This white chocolate mocha cake pairs tender white chocolate espresso cake layers with a whipped white chocolate ganache and silky espresso buttercream.
There will be a consistent theme with the holiday cakes coming your way this year — you will likely either love them or hate them. I hope it’s the former, because I’m already so excited to bake them all!
I’m not sure that a White Chocolate Mocha is considered a holiday drink, but I’m using it anyway to kick off my holiday baking. To me, most things white chocolate just seem wintery.
What is a White Chocolate Mocha?
It’s basically a mocha (chocolate & espresso), but made with white chocolate instead of the dark or milk chocolate used in a regular mocha. I’m pretty sure you can get them all year round at Starbucks. Calling it a White Chocolate Mocha Cake is a bit redundant since mocha contains chocolate, but White Mocha Cake didn’t seem descriptive enough.
How to make this White Chocolate Mocha Cake
In order to make the espresso and white chocolate both stand out, I used them in different ways in each component of this cake. The cake consists of:
- cake layers infused with white chocolate and espresso
- whipped white chocolate ganache filling
- espresso Swiss meringue buttercream
- white chocolate ganache drip
White Mocha Cake Layers
For the cake layers themselves, I used both white chocolate and espresso in them. I basically took my White Chocolate Cake and added espresso powder to it. The cake has the perfect texture — tender, moist, and just the right density.
The white chocolate flavour does not come through crazy strong because of the espresso powder, but I love the subtle flavour and the texture the white chocolate gives the cake. If you prefer, you can leave the espresso powder out.
Whipped White Chocolate Ganache
To make the white chocolate ganache, I used a 3:1 ratio (by weight) of chocolate:cream, and let it cool and thicken. I actually let it sit overnight (with plastic wrap placed directly on top), but you really only need to let it sit until it thickens (about 3 hours or so). I used a portion of the unwhipped ganache for the white chocolate drip.
The filling complements the cake layers and frosting so well, and the flavour of the white chocolate really stands out.
Espresso Swiss Meringue Buttercream
This is one of my all-time favourite buttercreams. I love coffee flavoured desserts, and this buttercream is so good you’ll be eating it with a spoon!
I used half a recipe of my Swiss meringue buttercream and added some espresso powder to it. I just add it right in, since my espresso powder is so fine that I find it blends in smoothly. If your instant espresso is not a super fine powder, I recommend dissolving it first in 1-2 tsp of hot water and cooling before adding to the frosting.
White Chocolate Ganache Drip
I used a portion of the 3:1 ganache I made for the filling for the drip. Since it had thickened a bit too much, I warmed it slightly in the microwave (very small increments – 3 seconds) until it was the right drip consistency. It helps to do a test drip on the “back” of the cake if you’re unsure, and always do drips on a very well chilled cake. It helps the ganache set quicker, and won’t drip all the way down to the bottom.
I finished the whole cake off with a rope border of espresso buttercream, some small and large white nonpareils, and some chocolate crispearls.
Tips for making this White Mocha Cake recipe:
- The recipe as-is will also work in two 8″ pans. For three 8″ pans, 1.5x the recipe.
- To make cupcakes, all you need to do is reduce the baking time — start checking at 15mins or so.
- If your instant espresso is not a super fine powder, I recommend dissolving it first in 1-2 tsp of hot water and cooling before adding to the frosting.
- Be sure to check my Swiss Meringue Buttercream post for tips and troubleshooting.
- Learn how to keep your cakes moist using Simple Syrup.
- To help ensure your cake layers bake up nice and flat, check out my Flat Top Cakes post!
White Chocolate Mocha Cake
White Chocolate Mocha Cake:
Espresso Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
White Chocolate Mocha Cake:
- Heat milk and chocolate until melted and combined.* Add espresso powder and stir until dissolved. Cool to room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour three 6" cake rounds and line with parchment.
- In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt until well combined. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on med-high until pale and fluffy (approx 3mins). Reduce speed and add eggs one at a time fully incorporating after each addition. Add vanilla.
- Alternate adding flour mixture and milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour (4 additions of flour and 3 of milk). Fully incorporating after each addition.
- Bake for about 40mins or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.
- Place cakes on wire rack to cool for 10mins then turn out onto wire rack and cool completely.
Espresso Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- Place egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk until combined.**
- Place bowl over a double boiler on the stove and whisk constantly until the mixture is hot and no longer grainy to the touch (approx. 3mins). Or registers 160F on a candy thermometer.
- Place bowl on your stand mixer and whisk on med-high until the meringue is stiff and cooled (the bowl is no longer warm to the touch (approx. 5-10mins)).
- Switch to paddle attachment. Slowly add cubed butter and mix until smooth.***
- Add espresso powder and whip until smooth.****
White Chocolate Ganache:
- Place chopped chocolate and cream in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 5-10 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth and combined. Set aside to cool completely and thicken.
- Remove 2/3 cup of the thickened white chocolate ganache, set aside. Whip remaining ganache until light and fluffy.
White Chocolate Drip:
- If needed, microwave the the 2/3 cup ganache you set aside at very small increments (3 seconds) to thin out. Add a few drops of bright white color gel if desired.
- Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving plate. Top with half of the whipped ganache, spread evenly. Repeat with remaining layers and crumb coat the cake with any remaining ganache. Chill for 20mins until ganache is set.
- Frost and smooth the sides with the espresso buttercream, reserving some for the rope border on top. Chill for 30mins until frosting is cold and firm.
- Using a small spoon, place dollops of white chocolate ganache around the top edges of the chilled cake, allowing some to drip down. Fill in the top of the cake with more ganache and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Chill to set ganache (5 mins).
- Pipe a rope border on top using a Wilton 1M tip. Sprinkle small and large white nonpareils on top as well as some chocolate crispearls if desired. Roughly toss some small nonpareils onto the sides of the cake if desired. Place coffee beans along the bottom.
** Wipe your mixer bowl and whisk down with lemon juice or vinegar to make sure it is completely grease free and make sure there is no trace of yolk in your whites or your meringue will not stiffen.
*** The buttercream may look like it's curdled at some point. Keep mixing until it is completely smooth. If it looks soupy, place it in the fridge for 20mins and rewhip.
**** If your instant espresso is not a superfine powder, I recommend dissolving it first in 1-2 tsp hot water and cooling before adding to the frosting. The inspiration for this cake came from Summer over at Cake Paper Party.