Coffee Crunch Cupcakes ~ The ultimate coffee dessert built on a vanilla cupcake base and then topped with a rich and creamy coffee buttercream frosting.
I probably could have gone with a chocolate cupcake base, and it would have worked out just as well as the vanilla, but I wanted something subtle. Something that wouldn’t compete with the coffee frosting.
Pair this Coffee Crunch Cupcake with a Guinness Nitro Cold Brew Coffee Beer to drive the coffee flavor home. If you are not totally familiar with Guinness Nitro Cold Brew Coffee Beer, it’s similar to Guinness Draught—smooth and creamy—but with a delicious coffee aroma and flavor. It strikes just the right balance of bitter and sweet notes to add a counterpoint to the rich sweetness of the dessert.
Now that you know what to sip while mowing down these cupcakes do a pantry check and get everything on deck for baking.
Before you get started, read the Q & A + tips and the recipe for the best results.
Can I use coffee grounds instead of instant coffee for the coffee portion in the frosting?
The two are not interchangeable. You need instant coffee or instant espresso for this coffee buttercream frosting.
How can I change the strength of the coffee flavor?
The best way to take charge of how strong the coffee flavor is to start slow. The recipe is written for a medium strength: to lessen that, use just 1 teaspoon; to strengthen it, add more instant coffee, a teaspoon at a time. Remember, you can always add more coffee flavor, but it’s near impossible to “take it out.”
For the vanilla cupcake, do I really need oil and butter?
The short answer to this is yes. The oil adds moisture, and the butter adds flavor.
Can I swap out the buttermilk for sour cream or yogurt?
You can, but I don’t recommend it. I tested both with various types of yogurt and with full-fat to low-fat sour cream. All variations resulted in a denser crumb and one that is not nearly as tender and moist.
How far in advance can I make this?
The frosting can be made up to 1 week in advance. Cover it with plastic wrap by directly placing it on the surface. Keep frosting refrigerated. When ready to use, remove the frosting from the refrigerator and place it on the countertop away from direct sunlight or heat to bring it to room temperature, about 3 hours.
The cupcake can be made the night before and stored loosely covered at room temperature.
- 3 cups (360g) cake flour
- 2 cups (390g) sugar
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened (about 65F)
- 1 1/2 cup (114g) buttermilk
- 3/4 cup (150g) neutral oil
- 4 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4 teaspoons instant coffee, divided use
- 3 tablespoons milk, divided use
- 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter
- 4 cups (454g) confectioners’s sugar
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- Toffee and chocolate candy bar
- Heat oven to 350F.
- In a large bowl, mix together the cake flour, sugar, baking powder baking soda and salt until combined; set aside.
- In a large bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, butter until light and fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the flour mixture to the butter, mix on low until flour is absorbed. Increase speed to medium and beat until mixture looks like wet sand, about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Turn off the mixture, add the remaining ingredients, buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Turn mixer to medium, beat just until combined about, 2 minutes.
- Line cupcake wells with liner and fill 2/3 full. Bake one pan at a time for best results. Cupcakes are ready when tops are golden and skewer inserted in the center comes out free of wet batter (you may see a few moist crumbs, that’s fine).
- Remove cupcakes from the tin and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
- In small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of milk with the 2 teaspoons instant coffee. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer bowl, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium until creamy about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn off mixer, add 1 cup of confectioners’s sugar, mix on low until just sugar is absorbed, then increase the speed to high and beat until well combined. Repeat three more with the remaining confectioners’ powdered sugar.
- Add milk and instant coffee mixture, remaining 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules, vanilla and salt, beat until well combined and creamy.
- If frosting is too thick add additional milk, 1 tablespoon at a time. If frosting is too thin, add additional confectioners’ sugar, 1/4 cup at time to thicken
To make cupcake
To make frosting:
Frost cupcakes as preferred. Sprinkle with crushed toffee and chocolate bar. (To finish like the photo, use: Wiltons 1M tip and Heath Candy Bar)