A rich, fudgy 3 layer chocolate cake frosted with a sweet, earthy, and tangy cream cheese frosting. It’s a rich, decadent, absolutely delicious treat….you would never guess it’s made with so many healthy ingredients!
A couple of weekends ago, I got this strong urge to bake a 3 layer cake. I was inspired by all the beautiful cakes on my Instagram feed and thought why not give it a go myself!
I was also watching the TODAY show one morning and saw they made a matcha cake with chocolate frosting. That inspired the flavor combo for this cake. I had a whole jar of matcha and needed a way to use it. I switched it up a bit and used the matcha in the frosting instead of the cake.
I also had 4 overripe bananas that were screaming to be used before they went bad. The lightbulb went off! Why not make a mocha banana cake. The mocha would pair perfectly with the matcha (come on, matcha lattes are all the rage). And the bananas would add moisture and a little pop of flavor to the cake.
It turned out to be a match made in cake heaven! The cake is rich, super fudgy, and moist and studded with bananas.
The chocolate cake pairs perfectly with the matcha cream cheese frosting. Matcha is finely milled green tea powder and has this wonderful earthy, alluring sweet taste to it. To be honest, it’s kind of a funky, interesting flavor but keeps you going back for more. My husband hates tea, but asked for a slice for dessert every night until the cake was gone!
The matcha helps balance out the tanginess of the cream cheese and sweetness of the powdered sugar to make an addictively good frosting.
Disclaimer: making a three layer cake is a bit of work. But trust me, it’s worth it! You will get a huge sense of pride for accomplishing the task AND you will have a delicious cake to feast on to reward yourself for your efforts.
Let’s get to baking.
The first step is baking the mocha chocolate cake.
The cake is made with healthy, nutrient dense ingredients and is almost completely paleo (except for the whole wheat flour).
First, combine the coconut milk and apple cider vinegar. Essentially, we are making buttermilk for the cake. I also highly recommend using full fat coconut milk for this – the fat helps make the cake moist.
Next, in a large bowl, sift together the cocoa powder, whole wheat pastry flour, expresso powder, baking soda and powder, and salt.
I always recommend using a good quality cocoa powder, like this one, as it will give the cake a more intense chocolate flavor.
To provide a mocha taste to the cake, I used 2 whopping tablespoons of expresso powder. It gives the cake a slight coffee taste while also amplifying the chocolate flavor.
Finally, you need to use whole wheat pastry flour, not regular whole wheat flour. Pastry flour is more finely milled so achieves a lighter, more delicate crumb.
Set aside the dry ingredients and move on to the wet. In a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer/whisky) beat together the sugars and coconut oil, until the sugar is dissolved. This cake is completely refined sugar free and gets it sweetness from the bananas, coconut sugar, and maple syrup. I have made several versions of this cake to get the sweetness just right! I first tried with only 1 cup coconut sugar and it turned out more like banana bread. The additional half cup made it just perfect!
Next, beat in the eggs, one at a time. Finally, beat in the vanilla, greek yogurt, and bananas until you have a smooth, creamy mixture.
It’s VERY important to have all of your wet ingredients at room temperature. This allows the ingredients to combine better so you have a smooth batter.
The final step is to combine all the different components. Add a little flour mixture to the wet ingredients until well-combined, alternating with the coconut milk mixture, and ending with the flour mixture, until all the ingredients are combined and you have a smooth batter.
Divide the batter between three 6 inch greased and lined cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let the cakes cool slightly before removing from pan. And let the cakes cool completely before frosting.
The frosting is relatively easy to make. The most important part is to make sure your cream cheese and butter are softened to room temperature (if not, the frosting well be lumpy). The trick is to remember to take them out of the fridge while you make the cake batter and they will be ready to go by the time the cake is in the oven!
Beat together the cream cheese and butter until both are whipped and pale in color, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the salt, vanilla, and coconut milk. Finally, sift in the matcha and powdered sugar, and beat on low for about 30 seconds (if you beat it too high at first, powdered sugar will get EVERYWHERE…trust me, I know). Then beat for another 2-3 minutes on high. The frosting will be smooth and creamy and this beautiful green hue from the matcha.
