If you've made enough chocolate cakes, you might have noticed a common component among ingredient lists: coffee, whether it be liquid or powder form. In order to make the cake even more chocolaty, this is not designed to give it an espresso flavour. Also, even if you're not a lover of coffee, if your cake recipe doesn't ask for it, you should still include it. Let's explore why this caffeine component is so essential to chocolate treats. 

The flavours of coffee and cocoa are comparable. Both of them are bitter on their own. But when put together, they complement one another better. To enhance the flavour of chocolate in baked products and desserts, coffee is sometimes used. In fact, a 2020 study discovered that while the exact mechanism underlying these changes in taste sensitivity is unknown, coffee boosts our sensitivity to sweet flavours while decreasing our sensitivity to bitter ones. We only know that a small amount of coffee enhances the flavour of chocolate without overpowering it with coffee flavour. Imagine it as a supporting actor who allows the star to shine, similar to how salt brings out the flavour of cookies that could otherwise taste bland without providing savoury flavour. 

How to use 

You can use these techniques to give any of your favourite chocolate delicacies, such as cakes, brownies, cookies, and more, a little boost.  

Add around a teaspoon of espresso powder or instant coffee granules to your baked goods to enhance the chocolate flavour. You only need a teaspoon of espresso powder because it is usually more concentrated. You can easily add it when you're combining the dry ingredients to create a much richer and more complicated chocolate treat. Espresso powder even works with chocolate icing, sauce, and ganache because it's more finely ground! 

To improve the chocolate flavour of recipes that call for boiling water, such as this one for dark chocolate cake, you can replace up to one cup of brewed coffee. If your recipe calls for two cups of water, substitute one cup of coffee and one cup of water instead to prevent overpowering the chocolate flavour. Here is a hint: Consider storing any leftover coffee that would otherwise be thrown away in the refrigerator to use in chocolate treats. If the recipe calls for boiling water, just reheat the coffee rather than make a fresh batch.