Today I wanted to share a great recipe for Mocha Cupcakes with Chocolate Espresso Buttercream Frosting! These received fantastic reviews at an anniversary party I attended a few weeks back. Friends have even begun asking me to bring this tasty dessert to parties in the future. Seriously, they are that delicious.
This recipe combines some of life’s greatest treats: rich chocolate, flavorful coffee, and smooth buttercream frosting. What more can you ask for?!
In this post, I will also thoroughly discuss how to pipe frosting, in order to give your mocha cupcakes that crowning, professional touch! If you’re a “piping newbie,” be sure to follow along!
So, let’s get started! Feel free to print off the step-by-step instructions near the end of this post for easy baking later on!
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Gather Ingredients & Materials For Your Mocha Cupcakes:
- 1 1/2 cups of flour
- 2 cups of sugar
- 3/4 cup of cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Stick of butter (or a half cup)
- 1 cup of buttermilk (or a milk/lemon juice substitution because I never have buttermilk on hand!)
- 1 cup (8 oz) of brewed coffee (stronger is BETTER!)
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Cupcake liners
(Set Aside The Following Materials for Frosting Later)
- 3/4 cup of butter
- 1/4 cup of shortening
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cups Nestle Coffee-mate Espresso Chocolate liquid coffee creamer (alternatively, make your own by using one tbsp of instant espresso powder and 1/2 cup of milk or cream, whatever you have on hand)
- Disposable 12-inch piping bags, like these ones (click to view)
- Piping tips (Use this one to replicate the design below. Click to view)
Let’s Get (Shakin’ and) Bakin’
Before getting busy, preheat your oven to a balmy 325 degrees Fahrenheit, and prepare your muffin tin with paper liners.
First, sift together your flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Then set this aside for a bit.
At the same time, melt your butter in a big saucepan over medium heat. Once it is melted, stir in the cocoa powder. This is THE most amazing smell EVER.
Once the cocoa is fragrant (don’t let the beautiful aroma hypnotize you), take the pan off of the heat. Instead of simply turning off the heat, it’s important to make sure you actually remove the pan from the hot burner if you have an electric stove.
Next, mix the coffee and buttermilk into the pan. Then whisk in the sugar first, followed by the eggs and vanilla, mixing together until the sugar has dissolved.
I love my “Keep Calm and Bake On” spatula from our wedding shower. Here are some similar, cute ones I found online!
Finally, add the flour mixture to the rest of the batter and stir it all together with a spatula until combined (must… resist… licking… bowl.) If your batter is lumpy, you should switch to a whisk once all the flour is incorporated. However, be careful not to overmix; a few small lumps are okay.
To finish, pour the batter evenly into the muffin tins. Fill them up almost to the top, about three-quarters of the way full. Then, pop the pans into the oven for approximately 12-15 minutes.
“Are They Done Yet?”
Set the timer on the lower end of the spectrum (12 minutes) and when the time has passed, test the cupcakes for doneness with a toothpick. Inserted into the middle of a cupcake, the toothpick should come out mostly clean. Though, a few moist crumbs on the toothpick are okay, too.
I usually have to adjust the bake time accordingly, adding anywhere from two to four additional baking minutes. Test again, and bake until done.
Let your mocha cupcakes cool in the pan for five minutes. Then, carefully transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling for about an hour.
It is not advisable to begin frosting your cupcakes while they are still warm; doing so could cause the frosting to melt off of the cupcakes, losing the beautiful piped shape. However, if you need to speed up the cooling process, you can put the mocha cupcakes into the refrigerator for a bit.
Make That Buttercream!
Begin by creaming together the butter and shortening, scraping the bowl once with a spatula and mixing again. You can omit the shortening and replace it with the same amount of butter, but I like to include a small amount of shortening to stabilize the frosting against heat.
Then, with the mixer on medium speed, add the powdered sugar one cup at a time. Scrape the bowl in between each mix to remove any sugar sticking to the sides. After the last cup, the mixture will be slightly crumbly. Don’t worry – the final step solves that.
Start by adding just one-quarter cup of the liquid (whether coffee creamer or homemade espresso mixture), mixing to test the consistency. It should come together smoothly, but if the frosting is still a bit crumbly, add a few tablespoons more, and mix again.
Use caution when adding the liquid that the frosting does not become too runny. If it does, you can try to fix the consistency by adding a small amount more of powdered sugar.
This chocolate espresso creamer is AMAZING and compliments the mocha cupcakes perfectly! If you cannot find this creamer, dissolve a tablespoon of instant espresso into 1/2 cup of milk or cream for a quick and tasty substitute!
If you like espresso, you will love the hint of flavor in this frosting. However, it’s not so overwhelming – I’ve received good feedback on this frosting from toddlers and kids, too!
Get Set Up To Frost!
To frost your mocha cupcakes, you will need a decorating bag and rosette or open star tip. You can buy all of the necessary materials in a piping starter pack, like this one.
First, insert your piping tip into the bag and press it down as far as you can. Using a pair of scissors, make a small snip on the bag near the top of the piping tip. This “score mark” indicates where to cut the bag in order to secure the tip won’t fall through the opening.
Remove the piping tip for a moment and cut the plastic bag all the way through. Then insert the piping tip back into the bag.
Next, fold down about an inch of the plastic bag in order to create a “lip” around the bag, and cup the inside of your non-dominant hand into it.
