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Coffee cupcakes are homemade cupcakes featuring the flavor of coffee, which offers a slightly bitter earthy flavor to the baked goods. The flavor can appear in either the cupcake batter, the filling, or the frosting with the addition of powdered coffee or a liqueur. They can be made by using store-bought mixes or creating cupcakes from scratch with customized ingredients that complement and enhance the presence of the coffee.
Coffee flavor is usually added to coffee cupcakes either through powdered coffee or coffee-flavored liqueur. Though the strongest flavor comes from espresso powder, coffee liqueur tends to work better paired with sweet and creamy ingredients. A baker should use products that are of a high enough quality to drink on their own, as poor quality coffee can ruin the cupcakes. When making coffee cupcakes, it’s best to concentrate the flavor in one area, rather than putting it in the batter, the filling, and the frosting, which can be an overkill. Complementary flavors can be used in the other aspects of the cupcakes.
The basic recipe for cupcake batter includes the dry ingredients of sugar, flour, and baking powder. Added to the dry ingredients are the wet ingredients of butter, eggs, and milk. In order to flavor the batter, powdered coffee combined with hot water can be stirred in.
For a hidden bite of coffee, a filling can be piped into the center of the cupcakes. Cream cheese filling can be made with coffee-flavored liqueur and sweetener. An alternative filling for coffee cupcakes is a ganache made with powdered espresso, heavy cream, and dark chocolate.
Ganache can also be used as a frosting for coffee cupcakes, though buttercream is the most commonly used. Buttercream frosting is traditionally made with egg whites, butter, and sugar. Diluted powdered coffee or coffee liqueur can be added to the buttercream before it’s piped onto the coffee cupcakes. For added flair, the cupcakes can be garnished with chocolate-flavored coffee beans.
Purchased cake mixes can be used to form the base of the cupcakes. Dark chocolate, pound, and white cakes will best support strongly flavored fillings or frostings. Cakes with strong spice flavors, such as carrot cake or gingerbread, should be avoided, as there should only be one bold ingredient in the cupcakes and that place is reserved for the coffee.
Spices and stir-in ingredients can be used to customize the coffee cupcakes. Small chunks or chips of dark or semi-sweet chocolate can accent the coffee flavor. Finely-chopped biscotti, extremely firm cookies that get softer when introduced to moisture, can add crunch and an extra dose of coffeehouse experience to the cupcakes.
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