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Dec 30, 2012 03:29 PM

Taking coffee out of a cake

I was thinking about making this cake (from a recipe in the NY Times) for a New Year's Day party. However, I know one of the hosts doesn't like coffee. If I decided to go ahead with this cake, how would the taste be effected by removing the coffee (replaced with water, of course)?

Obviously, it wouldn't taste like coffee, but would the cake lack a certain complexity, since it was designed to be made with the coffee? Should something else be added to make up for that?

Chocolate Whiskey Cake

TOTAL TIME 1 hour 25 minutes

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, more for pan
85 grams unsweetened cocoa powder (about 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
1 1/2 cups brewed strong coffee
1/2 cup whiskey
200 grams granulated sugar (about 1 cup)
156 grams light brown sugar (about 1 cup)
240 grams all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
8 grams baking soda (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
3 grams fine sea salt (about 3/4 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
Powdered sugar, for serving (optional)


1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 10-inch springform pan. Dust with 2 tablespoons cocoa powder.
2. In a medium saucepan over low heat, warm coffee, whiskey, 12 tablespoons butter and remaining cocoa powder, whisking occasionally, until butter is melted. Whisk in sugars until dissolved. Remove from heat and cool completely.
3. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, pepper and cloves. In another bowl, whisk together eggs and vanilla. Slowly whisk egg mixture into chocolate mixture. Add dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Fold in chocolate chips.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Transfer to oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean, 55 to 65 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack, then remove sides of pan. Dust with powdered sugar before serving, if you like.
YIELD 8 to 10 servings

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  1. Up the cocoa, but if he is sensitive to caffeine that may not change things. Or of course, up the whiskey? That's probably what I would do.

    But if it's just the taste of coffee he doesn't like, and he doesn't have a physical problem with it, I wouldn't go crazy.

    1 Reply
    1. re: coll

      I agree. The coffee will deeply enhance the flavor of the cocoa and make it taste richer. I doubt anyone will actually notice with all that chocolate and whisk(e)y.

    2. Coffee intensifies the sense of chocolate; it's one of the reason many deeply chocolate recipes include things like a spoon of instant coffee.

      1. I would say to leave the coffee, but make it weak if you're concerned. Though, I don't think I've ever actually tasted coffee when I've used it in chocolate desserts (if taste is the only issue.)

        1. Perhaps try using a weaker coffee instead of a strong one. You could even switch to a decaffeinated coffee if the caffeine is an issue.

          1. That is a lot of coffee, it does not take 1 1/2 cups to up the taste of chocolate. That cakes seems like more of a mocha flavor from the ingredient amounts.