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
Coffee intensifies the sense of chocolate; it's one of the reason many deeply chocolate recipes include things like a spoon of instant coffee.
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.)
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.
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.
Have you ever tasted this cake? I ask because I have made a banana cake that calls for coffee (from "Ladies, A Plate" by Alexa Johnston), and I honestly can't taste it in the final product, although it is obvious in the raw batter. I don't drink coffee or particularly like the taste.
As a substitute, I suppose you could use strong black tea. It would add a similar bitter, "dark" taste, although not as strong.
I would probably make something else, though.
In that ratio, I don't think he'd taste the coffee so I'm with the group that says do it as is. Coffee adds an intensity to the chocolate flavors and when I've substituted water, the cakes taste flat.
I've made a variation of this cake--a riff on Maida Heatter’s 86-Proof Chocolate Cake. The recipe I made calls for 1/4 cup instant espresso powder. It does NOT taste of coffee whatsoever. As others have mentioned, the coffee just amps the chocolate.
I ended up making it, dropping down the amount of coffee (8 ounces of average-strength coffee, topped off with hot water).
It went well; no one noted a coffee taste.