The Pumpkin Spice Latte is one of the most popular holiday coffee drinks around and is enjoyed by both coffee-lovers and pumpkin spice-fans throughout the fall. I’ve made many desserts that were inspired by this coffee drink, including the Pumpkin Spice Latte Pie and Pumpkin Spice Latte Madeleines. As much as I enjoy the pumpkin spice and coffee flavor combination, as we move from fall to winter, I usually switch to a new drink: the gingerbread latte. A gingerbread latte is similar to a pumpkin spice one, but it has notes of molasses and more spice than its autumn counterpart. This Gingerbread Latte Cake is inspired by that coffee drink!
The cake is a soft and moist molasses cake that is generously spiced with classic gingerbread flavors, like ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Two kinds of coffee are also in the cake, instant coffee and brewed coffee. Even with strongly brewed coffee – and I tend to use a darker brew because I want the flavor to come through as much as possible against the strong, sweet molasses – adding instant coffee really helps to enhance the coffee flavor in the finished cake. The cake is baked in a sheet pan, perfect for serving a crowd.
When it comes to instant coffee, you have a couple of options. You can use regular instant coffee or opt for instant espresso, which has a more intense flavor. Instant espresso is what I usually use to bake with, as the two are interchangeable in recipes. If you are unsure that your coffee is going to add enough flavor, you can double the amount of instant coffee in the recipe below. The molasses and other spices are so potent that you can be very generous with the coffee.
I topped the cake with a coffee cream cheese frosting that also has a hint of cinnamon in it. I didn’t want to add molasses to the frosting because there is plenty in the cake; using coffee as the primary flavor in the frosting ensures that it comes through in every bite. Dissolve your coffee in about 1 tablespoon of warm water – use as little water as possible – before adding it to the other ingredients in the frosting, as you don’t want to see any specks of dried coffee in the finished cake.
Garnish the slices with single coffee beans or with chocolate-covered coffee beans to hint at the flavors that your friends and family will find when they take a bite! The cake will keep well in an airtight container for several days after baking.
Gingerbread Latte Cake
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp instant coffee
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup molasses
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup warm coffee
Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)
coffee beans, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, instant coffee, spices, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, sugar, eggs, molasses and vanilla extract. Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the coffee. Stir in remaining flour mixture and whisk until batter is uniform. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake cake for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs attached. Allow cake to cool completely before frosting.
Top cooled cake with cream cheese frosting and garnish with coffee beans.
Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
8-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 tbsp instant coffee/espresso + 2-3 tsp hot water
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 – 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
In a large bowl, combine all frosting ingredients except the sugar. Gradually blend in the sugar until frosting is thick, creamy and spreadable.