So here I was, trying to come up with a good morning cupcake for my Sweet Treats committee at work. Everyone at the firm seems to need a bit of a caffeine kick in the morning, so I thought I would modify my espresso brownies into cupcake form. Then I thought, what about a smooth mocha buttercream icing on top? Yeah, that sounded good.
And then, lo and behold, what did I find on the internet? The exact recipe I wanted! And I didn’t even have to make it up myself! Score one for the lazy part of me and big thanks to Nam for cooking it up and writing it down.
Brew up a pot of strong coffee and save 1 cup coffee for this recipe. Do what you like with the rest (preferably drink it, or save it for iced coffee).
Preheat your oven to 350°F and line two muffin pans with cupcake cups.
In a large bowl, sift together 2 1/4 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups cocoa, 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, and 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda and set aside.
Dissolve 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder in 1 cup coffee and set that aside.
Clear the spider out of your stand mixer. Apologize profusely to it as you send it on its merry way, but explain that despite its residency of nearly two weeks in your bowl, it does not qualify for squatters’ rights. Then decide that, as you are doubling the recipe, the batter won’t fit in the mixer anyway, and opt for a larger bowl and a hand mixer. Sorry, spider.
In the bowl of the stand mixer, cream together 2/3 cup canola oil, 2 eggs, 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla and beat until well combined. Add in 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar and mix some more.
Pour in the coffee and beat for another minute.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and slowly add in the dry ingredients, mixing until all the ingredients are incorporated.
Using a spoon, fill the paper cups about two-thirds full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the centre cupcake comes out clean.
Let the cupcakes rest in the pan for about five minutes before removing them to a rack. Remember that a super hot dropped cupcake will explode all over your floor, while a cooler cupcake will just bounce a bit. That’s a handy fact to remember.
Now for the luscious buttercream frosting.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (you know, like the one you just used), whip 10 tablespoons room temperature butter (which, by the way, is 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons butter) until it’s fluffy, light, and creamy. Add in 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder and whip until combined.
Slowly add in 3 tablespoons room temperature espresso (you can make this by following the instructions on your bottle of instant espresso powder). As with most buttercreams, it will look a little curdled and gross at this point, but don’t you worry.
A little bit at a time, add in 3-4 cups icing sugar. You may need more or less, depending on the consistency you want, or the temperature outside, or a bunch of other variables. Just go with what looks (and tastes) right to you. Refrigerate the buttercream for at least ten minutes before using.
Once the cupcakes have completely cooled and the frosting has chilled out a little, you can frost your cupcakes, or pipe on the frosting, if you wish.
Garnish each cupcake with a dusting of cocoa powder (or some shaved chocolate) or a chocolate-covered espresso bean.
Your coworkers will be appropriately wowed, especially once the caffeine kicks in. Good morning to you, too!