Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes


Sometimes you need a cupcake with a little extra kick. You know, a flavor so zingy and caffeinated that you may or may not want to eat this cupcake early in the day. If that’s what you’re looking for, these cupcakes may be perfect for you- light and spongy chocolate espresso cake, espresso buttercream, topped with a dark chocolate covered espresso bean- I am feeling a buzz just thinking about them.

I made fifty these beauties for my dear friend Nate’s 30th birthday party. (He’s the one who took the picture of me on the site!) I haven’t made over 2 dozen cupcakes in ages so I had a couple hysterical moments in my kitchen. One involved me realizing that I had no bowl large enough for a double batch of this batter (why I didn’t just make two separate batches is a mystery.) So there I am, with chocolate-covered dishes everywhere, pouring my batter into a large stock pot so I could mix it. There may or may not be a few overwhelmed-tears in the batter of these, and maybe a couple in the frosting as I realized three times that I still didn’t have enough butter for all the frosting which meant another trip to the store. Sigh….and this is why I don’t want to open up a bakery- I think I’m small-batch kind of a girl. :)


These were an absolute hit at the party though so that’s all that matters! If you are a chocolate and coffee fan, I think you’ll love these. They don’t skimp on the coffee flavor at all and even people that didn’t think these would be there favorite came back to me raving. Isn’t it a great feeling when others enjoy what you’ve created? I think so :)


Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes

Yield: 18 -24 cupcakes


  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup freshly brewed strong coffee
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons safflower oil, canola is also fine
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

Espresso Buttercream

  • 2 sticks of butter softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2-6 tablespoons of milk or cream
  • chocolate espresso beans, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside.
  2. Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.
  3. Stir the espresso powder into the hot coffee until dissolved. Add the eggs into the bowl with the flour, along with the coffee/espresso mixture, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed.
  4. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

For the Frosting:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the espresso powder, vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk or cream. Stir together until powder has dissolved.
  2. Put the softened butter into a large bowl, and using an electric mixer, beat the butter until pale and creamy.
  3. Gradually add the powdered sugar and continue to beat until thick and paste-like. Add the espresso/vanilla mixture and continue to beat frosting well.
  4. Add a teaspoon at a time of milk/cream until frosting is creamy and pipe-able. Frost cupcakes as desired, and top with a chocolate covered espresso bean. (optional)
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 18 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Cupcake recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
Frosting recipe: The Baker Chick original :)


  1. You are a rockstar. 50 cupcakes is a lot but totally worth it for a 30th birthday. I love this flavor combo too. Espresso is my favorite with chocolate. Beautiful job, Audra!

  2. You have been a busy bee, however, I am sure the big payoff was all the rave reviews about these. They look stunning and your description has my mouth watering. Saving the recipe for a couple of dozen, but I have to say making 50 is not in my schedule! Enjoy the day!

  3. The ingredients are all things I have around–love it! I can make them whenever I get the urge :D

  4. I think you just might have convinced me to move to New York in time for my 30th birthday in a few years! These cupcakes are divine and your friend is one lucky man to have you make these for him! Lovely recipe, Audra.

  5. Audra, these look so pretty. I’m loving the perfect frosting ruffles on each cupcake. Can I ask which icing tip you used to create that? I also have 50 cupcakes to bake for a party upcoming Easter Sunday. I’d love to re-create your ruffle style but with triple coloured red, white, blue colours (Olympics theme).

  6. These look so gorgeous and I’m liking the idea of having them for breakfast! What is your secret to toting your treats (especially things with frosting) to another locale?

  7. Lucy- I normally go to New York Cake and Baking Company on 22nd St and buy bakery boxes. They also have plastic cupcake containers for $2.99 that are totally re-useable but easy to toss. I love that place!

    This time though- Magnolia was nice enough to lend some boxes to our transport-across-the-city cause. :)

  8. What’s it like to live in New York? Do you walk everywhere? I want to go to college there but I’ve only visisted once and completely loved it!

  9. These look so beautiful! I love those ruffles (which I still haven’t to learned how to do). They look super moist and delicious, I wish I could have 50 of these beauties for my birthday :)

  10. Thanks Audra, I have that tip but not a clue on how to create the ruffles like you did. If you don’t mind, would you be willing to email or reply with how you did? I.e. was the tip upright and close to the surface and twisting left/right as you squeezed out? Sorry for the Q’s but I really want to do this with triple colours, it’ll look awesome. Thanks in advance.

  11. Lisa, I promise I’ll try to do a video tutorial at some point, but in the meantime:
    I actually didn’t mean to frost them like that- I was planning on just swirling it, but after doing the first 25 or so my wrists got tired so I moved the pastry bag just a little bit side to side and it got like that. Maybe experiment a bit before frosting an actual cupcake? :)

  12. Since you’re gonna mix frostings, maybe just practice with one color a few times first? I always do that :)

  13. Delightful photos! They are so good, I just want to grab one to try! Great post!

  14. I just made these for a party and they were a huge hit! (I added baileys to the buttercream and they became “Irish coffee cupcakes.”) So, so delicious!

    1. Hey Hannah- I’m sorry but I just saw this comment!
      I don’t know much about high altitude baking- but I’m sure the normal adjustments could be made!

  15. Looks good, i want to make some to. But what kind of cup did you use, i have so many seizes. And is the frosting just for one cupcake, cause it looks a little less if you have to decorate 12 cupcakes with it. I’ll make them saturday, hope you can answer my questions. Thanks :D

    1. Hi Lilo- I used standard muffin tins for these!

      And the frosting recipe is enough to pile it high on 12 cupcakes! :) Good Luck!

      1. Thank you so much!
        I will definitely try these out tomorrow. I’m holding a little competition for the best cupcakes, I’m sure i can will that now!
        I’m just a little confused. I’m from the netherlands and we measure here in theaspoons and especially in ml. So can you tell me how much ml, 1 cup is? I use standard muffin tins to, It’s hard to bring a good taste in the smaller ones.
        Again, thank you for the recipe, I’m sure i will win tomorrow.

        1. Don’t worry, i found it myself.
          1 cup is in the netherlands 250 ml.
          i will just experiment and see what it’s gonna be :D

  16. Can i ask with there is a specific measurement of water you used to dissolve the expresso in procedure #3?

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  18. I was looking for a coffee flavored cupcake and found your site. I am so glad I did. Your pictures are beautiful. Thank you for the recipe.

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  21. Espresso cupcakes and espresso buttercream frosting are delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipe. It’s a keeper in our family. I enjoy your blog. Best wishes with the countdown to baby bliss.

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