Seattle & Black Coffee Chocolate Cake with Mocha Mascarpone Frosting

I made a quick trip to Seattle last month for work. With only two nights in this port city,

my agenda was simple — revisit an old favorite and explore something new.

For me, no trip to Seattle is complete without a visit to Pike Place Market. Located at the corner of Pike Street and Pike Place,

it’s one of the country’s oldest continually operating public farmers’ markets. The market is at the bottom of one of Seattle’s many steep hills

with gorgeous views of Elliott Bay. It’s the perfect place to grab a seafood lunch and, with a great mix of shops, restaurants, crafts, and fresh foods, I love walking through the covered arcades

and seeing what types of unusual produce

the local farmers have brought to market.

On the walk back to my hotel from Pike Place Market, I passed Top Pot, a well-known area donut shop recommended to me by a former colleague. The selection did not disappoint, and I indulged in a pumpkin-glazed old fashioned and a raspberry bullseye.

The donuts turned out to be an appetizer for a fantastic brunch at Skillet Diner.

Skillet Diner, known for the bacon jam it puts on its burgers, was so successful as a food truck that it now occupies an adorable space

in the Capital Hill neighborhood of Seattle.

Exploring Capital Hill was my “something new” for this trip. Just east of the central business district, Capital Hill is a hip neighborhood filled with arts, culture, and coffee shops. It’s also where you’ll find Volunteer Park, home to a flowering plant conservatory and the Seattle Asian Art Museum, outside of which is a unique view of the Space Needle.

(Black Sun by Isamu Noguchi)

Seattle can be pretty chilly in late October and with 300 days of rain per year, it’s not unusual to crave a hot, soothing beverage. While a traditional stop for coffee in Seattle is the very first Starbucks,

I much prefer the opportunity to visit somewhere local, and Victrola Coffee in Capital Hill came highly recommended.

It was no surprise that the warm interior was filled with people on laptops toiling away. When the barista takes this much care with a to-go latte,

you know you’re in good hands.

And people in Seattle do take their coffee seriously! The city has ten times the number of coffee shops per person than the national average. No surprise then that coffee inspired my post-trip baking of a Black Coffee Chocolate Cake with Mocha Mascarpone Frosting.  This cake was so good that we used it to celebrate my parents’ birthdays!

To make this cake, I used a cake recipe from and a frosting recipe from Bon Appetit.

Click Here to Print This Recipe.

Black Coffee Chocolate Cake:

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup strong black coffee
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup grape seed oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Mocha Mascarpone Frosting:

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 8 ounce containers chilled mascarpone cheese
  • Chocolate-covered espresso beans for garnish (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
  • Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer; blend on low speed until combined.

  • In a separate bowl, whisk buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla until combined.

  • With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. With the mixer still on low, add the coffee. Stir and scrape the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

  • Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Cool in the pans for 30 minutes; then turn out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

  • For the frosting, combine cocoa powder and espresso powder into the bowl of an electric mixer.
  • Bring 1 cup of cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Slowly pour cream over cocoa mixture, whisking until cocoa is completely dissolved. Add 1/2 cup of cream and sugar, stirring until dissolved. Chill until cold (at least 2 hours).

  • Add mascarpone to chilled cocoa mixture. Beat on low speed until blended and smooth. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture is thick with medium-firm peaks, about 2 minutes. (Do not overbeat.)

  • Place one layer on a plate or cake pedestal. Spoon frosting over top and spread with offset spatula. Place the second layer on top and spread the remaining frosting on the top and sides of cake. Garnish with chocolate-covered espresso beans.


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