Today, I’m sharing with you this complex and delicious mocha caramel pound cake recipe. I made it for The Beloved’s birthday, and it does make an excellent birthday pound cake.
It’s also an all-around delicious pound cake, I must say! You may also be interested in my dark chocolate pound cake recipe–it’s my tweaked version of my mom’s recipes.
And for ease of browsing, you can find all my pound cake recipes in one place. Thanks so much for visiting!
NOTE: This post contains a story about how I met my husband. I will never remove this section of this post. If you’d prefer not to read it, please scroll on past it or use the “Jump to Recipe” button at the very top of the post. Or just click here. Thanks!
When Jenni Met The Beloved
When I saw the boy with the Odd Hair sitting by himself in the dining hall the first day of freshman year, I had no idea that one day he would become The Beloved. Maybe he already was The Beloved and I couldn’t recognize it. But, as soon as my roommate and I sat down with him to eat and we began to talk, I immediately developed strong feelings for him.
Truly, I was not a fan at all.
We went to a very small school, so we had many classes together. And whenever he opened his mouth to speak in class: loathing. He thought he knew everything. And he sort of did. Very book smart and arrogant about it. I wanted to punch him in the neck.
Slowly, over a couple of years, we became friends. I’m not even really sure how it happened. And then one day towards the end of junior year, I looked at him and thought to myself, “Damn, he’s pretty.” Shallow? Absolutely. But there you have it.
Once I noticed him in that way I couldn’t un-notice him. I would moon around him—very Coolly, understand—waiting for him to make a move. I flirted Outrageously. Shamelessly. And nothing.
My friends almost staged an intervention.
Finally, unable to take it anymore, I marched down the hall to find him, and I dragged him to my room.
“Come with me to my room; I have something I want to say to you.”
He seemed a bit bewildered but willing, and when we got to my place, I shut the door. I was so very nervous. What if he didn’t like me back? Was he just too much work? I mean, obviously, the boy was not taking the hints. Maybe it was me. Maybe he was On Purpose being dense because he didn’t like me back.
I swallowed hard and turned him to face me. I held his shoulders and looked into his eyes.
I couldn’t breathe very deeply. My heart was in the way. But I took as deep a breath as I could.
“I just want to let you know that I am very, very attracted to you, and I’m wondering what you’re going to do about it…”
Heart in throat.
And then he was kissing me and there were delicious butterfly flutters in my tummy.
And that is the story.
That was almost thirty years ago, and while we were not always together across those years, we found each other again eighteen years ago.
Not every couple gets a second chance. I am grateful that we did.
Last year, we celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. So maybe we were a little slow on the draw. Okay, maybe he is.
He is my balance.
I am impetuous. He is thoughtful.
I am led by emotions. He, by his intellect.
I can be a bit…scattered. He is focused.
I am a hurricane. He is the Calm.
It’s not always easy.
But it is always worth it.
I truly do not know what I would do without him.
I asked him what kind of cake I could make him for his birthday.
What I ended up making is at first glance a simple chocolate pound cake with a vanilla glaze. But it really is more than that. It is full of subtle layers of flavor that build on each other.
How to Make Mocha Caramel Pound Cake
As the name implies, there are a lot of flavor components that contribute their Goodness to this cake.
That means it’s not the easiest cake to make. There are a few extra steps than you’d need to make a “regular” poundcake.
But if you love chocolate, coffee, and caramel, I think you’ll want to give this a go.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- sugar: You’ll use sugar twice, first to make the caramel and then in granulated form to cream with the brown sugar and butter
- heavy cream: This stops the caramelization process, so you’re basically making a rich caramel sauce to add to the cake batter
- cocoa powder: use your favorite cocoa powder here. Dutch process is not necessary, but you can use it if you have it
- coffee: a cup of strong brewed coffee makes up most of the liquid in this cake.
