How To Add Espresso Powder To Any Chocolate Cake Recipe

British tea biscuits, sauerkraut, and root beer are among the many ingredients you can use to elevate chocolate cake (don't knock 'em till you try 'em). But if you're a true chocolate fan and your only desire is to deepen the central flavor in this dessert, try adding espresso powder before you get to any of the more outside-the-box ingredients. The powder won't add an espresso taste to your cake if used correctly, but it will give it a richer, more intense chocolate flavor. And don't worry about your treat keeping you up all night — the addition doesn't mean you'll get a caffeine jolt from the dessert, since a small amount is used for the whole cake.

You can use coffee for a similar effect too, which is Ina Garten's secret to taking chocolate cake to the next level. But espresso powder is even easier to incorporate into your recipe, as you don't have to brew a pot of coffee to get the flavor you want. Plus, you get a more concentrated ingredient that you can use less of since espresso powder is dried, brewed espresso. All you have to do is stir a teaspoon or so into your chocolate cake batter.

Dissolve espresso powder in hot water or stir it in as-is

The easiest way to incorporate espresso powder is to stir it in with the dry ingredients in your chocolate cake recipe – typically, this means the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Because it doesn't alter the ratio of dry to liquid ingredients (much), you can typically use it in just about any chocolate cake recipe, and you shouldn't have to change anything else. Just make sure you don't use too much, or else your dessert may end up with more of a mocha flavor than a true chocolate one.

However, if you have a recipe that includes brewed coffee on its ingredient list (à la Garten), you can still substitute it with espresso powder. All you have to do is use the same amount of hot water as the required coffee, and stir in your dried espresso until it dissolves completely. Even if your recipe doesn't call for coffee (or any caffeine-based ingredient), stirring it into hot water may enhance the chocolate flavor even more than if you just used the straight powder. In this case, make sure you adjust the other liquid ingredients in your recipe (like milk) so you don't end up with an overly wet dessert. It may take a little practice, but you'll be rewarded with a deliciously intense chocolate cake.