White Russian Cake

Coffee, vanilla and chocolate flavors mingle splendidly in a layer cake that is dreamy on the palate. Silky frostings and a tender crumb mimic the creaminess of the popular cocktail for which it is named after!

Cakewalker - White Russian Cake

Many people have a bucket list or lists—a checklist of goals one hopes to achieve in their lifetime. I have an informal one; it is comprised of travel locations I wish to visit. There is a silent one of sorts too: recipes I have bookmarked on my phone. I am reminded of them when another recipe becomes bookmarked. As the recipes are printed and then made, I delete them from the list. The keepers are filed away.

Marbled Cake - Cakewalker

The first time I saw this cake was an Instagram post from King Arthur Flour. The title of the cake alone had me. Can you say Happy Hour? The second attention grabber was the cake slice itself, all drippy in icing, the stark contrast of dark and light colors, and the flavor profiles: cream, coffee, vanilla, and chocolate. I knew I was destined to try the recipe in the kitchen. I happily told the popular milling company about the intention in my reply to the alluring image.

Kahlua Soak - Cakewalker

A few weeks back I asked Mrs. W what she would like for Mother’s Day dinner. The entrée and side dish details were an easy decision—Mrs. W gets as she pleases on her special day. She passed the reins to me indicating, “…and something wonderful for dessert.” I knew instantly to call upon the White Russian Cake recipe linked and stored electronically on my device. I flashed her the image that caught my eye, her pearly whites beamed. Game on.

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The cake became an instant hit! My coming of age daughter who has an affinity for things coffee swooned; my bride was delightfully pleased and the worthy recipe earned its place in the file cabinet.

Slice of White Russian Cake

Plan accordingly for the recipe and approach it like a project; purchase ingredients, read the directions thoroughly and plot a timeline as there are multiple components. Through good planning, you can achieve terrific results. Despite the recipe’s many steps, the cake is doable in a day.

Bake this gem for your family and friends; my bet is you will place the recipe in your keeper file. Afterwards, take a break, enjoy a slice and see what your bucket list has in store for you!

White Russian Cake - Cakewalker

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour

White Russian Cake - Cakewalker

White Russian Cake

Coffee, vanilla and chocolate flavors mingle splendidly in a layer cake that is dreamy on the palate. Silky frostings and a tender crumb mimic the creaminess of the popular cocktail for which it is named after!
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cake, dessert, White Russian
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 24 minutes
Cooling Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 501kcal
Author: Brooks Walker


  • Three 8x2 round cake pans


Vanilla cake batter

  • 6 tablespoons (85g) butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups (262g) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (35g) vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (241g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (227g) full fat sour cream, room temperature

Chocolate cake batter

  • 1 1/4 cups (149g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (32g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 3/4 cup (149g) sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (56g) butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons 25g vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (113g) milk, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (57g) brewed coffee
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature

Kahlua soak

  • 1/2 cup (99g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (113g) water
  • 1/4 cup (57g) Kahlua liqueur or other coffee liqueur


  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1/3 cup (57g) chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 6 tablespoons (85g) heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) Kahlua, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups (248g) granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (227g) water, divided
  • 1/2 cup (85g) meringue powder
  • 32 tablespoons (453g) unsalted butter, room temperature, at least 65°F


  • 2 tablespoons (28g) water
  • 2 tablespoons (39g) light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons (28g) chopped white chocolate
  • 1 1/4 cups 142g confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease, line with parchment paper, re-grease and flour three 8-inch round cake pans.

To make the vanilla batter:

  • In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, vegetable oil, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the egg whites, whole egg, and vanilla. With the mixer running at medium-low speed, slowly add the egg mixture to the butter and sugar mixture.
  • Add the flour alternately with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the bowl and mix for an additional 30 seconds. Cover loosely and set aside.

For the chocolate batter:

  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa, espresso powder, and sugar. Add the butter and beat at medium speed until the mixture looks gritty. Mix in the vegetable oil and vanilla.
  • Combine the milk with the coffee and add gradually, with the mixer running at low speed. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 1 minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Scrape the bowl, and then beat for 30 seconds more.
  • Scoop the batters alternately and in a random pattern into each of the three pans until all is used. Using a table knife or spatula, swirl the chocolate batter through the vanilla very lightly, taking two or three turns through each pan.
  • Place the layers on the center rack of the oven and bake for 24 to 26 minutes, until they just begin to pull away from the side of the pan and the top springs back when lightly touched. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a rack, still in the pans.

To make the Kahlua soak:

  • In a small saucepan set over medium heat, combine the sugar and water, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat, add the Kahlua, and cool to room temperature.

To make the frosting:

  • In a small bowl, combine the espresso powder and chopped chocolate. Heat the cream to a simmer and pour over the ingredients in the bowl. Let sit for 2 minutes, then stir or whisk until smooth. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the Kahlua and set the mixture aside to cool while you make the buttercream.
  • Combine the sugar, salt, and half of the water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil for 3 to 5 minutes without further stirring, until the syrup reaches 240°F, and then pour the hot syrup into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk.
  • Add the remaining tablespoon of Kahlua, the remaining 1/2 cup of water, and sprinkle the meringue powder over the hot liquid. Whisk slowly until the powder dissolves.
  • Increase the mixer's speed to medium and beat until the mixture begins to get foamy, turns white and increases in volume. Turn the mixer's speed to high, and beat for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture is thick and glossy in appearance.
  • Add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, with the mixer running. The mixture will thin out, decrease in volume and look a somewhat curdled for a while—do not become alarmed. Keep the mixer going and add the rest of the butter. The frosting will transform itself into a smooth, silky, fluffy mass as it develops.
  • Divide the frosting in half, and stir the cooled chocolate mixture into one of the halves.
  • Turn the cake layers out of their pans and place them right side up. If the layers have a dome on the top, use a long, serrated knife to trim them level. Brush the trimmed side with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the Kahlua soak, and then flip one of the layers over, trimmed side down, onto a serving plate.
  • Brush the other side of the layer with more of the soak, and once it is absorbed spread a 3/8"-thick layer of the chocolate frosting over it. Repeat the trimming and soaking process with the second layer, placing it over the first. Frost the top of that layer with a layer of the white frosting.
  • Trim, soak, and place the last layer on top of the cake. Use the white frosting and thinly coat the top and halfway down the side of the cake a crumb coat; it will appear messy. Use the chocolate frosting to apply a thin crumb coat to the bottom layer. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes to allow the crumb coat to firm up.
  • Once the crumb coat is set, use the rest of the frosting to put a finish layer on the top and sides of the cake. The White Russian cocktail is lighter on top and darker on the bottom, so repeat the white frosting on top and chocolate on the bottom, mixing them together a bit in the middle to blend.

To make the icing:

  • Put the water and corn syrup in a heatproof 2-cup measure, stirring to combine. Microwave on high for 60 seconds. Add the chocolate and stir until it melts. Gradually whisk in the confectioners' sugar, until the icing is completely smooth, creamy white, and lump-free. Stir in the vanilla and salt. If the icing starts to set, microwave it in 5-second pulses, stirring after each, until pourable. Drizzle over the chilled, frosted cake and allow it to run down the sides.
  • Store the cake in the refrigerator until 30 minutes before you wish to serve it. Place plastic wrap on any cut edges of leftover cake, and refrigerate for up to 1 week.


If desired, garnish the cake with piped of marshmallow or whipped cream.


Calories: 501kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @cakewalkr or tag #cakewalkr!


  1. 5 stars
    What a fun cake! The cocktail is pretty good, and it’s so neat to have those flavor in a cake. Super recipe — thanks.

    • Brooks Walker says

      Thank you, John. The cake version leaves you with the satisfaction of having the cocktail making it a lovely ending to a meal. I appreciate the visit!

  2. 5 stars
    Absolutely stunning! I saw the pans of cake batter on Instagram and immediately wondered what you were baking! well done!

  3. That is beautiful, Brooks! I haven’t made a cake like that in years (I get more “streamlined” all the time!), but it is so worth the trouble for a special occasion. These days I would make it in two layers, baking the one batter one day, the second batter another day, rather than making two batters and marbling them. Not as “cute” maybe, but … Of course, you had me at “Kahlua soak!”

    • Brooks Walker says

      Thanks, Jean. Believe me, I understand “streamlined”. Whenever a recipe calls for booze I have a wee sample—just to be sure it’s a quality ingredient. 😉

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