I’ve always wanted to be a good baker, but with my history of not following recipes correctly, adding a little too much of something seems to mess up the chemistry. I’m not the baker in the family. When dear friend Jennifer Shea told me she was writing a book, Trophy Cupcakes and Parties, featuring her delicious and mouth-watering cupcakes recipes, I was giddy. It meant I could finally have her yummy cupcakes in San Francisco – her shops in Seattle are adorable and one of a kind. When I received the book I found my favorites, but a new one I haven’t given a whirl is her Espresso Bean cupcake. Doesn’t that sound perfect in this crisp fall? I think it does. That’s why today I’m sharing it with all of you.
Espresso Bean Cupcakes (makes 2 dozen cupcakes)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups of cocoa powder
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup boiling water
3 cups (6 sticks unsalted butter), at room temperature
6 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 cup strong espresso shots, cooled
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
Chocolate covered espresso beans
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. Combine the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar and dry ingredients. Blend at low speed, then increase the speed to medium and mix until the batter is completely smooth, about 2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the stand and add the boiling water and stir with a wooden spoon, carefully so that it doesn’t splash, until the batter is smooth again. Let the batter rest for 15 minutes and stir gently before using.
4. Fill the cupcake liners three-quarters full and bake until the tops of the cupcakes are firm and a cake tester inserted in the center of the middle cupcake comes out with just a few crumbs, about 20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool for 5 minutes in the pans before removing to a rack to cool completely.
1. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter. Start with the mixer at the lowest speed, then gradually increase the speed, using a rubber spatula to scrape the bowl as needed, until the butter is light in color, perfectly smooth, and makes a slapping sound as it hits the sides of the bowl. If the butter is soft, this should only take 30 seconds, but if the butter is cool. it can take a couple of minutes.
2. Add the sugar, 1 cup at a time, and mix at the lowest speed until it’s fully incorporated before adding the next cup. When all the sugar has been added, scrape the paddle and the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add the cooled espresso, vanilla, and salt and mix slowly so that the espresso doesn’t splash. At first the mixture will break and appear curdled, but the buttercream will come back together as it whips. When the buttercream looks smooth again, scrape the bowl and paddle, then increase the speed to as high as you can without making a mess and whip the buttercream until the mixture is perfectly smooth, creamy, and light, about 5 minutes. Stop the mixer once or twice to scrape the bowl and paddle, then continue beating. At first the buttercream will appear to soften, then it will stiffen and increase in volume.
3. Use right away, or store in an airtight container for up to a week in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to use it, let the buttercream come to room temperature, then put it back in the stand mixer and beat it until it’s creamy and stiff again.
1. Place the buttercream in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe a high swirl on each cupcake.
2. Top with coffee sprinkles. A chocolate covered espresso bean is a nice finishing touch!
A HUGE thank you to Jennifer for sharing one of her many recipes with us today. Trophy Cupcakes and Parties hits the shelves TODAY! You can order yours now to get your signed copy by Jennifer herself. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do – especially since Eric is already planning the next recipe he’s going to make.
Images courtesy of Jennifer Shea // Photography by Rina Jordan