For the Mocha Cake
- Preheat oven to 360°F. Spray three 8-inch cake pans with nonstick spray and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix on low speed until combined.
- In a small bowl, combine the hot water and espresso powder until the powder is dissolved. Set aside to cool
- In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add in the cooled water and espresso powder mixture. Mix until combined.
- With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Evenly distribute batter between the three pans. Bake for 16-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.
- Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
For the Salted Caramel Frosting
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, beat the butter until it is light and fluffy. Add the caramel sauce and mix until combined.
- With the mixer on low speed, add in the powdered sugar one cup at a time. Add the salt and milk (you can add more if the frosting is too thick).
- Increase speed of the mixer to medium and beat frosting until light and fluffy.
- Level each cake layer using a serrated knife. I like to save the scraps for toppings on ice cream or yogurt!
- Place the first cake layer bottom side down on a flat plate or cake board. Using an offset knife, spread about ¾ cup of the frosting onto the top. Spread a tablespoon or two of caramel sauce on top of the frosting.
- Place the second layer on top of the first. Frost the top of the second layer and spread another tablespoon or so of caramel sauce on top.
- Place third cake layer, top side down, on top of the frosting.
- Crumb coat the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting. Freeze cake for about 10-15 minutes to set.
- Continue frosting cake with remaining frosting or for a more rustic look, leave the sides bare like I did. You can drizzle a bit of caramel sauce on top if you want and down the sides a bit.
- Cake can be stored in an airtight cake container for up to 2 days at room temperature.
- You can freeze individual slices of cake to pull out to eat later if you wish! Simply slice the cake and wrap each piece in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Store the wrapped slices of cake in a freezer bag. When ready to eat, pull a slice of cake out of the freezer, unwrap and set on a plate at room temperature until thawed.
Keywords: mocha, layer cake, caramel