A coffee flavored coffee cake! This coffee cake is filled with delicious espresso flavor, dark chocolate, toasted pecans, and cinnamon. No cup of coffee needed!

Espresso, Pecan, and Dark Chocolate Coffee Cake cut into squares

OVERVIEW

Coffee cake that’s actually coffee flavored? Who knew! This recipe is no ordinary coffee cake. It packs the punch with flavors of espresso, dark chocolate, toasted pecans, and warm cinnamon.

Why is it called Coffee Cake?

Most coffee cake recipes are simply a single layer crumb cake with a cinnamon streusel topping. Sometimes fruit jams or cream cheese are added for variation. But there is no actual coffee flavor in most recipes.

Coffee cake gets its name because it is intended to be served with coffee or tea. It’s a dessert but it’s often served with breakfast or as an afternoon snack.

Espresso, Pecan, and Dark Chocolate Coffee Cake squares with a cup of coffee

Pound Cake turns Coffee Cake

For this recipe I looked to my favorite pound cake recipe. It’s buttery, moist, and with a hint of vanilla it’s the perfect canvas to add my own flavors. I added espresso powder and cinnamon directly to the batter.

A pound cake is traditionally baked in a loaf pan but if you pour the batter into a cake pan, add a streusel topping then suddenly you have a crumb cake! A crumb cake is very similar to a coffee cake. In fact, I believe the only difference is the ratio of streusel to cake. A crumb cake has more streusel and less cake while a coffee cake has more cake but less streusel.

For the streusel topping, I used my classic streusel recipe. I use this recipe to top so many things like muffins, loaf breads, and bars. To this recipe I added even more espresso powder and to pair with this, I added my other two loves: dark chocolate and toasted pecans.

Espresso Chocolate Pecan Coffee cake square with a bite taken out

Espresso, Pecan, and Dark Chocolate Coffee Cake cut into squares
Yield: 12 servings

Espresso Coffee Cake with Chocolate & Pecans

Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

A coffee flavored coffee cake! This coffee cake is filled with delicious espresso flavor, dark chocolate, toasted pecans, and cinnamon. No cup of coffee needed!

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 215 grams (2 cups minus 2 tablespoons) cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 226 grams (1 cup, 2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 300 grams (1 ½ cups) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 60 grams (¼ cup) sour cream, room temperature

For the Streusel Topping

  • 200 grams (1 cup) brown sugar, light or dark
  • 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 150 grams (1 cup + ¼ cup) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 113 grams (8 tablespoons, 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 100 grams (1 cup) chopped pecans, toasted
  • 150 grams (1 cup) chocolate chips, semi-sweet or bittersweet

Instructions

Prep: 

  1. At least 30 minutes before mixing the batter, take the butter (226 grams, 1 cup), eggs (4 large), and sour cream (60 grams, ¼ cup) out of the refrigerator to come to room temperature. It is especially important that the eggs are room temperature for this recipe due to the large quantity. Measure out the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Put the chopped pecans (100 grams, 1 cup) in a dry pan and place over medium heat. Stir frequently for a few minutes until the nuts smell toasty. Remove from the heat to cool.
  3. Position an oven rack to the center position. Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.
  4. Prepare a 9 x 13 (23 x 33 cm) pan with non-stick spray and parchment paper.

To make the cake batter: 

  1. Sift the cake flour (215 grams, 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons) and cinnamon (2 teaspoons). Add the espresso powder (1 teaspoon) and salt (¼ teaspoon), whisk together, and set aside. 
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, combine the softened butter and sugar (300 grams, 1 ½ cups). Cream together on medium speed until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl several times during mixing. The mixture should be very pale yellow after mixing.
  3. With the mixer running, add the vanilla extract (1 teaspoon). Next, add in one egg at a time, mixing on medium speed and allowing each egg to fully incorporate before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl frequently. Do not rush this process.
  4. Alternate adding the dry ingredients into the bowl in three additions with the sour cream (60 grams, ¼ cup) in two additions, starting and stopping with the dry ingredients. Mix on medium speed in between each addition until fully incorporated. 
  5. Transfer the batter into your prepared pan.

To make the streusel

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the brown sugar (200 grams, 1 cup), granulated sugar (200 grams, 1 cup), flour (150 grams, 1 cup + ¼ cup), cinnamon (1 tablespoon), espresso powder (1 teaspoon), and salt (⅛ teaspoon) together. 
  2. Stir in the melted butter (113 grams, 8 tablespoons) and mix with your hands until crumbly. 
  3. Stir in the chopped pecans (100 grams, 1 cup) and chocolate chips (150 grams, 1 cup).
  4. Top the streusel on top of the cake batter evenly.
  5. Bake for 45-55 minutes until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out with moist crumbs. 
  6. Set the pan on a cooling rack to cool before serving. Cool for at least 20 minutes before removing the cake from the pan.
  7. Wrap leftover cake in plastic wrap after fully cooled and keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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