Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Chocolate Cream Cake from Once Upon a Grind + Magic Bean Necklace Giveaway via Cleo Coyle

With a real Prince visiting New York this week (shout-out to William and Kate), it seems appropriate to share a dessert served at the elegant, underground "Prince Charming Club" in Once Upon a Grind, my new culinary mystery.

My amateur sleuth, coffeehouse manager Clare couldn't resist a slice of this cake, a heavenly cloud of chocolate whipped cream tucked between layers of devil’s food and topped by a layer of fudgy ganache. It’s outrageously good and sinfully delicious—but is it worth risking a run-in with a ruthless killer? Clare will get back to you on that one!

BTW, there are over 20 more delicious and unique recipes featured in my new Coffeehouse Mystery. For a peek at some of them, click here

Click here to see the Recipe Guide
for Once Upon a Grind.

Cleo Coyle has a partner in 
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here or here.

Cleo Coyle's "Inside-Out"
Chocolate Cream
Coffee Cake

A light chocolate dream with sophisticated flavor and an irresistible mix of textures, this cake would make an impressive addition to any holiday table, yet it’s easy to make. 

It's also the very cake Marc and I served at a fantastic setting in our new mystery. Elegant and exclusive, the "Prince Charming Club" is full of culinary temptations worthy of a gourmet witch’s gingerbread cottage. You'll learn more about them as you read Once Upon a Grind.

I'm discussing the book this week at crime-writer Terry Ambrose's blog here with a book giveaway. 

Or join me at Fresh Fiction by clicking here, where I’m also offering an autographed copy of the beautiful first-edition hardcover and a Magic Bean Necklace in a comment giveaway (see caption below). 

NOTE - My Newsletter Subscribes know there is another comment-to-win contest right here at this blog. Scroll to the end of this post to see the winner...

Now let's get baking!

~ Cleo

To download this recipe in a free PDF that you can print, save, or share, click here.

Click here for
free recipe PDF.

Cleo's "Inside-Out"
Chocolate Cream
Cake Recipe

This recipe provides: 

8-10 servings if cut into larger rectangles, or...

20-24 servings if sliced into thinner slivers. (Examples of slice sizes
are shown in my photos.)

For the Cake*
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable, canola, or extra-virgin coconut oil (measure in liquid form)
1-1/2 cups white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, lightly beaten with fork
1 cup + 2 tablespoons whole milk
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (use table salt or finely ground sea salt)
1/2 cup unsweetened (natural) cocoa powder

For the Chocolate Cream Filling
12 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (for more chocolate flavor, double)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups very cold heavy cream**

(**Optional for mocha-flavored filling: replace 1/4 cup of the heavy cream with 1/4 cup Kahlua and dissolve 1 teaspoon of instant espresso into the Kahlua before adding it to the recipe.)

For the Chocolate Ganache Topping
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/3 cup heavy cream (for mocha flavor use coffee or espresso instead)
5 ounces semisweet block chocolate, chopped into uniform pieces
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

(**Optional for mocha-flavored ganache: also add 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder)

*A note on using a cake mix: To save time, feel free to use a devil’s food cake mix, but follow the directions in Step 1 regarding (a) pan size and (b) preparing the pan to prevent the cake from sticking. 

**A note on espresso powder: Espresso powder is made from freeze-​dried espresso. It dissolves in water to create instant espresso. While I would not suggest drinking espresso made from freeze-​dried powder, I do advise using good-quality espresso powder (rather than freeze-​dried instant coffee) to add coffee flavor to your recipes. Look for espresso powder in the instant coffee section of your grocery store or search online. 

Step 1—Make the chocolate cake batter: First preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a rimmed baking sheet measuring around 17- to 18-inches by 12-inches (a "half-sheet pan") and line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust with unsweetened cocoa powder, tapping out any excess. Use a devil’s food cake mix or these directions to create the batter: Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the oil, vanilla, eggs, and milk. Blend until smooth. In a separate bowl, sift together the remaining dry ingredients. Add this dry mixture, a little at a time, to the mixing bowl, beating between additions until a smooth batter forms. Do not over-mix. Spread out the batter and smooth it evenly on the prepared baking sheet. 

Step 2—Bake and chill the cake: Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cake has risen, is slightly springy, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with no batter clinging to it. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool. Gently invert the cooled cake and peel away the parchment paper. Slice the cake down the middle, crosswise, to form two even rectangles. Slip these into the fridge to chill while you prepare the filling.

Step 3—Make the chocolate (or mocha) cream filling: Using an electric mixer, beat the softened cream cheese with the sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla, (and espresso powder dissolved into the Kahlua if using). Once blended and smooth, add the chilled heavy cream and switch to high speed on your mixer. Whip vigorously until the cream forms firm peaks. 

Step 4—Assemble the cake: Invert one of your cake rectangles so the flat bottom is facing up. Spread the cream filling evenly. 

Now cover it with the second cake rectangle (again with the flat bottom facing up). Lightly press down on the top layer. Run an offset spatula (or wide flat knife) around all of the edges to smooth them. Chill the cake for at least 1 hour. Then prepare the topping. 

Step 5—Make the chocolate (or mocha) ganache topping: In a small saucepan, over low heat, bring the butter, cream (or coffee), and (if using) the instant espresso powder to a simmer. Do not boil or you will scorch the ingredients and destroy their flavors. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate. When the chocolate is melted, stir in the vanilla. Let the glaze cool for about 15 minutes; it will become slightly thicker. 

