I admit to being a fan of cake mixes. They are so easy to use, I always have the ingredients on hand and I get consistent results. But oh my. A homemade cake done right? There is nothing comparable. Something that I was reminded of when I baked these cupcakes.
Now I've bought cupcakes from bakeries before, Kara's is my favorite, but I've also had Sprinkles and many other "fancy store bought" cupcakes. And when I made my own Vanilla Cupcakes they were pretty good. But these cupcakes? These cupcakes made me want to be a baker. These cupcakes reminded me that being home on a Friday night, making cupcakes from scratch with a friend, having my husband come down to check on us every once in a while, trying to mix batter with the cat underfoot, sharing a bottle of champagne with Mr. L and my friend (made into a nice vodka cocktail)...buying a cupcake, no matter how fancy, from a store just can't compete.
I have to thank my good friend Chef Barbie for helping me out with this recipe. She saved my butt by either going out and buying ingredients I needed before I got home or having said ingredients at her house for me to use. Nothing like a 10 PM run to a friends to get some Espresso Powder.
Had to laugh when I made a trip to Starbucks on my way home to get the espresso. Being that it was about a hundred degrees outside, I ordered a coffee light frapp for me, a caramel frapp for Mr. L and six shots of espresso. The guy behind the counter looked at me like I was nuts. His expression didn't change when I mentioned the hot coffee was for cupcakes.
Except for ingredients that might be a bit difficult to find (though I bet most bakers have cake flower, espresso powder and unsweetened dutch cocoa powder in their pantry) this was super quick and easy to make. And good. Seriously good. and LIGHT. When I took the cupcakes out of the muffin tin I was amazed at how light and delicate they felt. I'm used to picking up cupcakes and having some heft. These were also really moist.
I didn't frost these right way. Since it was really (really) warm that weekend and I knew these would be traveling in the car for a couple of days, I figured it was better to make the frosting when I went to the event. Though Martha frosted these with Swiss Meringue Buttercream, I made her Fluffy Vanilla Frosting and spiked it with a bit of coffee. Not the best frosting job but with the temp 108 degrees, it was the best this melting baker could do. The chocolate covered coffee bean really did add a nice touch.
I would make these again in a heartbeat. It also made my Mr. L decide I needed to bake every single cupcake recipe in The Martha Stewart's Cupcakes which is where these came from. Yeah, they were that good.
2 1/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
3/4 cup freshly brewed espresso
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder (not instant coffee)
Coffee beans, for garnish
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together cake flour and cocoa. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter until smooth and light. Add the brown sugar and eggs; beat until fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add the vanilla, baking soda, and salt; beat to combine thoroughly.
Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of sour cream, and beating until just combined after each. Mix together brewed espresso and espresso powder; add to batter, and beat until smooth.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, about 22 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
I added the Fluffy Vanilla Frosting and put a chocolate covered coffee bean on top. Makes 24 cupcakes.