Now, I highly recommend using the matcha as it adds this wonderful flavor profile and balances out the sweetness of the frosting. BUT…if you do not have matcha, you can make a regular cream cheese frosting too!
Also, I know this frosting is not the healthiest. I did use light cream cheese and the matcha adds nutrients and antioxidants. But it’s still a little indulgent AND totally worth it! A cake is just not complete without some yummy, rich frosting. Amiright?!?!
We made it. Time to assemble.
This is sort of the tricky part…it jus takes a little bit of patience. But it’s also the fun part!!
Using a cake stand, turntable, or serving plate (I used this rustic, chic cake stand from Target), add a tiny bit of frosting to the middle and add your first layer of cake. The frosting on the bottom keeps the cake in place. I also recommend putting parchment paper around the bottom layer so you don’t get frosting on the serving vessel.
Add a generous dollop of the frosting to the first layer and spread on an even coat. You want to make sure you have enough frosting to make pretty, even layer when you cut the cake.
Add on the second layer and more frosting for the second even coat.
Top with the third layer and use the remaining frosting to ice the entire cake, including the top and sides. I went for a slight naked look, so allowed some of the cake to show. I think it adds a pretty, rustic look.
Finally, I decorated the cake with pretty flowers. I just used flowers that I had in the house, not special bought edible flowers. You just need to make sure to rinse the stems and petals of the flowers in water before adding to the cake.
Voila! Your stunning, delicious cake is complete.
I know….it took some effort. But I know you are patting yourself on the back right now. Come on….you just made a 3 layer cake!!
There were times I wanted to give up during this process. I was a bit tired and my kitchen was a mess. But let me tell you, I did the biggest happy dance when this cake was done. I was so proud of myself and the cake turned out perfect. It was so elegant and pretty….I almost didn’t want to cut into it.
But of course I did!! And was soooo happy to see perfectly even iced layers. Happy dance continued!
If I can make a 3 layer cake, you can too! And you will be so happy you did.
The best part is eating the cake afterwards as your reward. It’s an amazing, mostly healthy cake, that is worth the effort!
Mocha Banana Cake w/ Matcha Cream Cheese Frosting
A rich, fudgy 3 layer chocolate cake frosted with a sweet, earthy, and tangy cream cheese frosting. It's a rich, decadent absolutely delicious treat so you would never guess it's made with so many healthy ingredients!
Mocha Banana Cake
- 1 cup coconut oil melted and slightly cooled
- 1 ½ cups coconut sugar
- ½ cup maple
- 3 eggs room temp.
- 1 cup full fat Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 4 overripe bananas mashed
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 ¾ cups whole wheat flour pastry flour sifted
- ¾ cup good quality cocoa powder sifted
- 2 tablespoons expresso powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
Matcha Cream Cheese Frosting
- 16 oz cream cheese softened to room temp
- 1 stick of butter softened to room temp
- 2 tablespoons matcha powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch sea salt
- 1 tablespoon coconut milk
- 2 cups powdered sugar
Decorating the Cake
- flowers for decorating optional
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease three 6 inch cake pans and line bottom with parchment paper.
Combine coconut milk and apple cider vinegar and let sit for at least a minute. Set aside.
Combine the dry ingredients (flour through salt).
In a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer/whisk), beat together the eggs, coconut sugar, and maple syrup until sugar is dissolved. Beat in each egg, one at a time. Mix in greek yogurt, bananas, and vanilla.
Alternate adding in dry mixture and coconut milk mixture, ending with the dry ingredients. Beat until you have a smooth batter, but be careful not to over-mix as it will lead to a dense cake,
Divide batter between three cake pans.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool and remove from pan.
For the frosting, beat together the cream cheese and butter on high speed until smooth and creamy. Beat in vanilla, coconut milk, and salt. Sift in matcha and powdered sugar and beat on low for 30 seconds, and then beat on high for an additional 2-3 minutes until the frosting is light and whipped.
To assemble the cake, place 1 cake layer on your cake stand, cake turntable, or serving plate. I also recommend using a little parchment paper around bottom of cake to prevent icing spill over. Evenly cover the top with matcha frosting. Top with 2nd cake layer and evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with the third cake layer. Spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Refrigerate for at least 30-45 minutes to allow the cake and frosting to set up before slicing.
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