Serves a Crowd

Vietnamese Coffee Cake

April  1, 2021
9 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 8 to 10 people
Author Notes

Have you ever tried a Vietnamese-style coffee? See, think about heaven. Double that. That's what it is. Basically, it's freshly brewed coffee with sweetened condensed milk. I mean, if you've never tried it, you are in for a huge treat, my friend, especially if you are a crazy coffee lover, like I am. That being said, I made this coffee cake with a coffee brigadeiro (hence the condensed milk) on top. I also added a bit of cardamom to the batter, because I'm nosy and I love the cardamom-and-coffee combo. You can leave it out, however, if you want (but not really). This cake is insanely moist, full of strong flavors, and crazy addictive. —Laura Biscaro

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Laura Biscaro is a recently graduated chef and a blogger based in Brazil.
WHAT: Finally: A coffee cake actually made with coffee! (And spiced, too.)
HOW: Bake up a coffee- and cardamom-scented cake, moist from butter and yogurt. Once cool, drizzle a sauce of sweetened condensed milk and coffee over the top and serve with—what else?—coffee.
WHY WE LOVE IT: The coffee flavor in this cake is rich and caramelized, with depth and complexity from the cardamom and an extra spike of sugar from the brigadeiro. The cardamom flavor is very strong in the batter but subtler when baked; still, follow the instructions and start with less than a teaspoon if you're not accustomed to the spice. We'd recommend drizzling, rather than spreading, the sauce, since it's quite sweet. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For the cake
  • 210 grams (1 1/2 cup or 7.4 ounces) plain flour
  • 105 grams (3/4 cup or 3.7 ounces) whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons instant coffee, ground into a fine powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (or a little less, if you're not used to the flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 90 grams (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 210 grams (1 cup or 7.4 ounces) brown sugar
  • 113 grams (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) butter, unsalted and room temperature
  • 285 grams (1 1/4 cups or 10 ounces) plain yogurt, full fat
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • For the brigadeiro
  • 395 grams (one 14-ounce tin) sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 tablespoons strongly brewed coffee (I used some homemade cold brew)
  • 1 tablespoon butter, unsalted
  • 60 grams (1/4 cup or 2 ounces) heavy cream (optional)
  1. Preheat your oven to 180° C/350° F. Grease and line the bottom of a 24.5-cm/9.5-inche round cake tin. Set aside.
  2. Into the bowl of a standing mixer (or in a large bowl, if mixing by hand), mix butter and both sugars for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until very light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing very well between each addition. Meanwhile, mix in the ground instant coffee with the yogurt, until it's somewhat dissolved. In another bowl, whisk both flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground cardamom. Set both aside.
  3. Add half of your dry ingredients into the butter, on low speed, and mix. Then add half the yogurt, mix, then the remaining flour and yogurt, and mix until combined. This process assures that your batter won't curdle. Pour it into the prepared tin and bake it for around 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  4. While your cake cools, make your brigadeiro. In a saucepan, combine the condensed milk, the coffee, and 1 tablespoon of butter. On medium-low heat, keep mixing it with a wooden spoon until it thickens and kind of peels off from the bottom, then turn off the heat. You could leave it like that, but I add a bit of heavy cream to make it more loose—but that's up to you, really. Pour the brigadeiro on top of the cake and it's ready to serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Laura Edgerton
    Laura Edgerton
  • Nancy
  • Jazzy B
    Jazzy B
  • Patriciann Palka
    Patriciann Palka
  • Jane Rosenbaum
    Jane Rosenbaum

