mocha cupcakes

Need a little mid-February pick-me-up?  Try these mocha cupcakes, they'll put a smile on your face.  The cake is chocolaty, moist and tender and the coffee buttercream is to die for.  Put them together?  Coffee-lover's dream.  They disappeared pretty quickly around my office! 

This was the first time I tried this cake recipe, and I think it was a keeper.  Sometimes I get stuck in a rut with recipes I know I like.  You know how they're going to taste and you know it will be good, so why experiment?  The good thing about trying new recipes is that you can find new and possibly even better ones...this one *might* be better than my other chocolate cupcake recipe ...they might need a head-to-head taste test.  Any volunteers?

Devil's Food Cupcakes

  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cups boiling water
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 1 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F and line muffin tins with paper liners (makes 24 cupcakes, maybe a few more depending on how full you fill your papers).

Combine the chocolate and cocoa powder with the boiling water in a small bowl.  Stir until all the chocolate is melted and set aside.  Sift the flours, espresso powder, baking soda and salt together and set aside.

Beat the butter in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until it's creamy.  Add the brown sugar and beat at high speed until it's light and fluffy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add one egg at a time, mixing and scraping down between each addition.  Add the sour cream and vanilla and mix until well combined and creamy.

Scrape down the bowl, turn the mixer on medium, then add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients, followed by about 1/2 of the chocolate mixture.  Repeat, then finish by adding the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined, don't overmix.  Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and gently stir the batter with a spatula to thoroughly combine.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans, filling each about 3/4 full.  Bake for about 17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few crumbs.  Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.  

Coffee Buttercream Icing

  • 3 tbsp instant espresso
  • 3 tbsp warm water
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 lb. unsalted butter, softened but cool cut into about 20 pieces

Dissolve the instant espresso in the warm water, stir well and set aside.  In the bowl of your stand mixer whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla together.  Place over a large saucepan with a small amount of simmering water in the bottom.  Make sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl (like a double-boiler).  Whisk gently, but constantly until the mixture looks thin and foamy - 160 F on an instant read thermometer.

Put the bowl on the stand mixer with the whisk attachment.  Mix at medium-high speed until the mixture is light, airy and cooled to room temperature (about 7 minutes).  Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, one piece at a time.  After adding 1/2 to 3/4 of the butter to the frosting it might start to look curdled, or thinned out, but don't worry, just keep mixing and adding the remaining butter.  Once all the butter is added, turn the mixer up to high and beat for about 1 minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and add the coffee to the mixer.  Mix on high for another minute to combine.  Buttercream can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days, just let it come to room temperature before using.

Cake and Buttercream recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated.