Upgraded Chocolate Cake

A Birthday Cake for Adults (Because you’re never too old to feel young!)

I am a firm believer that cake is a must on birthdays. Young, old, and in between, I think that everyone should be able to dig into a fluffy slice of cake on their big day! With that being said, as people get older (and wiser, of course) their cake should follow suit and become more flavorful and should, perhaps, include a little alcohol.

So when my friend invited me to her movie night birthday party, I knew I had to make her a delicious cake with a little extra oomph so we could celebrate her birthday in style! I settled on a chocolate cake with a hint of espresso, and decided to spice up traditional American buttercream with a little bit of Bailey’s Irish cream. I also added chocolate ganache in between the layers as well as a beautiful drip on top of the cake, and finished off the cake with some coral colored rosettes (not only did these make the cake look beyond gorgeous, but they also helped me practice my decorating skills…a double whammy if you ask me)!

To keep the chocolate cake ultra-moist, I use boiling water in my batter. However, this does cause the batter to look thin and liquidy and leads to a lesser rise of the cake itself. To make two layers of cake, keep the recipe as is. If you want to really wow the crowd, feel free to do one and a half, or even double, the recipe for more layers!

I thought I was only going to make a two layered cake, but then I decided I wanted the extra height on the cake so at the last minute I decided to make an extra half batch of batter for one more layer. If you’re like me and don’t always have full days to make cakes, you can bake the cake ahead of time, let it cool completely, then wrap each layer in plastic wrap and store in the fridge until you’re ready to frost.

The frosting is key for this cake. In order to not over-power the Bailey’s, I reduced the sugar content in the buttercream. With that being said, I believe that buttercream is all about your personal taste. If you like it to be on the sweeter side, add more powdered sugar! Just make sure to keep the texture of the frosting balanced with a little extra Bailey’s (or heavy cream).

For the rosettes, I added liquid red food coloring to the buttercream until I achieved two colors that I thought would make pretty decorations (one lighter and one darker). In order to fill the two pastry bags, place them into glasses so they stand up straight while you’re filling them with buttercream.

In the end the cake was not only beautiful to look at, but also incredibly delicious! My friend was absolutely blown away by this cake, and your friends and family will be too!

Chocolate Espresso Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream

Makes one 8-inch cake (2 layers)

Chocolate Cake

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Bailey’s Buttercream

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream

Chocolate Ganache

  • 4 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

Buttercream for Decorating

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • Red food coloring


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare two 8-inch cake pans with cooking spray, parchment, and cocoa powder
  2. For Cake: Add dry ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk together until just combined
  3. Add milks, oil, eggs and vanilla to the flour mixture and stir on medium speed until combined. Reduce speed and slowly add boiling water to the mixture.
  4. Distribute cake batter between pans, and bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove to finish cooling
  6. For Buttercream: Beat butter in the bowl of a stand mixture until light and fluffy.
  7. Add powdered sugar a half cup at a time, alternating with the addition of Bailey’s a little at a time.
  8. Make ganache by heating heavy cream in a microwave (watch carefully), pouring hot cream over the chocolate chips, and stirring until combined.
  9. Once cakes have cooled completely, begin frosting with Bailey’s buttercream and adding cooled chocolate ganache between layers.
  10. After cake has been frosted, make more ganache and pour on top of the cake allowing it to drip down the side.
  11. For the rosettes, use Wilton tip #32 and Ateco tip #824 (or any open star tips you like!).

Comment below if you make this cake or have any suggestions, we’d love to hear from you!

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