Coffee Anyone?

Okay I know one of my new years resolutions was to drink more tea and less coffee.  So you may wonder (probably not) how that's going...well...not so well anymore.  For the entire month of January I don't think I had a single cup of jo.  February, on the other hand, was not so good. Starbucks started creeping its way back in my life, and now I'm not only drinking it again, but actually baking with it.  What can I say? I LOVE MY COFFEE! Also, have you seen those commercials where this guy asks random people in NY if something is true or false. Well, if you haven't, one of the questions is, "Does drinking 3 cups of coffee a day help you retain memory?" Do you know the answer? I thought maybe a cup a day would be the right answer, but I was mistaken.   Three. Yes, let me say that one more time, THREE cups of coffee a day helps your brain. So since I have such a bad memory, I guess I need to drink more coffee. LOTS MORE!  Just saying.

Mocha Cupcakes
recipe from My Baking Addiction

1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
2 c sugar
3/4 c cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 c whole milk
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 c freshly brewed hot coffee (i used Cafe Escapes - Cafe Mocha)
1 1/2 tsp instant espresso granules

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line muffin tins with paper liners  or spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl with paddle attachment.  In another bowl, combine the milk, oil, eggs and vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. Take the cup of hot coffee and add 1 1/2 tsp of espresso granules to it.  With mixer mixer still on low, add in the coffee/espresso mixture and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  This batter will be more on the liquid side so what I like to do is pour my batter into a 1-quart measuring cup and then distribute the batter into the prepared muffin tin.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove them onto a cooling rack and cool completely before adding frosting.

Now For The Frosting.

Caramel Buttercream Frosting

1 c unsalted butter, softened
3 c confectioners' sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp heavy cream or whole milk
2 tbsp caramel sauce (extra for drizzling)

Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed, about 3 minutes. Add 3 cups of confectioners' sugar until the sugar has been incorporated into the butter. *Make sure to turn your mixer on the lowest speed or the sugar will go everywhere.  Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of cream or milk and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add another 1/2 cup of sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining cream or milk 1 tablespoon at a time.   Add the 2 tbsp of caramel to the buttercream and mix until well incorporated.  If you want a more caramel flavor add another tbsp at a time and go from there until you reach your perfect taste.  I garnish the cupcakes with a little extra caramel & a chocolate covered caramel brulee ball.  

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