Lots of people like coffee, lots of people like cupcakes – why not combine the two? These were another birthday treat for a coworker who just happens to be a bit of a coffee addict. I have made white chocolate mocha cupcakes before which were great, but they seemed a bit girly for this dude and I wanted a more intense coffee flavor. The base consists of a fudgy brownie flavored with coffee liqueur and espresso powder. The cupcakes are nicely complimented by the mocha buttercream on top, and if you can find them I think chocolate-covered espresso beans are the perfect garnish for these treats. I really, really liked these and will definitely make them again. Mmmm, I can smell that coffee now just thinking about them….
For the cupcakes:
11 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. espresso powder
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
½ cup coffee liqueur
For the frosting:
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tbsp. instant coffee granules
2 tsp. hot coffee
1 tsp. vanilla extract
To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. Combine the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Heat until completely melted, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. In the meantime combine the flour, espresso powder, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and stir together with a fork to combine. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs and sugar and beat on medium speed until light. Stir in the chocolate mixture and the coffee liqueur until well combined. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed just until combined. Divide the batter between the cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 full. Bake 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few crumbs. Allow to cool in the pans about 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting, beat the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar on low speed just until incorporated, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until smooth and light, about 2 minutes. Mix in the coffee granules, hot coffee and vanilla extract until completely incorporated. Pipe onto the cooled cupcakes, and top with chocolate-covered espresso beans if desired.