One Ingredient Takes Ina Garten's Chocolate Cake To The Next Level

Whether you're planning on taking mom to brunch, treating her to a movie or a play, or perhaps just grabbing a cup of coffee and some gab time this Sunday, every Mother's Day, we think, should culminate with a slice of cake — and preferably a homemade one. If you love to bake, why not whip up something tasty and moist and invite mom over? From vanilla loaf to upside-down banana to Jamaican rum, cake is the perfect way to sweetly celebrate the holiday together.

Of course, no cake takes the cake (see what we did there?) like chocolate cake. And if you're planning on baking one up this Mother's Day, you might want to turn to the doyenne of entertaining: Ina Garten, of course. The Barefoot Contessa is known for her straightforward yet delectable desserts — and her Beatty's chocolate layer cake is an excellent contender for sharing with mom. 

If you reach for the recipe this week, you'll find it has one ingredient that really kicks its flavors up a notch: a cup of hot, freshly brewed coffee.

Coffee deepens and enhances the flavor of chocolate

Take a look at the recipe for Ina Garten's Beatty's Chocolate Cake and you might notice that it calls for freshly brewed coffee among the more usual chocolate cake suspects such as flour, cocoa powder, and eggs. In fact, coffee is an extremely common ingredient in chocolate cakes, appearing, for example, in this recipe for spicy chocolate cake. And coffee isn't there to make the cake a coffee- or mocha-flavored one: It's there to enhance the chocolate's flavor and make it more, well, chocolate-y.

According to the blog Baking Bites, cocoa powder and coffee contain some of the same flavor elements, such as bitterness, fruitiness, and spiciness — and combining the two therefore enhances the eater's perception of the chocolate's flavor. The coffee added to a cake isn't even noticeable, the blog notes; Rather, the overall effect is simply to enhance the taste of the cocoa. So if you're thinking about baking up a chocolate cake any time soon, reach for some brewed or instant coffee to up the cake's flavor.