Mocha Cupcakes | Sugar & Snapshots

Mocha Cupcake Recipe

Never to be one who is shy of sharing my love of all things coffee related, today we bring to a mocha cupcake recipe that will blow your mind. Laced ever so lightly with wonderful coffee-flavored enhancers like Kahula, instant espresso powder and deep bitter chocolate, my friends, these cupcakes are sublime. They even turned the heads of non-coffee drinkers (yep they exist) into possible converts after experiencing this mocha cupcake.

It is almost June, where did the time go? It has been one of those months that you are shocked it is almost over. At least there is one saving grace among all the hustle and bustle of a busy work week — coffee! — which was the inspiration for me to finally make a mocha cupcake. Honestly, I slightly surprised myself when I realized there is not one already on the blog! But just to you know, this mocha cupcake recipe was worth the wait ;)

My co-workers were very pleased when I walked into work with a box of cupcakes (as they always are). The comments were so flattering, the common one being “What bakery did you get these at? They are amazing!” When I announced they were homemade and decorated by me, every wide-eyed jaw-on-floor look made every minute in the kitchen worth it. Even before the last crumbs were eaten and often with buttercream still on their fingers and lips, my co-workers were asking me for the recipe.

Slightly adapted from one of my previous chocolate cupcake recipe to suit coffee flavor because really, why mess with perfection, the frosting is a basic Swiss buttercream with a mix of Kahlua and instant espresso powder that allowed for no mistaking this was a coffee flavored buttercream. Wanting to add another dimension of chocolate to balance out the coffee in the buttercream and cake, I took a que from the ICB cupcakes and I added a layer of bitter ganache between the cake and the frosting. The overall cake was moist, full of coffee flavor with a subtle touch of chocolate to just let you know it was there and not over powering. The perfect cupcake for coffee lovers and the perfect cupcake to convert non coffee lovers. Enjoy!

Mocha Cupcakes | Sugar & Snapshots

Mocha Cupcake Recipe
Makes 12-18 cupcakes
Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes
  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 oz Dutch-processed cocoa
  • ¾ cup Kahlua
  • 3 tbsp instant espresso
  • 4.50 oz all-purpose flour
  • 5.25 oz sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 6 tbsp (2.35 oz) vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Bitter Espresso Ganache
  • ¼ cup Kahula
  • 3 tbsp instant espresso
  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • ½ tbsp unsalted butter, cold
  • 3 oz heavy cream
Chocolate Truffle Swiss Buttercream Frosting
  • 5 egg whites
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • Remaining Kahula espresso mixture from ganache
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare 12-18 cupcake molds with paper liners or two 8″ round cake pans. Heat the Kahlua up in the microwave, around 175°F, same temperature as a hot cup of coffee or tea.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer add in the chocolate, cocoa powder, Kahlua, instant espresso. Mix on low until combined and smooth, all the chocolate should be melted. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and whisk to combine. In a large (two cup capacity measuring cup combine the vegetable oil, eggs, cider vinegar, and extract. Whisk to combine.
  3. By now the chocolate mixture should be smooth and cool. Stop the mixer and add in ½ the flour mixture, and ½ the egg mixture. Continue to mix on medium speed until combined. Then continue for one minute Turn the mixer off and scrape down the sides (if necessary) add in the remaining flour mixture and egg mixture, and mix on medium speed until well combined for two minutes. Scraping down the sides as necessary.
  4. Fill prepared cupcake liners ¾ full (one full ice cream scoop full, 4 tbsp size) and bake for 18-20 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, remove from oven. Leave in the pan to cool for 5 minutes before turning out to cool completely on a wire rack.
Bitter Espresso Ganache
  1. In a small bowl combine the kahula and espresso powder, microwave for 30 seconds until warm. Stir to combine and set aside. Place the chocolate and butter in a bowl big enough to dip the tops of your cupcakes. Add one tablespoon of the kahula espresso mixture to the chocolate, reserving the remaining kahula espresso mixture for the buttercream frosting.
  2. In a measuring cup, microwave the heavy cream until begins to boil. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and butter. Let set for two minutes. Stir to combine until smooth and glossy. Set aside to cool. Do not refrigerate.
Chocolate Truffle Swiss Buttercream Frosting
  1. Prepare a medium sauce pan with 1″ of water and set to a low simmer. In a 2 quart bowl add in the egg whites and sugar whisk until well combined and slightly foamy. Place over the simmering water continue to whisk until you can no longer feel the sugar in the mixture. It should just feel smooth and glossy. Transfer to the bowl of your stand mixer and whisk on high speed until cool, about 3-5 minutes until the bowl feels cool to the touch.
  2. Once the egg whites are cool with the mixer still on high begin adding in the butter 4 tbsp at a time. Once all the butter is in the mixture will look split and curdled, add in the vanilla and kahula espresso mixture. Keep whisking on high, stopping to scrape the sides as needed. It will come together and look like a frosting. Taste, for sweeter frosting add in powdered/frosting sugar until desired sweetness. Mix until combined, and use immediately or freeze for up to a month.
Assembly -- Dip the tops of the cool cupcakes into the ganache. Refrigerate until cool and the ganache is not tacky to the touch. Pipe on the buttercream in desired pattern. Optional: Garnish with chocolate covered espresso beans and grated chocolate.

20 comments leave a comment →

  1. These cupcakes look amazing, I think they would be great to take into work with me! I was wondering what you’d suggest if I wanted my cupcakes more chocolatey with a slightly subtler coffee flavor? It just seems like all 3 layers of coffee would be overpowering.

    • Replace the espresso & 3/4 c kaluah with just regular brewed coffee. Can omit the espresso powder from the ganache recipe. Omit the kaluah mixture from the frosting and to make it chocolate add 4oz of melted chocolate cooled, so it won’t melt the butter. Those are a few suggestions to tone down the coffee flavor. Omit all or your choice.

  2. Thank you!! I just realized that with the Kahlua in the buttercream or ganache I probably shouldn’t take them into work ( bcuz of the alcohol in them, although it is such a small amount… ) but I can still make them for me!

  3. Is using dutch-processed cocoa in the cupcakes important? I only have unsweetened cocoa from Gheradelli.

    • The Dutch cocoa adds richness and a deeper dark color. It is my preference, but you can use any unsweetened cocoa powder just know every brand has a different flavor.

    • Sealed very tightly the cupcakes could be frozen up to about 2-3 weeks. I found 4+ is just too long and they dry out and get tough. Just thaw them out before serving or icing. I freeze a lot of my cupcakes because with two of us even a dozen is a lot. What i don’t share at work gets frozen for later use. Even the frosting! Fresh cupcakes when ever we want it’s great!

  4. Hey there! Someone in my Facebook group shared this website with us so I came
    to give it a look. I’m definitely enjoying the information.
    I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers!
    Fantastic blog and brilliant design.

  5. Hi love your recipe … U said to use the buttercream immediately is it because it doesn’t last long? How long will a cupcake last after it is frosted?

  6. What would you suggest replacing the Kahlua with? Brewed Coffee or?

    • Yes, brewed coffee would make the best replacement for more coffee flavor use a shot of espresso or two

  7. I honestly love everything in this post! The design, the colors and above all the photography and the recipe! It looks really awesome!

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