A deliciously moist chocolate coffee cake topped with a light and buttery chocolate crumb. It is the chocolate lovers twist on a classic treat.
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Why you'll love it
This recipe combines chocolate cake with a crumb cake to create a delicious dessert that will have everyone reaching for another slice and begging for the recipe.
It is perfectly moist thanks to the mix of butter and oil. And deliciously chocolatey by using a mix of coffee and chocolate milk in the batter. Yet, the whole cake remains light and fluffy thanks to the use of Argo® Corn Starch which also gives the cake its signature tender crumb and the chocolate streusel topping light and crisp.
This moist chocolate coffee cake recipe requires mostly pantry staple ingredients that many would be familiar with, but these are some of the key ingredients and why they're important, plus any potential substitutions you can consider.
The full list of ingredients and amounts are in the recipe card below.
- Flour - For the perfect texture, you need to use all-purpose flour. It will give you the best crumb without making it tough or too tender. It is possible to use a 1 to 1 gluten-free baking mix, if needed.
- Argo® Corn Starch - This is an important ingredient that cannot be skipped. Argo® Corn Starch helps create fluffiness in the cake and keeps the crumble topping light enough to stay perfectly crisp and buttery. What is even better is that it is gluten-free, making it easier to convert the recipe to meet that dietary need, if necessary.
- Oil - To help keep the cake nice and moist, vegetable oil is used. It is important to not use something like olive oil, which will add its own flavor to the cake.
- Cocoa - You can use either natural or Dutch-processed cocoa powder in this recipe thanks to the baking powder in the recipe. I like something that leans more toward dark chocolate and often reach for Dutch-processed.
- Sugar - A mix of granulated and brown sugar gives the crumb cake a nice depth of flavor and texture.
- Chocolate - This cake is meant for the chocolate lover. Instead of using something like hot water, we use warmed chocolate milk. It can also optionally be topped with a drizzle of chocolate ganache.
- Espresso - A little bit of espresso or instant coffee is added to help enhance the chocolate. It doesn't give the cake any coffee flavor, but instead makes the chocolate taste more like chocolate. Only a small amount is needed, so regular or decaf works.
- Vinegar - We add the vinegar to the chocolate milk to make our own kind of chocolate buttermilk. I recommend using white vinegar, but apple cider vinegar works, too.
- Mixing bowls of various sizes
- Whisks and rubber spatula
- Parchment paper
- 8x8 baking pan
- Measuring cups and spoons
How to make
Putting together a rich chocolate coffee cake is very simple and takes only a few minutes before it is ready for the oven.
- Mix together the dry ingredients for the crumb topping in a small bowl, then cut in the butter until the mixture resembles large crumbs. Store in the freezer until needed.
- Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, Argo® Corn Starch, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl and set aside.
- Add the butter oil, sugars, and vanilla together and beat well until light and fluffy.
- Add in the eggs and beat well.
- Mix together the chocolate milk and vinegar in a separate small bowl and set aside.
- Add in half the flour mixture into the mixer and mix just until combined. Add in the chocolate milk and stir until just incorporated. Mix in the remaining flour mixture until there are no streaks of flour.
- Fold in chocolate chips.
- Pour into the prepared baking pans and then sprinkle with the crumb topping.
- Bake until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it.
- Remove and allow to cool for a few minutes before removing from the pan. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Expert baking tips
The most important way to ensure you get the best results is to make sure you are correctly measuring your ingredients, particularly the flour. You should fluff up the flour and then spoon it into your measuring cup then sweep of the excess. If you want to make sure you get consistent results, you can convert the recipe to metric and use a kitchen scale.
Use cold butter for the streusel topping and store it in the freezer until you are ready to top and bake the coffee cake. This helps keep the topping in nice crumb shapes when baking and supports the cornstarch in keeping them nice and crisp.
It is important to use room temperature ingredients for the cake part. This helps everything mix together and incorporate smoothly. Don't over mix when adding the flour to help keep a nice and tender crumb.
Make sure you are only baking the chocolate crumb cake until there are crumbs sticking to a toothpick inserted in the middle. If it comes out clean, it might be overbaked. If it comes out wet, it still needs a few minutes, otherwise you risk the cake from sinking in the middle.
Keep it stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to four days. Keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week.
Yes. Allow the cake to cool fully to room temperature and store it in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Absolutely! The recipe works wonderfully when doubled and baked in two 8x8 or 9x9 baking pans. You can also multiply the recipe by 1.5x to fit a 9x13 pan!
Chocolate Coffee Cake
Chocolate Crumb Topping
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons Argo® Corn Starch
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature
Chocolate Coffee Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons Argo® Corn Starch
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 cup chocolate milk room temperature
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- ½ cup chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350F and line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment so there is some overhang around the edges for easy removal.
- Mix together the flour, Argo® Corn Starch, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder, and salt for the crumbs together in a small bowl.
- Add in the butter and rub the butter into the dry mixture until it resembles crumbs and it all sticks together when you press it. Store in the freezer until needed.
- Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, Argo® Corn Starch, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and espresso powder for the cake together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Add the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract to a large mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy - at least another 3 - 4 minutes.
- Add the eggs and beat until well incorporated - at least another 2 - 3 minutes.
- Mix the chocolate milk with the vinegar and set aside.
- Mix in a third of the flour mixture into the large bowl until just combined. Add in half of the chocolate milk mixture and mix until just combined before adding half the remaining flour and then the remaining chocolate milk. Mix in the remaining flour until there are no streaks of flour.
- Fold in the chocolate chips.
- Pour the batter into the baking pan and take out the crumbs. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the batter and bake for about 45 - 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs clinging to the sides.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool for about 15 - 20 minutes before removing from the baking pan and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.