When Celebrating 40 Years Together, Eat Cake: Mocha Chocolate Layer Cake, Gluten Free

A love story in Geek 

Bring tissues. The story might make you weep. With laughter.

Long ago in a kingdom (high school) ruled by Cheerleaders and football Jocks there was a small cache of Geeks. They lived together by peacefully settling for different parcels of land in the form of lunch tables. Jocks at one. Cheerleaders at another and the Geeks off to the edge of the world at their very own table. While they were cordial to each other no one would ever find them mingling at a kingdom festival.

It was months in the making, the rebellion. A quiet rumble could be heard coming from far-far away in the land of Geek-ville. Even the very uncurious Jocks knew something was afoot. They met with the Cheerleaders to ascertain the risk to the fiefdom. And they were all slightly nervous.

It went on like that for centuries (how adolescents count minutes) but was only a matter of a few seasons semesters. As soon as the kingdom scattered to the winds to move to their summering residences (read: school’s out) the Geek world exploded in mayhem. Two of their own managed to escape the kingdom before their indentured days were concluded (high school graduation). They used the ruse of summering to make their way far-far from the kingdom. It took days for the news to spread because this was long before Twitter or Facebook and even before IM. They call it the dark ages.

The two rogue Geeks escaped on a chariot called Trailways Bus to another land far-far-far away and met up with two more semi-geeks traveling the same route. The semi-geeks offered the two young geeks asylum and there they remained. For a week.

The young geeks actually made it to the edge of the continent and marveled at the wonders of the sea, sleeping under the starry sky on a rocky beach, which soon turned to a dark and stormy night. Out of currency, far-far from the safe haven of the semi-geek abode, freezing cold and soaking wet, the two young Geeks used a telephone with a rotary dial given to them by the nice policeman (a different tale) to call their former kingdom’s elders.

The elder’s ordered them back to their kingdom post-haste and promised they could be betrothed with a little extra currency thrown in for good measure. Slow to get around, word did travel as fast as gossip did in the dark ages back before instant messaging. The two young (underage, actually) Geeks were joined together in a small ceremony and swiftly sent off far-far-far from the kingdom. Happily, we should add.

When the kingdom’s Cheerleaders, Jocks and remaining Geeks resumed their regular activities after the summer sojourn the antics of the two missing Geeks became legend. The remaining Geeks won points for moxie and their real estate was moved slightly closer to the Jocks but still far away from the Cheerleaders. For obvious reasons.  The History Club was moved to the former Geek real estate where they remain to this day.

The two young Geeks who ran far-far-far away lived happily ever after and eventually found their way to the other edge of the continent where vagrant Geeks came to settle a land called Silicon Valley.

This week they celebrate 4 decades together – the anniversary of that historic event. And they’ll celebrate the way that Geeks do best. With Skittles cake. Chocolate Moca Cake.


It’s a love story.

I swear.


By far our most favorite derivative chocolate flavor is mocha. Adding just enough (instant not ground) espresso is the way to make the chocolate flavor pop. This is an easy cake to make and it benefits from being wrapped up and kept in the refrigerator a couple of days before adding the buttercream frosting. The flavors develop and become more intense, yet more balanced. It also makes the whole project easier. Bake one day and frost the cake in a day or so.

Serve with a small scoop of your favorite ice cream and for a fancy schmancy presentation, toss a few raspberries around the cake, or make raspberry puree (strained and sweetened slightly) and drizzle it on top.

But whatever you do, make some cake and celebrate something.

