A couple of years ago, I acquired a book called Cupcakes by a woman named Susanna Tee. I’ve only made one recipe from that book, and I enjoyed it, but it was more muffin-y than cupcake-y (mainly because there was no frosting involved). It’s a small book, only around 80 pages with 30 recipes, but the photographs are lovely. I sort of use it as a “coffee table book” more than anything, because it’s a clean-looking book that doesn’t look too cookbook-ish.
I was hankering for a new recipe to make, and for some reason I wanted something with coffee. So I cracked open this book for the first time in over a year, and found “Mocha cupcakes with whipped cream” which sounded divine. However, instead of whipped cream, I decided to make that perfect frosting recipe I made a few times before once again, this time in plain vanilla. It’s easy enough to make the whipped cream topping, though if you prefer it. Just take 1 cup whipping cream, and using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk it until it thickens and holds its shape. Ta-da! Upon seeing the name of the cakes in the book, I was reminded of the color I used to darken my hair a few months back, which was “Mocalotive.” Hence my confused-sounding post title. I decided to call them ‘mochaccino’ cupcakes because it reminded me of the drink.
A caffè mocha or café mocha[note 1] is a variant of a caffè latte. Like a latte, it is typically one third espresso and two thirds steamed milk, but a portion of chocolate is added, typically in the form of sweet cocoa powder, although many varieties use chocolate syrup. Mochas can contain dark or milk chocolate.
Like cappuccino, café mochas contain the well-known milk froth on top, although they are sometimes served with whipped cream instead. They are usually topped with a dusting of either cinnamon or cocoa powder. Marshmallows may also be added on top for flavor and decoration.
A variant is white café mocha, made with white chocolate instead of milk or dark. There are also variants of the drink that mix the two syrups; this mixture is referred to by several names, including black and white mocha, tan mocha, tuxedo mocha and zebra.
Café mocha takes its name from the Red Sea coastal town of Mocha, Yemen, which as far back as the fifteenth century was a dominant exporter of coffee, especially to areas around the Arabian Peninsula. These coffees had a notable chocolaty taste, and hence the term “mocha” was extended to mean intentional addition of chocolate to coffee.
This recipe was decidedly not muffin-ish at all. Moist, smooth and delicious. And don’t get me started on the frosting… holy crap… I’m not a religious person, but this frosting could make you believe in God. I do recommend going back to this post and reading the full commentary about the frosting if you’re planning on making it. It can be tempermental. Of course, it’s not as good as say, a Swiss or Italian meringue, but it is very good and very light. It has an almost whipped-creamy quality to it. Plus it’s a great option if you run out of confectioner’s sugar and/or aren’t quite as adept with the meringues, yet you want to impress with a “cooked” frosting.
I’ve made mocha cupcakes before, but they were different. Made differently, and with a different taste. Richer. These were lighter, and the honey added a nice touch. I bet if you use Golden Blossom honey, you’ll get a lovely orange-y touch to it.
Get this here shit:
- 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
- 6 tablespoons butter
- generous 3/8 cup superfine sugar*
- 1 tablespoon honey
- scant 1 cup water
- scant 1 5/8 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
And do this, bitches:
- Preheat the oven to 350° degrees F.
- Put the espresso powder, honey, water, butter and sugar in a pan and heat gently, stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 5 minutes. Pour into a heatproof bowl and let cool thoroughly.
- When the mixture has cooled, sift in the flour and cocoa. Dissolve the baking soda in the milk and add to the coffee mixture with the egg. Beat until smooth.
- Spoon the batter evenly into prepared muffin tins. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until well risen and firm to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
PERFECT CUPCAKE FROSTING (courtesy of Our Best Bites)
First, get this:
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk (whole milk is best)
- 1 cup unsalted butter (NOT margarine!)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
And then yer gon’ do this:
- Whisk together the flour and the milk. Heat in a small sauce pan on medium heat.
- Whisk continuously until it starts to thicken. Let it cook, while stirring, until you can start to see the bottom of the pan. It should still be liquid-ish though. It’s okay if you have lumps, because we’re gonna strain those out right now. Place the mixture in a mesh strainer and stir with a rubber spatula to push it through.
- You should end up with a nice, smooth mixture. It’s almost like pudding before it’s set.
- Put this mixture in the fridge and let it cool completely, it’s fine if it stays in there long enough to get chilly, you just don’t want it warm at all. When it is chilled, you can move on to the following step.
- It an electric stand mixer, beat the butter and the sugar for a minute or two until well combined and fluffy. You’ll want to use the whisk attachment on a stand mixer, not the flat paddle. Then while beating, add in the thickened milk mixture and the vanilla. Beat to combine and then scrape down the sides. Don’t be scared. It’s going to look like a goopy mess and kind of lumpy and separated.
- But you just wait. It’s gonna blow your mind in a few minutes. Beat on med-high for 7-8 minutes. Yes, that long. I know it seems like forever, but that’s when the magic happens!
- After 7-8 minutes it will have transformed from that sloppy mess into something gorgeous, fluffy, and incredibly light and silky.
I filled these muffin cups about ¾ full, and they rose really nicely. I could’ve filled them more, actually. But it’s all good in the ‘hood. They looked so pretty before they were frosted- the tops were really smooth. And after they were frosted? Even prettier!
Aren’t they gorgeous? All that fluffy, creamy white frosting piled up like that.. yum. But that wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to make them a bit prettier. So… I got out my edible pearls and some ground cinnamon. Perfect.
If you’re not a fan of frosting, this is a frosting you have to try. Seriously. It’s so deliciously light, not too sweet at all. Just perfect. I insist you try it. And if you are a fan of frosting, you of course have to try it. It’s not cloying, sickly sweet or too thick like regular confectioner’s sugar buttercream can be. Like I said, it’s almost like a whipped cream in texture and flavor. I do recommend however that you use pure vanilla extract, not imitation. I still can’t believe a frosting made with flour can be this light and delicious. And this is such a fall-and-winter-like cupcake. Perfect for this time of year. I don’t know about you, but when doing my Christmas shopping or running errands, or even just when it starts to get chilly out, I like to grab a latte or a mocha latte, so this kind of cupcake really hits the spot for fall, or winter.
If you have coffee extract, you could make this frosting with a coffee flavor. Or you could just do the whipped cream topping, and make it more like a caffe mocha. Another option for decoration is to sprinkle it with chocolate shavings, cocoa powder or chocolate ganache as well- anything that would replicate a mochaccino. They would be super adorable in those silicone tea cups too! Times like this (and when I made my tea cupcakes) I wish I had those.
And look at the cutest freakin’ potholder EVER that Yoyo sent me:
Handmade by TOPSTITCH just for me! (sorry for the shitty photo quality)