I’m terrible about using recipes from cookbooks. I own quite a few but hardly ever go to them when I need a recipe, instead I go to blogs and Pinterest and Google searches. But I vowed I would make at least one recipe from the Pioneer Woman’s Food From My Frontier cookbook. It’s the only cookbook I own that I paid more than $15 for (I get them used or as gifts) and even though it’s cool to have as a memento since she signed it, it still felt like wasting money if I never used it.
Being a coffee and cake lover, the first thing that called to me was her Coffee Cream Cake. Two layers of coffee-flavored cake with a cream filling and a coffee frosting. Yum. I decided to turn it into cupcakes, putting the cream filling in the center of each. Her recipe has a drippy frosting that is more like a glaze that thickens as it cools, but I wanted a fluffy buttercream frosting on the cupcakes so I made up my own coffee buttercream recipe for these.
The cupcakes are great, mostly because of the cream filling and frosting. I could tell from how thin the cake batter was that it would make sturdy cupcakes, not the light and fluffy ones that a thicker batter will make. While the cake part isn’t my favorite (I’m pretty picky when it comes to cake), it does work well overall. I always state my honest opinion on recipes so that you’re fully informed, but I want to assure you that you will like these cupcakes as is. I doubt any one besides a cake connoisseur would notice the crumb. There isn’t anything really wrong with it because it is nice and moist, but it’s just not as light and tender as I like my cake to be. The taste is fabulous, so fabulous that my coffee-hating husband couldn’t get enough of them.
So make these, you will love them if you love coffee, and perhaps even if you don’t. Or, if you’re like me and prefer a lighter cake, you might try a different recipe for the cupcakes. Personally, I’m either going to use chocolate cake next time, making them into mocha cream cupcakes, or sub really strong coffee for the water in a white or yellow cake mix recipe to get the texture I like.
To get this white streak effect, I used the same piping bag for the frosting that I used for the filling. The residual white filling lined the bag and made a streaky look when I piped the buttercream onto the cupcakes.
Coffee & Cream Cupcakes
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons instant coffee crystals
1 cup boiling water
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup powdered sugar
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup Kahlua (here is a recipe to make your own)
1 tablespoon instant coffee crystals
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 lb. powdered sugar
Dash of salt
For the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350F. Line 24 cupcake tins with paper liners; set aside.
Melt the butter in a saucepan, then stir in the instant coffee and boiling water. Let the mixture bubble up for a few seconds, then turn off the heat. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Pour the hot butter/coffee mixture over the top and stir to combine. Mix together the buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla and add it to the bowl. Whisk until smooth (batter will be very thin). Using a levered ice cream scoop, fill the cupcake tins half full. You will have extra batter, which you can bake more cupcakes with or a small cake if you have a 6” cake pan. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool for a few minutes in the tins, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
While the cupcakes cool, prepare the filling. Beat the cream cheese until smooth, then add the powdered sugar and heavy cream and beat on low until sugar is moistened, then on high until light and fluffy. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a round tip (or a squeeze bottle) with the filling. Push the tip or nozzle into each cupcake and squeeze filling into the center, pulling back once the top starts to rise, and stopping when the filling bursts through the top of the cupcake. Repeat with remaining cupcakes.
For the buttercream, bring the Kahlua to a boil and stir in the coffee crystals. Set aside to cool completely. Once cooled, beat the butter in a large bowl until creamy, then add the sugar, Kahlua mixture, and salt. Beat on low until sugar is moistened, then beat on high until smooth and creamy
To complete cupcakes, pipe swirls of coffee buttercream on top of the filled cupcakes. Serve at room temperature.
Adapted from the Coffee Cream Cake in Food From My Frontier by Ree Drummond