If you love coffee and chocolate, then you have to try this deliciously decadent mocha cake! Full of rich cocoa and strong espresso, this mocha cake is super fluffy, tender, downright decadent! And it happens to be naturally vegan, eggless, dairy free, and refined sugar free!

vegan mocha cake with slice taken from it

Why you’ll love this decadent mocha cake:

Coffee lovers, rejoice! We officially have a delicious and decadent coffee-flavored cake…in the form of a decadent mocha cake!

This mocha cake is *the* vegan cake recipe to make. And yes, I did say vegan. But before you click away, I’ve had several non-vegans who didn’t know I had made this mocha cake; no one knew it was eggless, dairy free, refined sugar free, and easily gluten free.

Let’s talk about this mocha cake recipe:

  • The actual cake is so tender, moist, soft, and fluffy without being dense, gooey, or gluey!
  • The mocha buttercream is an actual *dream* and I could easily eat it by itself. And it’s naturally vegan, dairy free, and easily refined sugar free!
  • This mocha cake is a perfect balance of rich chocolate, strong and flavorful coffee, and just enough sweetness without being too much!
  • Absolutely no one will know that this cake is naturally eggless, dairy free, and easily gluten free!
  • If you’ve never made a vegan cake before, DO NOT WORRY! It’s so so simple, and even easier than traditional baking!
slice of chocolate mocha cake

How is mocha cake different from chocolate cake?

You might notice that with my vegan chocolate cake, I also add in a cup of coffee to the batter. This is because coffee helps to enrich the overall chocolate flavor. However, the difference with this vegan mocha cake is that we’re also adding in instant espresso powder.

This will amplify the coffee taste so that it is more in line with mocha rather than just chocolate.

Mocha Cake Ingredients:

Because this mocha cake is naturally eggless and dairy free, you won’t see either of those ingredients down below in the recipe card (nor in this list below!).If you’re skeptical about vegan baking, your mind is about to be changed!

For this vegan mocha cake, you’ll need:

  • Flour: you can use all purpose flour or gluten free 1:1 baking flour
  • Sugar: I kept this cake entirely refined sugar free and used coconut sugar. If you’re using granulated sugar, make sure that it’s organic, as organic cane sugar is most often vegan (but double check as always!).
  • Cocoa powder: I go into depth about which cocoa powder to use below.
  • Applesauce: this replaces eggs typically found in a cake recipe.
  • Vegan butter: there are so many great vegan butter brands on the market these days! I recommend Flora Plant Butter, but Earth Balance and Miyoko’s will also work great!
  • Vegan buttermilk: this is a combination of dairy free milk (such as oat milk or coconut milk) and apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Acts just like regular buttermilk!
  • Coffee
  • Instant Espresso Powder
slice of mocha cake

How to make a mocha cake (overview):

For the full written instructions and ingredient measurements, see the bottom of this post in the recipe card. You can also hit the “jump to recipe” button at the top of this post! Here, we’ll go over a brief overview of the steps, along with providing visuals for a better understanding of the recipe.

You’re just going to love how easy and simple this chocolate mocha cake recipe is to make. We’ll start by making the cake layers, then the frosting, and finally, assembling.

Now let’s make this vegan mocha cake!

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients.

    This is the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and leavening agents.

  2. Then cream together the wet ingredients.

    Use a hand mixer or a stand mixer here. You’ll mix together the vegan butter, applesauce, and coconut sugar until fluffy.

  3. Add in the dry ingredients, along with the vegan buttermilk and coffee.

    Gently fold together until the dry ingredients are just mixed!

  4. Bake the mocha cake.

    Pour the batter into three 6″ cake pans evenly and bake. Alternatively, you can use three 8″ cake pan!

  5. Allow the cakes to fully cool before frosting.

    This is crucial, as you don’t want the cakes to slip and slide onto the floor! Give the cakes about 45 minutes to fully cool.

