know how it goes! 🙂

      1. Thanks Summer. I did salvage the cake cutting off the tops. The flavour is deliciously rich. It is interesting that I put a Tbsp of ground espresso coffee into my regular white chocolate cake which does not have the depth of ingredients and although it had a mild coffee flavour, it is nowhere near as good as the flavour in your cake or the lovely creamy mouth feel. I had actually lowered the oven a little as I was using the Fat Daddios pans which suggest you do this. I am going to try in 3 8 inch as it worked so well for the Mud cake.
        Regarding the icing. I made one batch with a good quality store bought caramel and instant espresso. The other I made with brewed espresso and home made caramel. As you suggested I could hardly tell the difference between the two but I do like to attempt things from scratch. Thank you for your lovely cakes. Regards

  25. PS just to let you know, I cut the tops off my sunken cake, iced it and served to my Cake Club! They all declared it absolutely delicious. It did not seem to have suffered too much although it ended up as 2 tier cake. The texture was lovely and it was very moist. I was surprised by the lovely coffee flavour of the cake using only 1 tbsp of espresso. Delicious.

  26. Hi Summer! I am sooooo thrilled to have found your site. I found you through a post on FB about your red velvet cake. I tried the caramel coffee buttercream and was to die for! I combined it with your red velvet; which I turned into a coffee flavored cake by substituting the red food coloring for coffee! OMG absolutely delish…so moist. I can’t wait to try the red velvet without changing it. Cannot wait to try the banana cupcakes and many of your other recipes. BTW, how well do your cake recipes work on cupcakes? I tried the red velvet (turned into coffee!) in cupcakes and they did not get a dome. However, I had a bit of batter left and added a little more flour to that and they came out perfect.

  27. Hi Summer, here I am bugging again with questions 😐
    I want to make a White Chocolate cake with Raspberry SMBC and haven’t been successful with White Chocolate cakes. Would it be possible to make this cake without the coffee? Would that change it at all? If not, would you recommend a light chocolate cake recipe?
    Thanks so much for your time and help.

    Best regards,

  28. I must be the only one this was a complete flop for. I followed the directions to the T, and the only ingredients i substituted was the proportional amount of baking soda and cream of tartar (both of which I tested for viability beforehand) for baking powder.

    The cake turned out spongy, oily, flat (it rose and then fell in the oven even before it was done), BROWN (as if it was caramelized or got a tan or something) – nothing like the white cake pictured/ The frosting was better, but too runny to use. I’ve never had this problem with other cake recipes before, so this is a total surprise. 🙁 I measured all the ingredients via a digital food scale in grams.

    Overall, I’m really disappointed. I thought the worst that could happen from reading the comments was that the cake would fall in the middle. But the whole cake portion was just a flop. I don’t understand. I did everything per instructions…

  29. Hi Summer,

    This may seem like a silly question, but I just wanted to check. Will the frosting quantity you have provided be enough to split the cakes into four layers and generously fill and frost them like you have? I’d rather make a bit extra than not enough, and you don’t specify in your instructions to split the two cakes (although your pictures show four layers…) – just wanted to check! I’ll be frosting in a day or two, so would love to see a response before then if you could manage!


  30. Can someone please help me out…… So I’m Not very good at making homade cakes but I am good at buying a cake mix an adding things so if i were to get a vanilla cake mix what would I add to it to make it taste like this cake

    1. Hi Angela, You can add the white chocolate and coffee beans in this recipe to your cake mix. I would substitute some butter for the oil in the recipe to give a rich, rounded out flavor. Best of luck!

  31. Everything was going beautifully until the buttercream. I had a beautiful delicious caramel espresso sauce chilled through. Then, I added it to my aerated butter & it turned into a clumpy, gelatinous mess! I ended up heating the mixture until smooth & drizzling the butter/caramel mixture on the cake.

    I’m not sure where I went wrong.

  32. Hi Summer,
    I have loved every recipe I have ever tried of yours! Thank you for being so generous in sharing them. I have been searching for years for a white chocolate cake recipe that does not taste like cornbread. I made your cake recipe but decided to leave out the espresso and instead wanted to make a raspberry buttercream filling and white chocolate outer buttercream.

    The only step I left out of your recipe was the espresso. The cake was beautiful when it came out of the oven. I baked it for 35 min in two 8″ pans. I allowed cakes to cool completely before releasing from parchment lined pan. I was so surprised to find that there was at least an inch of air between the crust of the cake and the actual cake layer??? Weird. I loved the flavor and the texture was great and did not seem off? I am a baker, I make cakes all the time and I have never had this happen before? So, I was determined I did something wrong so I remade the cake, again without espresso. Same exact result? What did I do? Is the espresso critical to the structure? What I could I use instead of espresso to just have the White Chocolate cake? I would so very much appreciate your help. Thank you so much for your time and help.