79 Reviews

jaos January 14, 2023
I made this cake today after reading the recipe last night. I did make the recipe Gluten-free. I subbed 1-1 flour & coconut flour. I also used nonfat Greek yogurt. The batter was beautiful! The cake came out of the oven exactly as the picture showed. I did not make the frosting as I can’t bare to used sweetened condensed milk. The cake is absolutely delicious! The texture, the flavors are delightful. Thank you for this recipe.
Love2Cook November 12, 2020
I’ve made this cake twice. It is divine if you are a coffee lover.
A couple of points: first, the recipe calls for vanilla but doesn’t say where or when to add it. I ended up forgetting to put in vanilla because the recipe doesn’t specify.
Second, I think the topping is a bit thin, but if you let it cool sufficiently it will thicken slightly but still be pourable.
This cake is delicious, but maybe not festive-looking. I might try splitting the cake into two layers and making a coffee-flavoured butter cream frosting to go in between the layers.
But the cake is fabulous as it stands.
hodeskd October 14, 2019
Can you make either part of this ahead? if so, how long and how to store?
Laura B. October 15, 2019
You can make the brigadeiro two days in advance, but the cake is best to be served the day it was made. If you have leftovers, they should last for about 3 days, at room temperature.
Frances D. September 30, 2019
can I just use 1 type of flour? either all purpose or just cake flour? thank you!
Laura B. October 15, 2019
Yes, you can! The cake flour will make it a bit fluffier, though :)
Loripops April 15, 2019
I have King Arthur Flour's Espresso powder. I know it works well in cakes. How much should I use?
Laura B. April 15, 2019
Well, I never tried King Arthur's brand, but I believe you should use the same amount. Make it once and see what you think, if by any means it turns out too weak or too strong, then add more/less the next time :)
Laura E. November 2, 2018
Laura, the photo of this cake and all its gorgeous, drippy goodness drew me in. I've bookmarked it to make very soon. I love love love that there is espresso in it.
Laura B. November 5, 2018
Oh yaaay! Please make it and tell me how it goes! I'm excited to know :)
Nancy August 23, 2018
This was so unexpected! I have requests to make this all the time now. It is very delicious and smells outrageous baking! The brigadeiro is kind of a glaze which will remain sticky and not set up hard. That threw me off at first but after I understood what it was, I love it! Thank you for the awesome recipe.
Laura B. August 29, 2018
I'm so happy to know that you enjoyed it!! Brigadeiro really is it's own thing, once you get used to it, you can make a variety of diferente flavors and cook it to the point where it's as sticky or as loose as you want it to be :)
Jon May 23, 2018
Such a disappointment. Cake was extremely dense and the topping never thickened after boiling for 25 minutes. More of a sauce that spilled over everywhere. After one slice it went in the trash. Such a waste. 😕
Laura B. May 24, 2018
Oh I'm sorry to hear that! Can I help you with any part of the recipe that you might have been confused by?
Loripops April 19, 2018
I would like to freeze this cake. Can I freeze it with the brigadeiro or should I make it before serving?
Laura B. April 20, 2018
Hey!! I think it would be better if you freeze just the cake and then top with the brigadeiro later. Brigadeiro doesn't behave veeeery well in the freezer :)
Jazzy B. August 29, 2017
Totally totally loved it! Especially the brigadeiro! My new favorite coffee cake recipe :D
E B. January 13, 2017
A 9 1/2" pan seems a bit odd. Would you recommend using a 9" or 10" in place of it? I do not need one more pan. Thanks.
Laura B. January 18, 2017
You could totally use a 9" tin for this, just remember that the baking time will varie according to the tin you use ;)
Whitney December 23, 2016
I made this with greek yogurt AND instant espresso, and I thought it was great. I love cardamom so much, so I might make it without the sweet syrupy topping next time. It makes a great afternoon tea cake (or breakfast, obviously). I also added the vanilla to the yogurt/coffee mixture, as I didn't see in the recipe where to add it in. 3.5 stars.
marcia L. August 16, 2016
Just returned from a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. Going to make this cake twice. One with cardamom and one with powdered lemongrass spice that I picked up in Vietnam. Thanks so much for sharing.
Laura B. August 16, 2016
That sounds eeeepiccc!!! Be careful with the amount, though, as lemongrass can be a bit overpowering, so, like the cardamom, start with less and add more if needed. Let me know how it turns out, I'm curious to know!! ;)
Patriciann P. August 16, 2016
I found the photo positively drool-worthy and couldn't wait to download the recipe. This will be my weekend treat!
Laura B. August 16, 2016
Glad you found it appealing! I hope you enjoy it! :D
Jane R. July 23, 2016
The picture is so sloppy, it makes the cake look unappetizing. The drips on the side of the saucepan, the messily ripped wax paper, the sloppy cake. I just feel like this site wants to push out tons of content as opposed to quality content. It's off putting and disappointing.
witloof July 24, 2016