Use a spatula to spoon as much frosting into the bag as will fit. I have found it helps to use the inside of your hand (the part covered with the bag) to help the frosting off the spatula, and down into the bag.
Next, once the bag is almost full, unroll the top of the plastic. Hold the top of the bag closed tight, and push the frosting down towards the tip. Try to eliminate any large air bubbles in the bag, as it can interrupt the flow of frosting when piping.
Fun Frosting Time!
Use your dominant (or stronger) hand to push the frosting down towards the tip, from the top of the bag.
While frosting your mocha cupcakes, think of a tube of toothpaste; you don’t want to squeeze from the middle, which would push some frosting up and some down, leaving a large gap in the middle of the bag. Instead, aim to press all of the buttercream down from the top.
Leaving a gap or air bubble could cause this to happen:
Rest your other hand near the tip of the bag, guiding the flow of frosting. This is especially helpful when trying to create neat or delicate designs with the frosting. Be careful to simply control the direction of the bag with this hand, not push any frosting.
To create the gorgeous swirl of frosting, place the tip of the bag at the outer edge of the cupcake. Begin the flow of frosting, guiding the tip in a circle around the outer edge of the cupcake.
Once the outside ‘circle’ is completed, continue the flow of frosting in a smaller inside ‘circle’. You can even overlap the frosting slightly to build height on your cupcake.
Complete the process by creating an additional tight rotation on top, pressing down slightly, and then lifting the bag away as you release the flow of frosting. (See the short clip below from my full video.)
Remember the phrase “practice makes perfect”; play around a little to find a method you prefer. Try beginning with the frosting in the center and swirling outwards! Alternatively, practice with different pressures on the flow of frosting, or how closely you overlap the swirls!
At the end of the day, the mocha cupcakes will still taste great, even if they aren’t perfect looking. Max and I like to keep these “mess-ups” for ourselves. 😉
Printable Recipe and Instructions for Mocha Cupcakes & Chocolate Espresso Buttercream
The Best Mocha Cupcakes Ever
- 1.5 cups flour
- 2 cups sugar
- .75 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
- .5 tsp baking soda
- .5 tsp salt
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup brewed coffee
- 2 whole eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- .5 cup butter softened
- .5 cup shortening
- 4 cups powdered sugar sifted
- .5 cups liquid coffee creamer I prefer Nestle Coffeemate Espresso Chocolate but feel free to substitute in your favorite flavored liquid creamer, or a mixture comprised of 1 tbsp of espresso powder and 1/2 cup of milk or cream.
Baking The Cupcakes
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, and fill your muffin tin with liners.
- Sift together your flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large pan over medium heat, melt your butter and stir in the cocoa powder until combined.
- Take the pan off of the hot burner, and mix in the coffee and buttermilk. Add the sugar and whisk until it is dissolved. Then mix in the eggs and vanilla.
- Finally, add the flour mixture to the rest of the batter, and stir together with a spatula until combined.
- Pour the batter evenly into the muffin tins, filling over three-quarters of the way to the top.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- The cupcakes need to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, and then on a wire rack for an hour. This is important because, if you add the frosting too soon, it will begin to melt and ruin your design!
Making the Frosting
- Using a handheld or stand mixer, cream together the butter and shortening.
- Slowly begin to add the powdered sugar, scraping the sides of the bowl in between each cup you add.
- Add your coffee creamer and mix until fully combined; you may need to add more to reach a creamier consistency or bolder flavor, but do so slowly so as not to make your frosting too watery.
Frosting The Cupcakes
- Choose your piping tip and insert it into the bag. Make a small snip on the bag near the middle of the tip. Remove the tip, finish the cut where you scored, and insert the tip again. I like to use these tips and bags (click to purchase from Amazon).
- Grip near the middle of the bag, and fold the top over your hand to create a "lip". Utilize that "lip" and a spatula to transfer your frosting into the piping bag until it is mostly full.
- Roll up the "lip" of the bag, and push the frosting down towards the tip; try to eliminate any visible air bubbles or spaces in the frosting.
- Place your non-dominant hand near the tip; this will be your "guiding" hand to nudge the bag and create a nice design. Place your dominant (or stronger) hand at the top of the bag, and squeeze the frosting down through the bag.
- Place the tip on the outer edge of the cupcake; begin the frosting flow, and swirl the bag around the outside. As your frosting comes "full circle", continue the flow of frosting in a smaller circle, moving towards the center.
- As you complete the final rotation, create one last tight swirl. Press down slightly, and release the flow of frosting as you pull the bag up and away.
- Store your cupcakes in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. They are best eaten ASAP and slightly chilled.
Brief apology time: if you have been keeping up with me on social media (nudge, nudge), you know I have been promising exciting things! Well, exciting things are here!
First off, perhaps you have noticed something is a little… different. Yep, that’s right. We got a makeover! Many thanks to my patient, brilliant hubby (XOXO!) What do you think??
Secondly, another major addition to the blog is the integration of my new YouTube channel! The goal of this channel is to provide you with better, clearer content right here on lexisrose.com. Ideally, these short video clips will enhance your experience here and add helpful information and clarification to my posts.
Anyway, THANK YOU so much for reading. I hope you enjoyed this post!
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And, be sure to let me know if you try these mocha cupcakes! I’d LOVE to hear what you think! 🙂
Sharing Is Caring
Addicted to Pinterest, like me? Feel free to Pin a photo from below to save the recipe for later or share with a friend!