40 Years of Cake, Chocolate Mocha Cake, Gluten Free
Chocolate Mocha Cake is a great cake to make for any celebration. Mocha Chocolate Buttercream makes a great topping but use any flavor buttercream you wish. The cake tastes best after resting for a day or so, fully wrapped and in the refrigerator. Frost while it is cold and don't forget to apply a crumb coating to keep those pesky crumbs sealed under the final application of buttercream. Serves 8-10.
  • 287 grams unsalted butter, room temperature (2.5 sticks)
  • 300 grams granulated sugar or superfine sugar (1.5 cups)
  • 4 extra-large whole eggs
  • 260 grams GF AP flour (130 grams superfine brown rice flour plus 65 grams each superfine white rice flour and tapioca flour/starch) (2 cups)
  • 65 grams dark unsweetened cocoa (about ½ cup)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 65 grams buttermilk (heaping ¼ cup)
  • 145 grams very hot coffee (decaf is fine) (about ¾ cup)
  • 1 tablespoon your favorite liqueur (I used cherry)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Mocha Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
  • 287 grams unsalted butter, room temperature (2.5 sticks)
  • 500 grams powdered sugar, sifted (very scant 5 cups)
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa, sifted
  • 4 teaspoons instant powdered espresso coffee
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons liqueur (I use Cherry)
  • 2-4 tablespoons milk or water
  • sprinkles or nuts
  • scoop of ice cream
  • optional: raspberries or raspberry puree
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease two 8 or 9 inch layer cake pans with butter. Line the bottom with parchment and butter the parchment. Dust with dark cocoa. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about a minute. Add eggs one at a time. In a medium bowl whisk together flours, cocoa, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add to the stand mixer and beat on low until incorporated. Beat in buttermilk. Add hot coffee and mix on low until fully incorporated. Scrape down sides with a silicone spatula as needed. Add the liqueur and vanilla. Stir just until mixed. Pour batter in the pans about ⅔ full. Bake about 25 minutes and rotate. Bake about 10-15 minutes more or just until a toothpick just comes out without wet crumbs. Depending on the depth of your pans it might take a few minutes more to finish baking. Cool cake in pan for about 5 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert onto a rack to cool completely. Best to refrigerate cake for a day or so before adding frosting. Wrap cake securely in plastic wrap before refrigerating.
Mocha Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
  1. Place butter in a stand mixer bowl. Sift powdered sugar, cocoa and coffee into a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Add to stand mixer bowl. Using whip attachment, mix on low until frosting looks like coarse crumbs. Add vanilla and liqueur. Mix to incorporate on low. Add two tablespoons of milk or water and mix on medium. When the mixture begins to look like frosting, turn mixer to medium high and whip. If it seems too dry, add the remaining milk or water one tablespoon at a time - just until it seems creamy enough to spread on the cake.
  1. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Frost with a crumb coat. A crumb coat is a very thin layer of icing that helps keep the crumbs secure. Add a good amount of frosting to the top of the layer and then add the 2nd layer. Press down gently to secure the layer. Repeat with a crumb coating of buttercream on the tops and sides of the layer. Let it set slightly before applying the final coating of buttercream. Generously apply a final coating of buttercream on the top and sides of the cake. Swirl buttercream with an offset spatula to create a design or leave it plain. You can also gently drag a fork (without pressing down too hard) to create a line design. Piping some of the frosting to create a nice border looks great, too.
  2. If you are using sprinkles, apply while the icing is still fresh because once it sets the sprinkles will not adhere.
  1. Slice and serve with a scoop of your favorite ice cream. Add fresh raspberries for more curb appeal and/or a drizzle of raspberry puree (in a food processor or blender, whiz a half-pint of raspberries with a teaspoon of liqueur plus a teaspoon of sugar - to taste. Strain out seeds. Stir, and taste. Adjust with more sugar if necessary).


Then (quit snickering, I can hear you). And now.



  1. The cake looks terrific. Congratulations on your forty years together. I am going to make this cake for our anniversary in December. I wish it were December!

  2. This looks absolutely delicious!

  3. GlutenFreeCanteen says:

    Thank you, Asma

  4. Looks terrific, going to make it tonight for my daughter’s birthday tomorrow. Can you tell me what the middle layer between the cakes is?

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      Hi Henena. Thank you. The center is just some leftover buttercream from another project, plain with with a little cherry juice in it for color and flavor. You can use all mocha buttercream or substitute an alternate flavor in the center if you wish. Hope your daughter has a great birthday.

  5. Oh my god just found your blog…vereything looks divine!!!!!!!!!