True confession time. I don’t particularly care for cupcakes. Yes, I know that they were all the rage about 15 minutes ago, but I’m totally on Team Donut when it comes to faddish desserts.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t particularly hate cupcakes, either. My problem is that enormous swirl of tooth-aching sweet frosting that most bakeries insist on using, as if an egregious quantity of buttercream will somehow compensate for a dry, subpar cupcake. When it comes to frosting, I’m firmly convinced that less is most definitely more.
What I do love, however, is coffee.
Scratch that. I adore coffee. I worship it. I cannot imagine going through life without it. It is literally what keeps me coherent between the hours of 9am and noon most days, especially on the days I get stuck with an early meeting.
Hence why I couldn’t pass up an invitation to join the Lavazza Passionista blogger network. That means that over the next few months, I’ll be partnering up with Lavazza to create some amazing recipes made with their amazing Italian-style coffees.
First up is these cupcakes. They’re actually good enough to temporarily turn me into a cupcake afficionado, mostly because they’re the exact opposite of every frosting-smothered store-bought cupcake I’ve ever had to choke down.
They start with an incredibly chocolatey, tender, moist chocolate cake that’s honestly delicious enough to eat on its own. It’s the frosting that’s the kicker, though. Sure, it helps that it’s made with strong coffee and a splash of whiskey, but the most important thing is that it’s very sparingly applied to make sure it complements that wonderful chocolatey cake rather than overwhelming it completely.
This recipe might actually seem a little bit strange if you’re used to a more traditional cupcake technique, but trust me, it really works. This is my version of the classic Depression Cake aka Crazy Cake, beloved of thrifty housewives throughout the decades because it’s made without pricey eggs, butter and milk.
Instead of all those things, it relies on cold leftover coffee and cocoa powder to create a deep, rich chocolatey flavour, and leverages the simple chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar to create a wonderfully tender, fluffy texture. (It’s a cake batter AND a science less, all in one!)
And, as a bonus, it means these cupcakes are vegan-friendly… as long you skip the decidedly not vegan buttercream, that is!
These cupcakes feature Lavazza’s Perfetto espresso blend, a classic espresso made with 100% Arabica beans that have been roasted a bit longer to produce that “perfect” robust Italian espresso flavour. Any darker roast coffee will do, though, especially if you brew it nice and strong.
These are the perfect way to use up some leftover coffee, if you happen to have some kicking around, though I honestly think they’re honestly delicious enough to justify brewing up a pot on purpose. And really, who doesn’t love a good excuse to make a fresh pot of coffee?
Disclaimer: I am being compensated for my participation in the Lavazza Passionista blogger program. All opinions, as always, are entirely my own. To get more info on Lavazza products and to order online, visit shoplavazza.com
- 3 cups flour
- 2 cups sugar
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups brewed Lavazza Perfetto coffee, cooled to room temp
- 1 cup canola oil
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- 3 tbsp brewed Lavazza Perfetto coffee, divided
- 2 tsp instant espresso powder
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- 1 tsp whiskey (or vanilla extract, if you prefer)
- 2½ cups icing sugar
- Pinch salt
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in the coffee, canola oil and vanilla extract, then add the vinegar and stir well. (Don’t worry if the batter foams up as soon as you add the vinegar. That’s normal.)
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake tins, dividing evenly. Bake in preheated oven for 17-20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out with a moist crumb. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool off completely.
- While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the frosting. In a small bowl, dissolve the espresso powder in 1 tbsp of the brewed coffee.
- In a medium bowl, beat the butter using an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the whiskey and the espresso mixture, and beat to combine. Add the icing sugar, a half-cup at a time, beating well after each addition until smooth and fluffy.
- Continuing to beat on medium speed, slowly add the remaining coffee, a teaspoon at a time, until the frosting is smooth and spreadable.
- To frost the cupcakes, drop a large spoonful of frosting on top of each cooled cupcake. Using the back of a dessert spoon, gently spread the frosting using a swirling motion until you've covered the entire top of the cupcake.