Vanilla Latte Cupcakes

It’s Friday! Have a cupcake.

I actually made these a few weeks ago, but I really wish I could be eating one right now. These days, I’m not drinking much coffee. Okay, kind of a lie. I’m not drinking much caffeinated coffee.

But I made an exception for the coffee in these.

I’d like to take a minute and show off my new favorite grocery store, Rainbow Grocery (and I promise this does tie in with these cupcakes…wait for it).

First of all, you can get pretty much ANYTHING in bulk. Any dried fruit you may want:

A billion kinds of legumes, including a bunch of beans I have never heard of but now am obsessed with finding recipes for so I can buy them because they’re so pretty.

More kinds of rice than I ever knew existed.

And then there’s the chocolate-covered section. It’s a dangerous place. However, the beauty of it is you can buy the exact number of chocolate-covered espresso beans you need for these cupcakes, so you won’t eat a ton of leftovers and get your baby so caffeinated she doesn’t sleep.

Another perk? They give you 5 cents off for every single container you bring! We usually get at least a dollar off every visit!

Anyway, cupcakes. I feel that there are two camps when frosting is concerned. There’s the “dainty not-too-sweet meringue buttercream” camp, and then there’s the “extra sweet is extra good” camp. I fall into the latter, so I made a basic powdered sugar and butter frosting that, yes, is very sweet (just how I like it). If you’re more of a Swiss Meringue Buttercream fan, follow Josie’s lead.

Vanilla Latte Cupcakes


  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs dark roast coffee grounds
  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp whole milk
  • Frosting
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp milk (plus a few extra teaspoons)
  • 1 Tbsp instant espresso
  • 18 chocolate covered espresso beans, for garnish


    To make the cupcakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pans with liners.
  2. Beat the butter at medium speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, for about 30 seconds. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and coffee grounds.
  5. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the brewed coffee and milk.
  6. Add the flour in 3 additions and milk in 2 additions alternately to the bowl, scraping down and mixing on low speed until just incorporated.
  7. Divide the batter between 18 cupcake liners, filling each cup about 3/4 full.
  8. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
  9. To make the frosting:
  10. Stir the instant espresso and 2 tbsp milk together in a small bowl.
  11. Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth.
  12. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into the bowl, and add the powdered sugar and milk-espresso mixture. Mix until smooth, adding 1 tsp of additional milk at a time as necessary to reach desired consistency.
  13. Pipe onto cupcakes, then top each with a chocolate covered espresso bean.

(adapted from Cupcake Bakeshop via Pink Parsley)

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9 comments to Vanilla Latte Cupcakes

  • I’m giving up dairy for the next 2 weeks as part of an experiment with my students, but once that is over, I am making these immediately!

  • Love Rainbow Grocery! I can’t believe I lived in the mission for nearly three years before I knew it was there. The bulk section is awesome.

  • Jen

    The grocery store looks like heaven lol. I would probably be tempted to buy everything haha.

  • Just so you know – I don’t think I can get my cupcake fix from just seeing them online. I’m going to have to taste one of these.

  • I totally agree with you about the frosting- I’m also a sweet frosting kind of girl. I made these same cupcakes a few weeks ago and tried a swiss meringue buttercream for the first time. While it was good, I do prefer a regular buttercream (plus it’s easier, too!).

  • Kristen

    Love your blog. How do you get your frosting so fluffy and whipped? I tried a previous recipe and mine was really runny:(

  • Cate

    Kristen – I add the milk just a little bit at a time and stop as soon as it gets to a spreadable consistency (I use the paddle attachment on my stand mixer)

  • I love these cupcakes so much. And I wish I could eat one (or five) right now. And I’m totally jealous of your grocery store – it looks seriously fantastic!

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