Dark chocolate mocha cupcakes with coffee buttercream

I wasn’t going to bake for a few weeks. I made those Double Ginger Cookies a few days ago, ate way too many of them, and realized it would probably be best for that marathon I’m running (in 11 days. OMG.) if I didn’t go crazy with sugar for awhile.

But today was my Sister-in-Law’s birthday AND Mike found out he got a new job (!!!) so the no-baking plans were scrapped and celebratory cupcakes were made. My sister-in-law drinks a lot of coffee, so dark chocolate mocha cupcakes with coffee buttercream seemed like a natural choice. The dark chocolate stars are just piped melted chocolate – easy but decorative and delicious.

Obviously, if you like either coffee or chocolate, these will be hard to resist. I think it’s easiest to use instant coffee for baking, so that’s what I did here, for both the cake and the frosting. If you’d rather brew some espresso, I’m sure that would work too.

(adapted from Evil Shenanigans)

3/4 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 egg white
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 tablespoons strong coffee (or three tablespoons warm water mixed with 1 tablespoon instant coffee)

4 tbsp butter, softened
2 tbsp warm water
1 tbsp instant coffee
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar

a few ounces of dark chocolate, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a 12-cupcake pan with paper liners.

Whisk together all the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and cocoa) in a medium bowl.

Beat the egg and egg white gently with a fork, then stir in the buttermilk, vanilla, melted butter, and coffee. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix until most of the lumps are gone. Divide evenly among the cupcake tins and bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, dissolve the coffee in the warm water. Beat the butter, coffee-water, and vanilla in a stand mixer. Add the powdered sugar and beat until creamy and spreadable, adding a few drops of milk if too dry. Pipe onto the cooled cupcakes.

To make the chocolate decorations: Put the melted chocolate in a piping bag with a small round tip and pipe designs onto parchment. Transfer to the fridge for about 30 mintues to set, then place the decorations on the iced cupcakes.

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