Vegan Chocolate Cake with Fluffy Espresso Buttercream

Vegan Chocolate Cake with Fluffy Espresso Buttercream garnished with chocolate shavings

This is a super moist, richly flavored chocolate cake, topped with a fluffy cloud of espresso buttercream. No sacrifices in texture or flavor are made to achieve this easy as…cake vegan treat!

I’m not sure there’s a better match than chocolate and coffee? At least when it comes to sweet treats, this combination has always been a favorite. The coffee sn’t overwhelming, rather it compliments the chocolate and intensifying its flavor.

Vegan Chocolate Cake with Fluffy Espresso Frosting slced and served with coffee
Vegan Chocolate Cake with Fluffy Espresso Frosting

Tips for Perfect Vegan Chocolate Cake and Fluffy Espresso Frosting:

  • Sift! Sifting is a must to avoid bitter lumps of cocoa powder and other dry ingredients in your cake. You might be surprised at how much doesn’t get through the sifter and could have ended up in your cake! Use the back of a spoon to break up the lumps so they sift through.
    Don’t reduce the amount of sugar or the oil – these are both very important for the structure and texture of the cake. Reducing them or substituting with other ingredients will effect the quality and moist character of the cake.
  • Add the hot water or coffee at the end. I really love how coffee enhances the chocolate flavor but if you prefer not to use caffeinated liquid, you can use hot decaf or even hot water. The hot liquid is added at the end which gets the chocolate to bloom and the intensity of the chocolate flavor and a bit of fudginess happens!
  • Prepare your pan really well to avoid a disappointing situation where the cake sticks to the pan or even tears. For a sheet cake, I like to line the baking pan with parchment paper, and then lightly grease the sides of the pan which aren’t covered. Leaving some paper overhanging is helpful if you’re looking to remove the entire cake at once to serve. Vegetable spray is the easiest. If you don’t have vegetable oil spray, you can grease the pan with shortening, being sure to get into all of the nooks and crannies. Don’t use margarine/vegan butter, it can sometimes cause more sticking!
  • Let the cake cool completely to room temperature before adding the frosting, or it will melt.
  • This recipe calls for instant espresso powder. This is a fine powder which readily dissolves in the frosting. Larger granules like you’d find in instant coffee would need to be dissolved in water first, and this will thin out the frosting. If that’s all you have, you can put in into a grinder or food processor to break it down into a fine powder.
  • If you don’t have stick style vegan butter, resist using the tub style. While it holds up well when kept in the fridge, it’s too soft at room temperature and the frosting may melt or become thin. The frosting can be made with all shortening if desired but tastes better with half vegan butter sticks.
Vegan Chocolate Cake with Fluffy Buttercream Frosting served with a latte
Vegan Chocolate Cake with Fluffy Espresso Buttercream is perfect with a hot cuppa!

If you make this Vegan Chocolate Cake with Fluffy Espresso Frosting, please let me know in the comments below and give it a rating in the recipe card! Also, I love connecting on Instagram where you can tag me in your creations using my recipes. Thank you for reading along!

Vegan Chocolate Sheet Cake with Fluffy Espresso Frosting with 3 squares cut

Vegan Chocolate Cake with Espresso Buttercream

This is a super moist, richly flavored chocolate cake, topped with a fluffy cloud of espresso buttercream. No sacrifices in texture or flavor are made to achieve this easy as…cake vegan treat!
4.54 from 15 votes
Print Pin
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Vegan Chocolate Cake, Vegan Espresso Buttercream, Vegan Mocha Cake
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Cooling: 1 hour
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 15 slices
Calories: 458kcal
Author: Crumbs & Caramel

Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup plant-based milk
  • 2/3 cup neutral oil eg avocado, canola etc
  • 3 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh hot coffee or hot water

For the Espresso Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup vegan butter (stick, not tub style)
  • 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-4 tbsp plant-based milk
  • chocolate shavings for garnish, optional

Instructions

For the Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ with parchment paper, lightly greasing any areas not covered with paper.
  • In a large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the plant-based milk, oil, vinegar and vanilla extract.
  • Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and pour in the hot coffee or water. Whisk together just until combined.
  • Add the batter to the baking pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with a few cooked crumbs.
  • Let the cake cool completely.

