Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes with Kahlua Cream Cheese Frosting

My cousin Kristen is getting married in a couple of weeks and the funny thing is we just sat down to do a cake tasting this weekend.  How crazy is that?  I mean, we had almost an entire year to do this but somehow we never got around to it.  We've talked about cake designs, colors and possible flavors but we waited till the very last minute to do the most fun part of all - the cake tasting. 

Photo Credit: Ja Tecson

Well, here's the deal.  Kristen and Jeff, her fiance, have tasted pretty much every dessert I've ever made - from cakes, cookies and chocolate truffles - you name it.  Whenever they come over to hang out at my house (which is often), I always have some kind of dessert for them to try.  I guess you can say they're my guinea pigs, errrr, I mean, taste testers.  Yes, very good taste testers I might add.  So it's not like they have no idea what to expect when I make their wedding cake.  But I do want to make sure I create something that they'd absolutely love.

If there's one thing I know about Kristen and Jeff, they love chocolate and coffee.  Every time they're out on a date, they end their meal with a decadent chocolate dessert.  From molten lava cake to gigantic slices of mud pie, they're always posting droolworthy photos on Instagram.  And when it comes to coffee, I'm pretty sure they've tried every coffee shop in San Diego.  But there is this place called the Better Buzz that they've been talking about alot.  They have something called the "Best Drink Ever" (BDE for short) and according to them, it really is the best drink ever.  It's a caffe Americano with some cream and vanilla mixed in.  They're basically addicted to it.  I'm not sure if I want to try it because I'm afraid I'm gonna get hooked too :-)

While Kristen and I were talking about chocolate and coffee combitations one day, she mentioned that she really loved the chocolate covered espresso beans from Trader Joe's.  She'd even snack on them while she's at work.  So she wondered if I could incorporate them into their wedding cake.  The next day, I went to Trader Joe's, picked up a container of chocolate covered espresso beans and started experimenting. 

To save time, I whipped up some cupcakes for the cake tasting instead of baking a whole cake.  Chocolate and coffee is a such a perfect pairing.  When you put them together, they really bring out the best in each other.  I actually like to add brewed coffee to my chocolate cake batter to give the chocolate more depth.  So for Kristen and Jeff's cake, I decided to go with my chocolate cake and then drizzle it with Kahlua liqueur to amp up the coffee flavor.  For the frosting, I added a little Kahlua into some cream cheese frosting.  As if that wasn't enough, I also drizzled some Kahlua on top of the frosting.  And finally, I crushed up the chocolate covered espresso beans and sprinkled them liberally on top. 

The combination of the moist, rich chocolate cake and light, tangy cream cheese frosting really worked together.  Also, the bits of chocolate covered espresso beans gave the cupcakes tiny bursts of coffee flavor as well as some crunchy texture. 

Kristen and Jeff absolutely loved their chocolate espresso cupcakes and gave me the green light to make them for their wedding.  I'm sure their guests will love them too.  Oooooh I can't wait to celebrate with them in a couple of weeks! 

Chocolate Espresso Cupcake with Kahlua Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes about 30 cupcakes
Allergy note: contains dairy, wheat and egg ingredients
(Please see note for egg-free alternatives)

1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk or 1 cup whole milk with 1 Tbs. lemon juice
1/2 cup strong coffee, cooled
2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

8 oz. bar cream cheese, cold
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened to room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 Tbs. Kahlua coffee liqueur*
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, measure then sift

1/2 to 3/4 cup Kahlua coffee liqeuer*
1 cup chocolate covered espresso beans

Note: I have an egg-free cupcake recipe and vegan cupcake recipe.  You can try the egg-free chocolate cupcakes or the vegan chocolate cupcakes recipes.

*You can adjust the amount of Kahlua to your preference. Feel free to add more if you want a stronger coffee flavor.  For those who prefer a non-alcoholic option to Kahlua, you can mix together 2-3 tablespoons of instant espresso powder and 1/2 cup granulated sugar to 1 cup of hot water.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 3 muffin pans with cupcake liners. Beat together butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Slowly add eggs one at a time. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Combine the buttermilk and coffee together. Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture. Pour into the prepared pans. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cupcake comes out clean. Let cool for at least 10 minutes then poke holes on top of each cupcake.  Drizzle about 1/2 teaspoon of Kahlua over each cupcake.

With the mixer on a low speed, beat the cream cheese and butter till blended. Mix in vanilla and Kahlua. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a cup at a time. Once all the powdered sugar is added, increase to a higher speed to whip up the frosting till light and fluffy. Transfer frosting into a piping bag.

Place the chocolate covered espresso beans inside a ziploc bag.  Using a rolling pin, lightly crush them into smaller pieces.  Pipe frosting on top of each cupcake.  Drizzle a little bit of Kahlua on top of the frosting.  Sprinkle the crushed chocolate covered espresso beans on top of each cupcake.


Katarina said...

Lovely cupcakes with a great flavor!

Amy said...


Yumgoggle said...

I would love to be your guinea pig too ;) I love every recipe you have. I am a coffee and chocolate fan too, as such I am literally drooling at your cuppy cakes photo. Yummy!
Anyhoo, we have just recently launched a food photo submission site, http://www.yumgoggle.com/gallery/ that allows you to showcase all your great work and share it with all of our visitors. Your phenomenal photos have caught our attention. We’d be proud to have your work as part of our growing collection to continue to have a larger reach and further inspire all fellow food lovers out there! (sorry for the blatant shameless plug)!

Loren said...

These look delicious! I have to find time to make them!

Vera Zecevic - Cupcakes Garden said...

Perfect chocolate cupcakes! I really like your recipe and photos! Nice job.

Becca said...

These look delicious! I also love chocolate covered espresso beans.

Martha said...

Mmmm...even though I'm married, I want to come over and do some wedding cake testing!!! ♥ Kahlua is so good! I love the Trader Joe's chocolate covered espresso beans.

Anonymous said...

I made these for my friend's birthday tonight and her and her boyfriend both said they were "the best cupcakes we have ever tasted!" so thankyou for the recipe!
Super tasty

Anonymous said...

Love these cupcakes! They were a hit in my family...definitely worth making again. :) love ur website...Great recipes!



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