Saturday, September 12, 2015

Mocha cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting

What inspired me to bake these little cupcakes? Hmm...., after tasting the cupcakes by Plain Vanilla at Yong Siak Street in Tiong Bahru enclave, I wanted to bake cupcakes that's soft, moist and light like theirs. Furthermore, I have vanilla swiss meringue buttercream in my freezer. A very good motivation since I do not need extra effort and time to make the buttercream. Not to forget the chopped peanuts too. Better use them while still fresh and crunchy.

The recipe is adapted from my favourite Rose Levy Beranbaum's Heavenly Cakes book. I've used the Chocolate Butter Cupcakes recipe sometime back for a friend's daughter's wedding and received good reviews, This time round, I thought to myself - why not add espresso to the batter to give the chocolate cupcakes a more exquisite taste. I love any dessert that has coffee in it. Coffee plus chocolate - that's my pleasure. I also replaced half of the caster sugar with brown sugar to give the cupcakes a little more moistness. And sugar has been reduced by 10% too from the recipe.

The cupcakes turned out to be what I wanted - soft, moist and light. Decorating and eating it together with the lightly salted vanilla swiss meringue buttercream topped with crunchy chopped peanuts is simply too delicious to stop at one. You will love the buttercream - not too heavy due to the addition of egg white. Indulge and forget about the calories and cholesterol ......... for now .........

Mocha cupcakes (Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Chocolate Butter Cupcakes)
(Makes about 8 cupcakes)

21g dutch-processed cocoa powder
59g boiling water
1 large egg
22g brewed coffee or espresso
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
83g cake flour
45g caster sugar
45g brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
85g unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature

Line the cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
Pre-heat oven at 175 ºC.


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the cocoa powder and boiling water until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent evaporation and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. To speed up cooling, place in refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the egg, brewed coffee and vanilla extract just until lightly combined.
  3. In a bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt at low speed for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the butter and chocolate mixture and mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1½  minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  6. Use a spoon to scoop the batter into the prepared cupcake liners, smoothing the surface evenly with a small metal spatula. The liners will be about three quarters full.
  7. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until a wire cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean and the cupcakes spring back when pressed lightly in the center.
  8. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove them from the pan and set them on a wire rack. Cool completely.

Vanilla buttercream
This is a swiss meringue buttercream. You can reduce the recipe to 1/3 if you are just baking 8 cupcakes. Or you can use the amount in the recipe here. You can freeze the remaining buttercream if not using it for the next 3 days. You can also use half salted and half unsalted butter if you want a little salty taste to the buttercream. It tastes really good.

272g unsalted butter, at 18 °C or 65 °F, cut into 2cm cubes
36g + 76g caster sugar
36g water

3 egg whites
1/4 + 1/8 tsp cream of tartar

¾ tsp vanilla extract

  1. Add 76g caster sugar and 36g water into a saucepan. Bring it to a boil over medium fire while stirring constantly until sugar has melted. After bubbling, stop stirring. Reduce fire to low.
  2. In a clean mixing bowl, beat the egg whites on low speed until foamy. Add in the cream of tartar and increase the speed to maximum.
  3. When soft peaks form, add in the 36g sugar gradually. Continue beating until stiff peaks form.
  4. Increase the heat and bring the sugar syrup to a boil until temperature reaches 120-121 ºC or 248-250 ºF. This is the firm ball stage. Transfer syrup into a glass measuring jar.
  5. With the mixer off, pour a third of the syrup gently into the egg white mixture. Beat on high speed for 5 seconds. Repeat this step 3 times.
  6. Once all sugar syrup has been added to the egg white mixture, beat the mixture at medium speed for about 2 minutes or until egg white mixture feels cool.
  7. Beat in 1 tbsp of butter at a time at medium speed. If mixture looks curdled, increase the speed. It will blend in smoothly again. Continue until all butter has been added and the mixture is smooth.
  8. Add in the vanilla extract. Blend evenly.
  9. Transfer into a glass bowl. It can be used at this time. If it's a little too soft, refrigerate it for about 15-20 minutes.

Decorate the cupcakes with the buttercream according to how you like them to be. You can sprinkle the cupcakes with chopped peanuts like in my cupcakes here. Or anything you like, chocolate sprinkles, rainbow sprinkles, cookies, etc.

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