Mocha Cupcakes With Espresso Buttercream

Mocha cupcakes with espresso buttercream

Smooth, creamy, deeply flavored, luscious, and heavenly -- that is how I describe espresso buttercream. And I am rightfully incredibly obsessed with it. It has made some appearances on this blog already -- in dacquoise and in macarons -- but today I am sharing it with you in the form of cupcake frosting. Simple, uncomplicated. All you have to do is whip up cupcakes and then whip up this espresso buttercream. Put the two together, and you'll immediately be in your happy place. At least it works for me.

I made mocha cupcakes to pair with the espresso buttercream, but even chocolate or vanilla cupcakes would complement the heavily coffee-scented frosting. Make sure to use the best instant espresso you can get your hands on. I highly recommend Medaglia D'Oro.

Mocha cupcakes with espresso buttercream

Mocha Cupcakes (adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes)


2 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted (I used King Arthur Flour's Queen Guinevere Cake Flour)
2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 stick unsalted butter at room temp
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs at room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream at room temp
3/4 cup freshly brewed espresso
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line mini or standard muffin pan with paper liners.

In a small bowl, whisk together cake flour and cocoa powder.

In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed until smooth and light. Add brown sugar and eggs, and beat until fluffy. Add in the vanilla, baking soda, and salt, and beat to combine.

Reduce speed to low, and add flour in three batches alternating with two additions of sour cream. Beat until just combined.

Mix together brewed espresso and espresso powder, and add to batter, beating until smooth.

Divide batter among lined cups, and bake cupcakes, rotating halfway through, until toothpick inserted in center comes out with only moist crumbs attached. Standard size cupcakes should take about 22 minutes, and minis will take about 12 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely before frosting.

Espresso Buttercream (adapted from Flour)


3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


In a small saucepan, stir together granulated sugar and water. Bring to a boil over high heat, and cook without stirring for 3 to 4 minutes, or until syrup registers 238 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Meanwhile, in bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk together eggs and egg yolk on medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes.

When syrup is ready, remove from heat. With mixer running on low speed, slowly drizzle the syrup into the eggs. Whip on medium-high speed for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the mixture becomes light and pale and is cool to the touch.

Turn down the speed to low, and add the chunks of butter a few at a time. The mixture will look curdled at first, but don’t worry. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 to 4 minutes until the buttercream is smooth. Add the espresso and salt, and whip until combined.

Buttercream may be used immediately or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Remove from fridge about 3 to 4 hours before using, and using the paddle attachment of the mixer, paddle the buttercream until it becomes smooth enough to use.

Mocha cupcakes with espresso buttercream

I found those adorable cupcake liners at Crate & Barrel and decorated the cupcakes with chocolate flakes from King Arthur Flour.

I wish I had some of these left because I know around 2 p.m. today I'm going to be wishing for an afternoon pick-me-up!

What is your favorite cupcake and frosting flavor combo?