Mocha Cake

August 20, 2014

I know some families don’t have traditional “birthday dinners” or birthday cakes. You know the kind: every time someone’s birthday rolls around they always request the same meal (mine was always my mom’s baby back ribs) or the same birthday cake. Well, lucky for me, neither Sean nor I grew up like that. And this is where this awesome mocha birthday cake recipe comes from.

Growing up, Sean’s Auntie Jenny made birthday cakes for everyone in his family on their birthdays. By hand. From scratch. Color me impressed. Anyway, she always made the same birthday cake for Sean, dubbed simply, “mocha.” Since Sean moved away from Trinidad he hadn’t had mocha for his birthday in years. For his last birthday though, I got the recipe from his mom, and with his discerning eye (and having eaten many a mocha in his day), we recreated the mocha here in the US.

Let me warn you right now, this cake has no redeeming health qualities whatsoever. It tastes amazing however, which makes up for a multitude of sins. Plus, calories don’t count for birthdays anyway, right? Right!

If ever you are in need of a sure-fire birthday cake recipe, this one is it. Trust me – everyone will love it, it makes enough for an army (if you can bear to share) and it keeps in the fridge for several days (if it’s not devoured sooner).

Auntie Jenny’s Mocha Cake

Serves: 12 or more


  • 1 stick of unsalted butter (softened)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 – 3/4 c. powdered sugar (about 3/4 of a 1 lb box of Domino’s Confectioner’s Sugar)
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee granules
  • 6 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 angel food cake (I used one of the big round bundt angel food cakes from Publix)
  • 1 (15.25 oz) can of fruit cocktail in heavy syrup (I used Del Monte)
  • 1 shot of white rum
  • 5-6 drops of Angostura bitters
  • Optional: Canned maraschino cherries


  1. Cut angel food cake into 3 – 4 equal layers.
  2. Mix together shot of rum, Angostura bitters and syrup from fruit cocktail to drizzle over each layer of the cake.
  3. Cream together softened butter and eggs with hand mixer, and then add in powdered sugar until thick, custard-like consistency is achieved (it should look like thick white icing at this point).
  4. Mix coffee and cocoa powder into the icing now.
  5. Starting with the bottom layer, brush the rum and syrup mixture on the top of the layer and place pieces of the fruit cocktail on top.
  6. Layer the mocha icing mix liberally over the top of the fruit cocktail.
  7. Lay the next layer of the cake on top of the first and repeat steps 5 and 6 for each layer of the cake to the top.
  8. Finish with fruit cocktail on top of the final layer of mocha icing on top of the cake, and gently use leftover icing to cover the sides of the cake.
  9. Optional: Add maraschino cherries to the top of the cake for extra garnish.
Behold, the beauty that is Aunt Jenny's mocha. This tastes even better than it looks.

Behold, the beauty that is Aunt Frances’ mocha. This tastes even better than it looks.



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