The Chocolate Trifecta Cake

I needed to make a birthday cake for a Senior Manager at work, and I knew he liked chocolate. So I did some research, and ended up picking this recipe. Generally I’m very hesitant to use recipes from websites like Food Network (I don’t think they’re always properly tested), but when I saw that it included sour cream and coffee, I knew it would be a winner. So I gather my ingredients:


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 3 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 1/3 cups sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups hot coffee


  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup cooled coffee
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 cups confectioners’ sugar

Decorations (optional)

  • 4 oz. bar white chocolate
  • 4 oz. bar dark chocolate

I preheated my oven to 350 degrees, and buttered and floured my 9-inch cake pans (I only have two, but this is a 3 layer cake so I had to repeat this process once my first two layers had baked). I also cut circles of parchment paper to fit the bottoms of the pans, to make it easier to remove the cakes once they were baked.

Next, I creamed the butter until it was smooth, added the sugar and eggs, and mixed until it was fluffy (about 3 minutes). Then I added the vanilla, cocoa, baking soda and salt and mixed until it was all incorporated. I added the sour cream and flour in two installments.

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The last ingredient was the hot coffee, which I poured in and mixed until the batter was smooth (the batter will be thin). Then I poured the batter into the prepared pans and baked until the tops were firm to the touch and my toothpick came out clean, which took about 35 minutes. Halfway through the baking, I rotated the pans in the oven to make sure they baked evenly. Once they were done baking, I let them cool in the pan 10 minutes, then put them on my wire racks and let them cool completely before frosting. Do NOT try to move them to the cooling racks too early…your cake will crumbled/crack, and it will NOT be pretty (yes this happened to one of my layers because I’m impatient and tried to move them too quickly).

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While the cakes were baking, I made the frosting the decorations for the outside of the cake.  For the decorations, I just melted a 4 of white chocolate in a double boiler, spread it out on parchment paper covering a cookie sheet, and froze it until it had hardened (about 10 minutes). I then repeated this process with the dark chocolate, drizzling it over the top the white chocolate.

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For the frosting, I creamed the butter and cream cheese together until the mixture was smooth. Then I added in the cocoa, and mixed in the coffee and vanilla. Next I added the sugar (1 cup at a time), mixing the frosting after each addition. I blended the mixture until it was completely mixed together. I altered the original recipe because I ran out of chocolate, so if you want a fluffier frosting refer back to the original recipe. This frosting was thinner than I’m used to, but it actually tasted great with the cake, and I enjoyed the texture.

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To frost the cake, I used an icing knife to cover 2 of the cake layers with frosting, and then stacked them together. I then flipped the third cake layer over and rested it on the top to create a flat top for the cake. I then frosted the sides and top, and covered the edges of the cake with the splinters of frozen chocolate I made. I froze the cake overnight to ensure it would survive the heat of my commute (the subway gets SO HOT). I then put it in the fridge when I got to work. It was still very cold when we ate it in the afternoon, which made it super easy to cut and eat. I would say this recipe is a winner!! The only thing  I would do differently next time would be to add a bit more powdered sugar to the frosting to make it a bit thicker.
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Everyone at work loved it! The birthday boy gave it his stamp of approval.

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