Mocha cupakes with espresso buttercream

Sometimes you need an indulgent dessert to break up what could be otherwise referred to as a whirlwind, mind-numbingly busy summer. As always, sugar became my answer.

The last couple of months saw me take on a new volunteer position, travel a few times, finish an intense online course, and overhaul my technological life. Still to come: new computer (!), new apartment (!!) and new stand mixer (!!!).

Between the four cheesecakes I baked and the work event I co-catered, I managed to find time to tick an item off of my huge Food To-Do List. Cupcakes are something I have always wanted to master, yet I don’t usually get around to baking any. Eating them isn’t difficult, but then again, it never is. So I picked up Wilton’s 48-piece Decorating Set, bought a ton of butter and icing sugar, and got cracking. The cupcakes were a nice find from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes book, though I really think the recipe could benefit from more cocoa powder. Way more. The buttercream was another story. I did some extensive research online and found an amazing coffee buttercream from Real Simple. Silky, sweet and boasting a rich coffee flavour—it was an instant hit. Add some decorative coffee beans (ahem, Stumptown Coffee) and some star-shaped confetti, and before me was a recipe for a blissful sugar coma.

Yes, that is paper lined with famous moustaches.

Mocha cupcakes with espresso buttercream
Adapted from Martha Stewart Cupcakes and Real Simple

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Printer-friendly version

2 1/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
2 tbsp. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (I would personally increase this to 1/3 cup)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
3/4 cup freshly brewed espresso
1 tbsp. instant espresso powder (I used Starbucks Via)


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. Whisk together cake flour and cocoa. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter until smooth and light. Add the brown sugar and eggs; beat until fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add the vanilla, baking soda, and salt; beat to combine thoroughly.
  3. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of sour cream, and beating until just combined after each. Mix together brewed espresso and espresso powder; add to batter, and beat until smooth.
  4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, about 22 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.

Coffee Buttercream Frosting


1 tbsp. instant espresso powder (I used Starbucks Via)
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
pinch kosher salt


  1. In a small bowl, stir together the espresso powder with 1 tbsp. hot water until the powder is dissolved. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter on high until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add the sugar, then the espresso mixture, vanilla, and salt, and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Pipe or spread evenly onto cupcakes.

Looking for more dessert recipes? Try a decadent cheesecake, or sweet, chewy cookie from the Recipe Index!


Filed under Food

2 responses to “Mocha cupakes with espresso buttercream

  1. those look delicious :). Want to check out my new blog

  2. Awww, this looks so fantastic! So like to have a pc of it! =)

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