I have to disagree with you. I took one look at the frosting dripping off the sides of the cake and immediately hit save. This is a site for home cooks and I like that the photos are not overly styled for the most part.
LouLou July 29, 2016
I'd like to voice my disagreement as well! If you are a true foodie, then you will look at the recipe and not the photo and know what is a truly good dish!! This cake is a winner!
Jane R. July 29, 2016
Well, since I've been a serious cook for 53 years, I would say that I have some credibility, LouLou. The picture is unprofessional, messy and sloppy. And witloof, home cooks are not sloppy cooks. There is an attention to detail that shows up on this site that dumbs down cooking. You can disagree with that too... but I think I'll just make sure this silly stuff stops showing up on my Facebook page.
Idalu August 16, 2016
Hi Jane, you certainly have a point but I do things there are nice ways to make a point. No need to be so harsh.
petalpusher December 30, 2016
You hit the nail on the head in your statement of being a serious cook. For 53 years. You've never had drips as part of the process? Everyone is entitled to air their opinion on this site as I will now. Lighten up Jane!
Lucy B. January 21, 2021
No loss! BYE!
Arnel March 15, 2021
Jane, I am a professional photographer, and the style of this photo isn't sloppy, it's intended. Food52 is one of the best recipe sites out there. When you post images of pictures that are "perfect" then what happens is, people don't connect with it, because that isn't their reality-in fact, it isn't most peoples reality. My wax paper, nor my parchment paper tears perfectly, and why the heck would I waste time trimming it to be perfect? Having perfectly trimmed wax paper, or showing that you NEVER have a pan or creamer that drips is unrealistic. It's unfortunate that you judge how something tastes by the way a piece of wax paper is torn. If your OCD bothers you so much, it's probably good choice to keep it off your FB stream.
Labadeedada July 22, 2021
I think you hit the nail on the head with the OCD. I didn't even notice the issues. Had to go back and see what she was talking about. All I saw was the dripping glaze and. Um. YES.
JULIE F. December 2, 2021
The photo looks fabulous!! It makes me want to bake this now!!
stacieicats May 7, 2016
Would you put this in the fridge to keep overnight? Brigadeiro kept separate or drizzled?
Laura B. August 16, 2016
Hi Stacie! Yes, I believe you could, but I suggest taking it out at least 30 minutes before serving, as it will harden up a bit in the fridge ;) - sorry for the late reply, I just saw your comment!
LouLou April 19, 2016
Quite possibly one of the best things I've ever baked. It ended up needing 50 minutes in the over to bake through. And the brigadeiro is worth the wait to make it thick - I'd say it was a good 15 minutes or so till it got thick.
Laura B. April 19, 2016
Hey! I'm so happy you liked the recipe so much! And yes, the baking time can definitely varie depending on your oven, nothing to worry about, really. Isn't the brigadeiro delicious? It's my favourite bit about this cake haha
Regine April 5, 2016
Let me also add that reason why my brigadeiro was more frosting-like than something that can be drizzled (like in your picture of the cake) is because I really waited, as per the instructions, for the condensed milk to "peel off from the bottom.". I might in the process have caused the brigadeiro to thicken up more than usual. But in the end, I am thinking that it is a matter of preference. If you want it "drizzle-able," don't wait long like me to take it off the stove. If you want it spreadable like a frosting, cook it longer. I wish I could insert a picture. Can't wait to eat the slice I brought to work for lunch. O)
Laura B. April 5, 2016
Hey Regine, I'm glad you enjoyed it!!! Yes, the cardamom can be quite strong, which is why I reccomended adding less. I'm a cardamom freak so I added the whole 1/2 tsp lol But it'll still be delicious if you skip it, do not worry ;) About the brigadeiro, you made it correctly, it's supposed to be that thick, a texture that we, brazilians, appreciate in cakes, that's why I said the heavy cream was optional, it really depends on your prefered texture :D
Regine April 4, 2016
Cake is indeed very moist and interestingly spongy. I too think that all of the brigadeiro should be poured on cake because cake itself is less sweet than cakes I have eaten; and it gives the cake its "character.". However, my brigadeiro was not as liquidy as in picture but more like a frosting that i was able to spread evenly over entire surface and sides of the cake. I only use 1 tbsp heavy cream. Also, I only used 1/4 tsp cardamon which I am glad i did because I think I would have preferred cake without it. I find that the cardamon masked the coffee taste. Overall, this is a very good cake but next time, I ll skip the cardamon. Thanks!!!
Nora March 31, 2016
I usually have Greek yogurt on hand. Is it too thick to work well? Am psyched to try this cake.
Laura B. March 31, 2016
Hi Nora!! I never tried using it in this, mostly because I never bake with greek yoghurt due to it's texture (which companies frequently achieve by adding starch to it), however, doesn't mean you can't try it out and see how it goes. I don't believe you'll have any major problems, but do make sure you use the unsweetened kind, otherwise the cake might be too sweet ;)