Chocolate and Espresso Celebratory Cupcakes

Routinely Rachel
by Routinely Rachel
12 Cupcakes
1 hr

It’s my birthday! Today is my 33rd birthday. I’ve never been huge on birthdays, but I’m always a fan of cupcakes (especially with sprinkles). These chocolate and espresso cupcakes with dark chocolate cream cheese frosting are seriously worth celebrating!

I can confirm that these beauties received the stamp of approval from my taste testers aka my coworkers. Based on reactions I’ve overheard when other people have brought in cupcakes, my coworkers are not fans of overly sweet treats and are not fans of “globs of frosting.” Luckily, I automatically reduce the sugar in pretty much all of my recipes AND I am terrible at piping so use a spatula to spread the frosting – something I learned from The Sprinkles Baking Book and the Queen of Cupcakes, Candace Nelson.

Chocolate and Espresso Celebratory Cupcakes
Recipe details
  • 12  Cupcakes
  • Prep time: 40 Minutes Cook time: 20 Minutes Total time: 1 hr
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For the Cupcakes
  • 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 tbsp warm water
  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter – room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar – lightly packed
  • 2 large eggs – room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup all purpose flour – spooned and leveled
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
For the Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8 oz package of cream cheese – slightly softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter – slightly softened
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3.5 oz 85% dark chocolate – melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar – sifted
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar – sifted
  • 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 tbsp warm water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp milk (I used almond milk, can be whole/reduced/whatever) – if needed
For the cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350F and line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners. 
In a small mixing bowl, combine the buttermilk and vanilla bean paste. Set aside until needed. Add 1 tbsp warm water to a small cup and mix in 1 tbsp instant espresso powder until dissolved.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add butter, espresso mixture, and both sugars and cream together at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. While creaming, whisk together in a medium mixing bowl the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined.
Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium-low and add the eggs one at a time, and beat until creamy – 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add half of the flour mixture, then all of the buttermilk mixture, then the remaining flour mixture. You will want to mix until just blended after each addition. Stop the mixer.
Add batter to each liner 1 tbsp at a time until evenly filled and batter gone. Each cup should be about 3/4 full.
Bake the cupcakes until the tops are just dry to the touch and a toothpick comes out with only moist crumbs, no batter. This should be about 18-20 minutes. Start checking around the 16 minute mark. Let cool for about 10 minutes in tin and then remove each cupcake and let cool the rest of the way on a wire rack. Make sure to cool completely before frosting!
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes +/- 2 cups
Place chocolate in microwave safe bowl and microwave in 30 second increments until fully melted. Set aside to cool. Combine 1 tbsp warm water and 1 tbsp instant espresso powder in small cup. Use mesh sieve to sift sugars into a mixing bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, add the cream cheese, butter, espresso mixture, and salt. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add in the melted chocolate and beat for another minute. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the sugars until just incorporated. Don’t over combine. Add the vanilla and beat 30 seconds more. If too thick, you can add milk in 1 tbsp increments until you achieve your desired, spreadable or pipeable consistency. Don’t over thin though – you want it to still be fudgy.
  • To ensure liners don’t get soggy/greasy while baking – place dry rice below each liner prior to filling with batter. A great tip for baking muffins or cupcakes of any kind!
  • Crucial to let cupcakes cool completely before frosting
  • The cupcakes without frosting can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. Once frosted with cream cheese frosting, will need to be in airtight container in fridge for up to 3 days
  • Can use any milk you choose as needed for the frosting