September 8th, 2009

Madeleine’s Mocha Fudge Torte

The Zero Birthdays are the BIG ones—there’s something about marking off the decades, these milestones, that stirs the ethers. Memories are conjured. People bubble up from the past. Karmic ties either unravel, or tighten. (We prefer unraveling…)

In a way–as a matter of reflection of life and times past–the event is as significant to family members and friends as it is to the birthday person. Herself.

This past weekend we celebrated my daughter’s 30th Birthday.
We threw a big wild wonderful party. With LOTS of family, friends, food.
And Gypsy Music. Dancing.

And this magnificent Mocha Fudge Torte.

When I first asked my daughter what kind of cake would she like, she told me she’d have to think about it and get back with me. A couple of days passed when she called,

“Momma, you used to make this really good chocolate cake that had coffee flavored icing. Sometimes you soaked the cake with a raspberry liqueur.”

“Ah! The Mocha Fudge Torte!” I said. I had totally forgotten about it. And, yes, sometimes I did brush some Chambord liqueur onto the layers. I recalled the little round bottle with the royal gold plastic banding and plastic gold crown top—so 1980s!!!!

“Yes! That’s what I want.”

This is such a delicious cake; how could I have forgotten it? The coffee cream cheese icing alone is divine enough to eat in great spoonfuls. Oddly, it’s about the only recipe where I use instant coffee. Trust me, this is what it takes to get that rich coffee flavor while still maintaining the integrity of the frosting. The Chambord is truely not critical to the cause. Madeleine and I sampled it on a piece of leveled cake while I was assembling, and decided it was frou-frou.

Three types of chocolate go into the batter.

Mix the batter by hand, if you like. I love being low-tech when I can.

I actually prefer making the cake in one deep pan, and then splitting the layer. The cake seems moister that way.


2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup cocoa
2 sticks butter
2 cup sugar
1 cup strong coffee
1 cup milk
1 Tablespoon vanilla
3 eggs
2 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
parchment paper to line 1 deep 10”springofrm pan, or 2 9”cake pans
baking spray

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut parchment paper into circles (trace around the cake pans). Lightly spray inside of cake pans, line with parchment and spray again.
Place both kinds of chocolate, cocoa, sugar, butter, coffee, milk, and vanilla in a microwaveable bowl and heat in microwave for 3 minutes. Stir, and repeat if chocolate is not melted. Stir until smooth and sugar is dissolved.
In a separate bowl, sift the dry ingredients together.
Whisk eggs into chocolate mixture, one at a time.
Finally mix in the dry ingredients.
Pour into cake pan(s). If using 1 10”springform, bake in the middle of the oven for 35-40 minutes. If using 2 9”cake pans, bake in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes.
Cool. Remove from pans. If using 10″spring pan, split the layer in half.

I rarely measure confectioners sugar, or vanilla, or the instant coffee—these are approximations that I think will work. I always add a little, and then sample, and then adjust.

12oz. softened Cream Cheese
4 oz. (1 stick) softened Butter
2 cups Confectioners Sugar
2 Tablespoons Instant Coffee dissolved in
1 Tablespoon Vanilla

Dark Chocolate covered Espresso Beans (optional garnish)

Using a mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese together. Add confectioners sugar and
dissolved vanilla-coffee syrup. Beat well, and taste for coffee flavor and sweetness.
Adjust if necessary.

The Assembly
A Lazy Susan and long flat spatulas help the cause! Level the cake, by slicing off the little rounded top. Place a mound of frosting in the center of the first layer and spread out to the edges. Place second layer on top. Place another mound of frosting on the top, spreading out to the edges, and smoothing over the sides. Slowly rotate the lazy susan, while holding the spatula in place to bring the frosting evenly around the cake. Set in refrigerator to set up before decorating.

Note: I doubled my recipes for both cake and icing for my daughter’s cake to make it extra BIG with three layers (and the fourth layer is in the freezer…)

Posted in Chocolate, Desserts, Recipes

11 Responses to “Madeleine’s Mocha Fudge Torte”
  1. claudia (cook eat FRET) Says:

    what a beautiful cake
    and what a lucky girl to have a momma like you

  2. joycooks Says:

    What a beautiful cake! Your daughter is lucky to have such a sweet mom! I love the last picture of the sliced cake. So mouth-wateringly beautiful.

  3. Flying Colors Says:

    OH!!!! I had to get the Windex to clean my computer screen after drooling and trying to lick that CAKE! You are such a MASTER :-)

    Thank You Nancy and Happy Birthday to Madeleine – sweet!!!

    I am going to make this cake and have You come over and have some… he, he, he! We get to meet!

  4. Teresa Blackburn, Food on Fifth Says:

    Nancy, I am sooo happy that I was one of the lucky ones to get a slice of my favorite cake that you make. I have not had this one in years and it very much reminds me how wonderful you are with all foods, including desserts. We, and Madeleine, were very lucky to be a part of this memorable cake. Love, T

  5. rhonda Says:

    wow,,,,that cake along with dancing and gypsy music. i bet there was alot of karma unraveled. Happy Birthday Madeleine!!

  6. marva Says:

    Happy Birthday to your wonderful daughter….On Nancy, you know what a undertaking this will be for me!!! know how challenged I am when it comes to “baking”! I am going to risk making it!! I’ll make you proud,I hope!

  7. Madeleine Says:

    Yes, the cake was amazing, but not as much as my Momma!! She’s the best.

  8. Judy Says:

    Another masterpiece, Nancy. Bravo again! Happy b-day Madeleine, I know you’ve made your mom proud — and vice versa!

  9. Kristen Says:

    I made this cake for my mom’s birthday, it is the first cake I made from scratch! It was wonderful, thank you so much for posting ;)

  10. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Kristen, that’s fantastic! So glad it worked out. Now you know that the cake baking business is not an insurmountable thing…more goodies in your future!

  11. Good Food Matters » Blog Archive » The Strawberry Special Says:

    [...] cycle of the zero years, the “round birthdays,” as friend Lee calls them. It began with Madeleine’s 30th last September, followed by my mom’s 80th in February, and now, gasp, Bill’s [...]

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