A true family recipe, courtesy of my dad, Chris.  Prepare to die a perfect death by chocolate.



2 boxes Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate (avoid “Super Moist”) cake mix *

¼ cup Kahlua or Crème de Cocoa **

¼ cup prepared cappuccino or strong black coffee

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla or vanilla extract


1 can (tub) Betty Crocker Homestyle frosting:  butter cream flavor (avoid “whipped” varieties)

¼ cup prepared cappuccino or strong black coffee

1 lb 10x confectioner’s sugar

½ cup butter-flavored Crisco shortening

12-16 chocolate-covered espresso beans or chocolate candies (optional)


  1. Prepare cake mix as directed (* reduce water by ½ cup or ** ¾ cup if adding Kahlua or Crème de Cocoa).  This will help to make the finished cake more firm and easier to frost.  Add in extra ingredients and stir until well-blended (do not overbeat).  Bake as directed.  This will be enough to make three 8” or 9” rounds or two 10” rounds.

  2. While cake is baking empty the prepared butter cream frosting into a large bowl.  Add shortening and stir until well-blended.  Add confectioner’s sugar and cappuccino/coffee, alternating 1 cup of sugar with a tablespoon of coffee as needed to keep the frosting smooth but firm.  The desired result is a very FIRM frosting that “stands up” in a big peak when the beater is pulled out; it should have a very light creamed-coffee color when ready.

  3. After cakes have completely cooled on a rack, place them back into their baking pans.  With a large unserrated knife, trim the rounded tops off so that the tops of the cakes are even with the tops of the pans (this will help avoid layers sliding off of each other after they are frosted).  Place one cake right-side up and frost the top with a large frosting spatula.  Whether making two or three layers, be sure the top layer is placed bottom-side up so that the completely finished cake has a nice symmetrical appearance (same flat edges on the top as it has on the bottom).

  4. After frosting between all layers, spoon a healthy amount on the very top and u se frosting spatula to spread out into a smooth even cover.  Frost sides of cake in the same manner, holding the vertical spatula steady as it moves around the sides of the cake, until the entire cake is completely frosted.  Place remaining frosting into a frosting bag and, using a star tip, pip frosting around the bottom edge of the cake.  Still using the star tip, pipe rosette swirls (approx. 1.5” in diameter) around the top of the cake with each swirl slightly touching the one before it.  This will greatly assist in even slices when serving the finished cake.  Pipe three rosette swirls in the center of the cake top.  If desired, place a chocolate-covered espresso bean or other small chocolate candy in the center of each rosette swirl.  Voila!