    Geisel Nye
    Cakeview, LLC

    1. That is a mystery! The only thing I could think is that the espresso provides some acidity. You could add a couple teaspoons of lemon juice and see if you have the same result. Other than that, there are a number of minor differences that could cause changes by I don’t think one that extreme. You could also try adding another egg yolk to emulsify the batter together better. The issue is that you are forming a sugary crust across the top of the cake that is separating as the rest of the cake settles with cooling. Perhaps the lemon and yolk will bond them together better and you won’t have this problem. Let me know if that works and I will let you know if I think of anything else.

  33. This cake looks fantastic and I want to make it for a friends birthday. I already have a caramel sauce on hand from another bake, but it is made using butter:

    Makes about 2/3 cup

    5 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
    1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
    2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
    1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder
    1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt, plus more to taste
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    Do I need to adapt your buttercream recipe if I am making it with this caramel sauce?

    Also, how necessary is the corn starch for the cake?

  34. The cake turned out amazing! But similar to other comments I’ve read, it sunk a bit in the middle. I used two 8′ pans. Im going to try using two 9′ pans. Do I need to make more batter?

  35. Summer, this was incredible! I made it for a friend’s birthday and was an absolute hit. I prefer things less sweet and this was perfect. Buttercream was so delicious! The cake did sink a little bit but nobody noticed when it’s that good. I added Ina Garten’s moist chocolate cake and sandwiched all of the layers together. SO good. Thank you for the wonderful recipe and helping me look like the baking goddess my friends all think I am now.

    1. Not a stupid question at all! I just split each of the layers in half horizontally so that each cake became twwo thin layers. I find this easiest to do with a long serrated knife on a turntable. I spin and cut in a little at a time until I get through the middle. Thanks for asking!

  36. Hi Summer,
    You say that for the espresso caramel sauce we can use store bought caramel and add espresso powder. Is espresso powder different to ground espresso beans? I live in Australia and haven’t come across espresso powder before. Is there a brand of espresso powder that you can recommend that I could try and find somewhere please?
    By the way I absolutely love your strawberry cake recipe. My husband has now declared that he wants me to make it for his birthday every year from now on!!
    Thank you so much for all of your recipes!

    1. Hi Kimberly! I’m so glad you guys like the Strawberry Cake!
      Espresso powder is different than ground beans. It is the freeze dried powder of espresso. In the US the Italian brand Medaglia D’oro is widely available but any instant coffee will work. If you cannot find that use a small amount of very strong espresso in the mix.

  37. If I were to make this cake a week ahead of time, could I freeze it? If so, should I freeze the cake and icing separately then put them together, or ice the cake and freeze it ready to go?

    1. Yes, you can make this ahead and freeze it. I have been known to freeze cakes fully frosted and even covered in fondant when I know I will be short on time. Just be sure to give your cake time to thaw it in the refrigerator before exposing it to room temperatures or you will get a condenstion mess. I recommend a good 24 hours in the fridge. Good luck!

  38. The buttercream icing. Do you not have to beat the egg whites (8oz) first and then add the butter and the caramel espresso sauce?

  39. Hello Summer. I have made this recipe before and it remains one of my all time favourites! I read your comment about reducing sugar by 20% if using a lower fat white chocolate. I have Lindt Excellence White Vanilla. I have no idea of the cocoa content but assume it is less that your 34%. Good idea to go with less sugar? And perhaps lowering the oven temperature? I’m making this as a double layer 11″x7″ cake. Thank you!

  40. Hi from NC, I have a request to make this for a 3 tier stacked wedding cake. Anything special I should consider? I am thinking the bottom tier would be 14in.

    1. Hi Phyllis! I would definitely use a baking core and reduce the baking temperature 25 degrees for your bottom and middle tiers. This cake is quite rich and will need the support and slow set to achieve proper structure. You may consider adding another egg per recipe too. This will add extra structure-building protein.

  41. The White Mocha Cake is out-of-this-world delicious! Great, sturdy crumb, yet melts in your mouth! These were my baking notes for the cake part:

    – Made a single recipe’s worth.
    – Used Lavazza Caffè Espresso – already perfectly ground.
    – Used Green & Black’s White Chocolate (30% Cacao Content) – 2 bars.
    – Filled TWO 6-inch x 3-inch tins and torte each = 4 layers. Perfect amount of batter for 4 layers that were 1.25″ tall each after trimming the tops.
    – Baked for 72 minutes.