  6. Make the mocha buttercream frosting.

    If this is your first time making vegan buttercream, you’re going to LOVE it!

  7. Assemble the cake!

    I used vegan ganache and vegan chocolate covered espresso beans to decorate my vegan chocolate mocha cake recipe. However, vegan/dairy free chocolate covered espresso beans are hard to find in stores. I linked the ones I purchased via Amazon in the recipe card below!

mocha cake ingredients

The mocha buttercream frosting:

This is the best mocha frosting that I’ve ever had, in my opinion. And same goes for my family! It’s super simple, and you actually don’t need to dissolve the instant espresso powder beforehand (though you still can).

Simply making the vegan mocha buttercream as you would a normal chocolate buttercream; this time, however, we’re reducing the cocoa powder content and adding in instant espresso powder.

If you’d like, you can dissolve the espresso powder in water first. I’d recommend 1 tbsp of hot water. The only downside is that you’ll have to allow this to fully cool before using in your buttercream.

For vegan butter: I recommend Flora Plant Butter. It’s truly just incredible in both taste and texture when it comes to making a vegan frosting that’s nearly identical to the classic (making it a great transition for any new vegan bakers!).

mocha cake recipe on cake stand

Gluten free option:

This chocolate mocha cake has also been tested with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1:1 Baking flour. That’s the baking flour in the blue bag! It works just perfectly, and no further adjustments need to be made to the recipe other than swapping in this flour.

I cannot say whether another gluten free 1:1 baking flour would work here. This is the GF flour that I’ve had the most success with, so often times, I’m just using this one!

sliced vegan mocha cake

Mocha Cake FAQ’s

Can I use instant coffee instead of instant espresso powder?

You absolutely can swap in instant coffee powder if that’s that is what is available. The taste won’t be as strong as using espresso powder, but you will still create that mocha flavor!

What if I don’t need this vegan mocha cake to be vegan?

Unfortunately, this mocha cake is designed to be vegan. Trust me, if you’re a first time vegan baker, it’s really not complicated! The ingredients are still simple, and it’s even easier in my opinion. However, if you really don’t want a vegan mocha cake recipe, there are others on the web (not me being cheeky, just truly giving a shout out to other recipe creators who maybe aren’t vegan!).

What kind of cocoa powder should I use?

Often times, with vegan baking, many want to use cacao powder, as it’s known to have more nutrients than cocoa powder. However, I strongly suggest you use natural cocoa powder. The reason being is that natural cocoa powder contains more acidity than even Dutch-processed (and especially cacao) which will help your cakes to rise more. It will also give it more of a darker, richer color rather than a more reddish color that happens sometimes with cacao powder.

Can I use a different frosting other than mocha frosting?

Absolutely! You can definitely swap in a vegan chocolate buttercream in place of more mocha. However, the mocha frosting does add quite a substantial coffee flavor to the overall experience of the cake. I recommend sticking with mocha!

What is the difference between instant espresso powder and espresso powder?

If you’re in the store looking for instant espresso powder and are only finding espresso powder- don’t worry! They’re actually the same thing. Either product will work! However, this is MUCH different from ground espresso. Instant/ espresso powder will dissolve in the cake batter and frosting, whereas ground espresso or even ground coffee will leave granules of coffee in your actual cake and frosting.

sliced mocha cake on plate

You are just going to absolutely love this easy mocha cake recipe! It’s FULL of coffee flavor, and absolutely no one will be able to detect that this cake is vegan, eggless, dairy free, refined sugar free, and even gluten free!

If you make this recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and a rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ below. This helps others to find the recipes! As always, I absolutely love to see your beautiful creations on Instagram and Pinterest, so be sure to tag me there as well!

More vegan cake recipes you’ll love:

Best Ever Vegan Chocolate Cake

Best Vegan Coconut Cake

Classic Vegan Vanilla Cake

Vegan Oreo Cake

Best Vegan Red Velvet Cake

Want to save this recipe for later? Add it to your favorite recipe board on Pinterest!