For the Frosting:

  • In a stand mixer with a balloon whisk (or with a large bowl and beaters), beat the vegan butter and shortening together until fluffy. Add in the confectioner’s sugar, one cup at a time. Beat for 3-4 minutes, scraping down the sides occasionally. Add in the vanilla and espresso powder and beat another 5-7 minutes. Add plant-based milk only if necessary and 1 tbsp at a time. I normally don’t add any.  If you do add some, beat for a couple of minutes after each addition.
  • Spread the frosting over completely cooled cake. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings, if desired.

Nutrition Info:

Calories: 458kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 258mg | Potassium: 191mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 47g | Vitamin A: 355IU | Vitamin C: 1.2mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 1.5mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @crumbs.and.caramel on Instragram!

14 thoughts on “Vegan Chocolate Cake with Fluffy Espresso Buttercream

  1. The cake was absolutely amazing!! I was skipping the recipe since I didn’t want to convert all the measurement (why do you keep using the cup measurement. WHY) ; but I’m so happy I did!I Thanks for this recipe 🙂

    1. So glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for letting me know 🙂 And yes, I hear you on the cups! They’re more commonly used here even though weight is more accurate. I’m currently adding a unit converter to each of my recipes to meet everyone’s preferences. Thanks again!! 🙂

  2. This recipe is a dream. I’ve made it in both cake form and cupcake form, and it never fails. The cake is so rich and moist and the buttercream is so light and the coffee flavor has a great balance of powerful enough to taste it but not too strong that it overpowers the cake. The flavors join so well together. I like to garnish it with some ground instant coffee powder after I frost it, for an extra kick. Thanks so much for this incredible recipe.

    1. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, Carmaya! I’m so happy that you enjoy the recipe! Love the idea of garnishing with the instant coffee powder! ~Bronwyn

    1. Hi Emma! Yes, you can use more vegan butter instead. Just make sure to use stick style not the type sold in tubs. If your kitchen is warm, the frosting may end up softening as vegan butter melts faster than shortening so just stick the frosting in the fridge for a bit if this happens and then rewhip. Enjoy! ~Bronwyn

    1. Hi Marcie! Yes, you could make a layer cake from this recipe. There are a couple of options: you could bake the batter in the rectangle shaped pan as directed, cool completely, wrap/chill in the fridge and then level off the top and sides. As for the frosting, there would be enough to frost the cake as a naked cake, but if you’d prefer more then either multiply the frosting by 1.5 or 2 depending on the look you’re going for. Another option is a round layer cake: you could do two 8″ rounds (check at 25 minutes), or three 6″ inch rounds (check at 18 minutes). As for frosting, I’d increase the amount shown in the recipe by 1.5 or 2 for these as well so you have enough for the top and the sides. If you have too much, the frosting freezes well and just needs to be re-beat once completely defrosted! Hope you enjoy the cake if you make it! ~Bronwyn

  3. I’m not a cake person, but I do love coffee and this indeed is a perfect cake. Very rich and moist and bursting with coffee flavour. I decided to turn it into a layer cake and nudge it into tiramisu territory by sprinkling the bottom layer with a mixture of approximately 150 ml of strong coffee and a splash of rum before applying the fill layer of frosting.

    The only complication I encountered:
    I didn’t have any espresso instant coffee so I had to substitute it with the standard instant coffee. The standard instant coffee is too coarse so it failed to completely dissolve. This made the frosting taste somewhat bitter due to the concentrated flavor from undissolved granules. Next time I will pulverize the coffee in a coffee grinder. I’m not familiar with the espresso instant coffee variety. I assume it’s significantly finer than the standard type and adhering to the recipe eliminates this problem entirely.

    Thank you very much for this delicious recipe.

    1. Hi Sam, Thanks for taking the time to leave some feedback! I’m in love with your tiramisu spin – sounds like heaven! And yes, instant espresso powder is extremely fine, dissolves in effortlessly and has a smoother taste than instant coffee. Sorry that part didn’t go to plan! Thanks again 🙂 ~Bronwyn

Leave a Reply