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A slice of mocha cake frosted with Kahlua buttercream on a white plate next to a fork.

Mocha Cake with Kahlua Buttercream

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.8 from 11 reviews
  • Author: Beyond Frosting
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 32 minutes
  • Total Time: 52 minutes
  • Yield: 15 slices
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American


Mocha Cake with Kahlua Buttercream is a moist coffee-flavored cake smothered in rich and creamy coffee buttercream spiked with Kahlua liqueur. Truly a cake for coffee lovers!


For the cake:

  • 2 cups (380g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (118ml) vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (120g) light sour cream
  • 2 3/4 cups (330g)  all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder (or finely ground coffee)
  • 3 teaspoons (11.2 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) salt
  • 1 ¼ cups (296ml) strong brewed coffee, cooled

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter
  • 4 cups (520g) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) Kahlua
  • 1 ½ tablespoons (22ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt


For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix the wet ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until well incorporated. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Next mix in the sour cream and beat until well combined.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients: In a separate bowl combine the remaining dry ingredients and sift together. Add half the dry ingredients, and half the coffee, and beat on low speed just until the flour starts to incorporate. Repeat until all ingredients are added and combined. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir the batter from the bottom to the top to ensure it’s well mixed.
  4. Pour the batter into a 9-inch by 13-inch pan and bake at 350°F for 28-32 minutes, keeping a careful eye on the baking during the last few minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. 

For the frosting:

  1. Cut the butter into pieces. Using the paddle attachment, whip the butter for 5-7 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally, and beating until the butter is whipped and fluffy.
  2. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and espresso powder and mix on low speed until incorporated into butter. Next, add the Kahlua and vanilla extract and beat until well combined.
  3. Finally, add the last two cups of powdered sugar and the heavy cream. Beat on low speed until the sugar is incorporated then increase speed to medium-high and beat for 3 minutes to whip the frosting. Spread over cooled cake. Top with sprinkles. 


  • If you’d prefer to make your frosting without alcohol, I’d recommend this coffee frosting instead.
  • Test the cake for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, you cake is done.


  • Fridge: If your kitchen is particularly warm, keep your cake covered in the fridge and take it out to serve at room temperature. 
  • Freezer: I prefer to freeze my cakes before they’re frosted, however, this mocha cake is fine to freeze after it’s been frosted, too. Wrap the baked and cooled cake tightly in a double layer of plastic wrap, and freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw the cake in the fridge overnight, and bring it to room temperature before serving.
  • Frosting: Leftover Kahlua buttercream frosting can be kept airtight at room temperature for 1-2 days, or stored in the fridge for up to 1 week. You can also freeze buttercream for up to 3 months, and defrost it in the fridge. Give the frosting a fresh whip before using.


  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 530
  • Sugar: 59.6 g
  • Sodium: 181.7 mg
  • Fat: 22.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 79.7 g
  • Fiber: 0.7 g
  • Protein: 4.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 74.1 mg