Coffee Break

The other morning, I asked my husband to make two pots of coffee. No, I wasn't wanting a personal caffeine high. However, I was in the mood for sweets. Cupcakes, in fact. Mocha cupcakes. With vanilla latte cheesecake frosting. And shaved dark chocolate. What can I say? Sometimes my cravings are very specific!

Fortunately, he was in the mood to comply. I mean, he's not stupid. He likes cupcakes, too! So another pot of delightful vacuum brewed coffee was produced and I set aside most of it for cupcakes. The rest managed to get shared between us. We're not wasting such a lovely beverage, after all.

I'd made the cupcakes before. They consist of a basic dark chocolate cake recipe that's been tweaked to include strongly brewed coffee instead of water. Because over a cup of coffee goes into the batter, you get a great combination of chocolate and coffee coming through in the final results. It's a nice, reliable recipe.

Mocha Cupcakes

  • 1-1/3 all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature

Set aside the coffee to cool to room temperature if it's not already cool.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard-size muffin tin with paper liners.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Beat the butter and both sugars together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until combined. In a measuring cup, combine the coffee and vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture, alternating with the coffee mixture, ending with the flour mixture.

Divide the batter evenly between the 12 liners. Baking for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting the cupcakes. If desired, sprinkle with finely shaved dark chocolate.

  • Yields: 12 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

What I wanted to experiment with was a twist on buttercream frosting. I wasn't disappointed. Sometimes, I'm wary of combining so many flavors in one thing. This frosting involves espresso powder, vanilla extract and cream cheese in addition to traditional buttercream ingredients. I'm happy to say that the results are amazing and a perfect complement to the mocha cupcakes. Then, the finishing touch is a generous dusting of finely shaved dark chocolate over the top. I will definitely make these again. In the meantime, I'll include one alongside my afternoon coffee. After all, that's a coffee break!

Vanilla Latte Cheesecake Frosting

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
Mix the espresso powder into the vanilla until dissolved; set aside.

Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping once to scrape the sides of the bowl. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar a little at a time, waiting until it is mostly incorporated before adding more. Once all of the powdered sugar has been added, scrape the sides of the bowl and increase the speed to medium-high and whip until fluffy, about a minute or two. Add the espresso and vanilla mixture and continue to mix at medium-high until it is completely incorporated, scraping the sides as necessary.

  • Yields: 12 servings
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes

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