Grown-up birthday parties deserve a grown-up cake. Sure, you can have confetti cake if that’s your favorite, but sometimes adulthood hardens you. You need a sheet cake that says “I want to party, but I also need a boost of caffeine if we’re partying into the night.”
That’s where this Easy Espresso Sheet Cake with Fudge Frosting comes in. It is a sheet cake that is perfect for serving a crowd with elevated adult flavors from freshly brewed espresso and Kahlua. The coffee mixture is soaked into the cake after baking, making it super moist and flavorful.
The base of the cake is a sweet and delicate sponge cake. It starts with creaming together some butter and sugar until light and fluffy. The cake batter is flavored with vanilla bean paste, studding the cake with little vanilla beans.
After baking, the cake is soaked in a sweetened espresso mixture for a pronounced coffee flavor. Espresso, sugar, and Kahlua coffee liqueur make up the mixture. This is what elevates the cake from being a simple birthday cake to being an adult birthday cake.
Fudge Frosting is the best chocolate frosting on earth. It starts with cream cheese, butter, cocoa powder, and vanilla. What sets it apart from the rest is the addition of jarred fudge topping. Use a high-quality fudge for the best flavor possible. This will be the most chocolatey frosting you have ever had.
The fudge frosting plays very well with the espresso-soaked cake. Coffee often makes chocolate taste even more chocolatey. It is often a secret ingredient in devil’s food cake, brownies, and chocolate pudding. The two are a perfect match in the dessert world.
Make this cake for your spouse’s next birthday party. Your friends will appreciate the shot of Kahlua and espresso right on the cake. It’s fun to feel fancy and celebrate like adults every once in a while, so treat yourself to this Espresso Sheet Cake with Fudge Frosting.
For the Fudge Frosting:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a half sheet tray with butter and dust with flour.
Brew your espresso. While it is still warm, add the Kahlua and dissolve 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar inside. Stir and allow it to come to room temperature.
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating completely with each addition. Then beat in the vanilla and milk.
Using a spatula, fold in the flour and baking powder until the flour is hydrated and everything is just combined.
Pour into the greased pan and smooth to an even surface. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the top of the cake with the sweetened espresso and Kahlua mixture. Be liberal and even in the application but do not soak the cake completely. Allow the cake to cool.
When the cake is cooled, make the frosting. Using a stand mixer, beat the softened cream cheese and butter until combined. Carefully add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, fudge topping, and vanilla until everything is well mixed. Gradually add milk to thin the frosting to your perfect consistency. The frosting should be easily spreadable but not at all runny.
Frost the cake in an even layer using all of the frosting. Chill until ready to serve.