Pour the glaze onto the center of the cake and gently spread it—ideally with an offset spatula (or in a pinch, the back of a large spoon)—until it evenly covers the top of the cake and drizzles slightly over the cake's top edges. Chill the cake for several hours (or overnight). 

Tip for perfect presentation: Slice off the edges of the cake with a sharp knife and you will create a bake-shop-perfect presentation (and guess who gets to eat the ends). 

If you're an old pro, you'll have a presentation tray ready. But if you don't bake much, here's another tip. Cover a cutting board with aluminum foil and buy inexpensive round paper doilies, cut them in half, and slide them gently beneath the cake's bottom edges to make it look even prettier.

Then slice into slivers or larger squares...

Click here for the free
recipe PDF, and...

Eat with royal joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Friend me on facebook here. * Follow me on twitter here
Learn about our books here

Sign up for my Coffeehouse Newsletter here.
(Recipes, contests, videos, fun info)

Now on Sale!

Join coffeehouse manager
Clare Cosi as she solves the crime
against "Sleeping Beauty," opens
secret doors (uptown and down),
and investigates a cold case that's
been unsolved since the Cold War.

A Wicked Good
Murder Mystery

Learn more by
clicking here.

* * * 

Cleo also writes
The Haunted Bookshop

Get a free title checklist,
with mini plot summaries, by clicking here.
Or learn more here. 

* * * 

A Note for Cleo's Newsletter Subscribers

Welcome! If you read my flash newsletter,
then you know I hosted a special contest here.
In the comments below, my newsletter
subscribers told me what inspired joy
in them (other than family and friends).

Congrats to our winner...

Jane C. of
BC, Canada!

~ Cleo

For anyone who would like to subscribe
to future newsletters, click here.


  1. It sounded irresistible in the book, but the pictures are the clincher This is a MUST!

    Hm, a nice cup of coffee, a slice of this, and one of your books to read. It doesn't get much better than that!

  2. Love this series and look forward to this book

  3. Wow! Now that's what I call a showstopper! Wonderful cake, Cleo!

  4. It looks delicious, but I'm not sure about easy to make!

  5. Looks like a delicious recipe, and just in time for Christmas😊

  6. that is a stunning cake Cleo! and congrats on the new book! xoxo

  7. That looks so good. I used to drink Medaglia D'oro many years ago...like 30 or more (when I didn't have GERD and could drink strong coffee). Very tasty.

  8. Looks delicious.....what inspires joy in me is the laughter of little children, kittens, or penguins. :)


  9. Absolutely delectable and irresistible. What gives me joy is the sunshine and blue skies each day, walks in the foothills and reading. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  10. Waking up in the morning inspires joy. A fresh new day to try something new. And a clean first page of a new book. (Of course everything about my daughter inspires me but mentioning the other stuff!)

  11. oops got so excited about posting that I forgot to leave my email....
    ritr614 at you know where

  12. My family would love this cake. What inspires me everyday is being able to enjoy music, while reading a wonderful novel beside my two dogs who stay by my side. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  13. What inspires Joy in me, especially at this time of year is celebrating Jesus Christ.

  14. Joy = yarn and knitting!!!

  15. What I find joy in and inspires me is digging in the dirt in my flower gardens while singing praises for all the wonderful things God has done and planting flower seeds/plants to share the beauty of Mother Nature.

  16. What inspires joy in me is seeing my students eyes light up when they finally "get it," after struggling to understand.

  17. My 5 cats inspire joy in me. When I have a really bad day, they will all cuddle up around me and make me feel everything will be ok. Nccubsfan

  18. My Chihuahuas inspire joy in me. They are little hugs wrapped in fur who soothe my Fibromyalgia when they snuggle close. Chelle ChihuahuaMama(at)hotmail(dot)com

  19. This dessert looks fantastic. What gives me joy is books. I love books and enjoy reading so much. I've always been an avid reader and for me, it's so exciting to receive a new book.

    Barbara Thompson

  20. Attending a church service on Sunday morning inspires enough joy in me to sustain me for the remainder of the week. Bookbaba

  21. Reading a good mystery..


  22. Joy = tea + chocolate + quilting + books!

  23. I'm pretty good this cake would inspire joy in me! Reading a good book certainly does. A big one for me is charity work through my church. Helping others--and seeing how many church members are willing to do the same--is really heart-warming (and joyous!) mochfly

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. Joy - I love reading a great fiction book or winning a fiction book . My dog Houdini inspires joy especially since my other fur friend passed on in September. Chocolate and Christmas lights. God.

  26. What inspires joy in me is doing for others. I get to do this when I bake and give it away, or crochet a blanket and pass on warmth. And on occasion I get to talk coffee to people who have no idea how much fun can come out of a cup.


  27. Joy for me is reading good books, great friends, sweet pets, and loving family. The cake looks delicious.


    Thank you

  28. Our family inspirations (around this time of year) are the lights and music!

  29. This recipe looks fabulous and I can almost taste it. But you can never go wrong with ANYTHING covered in ganache.

    Now chocolate is one thing that brings me joy but expressing my creativity with any kind of art brings the "mostest" and "bestest" joy in my life!


  30. At this time of year and all year long scrapbooking inspires joy in me. Being able to capture memories of my family and friends and relive good times brings joy to my heart and soul, which wouldn't be possible without the blessings of Christ and his birth.

  31. Knitting and reading bring me joy! With audiobooks I can do both at the same time!!


  32. What brings me joy is my church and what it means to me, the pleasure, the warmth, the acceptance that I get there is a blessing, another family to me.

  33. Well what inspires joy is to go into town and see the Christmas lights and displays. I love to keep warm with a Caffè Mocha and takes pictures and selfish of the lights..