If you've been following all of my baked goods recipes from the Philippines, you'll notice that many of them accompany the primary breakfast drink of Filipinos: coffee. And if you are like me, you also love pairing the bitterness of coffee with anything baked and sweet. However, this mocha roll recipe made with instant coffee is not a breakfast or snack item; it's dessert! Leave it to the Filipinos to ensure we always have things that taste like coffee.
Where Did Mocha Rolls Come From?
Mocha roll cakes are not traditional Filipino desserts such as biko or yema tarts. Also, you won't find much regarding its history. At least, I didn't. This is more likely a trendy product of famous bakery chains such as Goldilocks or Red Ribbon that became a staple in Filipino culture. Growing up, I knew about mocha roll cakes whenever someone presented one in front of guests at parties. Since I was about five years old, I remember hearing enough endless gasps at these moments that I immediately thought this cake had to be good. But I wasn't allowed to actually eat the cake until I was older and it was deemed appropriate for me to drink coffee. This finally rendered mocha cake a "legal" treat in my food world.
Years later, I learned the myth that coffee stunts your growth isn't necessarily true. I could have indulged in mocha roll cakes at a younger age. Nevertheless, I still get a childlike glee whenever I devour a slice. As someone who usually needs coffee or tea with a sweet, I enjoy this cake without any accompaniments. That's how good it is!
This Cake Contains a Lot of Coffee
This mocha roll cake comprises three separate parts that come together to make its sweet, soft, and balanced glory. 'Mocha' is definitely the keyword in this recipe, as coffee is a key ingredient throughout almost the entire thing. First comes the Swiss roll cake, essentially a thin sponge cake rolled to look like a log. Next is the mocha filling made with cocoa powder and instant coffee for flavor. It's a Swiss meringue buttercream made with hot sugar syrup, combined with egg whites and instant coffee to create a unique flavor. The third element is the frosting made with American buttercream, including instant coffee and cocoa.
This cake is so indulgent that I recommend you make this for celebrations that call for an over-the-top dessert. This mocha roll cake will meet all expectations for most of your guests regardless of whether they are coffee lovers or not!
How to Make Mocha Roll Cake
Make the Sponge Cake
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9x13 baking pan by lining it with parchment paper. Prepare two bowls because you will be combining ingredients with the egg yolks and whites separately.
Add egg yolks and sugar to one bowl, then beat with an electric mixer until combined. Then add the oil, milk, instant coffee, cocoa powder, flour, and cornstarch mix. Mix the ingredients in the bowl until well combined.
Tip Before making the egg yolk mix, sift together the cornstarch and flour along with the cocoa powder and instant coffee. Since I developed this recipe to be more adaptable, I opted out of the regular cake flour sponge cake recipes usually require. The cornstarch will help make the all-purpose flour produce a softer cake.
In the second bowl, beat egg whites until they are frothy, then add cream of tartar. Beat again until you no longer see the bits of cream of tartar. Slowly pour the sugar into the bowl of whites as you keep beating.
Beat until you have soft peaks, then take about a third of the meringue and fold it into the egg yolk mix. Repeat the process until all of the meringue has been gently folded into the mixture.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking pan. Before you slide it into the preheated oven, carefully tap the pan on the countertop to remove giant air bubbles. Do not overdo this because you may release too much air into the meringue. About two sets of double taps should do!
Place it in the oven and bake for about eighteen to twenty minutes. Then take it out of the oven. The cake is finished when you can poke it with a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean. Let it sit for about five to ten minutes, but make sure it's still warm when you work with it in the next steps.
Preroll Your Cake
Take it out of the pan, and remove the parchment paper. Don't worry about the cake top wrinkling, as the wrinkles will be covered by the buttercream filling later on. Transfer it to another clean parchment paper with the top of the cake facing you.
Then from the short side, begin to roll the cake along with the parchment paper. Place your cake seam side down on a plate and put it in the refrigerator to cool.
Tip This should be easy to do if the cake is still warm. Thoroughly cooled cake has a significant chance of breaking.
Make Your Swiss Meringue Buttercream Filling
Take two egg whites, salt, cocoa powder, coffee powder, and sugar, and beat them until you have soft peaks.
In a small bowl, mix instant coffee and warm water until all granules have dissolved. Then, add the coffee and sugar to a saucepan and place on medium heat until it boils and bubbles. After three minutes on the stove, remove it from the heat and immediately pour it into the bowl of meringue while it's nice and bubbly.
Turn on your electric beater and beat until you get a cloudy and fluffy meringue.