- butter: use unsalted butter so you can control the amount of salt you use
- cream cheese: I sub some cream cheese for a portion of the butter. It still lends the necessary fat but also brings a subtle tang to the whole shebang. You can use all butter–just substitute additional butter for the amount of cream cheese called for
- salt: snaps all the flavors into focus and counteracts any bitterness
- Baker’s Brew Coffee Spice (or use pumpkin spice): I love Baker’s Brew from Savory Spice Shop. It’s coffee, sugar, cocoa and spices, so if you don’t have any or don’t want to purchase it, you can substitute with some pumpkin spice, apple pie spice or any sweet baking spice blend that you enjoy. If substituting, use half the amount of Baker’s Brew called for
- vanilla: rounds out all the flavors
- brown sugar: brings a touch of molasses depth to the cake. It is definitely gilding the lily (that’s just what kind of cake it is), so if you’d rather, substitute more granulated sugar for the same weight of brown sugar
- eggs: lends structure, emulsifiers, and fat to the cake. Almost all my pound cakes call for 5 large eggs
- cake flour: You can use all purpose if you’d like. I tend to prefer the more delicate crumb that cake flour buys you, but either will work
- baking powder: a relatively small amount, but it does help lighten the cake a bit
- baking soda: neutralizes the acidic ingredients (coffee and cocoa powder, and to a lesser extent, the brown sugar)
For the Glaze:
The glaze for this cake is a pretty standard glaze. I like to start with butter because the subtle flavor tempers the sweetness while the fat helps to carry the flavors
- butter: I prefer to use unsalted and then add my own salt, but use what you have. If you use salted butter, you may not need any additional salt, but taste to make sure
- powdered sugar: provides the sweetness and the bulk of the frosting/glaze
- salt: I generally use fine salt for glazes since the smaller crystals dissolve more readily
- vanilla: to round out the flavors. I almost always use a little vanilla in all my glazes unless it’s going on a lemon pound cake.
- milk: just enough to make a thick but pourable glaze. You can use whole milk or 2% here, or even a plant-based milk
There are quite a few steps involved in making this cake. Arguably the hardest is making the caramel.
Here’s how to do that part and then how to put the rest of the batter together:
To Make the Caramel Sauce
- Bring water and sugar to a boil.
- Cook together until the sugar turns a deep amber color.
- Remove from the heat and add the cream. Stir and then cool until just warm.
Once the caramel is done, you’ll combine the caramel flavor with the mocha flavor:
- Whisk cocoa powder and vanilla into coffee.
- Whisk the caramel sauce together with the cocoa/coffee mixture. This mixture is now “the wet ingredients.”
From there on out, this cake is straight-up creaming method.
- Whisk dry ingredients together.
- Cream butter, cream cheese, sugar, and brown sugar together.
- Whisk the eggs together and gradually add them to the creamed mixture.
- Alternate adding the dry ingredients and wet ingredients, beginning and ending with dry.
Once the batter is put together, bake in your prepared pan/s–note that if you are using a 10-cup pan (like the swirly pan), you will have to bake some of your batter in a separate pan. To bake the whole amount of batter, you’ll need a 12-cup Bundt pan.
Q & A
My best advice is to spray the pan very well with pan spray and then flour the pan (use cocoa powder for this cake since it’s a darker batter). You can also brush the pan with melted shortening before dusting liberally with cocoa powder. I don’t recommend using butter, because the milk solids in the butter can actually encourage sticking. And we don’t want that.
Like most pound cakes, the mocha caramel pound cake just gets better when kept at room temperature in a well-sealed container for up to a week. It just gets fudgier.
For storage longer than a week, wrap the cake (or slices) well in plastic wrap and then foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw, still wrapped, on the counter until it reaches room temperature.
If you have questions about this post or recipe, don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can leave a comment on the post and I will get back to you within about 24 hours.
If your question is more urgent, please shoot me an email, and I will respond within 4 hours, unless I’m asleep.
Other Cakes You May Enjoy
For a meltingly tender pound cake, you may like my whipping cream pound cake. So very good!
For an old-fashioned chocolate cake, it’s hard to beat my rocky road sheet cake, which is a chocolate mayonnaise cake with delicious rocky road frosting.
