Dark Chocolate Espresso Cake {Happy New Year!}

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DSC_6722(small)Ok, so I have to tell you right now: this cake has salad dressing in it.

Don’t leave. I promise there’s a method to my madness.

Have you ever had mayonnaise cake? If you have, this cake won’t seem so strange to you.

Actually, my mom’s recipe for Crazy Cake (which I know just about every family has their own version of) calls for vinegar and oil – the two main components of vinaigrette – so using a vinaigrette-style salad dressing in a cake didn’t sound completely off the wall to me.

DSC_6663(small)Last summer when I received all those Girard’s salad dressings to taste test, I was left with a fridge full of salad dressing, looking for ways to use it up. The Espresso Balsamic Vinaigrette was a very well balanced salad dressing. It had lovely coffee flavor with a hint of sweetness and a touch of tart flavor. There may have been savory spices in there (and I’m guessing there were), but it was so well balanced I couldn’t pick out any specifically. So, if I (inadvertently) added something like garlic to my cake it went unnoticed, lol. If you’re looking for a unique and decadent treat to serve for the New Year, this would be perfect.

I’m wishing everyone a very Happy New Year! May this year bring you happiness in every sense of the word.


Dark Chocolate Espresso Cake
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Dark Chocolate Espresso Cake:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1¾ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1⅓ cups water
  • ⅓ cup Espresso Balsamic Vinaigrette (see note below for substitution)
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Butter, for the pan
  • Flour, for the pan
Mocha Glaze:
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
  • 1 teaspoon hot water
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 pinch (about 1/16 teaspoon) sea salt
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 2 teaspoons grated dark chocolate, for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 350F; butter and flour a cake pan (I used a pan 10½ inches long by 6½ inches wide by 2½ inches deep).
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the water, vinaigrette, molasses, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk just enough to combine, being careful not to over-mix.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted inside comes out clean or with just a couple crumbs, about 1 hour in the pan size that I used. Cool completely.
  4. For the glaze, dissolve coffee powder in hot water in a small bowl; stir in cocoa powder and salt. Stir in the powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon water until smooth. Spread the glaze on top of the cooled cake and sprinkle on the grated chocolate.
Cake Pan & Cooking Time: To cook the cake, I used a pan 10½ inches long by 6½ inches wide by 2½ inches deep, and the cooking time was about 1 hour; if you use a different size pan, be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Espresso Balsamic Vinaigrette Substitution: If you can’t find this salad dressing you could very easily make your own. Mix together the following, whisking until the sugar is dissolved: 2 tablespoons espresso or very strong coffee, 1 tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons good quality olive oil (not extra virgin, which will be too strong-flavored for this), 1 teaspoon water, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 pinch salt, and 1 pinch black pepper. This will give you about ⅓ cup, the amount that is needed for this cake. And here is another idea, you could also whip up this vinaigrette when you’re making a grilled steak salad – so good!

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  1. says

    What an interesting addition to cake, Faith! :-) I’m delighted by the quirkiness of it, and imagine it would be absolutely delicious. :-) Happy New Year to you!! XO

  2. says

    I think it’s a great cake, Faith! WHen I was young, a friend and I used to joke about chocolate mayonnaise wonder cake as a bad thing to make. I was shocked when I saw a recipe for it but had to try… it was good! Chocolate and coffee are brilliant together.

    Have a happy new year! Now that I’m back to blogging I still have to write a blurb for your wonderful book!!!

  3. says

    That cake looks perfect. I’ve had both mayo cake and tomato soup cake, so it doesn’t really sound all that strange to me…love the balsamic and espresso w/ the chocolate. Wishing you a very happy new year, Faith!

  4. says

    I cannot believe this has salad dressing in it! How awesome is that! I want to try it for the salad dressing alone (but also because I love what espresso and chocolate do together). Gorg. Happy New Years

  5. says

    how devious of you! i’m pretty excited about the idea of this cake–it’s certainly one of the most unique creations i’ve seen lately!
    happy new year!

  6. says

    Faith, I have faith in your cake with salad dressing even though it does sound so weird :) It’s a great looking cake and I am going to take a leap of faith and try it. It would make a great conversation piece, eh? Happy New Year to you and your family and may 2013 bring all good things to all of you!

  7. says

    Happy New Year Faith! I love adding espresso to chocolate goodies. Though I have to admit that I’ve never heard of either mayonnaise cake or adding vinegar. Then again I’m not much of a baker. Your cake looks amazing! Thanks for sharing:)

  8. says

    I’ve heard of dressing in cake, but I’ve never tried it. I’ll get the balsamic went really well with the chocolate!

    Happy New Year, Faith! I hope this year is even better than the last :)

  9. Julie says

    This actually sounds really good! I like coffee and balsamic vinegar though! :P I am looking for a way to make extra cash at home. Did you get paid for taste testing?! I would be interested in info on that! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

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