Espresso Cupcakes with Cocoa Buttercream
Adapted from this Coffee Flavored Cake with Coffee Buttercream Frosting recipe.
1 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder*
2 eggs at room temperature
3/4 c. granulated sugar or light brown sugar
3/4 c. softened unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbs. espresso powder**
1/4 c. milk
2/3 c. softened unsalted butter
1 1/3 c. powdered sugar
1 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
2 splashes vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Sift together the flour and baking powder a couple times and set aside.
*If you do not have baking powder on hand, you can use 1 part baking soda to 2 parts cream of tartar instead.
In a medium bowl, blend the softened butter and sugar until creamy.
Once creamy, begin mixing in the eggs, one at a time.
At this point add in the vanilla extract and espresso powder.
**You can substitute espresso powder for 2 tbs instant coffee powder dissolved in 1 tbs boiling water.
Once batter is well mixed, begin incorporating the flour and milk in 5 stages. 1/3 of flour followed by 1/2 of milk, then 1/3 flour and rest of milk, and finally the remaining flour. Mix just until batter is homogenous.
Line a muffin tin with cupcake papers and fill each about 2/3 full. I had just enough batter for a dozen regular sized cupcakes.
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
Once done, take out the tin and let cupcakes cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before removing and placing on a wire rack to completely cool.
Mix all the ingredients until creamy.
Decorate completely cooled cupcakes as desired and chill in refrigerator for 20-30 minutes for buttercream to set.
I decided one day to make these cupcakes on a whim. I believe it was a Wednesday. I had leftover espresso powder from making espresso flavored macaron shells a couple weeks ago which were a big hit. I wanted to enjoy the espresso flavor again but didn’t want to go through the hassle of making something like macaron.
A quick internet search for espresso cupcakes turned up disappointing. Most of the recipes were for chocolate-espresso cupcakes and I didn’t have that much chocolate at hand, nor did I want to take away from the espresso flavor.
I begun searching for recipes by ingredient and finally stumbled upon this simple coffee cake recipe. The beauty of cupcakes is that you can virtually take any simple cake recipe and just make them mini. I decided to make cocoa buttercream to add a different dimension to the coffe cake flavor but I bet coffee cake with coffee frosting would be just as delicious.
This recipe is so basic and easy, I plan to commit it to memory and experiment with it whenever I feel the urge to bake up a batch of cupcakes. With such a simple recipe, you can substitute the espresso powder with almost any extra flavor ingredient you desire.
All in all, the cake was moist and flavorful–the coffee smell was just heavenly!–and the buttercream was not overpowering. This is a very basic buttercream recipe which dries quickly and becomes a bit crumbly but I thought it gave the cupcakes a really nice homey feel.
One word of warning, make sure you use unsalted butter. I used whatever butter I had at hand and though it wasn’t too salty, perhaps it did detract from the other flavors a bit.