If you’re looking for a gluten-free pound cake option, I think you’ll really like my friend Sandi’s gluten-free lemon pound cake. She is a master of gluten-free baking!
And to take advantage of summer peaches, try my friend Brandy’s peach Bundt cake. Vanilla and peaches–a winning combination!
A Note About Measurements
NOTE: Most of my recipes are written by weight and not volume, even the liquids.
Even though I try to provide you with volume measurements as well, I encourage you to buy a kitchen scale for ease of measuring, accuracy, and consistency.
Don't let its small price and small size fool you. The Escali Primo is an accurate and easy-to-use food scale that I have used for years. It's easy to store, easy to use, has a tare function, and easily switches between grams and ounces/pounds for accurate measurements.
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- 4 oz granulated sugar (for the caramel)
- 2 oz water
- 4 oz heavy cream
- 2 oz excellent quality Dutch process cocoa powder
- 8 oz strong coffee
- 8 oz unsalted butter at cool room temperature
- 4 oz cream cheese at cool room temperature
- 1 gently rounded teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 Tablespoon Baker's Brew Coffee Spice (or instant coffee)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 8 oz granulated sugar (for the cake)
- 8 oz brown sugar, (dark or light)
- 5 large eggs, beaten
- 11 oz cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- .75 oz, (1 1/2 Tablespoons) butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- heavy pinch of salt
- about 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- enough milk to make a very thick, pourable glaze
- Preheat your oven to 350F. Set an oven rack to one-below-the-center.
- Spray and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan (or a 10 cup swirly pan plus a small cake pan to hold the extra batter). Set aside.
- In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, bring the 4oz of sugar and the water to a boil.
- Cover the pan and let boil for 2 minutes to wash any sugar crystals off the sides of the pan.
- Uncover and cook without stirring until the sugar starts to get some color. Swirl the pan gently to keep the color even.
- Once the caramel is a deep amber color, remove the pan from the heat and carefully stir in the cream. Stir until smooth. Let cool to just warm.
- Whisk the cocoa powder and vanilla into the coffee.
- Whisk the coffee mixture together with the caramel mixture. Set aside.
- Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and baking soda.
- Set aside.
- Cream the butter and the cream cheese together until smooth.
- Add the 8oz each of granulated sugar and brown sugar along with the salt and Baker's Brew.
- Cream until very light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as necessary. This will take about 10 minutes.
- Very slowly drizzle in the beaten eggs just a bit at a time until they are all incorporated. Scrape the bowl as necessary. This should take about 5-7 minutes.
- Alternately add the flour and the coffee-caramel mixture like this:
- half the flour
- half the liquid
- half of the rest of the flour
- the rest of the liquid
- the rest of the flour
- Allow maybe 5-10 seconds of mixing on low speed between each addition. Don't worry if one addition isn't completely incorporated before adding the next. Scrape bowl as necessary.
- Once everything is incorporated, scrape the bowl well, reaching all the way down into the bottom. Fold gently a few time.
- Beat on high speed for 3 seconds to make sure everything is well mixed.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan/s.
- Bake for about an hour until well risen and a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Turn out onto a rack and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Freeze or refrigerate until just barely warm and apply the glaze.
For the Glaze
- Place the melted butter, sugar, salt and vanilla in a small-ish bowl. Whisk together, adding just a tiny splash of milk at a time until you have a thick, smooth and glossy glaze.
- Pour attractively over the cake.
Since this is a darker batter, rather than dusting your pan with flour, dust it with cocoa powder.
The cake is done when the internal temperature reaches 195-220F.
Nutrition InformationYield 16 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 453Total Fat 19gSaturated Fat 11gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 105mgSodium 272mgCarbohydrates 66gFiber 1gSugar 47gProtein 6g
The stated nutritional information is provided as a courtesy. It is calculated through third party software and is intended as a guideline only.
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Thank you for spending some time with me today and allowing me to tell our love story.
Enjoy the mocha pound cake, and have a marvelous day.