mocha cupcake

And now for a break from the deluge of fall spices...

It is Martha Stewart Cupcake Club time, and this month's pick is MOCHA CUPCAKES.

I am a sucker for beautiful photos and Martha has always had amazing photos in her magazines and books. I remember how her photos stood apart from other shelter/lifestyle magazines when she first came out with Martha Stewart Living in 1990. They were styled, lit and nuanced differently and gorgeously.

So, it is the photo of the mocha cupcake which enticed me to make it. I was captivated by the frosting. Yes. Frosting.

It reminded me of a Dale Chihuly sculpture. 
Perhaps if you combined this sedate sea form

with this twisting chandelier,

you'd get something akin to the undulations of the frosting.

Or if you're looking for something with less movement,
the plop and swirl works quite quickly and easily.

P.S. My BBF (best blogging friend) reminded me that I didn't say a word about the cupcake. I was so taken by the frosting that I forgot to talk about it! I love the texture- a light and tender crumb, thanks to the cake flour- and perfectly moist. There is just a hint of coffee in both cake and frosting and so it doesn't overpower in taste. All in all, this is a lovely recipe and a definite bake-again if I'm in the mood for mocha.

Mocha Cupcakes
from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

2¼ cups cake flour, sifted
2 tablespoons unseetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1½ cups packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup sour cream, room temperature
¾ cup freshly brewed espresso
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
Seven-Minute Coffee Frosting (see recipe below)
Coffee beans, for garnish

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
Whisk together cake flour and cocoa. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter until smooth and light. Add the brown sugar and eggs; beat until fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add the vanilla, baking soda, and salt; beat to combine thoroughly. 

Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, althernating with two additions of sour cream, and beating until just combined after each. Mix together brewed espresso and espresso powder; add to batter, and beat until smooth.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, about 22 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months in airtight containers.

To finish, use a small spoon to dollop cupcakes generously with frosting and make decorative peaks. Garnish each cupcake with a coffee bean before serving.

Seven-Minute Coffee Frosting

1¼ cups sugar plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon espresso powder
⅓ cup water
1 tablespoon corn syrup
2 large egg whites, room temperature
pinch of salt

Combine 1¼ cups sugar with the water, espresso powder and corn syrup in a small saucepan; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230ºF.

Meanwhile, in a bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, beating to combine.

As soon as sugar syrup reaches 230ºF, remove from heat. With mixer on medium-low speed, pour syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to medium-high; whisk until mixture is completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl) and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 7 minutes. Use immediately.


  1. Beautiful photos! Thanks for this month's selection! How did they taste? Did you have one for breakfast? I'll be finding out soon enough. Off to bake! :-)

  2. I think I need one of these... they look divine!

    And I agree with you about Martha's photos. In fact, for the front of most of my school notebooks (white 3 ring binders where you can slip in a piece of paper) I've used old MSL full page photos. I don't get the magazine currently, but I miss the photos.

    Back to baking... Did you say you have a fabulous white cake recipe? Would love to have it if you don't mind!


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