Best Ever Mocha Cake Recipe (Vegan + Gluten Free!)

If you make this recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and a rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ below. This helps others to find the recipes! As always, I absolutely love to see your beautiful creations on Instagram and Pinterest, so be sure to tag me there as well!

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sliced vegan mocha cake

The ULTIMATE Mocha Cake Recipe | Vegan + Gluten Free

  • Author: thebananadiaries
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 35
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 16 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

If you love coffee and chocolate, then you have to try this deliciously decadent mocha cake! Full of rich cocoa and strong espresso, this mocha cake is super fluffy, tender, downright decadent! And it happens to be naturally vegan, eggless, dairy free, and refined sugar free!


Ingredients

Units Scale

Vegan Mocha Cake:

  • 240 ml dairy-free milk, room temperature
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 375 grams all purpose flour or gluten free 1:1 baking flour, sifted
  • 60 grams cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp espresso powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 200 grams coconut sugar
  • 113 grams vegan butter, room temperature
  • 190 grams unsweetened applesauce, room temperature
  • 185 grams water + 1 tsp dissolvable espresso powder (or swap in coffee), room temperature

Dairy Free Mocha Buttercream Frosting:

  • 1 1/2 cup vegan butter, room temperature
  • 34 cups powdered sugar or powdered coconut sugar, sifted
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp espresso powder

Decorations:


Instructions

  1. Be sure to read all instructions before beginning. Measure out all ingredients for the cake.
  2. Prep: Preheat the oven to 350F, and prepare three 6″ cake pans. You can also use 8″ cake pans if you’d like. Grease the bottoms and sides of the pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside. Prepare the vegan buttermilk by mixing together the dairy-free milk and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl and set aside for 5-7 minutes to curdle. You can prepare the batter while the buttermilk is forming. 
  3. Make the batter: in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment or a large bowl and a hand mixer, cream the vegan butter until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the coconut sugar, and cream together again until the sugar begins to slightly dissolve into the vegan butter, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and bottom of the bowl as needed. Then add in the applesauce, and mix again on medium speed until combined. To the mixture, add in about half of the flour mixture, along with half of the buttermilk. Mix on medium speed until the flour starts to combine with the wet. Add in the remaining flour mixture and buttermilk, and mix again just until there are no more dry streaks. Slowly pour in the hot espresso, and mix on medium speed until the coffee has just mixed into the batter. If using a stand mixer, remove the bowl from the stand mixer.
  4. Bake the cakes: pour the batter into the three cake pans evenly. Place the cakes into the oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. If using three 8″ cake pans, the cakes will bake a bit quicker. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool in their pans for 10 minutes. Then carefully transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely, about 45 minutes.
  5. Prepare the mocha buttercream: When ready to frost, beat the vegan butter until creamed, about 3 minutes. Then sift in the powdered sugar and continue beating until it becomes a fluffy vanilla buttercream. Add in the cocoa powder and espresso powder, and start by beating the cocoa powder into the middle so as not to create a dust around the bowl, then beat the entire buttercream mixture together with the cacao powder until full incorporated.
  6. Assemble the cake: place the bottom layer onto a cake plate and adding about 1 cup of frosting to the top of the cake. Spread it just to the edges, then add the second layer and repeat. Top with the third layer and frost with the remaining frosting. Decorate as you’d like, and enjoy!
  7. Storage: Store any leftovers covered at room temperature for up to 2 days or sliced in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Notes

Room temperature: this is different for different liquid ingredients. Vegan butter should be 65F, and dairy free milk and applesauce should be 70-72F. 

Espresso powder is different than ground espresso! Please see post for full details.

Please see blog post for full recipe notes + tips!

Keywords: mocha cake, mocha cake recipe, chocolate mocha cake, vegan mocha cake