Recipe: Espresso Dark Chocolate Sponge Cake

Light, fluffy, delicate and steeped in chocolatey espresso flavors.

By: Francesca Montillo, Lazy Italian Culinary Adventures

I’m not going to lie, I have been known to skip a meal and go straight to dessert. I’m not proud of it, but not ashamed of it either! There are days where nothing beats a great cup of freshly brewed espresso with a baked, homemade treat straight from my oven.

This cake is one of my favorites. It’s essentially a chiffon cake, but I put an Italian twist to it. It’s super light, spongy and so delicate. It goes well with a scoop of vanilla gelato and a shot or two of espresso, or a hot homemade latte. And that to me, is a meal in itself.

Below are the step-by-step instructions, don’t let the number of steps intimidate you. Make this a few times, and you will have a great handle on how to make this great treat!

In a very large mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients using a whisk, no need to sift. You will need a large bowl, soon you will see why.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the egg yolks, oil, brewed espresso and vanilla. Mix well until combined.
Add the chocolate shavings. I use a microplane or clean cheese grater to shave the chocolate. Just watch your fingers on the grater!
Incorporate all the ingredients until well mixed and blended nicely. Always using a hand-held whisk.
Meanwhile, an electric mixer is whipping the egg whites nicely. Whip until soft peaks form, then add the remaining granulated sugar, then continue mixing until stiff peaks form.
Incorporate a few scoops of the whites into the mixture to soften batter up a bit. At this point, don’t worry about deflating the batter, you’re just loosening it up a bit.
Continue adding the whites to loosen the batter up a bit. Eventually, move to a plastic spatula and fold the whites in, without deflating them as much as possible.
All the whites have been incorporated using the spatula and it’s now ready for the pan.
The cake is now ready to go in the oven. The pan should be un-greased and un-floured or it will not rise properly.
Ready for the table! How perfect is this?
Fresh out of the oven! I had some sugar crystals that I brought back from Italy and added them to the top, for an extra crunch. You don’t need to add these. You can add some confectioners sugar, if you like. Enjoy!

Espresso Dark Chocolate Sponge Cake 

2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 large eggs, separated
3 tablespoons shaved dark chocolate (about 1 oz.)
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
3/4 cup freshly brewed espresso, cooled off
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 cup sugar.
  3. Make a well in center of flour mixture and add oil, egg yolks, dark chocolate, espresso powder, brewed espresso and vanilla extract. Whisk batter until smooth.
  4. With an electric mixer on high speed, whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. 
  5. With the mixer still on, gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar to egg whites and continue mixing until stiff peaks form.
  6. Scoop about 1 – 2 cups of the egg whites and add them to the batter. With a hand whisk, incorporate them well into the mixture to loosen it up a bit. Do not over-mix. 
  7. Now using a rubber spatula, gently fold the remaining half of egg whites into batter. Fold them in gently so as not to deflate them. Mix until no white streaks remain. 
  8. Pour batter into an ungreased 10-inch footed angel food cake pan with a removable bottom; bake until a cake tester inserted near center of cake comes out clean, about 55 – 60 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven; invert cake onto a baking sheet and let cool completely.
  10. Run a sharp knife around edges to release cake. Plate & serve.
Ready to be devoured, next to a shot of espresso corretto.  Yum!

Consider joining Francesca and fellow travelers on an Italian culinary adventure!

CHIANTI: MAY 1 – MAY 8, 2020. Click here for all trip.

VENETO: MAY 11 – 18, 2020. Click here for all trip info.

EMILIA ROMAGNA: MAY 20 – 27, 2020. Click here for all info.

CHRISTMAS in TUSCANY: DECEMBER 4 – 11, 2020. Click here for all trip info.

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