    For the Espresso Caramel:

    – A single recipe made 1 cup.
    – Used Lavazza Caffè Espresso that I brewed with an AeroPress.
    – Did not follow temperature guidelines – went by color and came out great!
    – It has a moderately intense espresso flavor and is pure, decadent deliciousness!

    For the Espresso Caramel Buttercream:

    – The recipe states “cool room temperature” Butter. When I added the cooled Caramel, Egg White, Sugar mixture to the beaten Butter, it curdled. I directed a hair dryer at the sides of the bowl and the buttercream started to come together. But then it seemed too loose, so I gave it some refrigerator time before rewhipping. It was a bit soft after that but I was able to make it work! In the end, I feel like the traditional SMBC method was actually easier and quicker but it was fun to try this method!
    – The taste of the Espresso in the buttercream was moderately intense and was delicious! It did turn out a not-so-pretty orange-y color (reminded me of the 80’s!) unlike the pretty, light brown in the photos.

  42. I made this recipe exactly but my cakes have fallen in the middle. Any suggestions on what I did wrong?

    1. Hi Amber, The high proportion of fat and sugar in this cake tend to weaken its internal structure. I would recommend switching from half and half to milk. You will still get the liquid that provides great moisture, but less of the fat which can weaken things. Also, adding an egg will help with structure. Sorry for your collapse! That’s very frustrating. Best of luck in the future!

  43. Hi Summer! I tried baking this cake and it came out pretty dense and tough. Could I use half apf and half cake flour? If yes, how many grams of each should I use? Also, should I leave out the cornstarch if using the two kinds of flours?

    1. Hello Ruth! Yes, you can sub in cake flour for half of the regular flour. I would skip the cornstarch, but leave in its weight. In other words, use 13 ounces of flour overall. If you are not using weight measurement, just add in an extra tablespoon of cake flour. To lighten and open up the cake, I would also consider switching from half and half to milk, adding an extra egg and adding perhaps 1/2 to 1 teaspoon additional baking powder. I hope some or all of these changes will get you to the density and texture you are looking for. All the best!

  44. Hi Summer, This cake sounds amazing. I made the cake with no problem but I am having a hard time with the frosting. I made it per your directions, including the caramel sauce. The first time the frosting looked like cottage cheese. I threw it out.
    The second time I whipped the meringue and sugar (after heating to 160 degrees) and then added the caramel sauce. I let it cool. Then the butter, a little at a time. It seemed like a lot of liquid. I put it in the refrigerator for half an hour then beat it again. In the end it is very soupy. I have added powdered sugar to get the right consistency for a frosting but it is not what I wanted. It definitely takes away from the flavor.
    My caramel sauce was not very thick. I think this was my problem. I did heat it to 350 degrees and then added the cream and espresso. How thick should the caramel sauce be?

    1. Hi Katharina! Sorry for the buttercream troubles. For future reference, if your buttercream gets to the “cottage cheese” phase, you are on the right track, it just hasn’t fully emulsified and a little chilling followed by agressive beating should get you where you want to be. Adding a little more butter can help bring things together too since the butter is the emulsifying superhero. A loose caramel could be the culprit. Buttercream should be able to essentially absorb a good amount of liquid, but this rich liquid might be causing issues. I seem to have the best luck when I chill my egg-sugar syrup to very cool/cold before incorporating butter. The butter emulsifies best when the mixture is on the cooler end of things.

      Here is a post I wrote about buttercream science if you would like to learn/understand more about how things work: Buttercream Myths. If you have more questions or need me to clarify my jumble of ideas, please let me know.

  45. Can you please explain what you mean by “3 eggs cool”? Straight out of the fridge eggs or a little colder than room temperature eggs? Thanks!

  46. Hi Summer so I have a request for a bailey’s cake layer and a white chocolate cake layer. Is there anyway I can adapt one of your recipes and what will you suggest?

    1. Hi! You can use this white mocha cake for the white chocolate layer, just leave out the espresso beans. I think that adding an egg to this cake would help to lighten it a bit too. For the Bailey’s cake, I would recommend the Sour Cream Vanilla Bean Cake. Replace the sour cream with Bailey’s. The cream and alcohol in the Bailey’s should work well in place of sour cream. That is assuming they are not looking for a chocolate Bailey’s cake. I hope this works well for you!

      1. Hi Summer, the baileys cake worked with your recommendations. It was very flavorful and moist. The only thing is it sunk a little in the middle. Any idea why?
        Also can we get a new recipe from you to try this Christmas?

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