Layered Red Velvet, Coffee and Chocolate Cake recipe

Just one look at this cake and I want to dive right in!

It ticks all my boxes with its combo of Nespresso Ristretto coffee, chocolate and cream cheese icing. You'll spend a bit of time making it but the response will be fabulous. Definitely a special occasion dessert.

Masterchef Runner up 2012 Julia Taylor, a Brisbane gal, created the recipe.

Layered cakes used to be a bit old hat, but have become very popular since Martha Stewart featured university student Kaitlin Flannery creating the infamous Rainbow-layered Cake.

This cake doesn't have as many layers (a time blessing) but it certainly has plate appeal. Here's how to make it.


125g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 tbs cocoa powder
50ml red food colouring
400g plain flour (2 1/2 cups)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Pre-heat oven to 180C. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl down after each addition. Add cocoa powder and red food colouring, starting on slow speed until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mix and buttermilk until just combined.

Mix together the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda in a small bowl and quickly fold through the cake batter. Pour batter into two tins and bake for 18-20 minutes or until risen and springy to the touch. Cool and take out of tins; reserve for cake assembly.


125g unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
150g dark chocolate (70%), melted
125g egg yolks (approx. 6)
1 tsp vanilla extract
180g egg whites (approx. 6)
90g caster sugar
pinch salt
125g plain flour

Pre-heat oven to 165C. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then slowly add the cooled melted chocolate to the mix, followed by the egg yolks and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites to soft peaks, slowly adding the sugar and salt – this gives a meringue base. Fold 1/3 of the meringue into the chocolate mixture, then 1/2 the flour. Follow with the remaining meringue and flour and divide among the two tins. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until just springy to the touch – the cake will be slightly undercooked and fudgy. Cool and remove from tins; reserve for cake assembly.


4 x 20ml shots of Ristretto (4 capsules – 80ml)
70ml water
70g caster sugar
In a small saucepan, bring the espresso, water and sugar to the boil. Simmer gently until reduced by half.


200g unsalted butter
2 x 375g packets cream cheese
1kg pure icing sugar
Cream the butter in a free-standing mixer until light and fluffy. Add the cream cheese and continue to whip until the mixture has no lumps – this may take some time if the cream cheese is cold. Slowly add the icing sugar, remembering to scrape down the bowl occasionally.


Using a serrated knife, trim the tops off the four cakes. Keep the tops of the red velvet cakes for crumb decoration. With a pastry brush (or teaspoon), gently soak the two chocolate cakes with the Ristretto syrup. Place one red velvet cake onto a plate or cake stand, and place a layer of icing on top about 1cm thick. I like to use a piping bag for evenness but a flat knife or a spatula are fine. Top with a Ristretto-soaked chocolate cake, then more icing. Repeat with the remaining red velvet and Ristretto chocolate cakes. Cover the sides and top of the cake with a thin layer of icing and place in the fridge to chill. This is the base coat or “dirty ice” for the cake.

Once chilled, take the cold cake and cover with a second layer of icing. This works best with the cake cold and icing at room temperature, so the icing is easy to spread. Whiz the red velvet cut-offs to crumbs in a blender and use to decorate the cake if desired. I love cutting a heart-shaped stencil out of baking paper and dusting a red heart on top with the crumbs!

Kerry Heaney

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