Pecan-Chocolate-Espresso Coffee Cake 8.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; tableware from Crate and Barrel

Apr 11, 2012

Coffee and chocolate bring out the best in each other and make a fortuitous, and perhaps unexpected, appearance in this breakfast pastry. Toasted pecans take the pairing to another level.

Make Ahead: The cake can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.

Servings: 8 - 10
  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted (see NOTE)
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup regular or low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract


Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking oil spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, both sugars, butter and salt in the bowl of a hand-held electric mixer or a stand mixer. Beat on low speed, then on medium speed until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Transfer 3/4 cup of the mixture to a small bowl. Stir in the toasted pecans, chocolate and espresso powder to form the crumb topping.

Sprinkle the baking soda onto the remaining flour-butter-sugar mixture; add the buttermilk, egg, and vanilla and almond extracts. Beat on medium speed just until combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan, spreading it evenly. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the batter.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Set the pan on a cooling rack, and unmold when the cake has cooled.

NOTE: To toast nuts, spread them on a baking sheet and place in a 350-degree oven, shaking the sheet occasionally to redistribute the nuts, for 8 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully; nuts burn quickly.

Rate it

Recipe Source

Adapted from "The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook," by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day (Artisan, 2012).

Tested by Dean Felten.

E-mail questions to the Food Section.

E-mail questions to the Food Section at