Add butter to the meringue a little bit at a time and continue beating. The buttercream may start to look curdled, but repeat the process until you use up all the butter.
Tip If it still seems curdled after using all the butter, there is a way to save it! Take about a half cup of the meringue and put it in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat it in the microwave for about five to ten seconds. It will look like it's half liquid or have some melted liquid in the bottom of the bowl. Pour it back into the bowl of meringue and start beating until the buttercream becomes a smooth texture.
Make the Outer Buttercream
In (yet) another bowl, add butter and cream together. Then add instant coffee and cocoa powder and beat them together again until well incorporated into the creamed butter.
Add cream slowly into the bowl as you continue to beat. Make sure the mix is fluffy before moving on to the next step, which is to add the powdered sugar a quarter at a time. Repeat the process until you use up all of the powdered sugar. If this buttercream curdles in the process, don't fret! Go here for instructions on how to save the buttercream.
Assembling the Cake
Take the rolled cake out of the fridge and unroll it onto a clean work surface. Add the buttercream filling by spreading it across the top of the cake.
Then gently roll it back into a log without the parchment paper this time. Place it seam down again on your working surface. Take a sharp knife and cut off the ends to clean up the cake's silhouette.
Take your buttercream frosting and layer your mocha roll cake with it. Once it's completely covered in frosting, you are ready to decorate! It's up to you how creative you want to be. I added a bit of frosting decor and topped them with espresso beans. It's a simple style but lets you know what type of flavor to expect!
Place the cake uncovered in the fridge for about an hour to let the buttercream harden before slicing it up to have a bite. Don't say I didn't warn you; this one has an extravagant taste, so sit back and treat yourself!
Have You Tried This Recipe?
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Mocha Roll Cake
The equipment and ingredients sections contain affiliate links to products I love to use as well as items that I personally believe make this recipe the best version of itself.
- 6 egg yolks
- 60 grams sugar
- 60 grams vegetable oil
- 60 grams milk
- 90 grams all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder, unsweetened
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, unsweetened
- 6 egg whites
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 60 grams granulated sugar
- 2 egg whites
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoon cocoa powder, unsweetened
- 1½ teaspoon instant coffee powder, unsweetened
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 118 grams water mixed with 1 tablespoon of instant coffee powder
- 100 grams granulated sugar
- 170 grams unsalted butter
- 113 grams unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
- ½ teaspoon cocoa powder
- 55 grams heavy cream
- 120 grams powdered sugar
Make the Cake
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and prepare a 9x13 baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
- Mix the flour, cornstarch, instant coffee powder, and cocoa powder in a bowl and set aside
- In a bowl beat together egg yolks and sugar until sugar has disappeared.
- Pour the bowl of dry ingredients into the egg yolk mix. Mix everything together. Set aside
- In another bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy. Then add the cream of tartar and continue beating until the cream of tartar has disappeared.
- Add the sugar slowly while beating the egg whites and continue until you get soft peaks. Take a third of the egg whites and fold into the egg yolk mixture. Repeat the process until you use all the egg whites.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the top is brown and the cake is set.
- Take it out of the oven and allow to cool until you can touch the pan but it's still warm. Take the cake out of the pan and place it on a clean parchment paper with the top of the cake facing you.
- Roll the cake and place it on a plate seam side down. Put it in the fridge while you make the buttercream filling and frosting.
Make Buttercream Filling
- In a bowl, beat egg whites until foamy.
- Add salt, 1 tablespoon sugar, instant coffee, and cocoa powder. Then beat until you get soft peaks. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, add the 100 grams of sugar and coffee mixed with water then put on the stove on medium heat. Cook for no more than 3 minutes and make sure it boils. Take it off the heat and add to the bowl of egg whites.
- Beat the egg whites and hot syrup together until you get soft peaks. Allow the meringue to cool completely before you add the butter.
- Add butter a little bit at a time and beat with electric mixer until butter is incorporated. Repeat the process until you use all the butter. Set aside.
Make the Frosting
- In a bowl, cream the butter then add instant coffee and continue to mix.
- Add heavy cream a little bit at a time and continue mixing.
- Once the heavy cream is incorporated, add the powdered sugar a quarter at a time and repeat until all of the powdered sugar is used.
Put the Cake Together
- Take the cake out of the fridge and unroll carefully.
- Spread the filling across the top of the cake. Then gently roll the cake into a log again.
- Cut the ends of the cake to clean up the edges.
- Cover the cake with frosting and decorate to your preference.
- Put the cake back in the fridge for at least an hour to allow the buttercream to set.