Wait, you don’t add espresso powder to your chocolate cakes?
Rich, dark, and dare I say, wet, nothing beats a classic no-frills chocolate cake. This is what I turn to when I want the dessert to be really perfect. But if like me, you’re on a mission to make your chocolate cakes better, meaning deeper and more, uh, chocolate— then you’ve probably followed an overabundance of advice on the internet. You bought the Dutch cocoa powder. You used a combination of cocoa and chopped chocolate in the dough. You replaced white granulated sugar with dark brown. You added soy sauce. You even went the extra mile and covered it in creamy chocolate ganache. I too have tried a few things to enhance the flavor of my cakes, but there is one thing I have slept too long on: adding espresso powder.
As someone who doesn’t like coffee desserts, this not-so-secret ingredient never spoke to me. But recently a few professional bakers informed me that it would be not makes my cakes taste like a mocha coffee and inspired me to buy my first jar. According to Joanne Lee Molinaro, author of The Korean Vegan, if your goal is to take a bite of it and say, “Wow, that’s the most chocolatey cake I’ve ever eaten!” you just can’t skip the espresso. And keeping a stash of it in powder form is the quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to get it.
What exactly is espresso powder?
Contrary to popular belief, espresso powder, also called instant espresso, is not just ground coffee beans. It’s actually made from dark roasted coffee beans that are ground, brewed into espresso, dried, and then further ground into a very fine soluble powder. Unlike instant coffee, which is made from dehydrated coffee, espresso powder is much more concentrated and provides a more complex and deeper flavor. To understand the difference, just think about how a cup of espresso tastes compared to a regular cup of coffee. And even though espresso powder doesn’t make a very good drink, it Is amp up the flavor of chocolate treats like cakes (and also cookies, brownies, and frostings).
How does it make chocolate cakes more chocolaty?
“Espresso and chocolate have a lot of crossover in terms of flavor profiles, so they complement each other really well,” says Benjamina Ebuehi, author of A good day for cooking. Good dark chocolate usually has notes of fruitiness, bitterness and a bit of acidity, and the addition of a little espresso, whether in liquid or powdered form, enhances and balances these properties. .
Molinaro explains that using a good espresso also brings a creaminess factor to chocolate cakes: “This creaminess gives cocoa a smoothness and fatness. This is also why a cup of espresso and a piece of chocolate go hand in hand. While cocoa alone can taste flat and one-dimensional, cocoa with espresso tastes complex and intense. “It’s the difference between a cake that’s just dark brown and sweet and one that’s super chocolatey,” says Molinaro.
How can I add espresso powder to any chocolate cake recipe?
Espresso powder can be added to almost any chocolate cake recipe for an intensified chocolate flavor. Just know that since it is super concentrated, a little is enough. Your cake will only need about ½ to 1½ teaspoons, according to your preferences. Anything beyond that will lead to a more noticeable coffee or mocha flavor – if that’s what you’re after, feel free to use another teaspoon or two.
You can add the espresso powder directly to the dry cake ingredients, but Ebuehi’s favorite method is to dissolve ½ teaspoon of espresso powder in hot water before adding it to the batter. “Adding hot water extracts all those wonderful flavor particles. It also ensures that the coffee is properly dissolved and evenly dispersed throughout the batter. If you go this route, be sure to account for the extra liquid you will be adding. .
Alternatively, you can use real espresso, which is a great option for those with an espresso machine at home (fYI, here are our favorites). For the vegan chocolate cake in his cookbook, Molinaro extracts as much flavor as possible from chocolate and coffee by heating cocoa powder, a glass of espresso, water and vegetable oil over heat. sweet until you get a thick, chocolatey syrup. It is this syrup that she adds to cake batter for moisture, richness and deep flavor. Note: One shot of espresso equals one teaspoon of espresso powder.
If you don’t have espresso or espresso powder on hand, you can also use a regular cup of coffee instead of the liquid (milk, water, etc.) in the recipe. Just be aware that the chocolate flavor will be slightly less pronounced. But any form of coffee is better than no coffee at all – and for the best results, do use that dutch cocoa that the internet convinced you to buy.