Mocha cupcakes are a must for coffee lovers. Simple to make, super soft, and topped with creamy mocha buttercream, these cupcakes taste like they came from a bakery but they’re made right in your own kitchen. They’re absolutely delicious!
This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of those links I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you. I only link to products I love and use myself. For the full disclosure, see here.
How to brighten up any morning (or afternoon or evening): MOCHA CUPCAKES! (I totally think you could classify these cupcakes as a breakfast food because they’re jam-packed with coffee.)
But if you prefer your cupcakes after dinner rather than first thing in the morning then I totally understand. Just be sure you whip up a batch soon. They’re too good to miss!
Why you’ll love these mocha cupcakes:
- The recipe calls for both butter and vegetable oil—the butter adds delicious flavor and the oil ensures your cupcakes are perfectly soft and moist
- These cupcakes pack lots of coffee flavor, both in the cupcakes themselves and in the frosting
- You can store your cupcakes for several days after making them, so they’re a great make-ahead dessert option!
How to make your cupcakes
- Stir together sugar, melted butter, and oil
- Mix in eggs and vanilla
- Stir in the dry ingredients until the batter is smooth
- Divide batter between paper-lined muffin cups, then bake for about 20 minutes
Notes for making your cupcakes:
- The cake batter will be very thin—this is fine! Don’t be tempted to add more flour or cocoa powder.
- I strongly recommend sifting your cocoa powder before mixing it with the rest of the dry ingredients. Cocoa powder tends to be lumpy and it’s hard to get all the lumps out once you’ve added it to the batter.
- Be sure to cool your cupcakes fully before you frost them or the frosting will melt.
- If you prefer, you can make the cupcakes a day before frosting them. Cool them completely, replace them in the muffin tins, and wrap the tins tightly with plastic wrap. Store at room temp for up to a day.
How to make your frosting
- Beat unsalted butter until smooth and creamy
- Mix in cocoa powder and a few other ingredients>
- Gradually beat in powdered sugar, beating until smooth
Notes for making the frosting:
- Be sure your butter is at room temperature before you make the frosting. If the butter is too cold, in won’t mix well with the remaining ingredients.
- Sift your cocoa powder if it’s lumpy! You don’t want lumps of cocoa in your frosting.
- If you want to make the frosting a day ahead, you can store it (covered with plastic wrap) in the fridge overnight. When you’re ready to use it, beat with an electric mixer on high until it warms to a pipe-able or spreadable consistency. (You might have to add a little milk or cream but I rarely find that necessary.)
- I used an Ateco 824 piping tip for my cupcakes but you can use any piping tip or just spread the frosting on top.
How to store cupcakes
You have lots of options for storing your cupcakes! Uneaten cupcakes can be stored, covered with plastic wrap or a cake saver, at room temperature for 2 or 3 days.
You can also refrigerate them (again, covered) for 3 or 4 days (but I think they taste best served at room temperature so you might let them sit on the counter for a bit if they’re cold).
Alternatively, you can freeze your cupcakes for a couple of months. Be sure they’re tightly wrapped—I usually use layers of plastic wrap and aluminum foil.
Before I wrap them, I freeze the cupcakes on a baking sheet for about half an hour to set the frosting. That way I can wrap them really tightly and the frosting stays intact.
What is instant espresso powder?
Instant espresso powder is just what it sounds like—powder that you mix with water to make espresso. It’s basically the same thing as instant coffee, only more intensely flavored.
Espresso powder is a fairly common ingredient in chocolate desserts like brownies, cakes, and cupcakes because it deepens the chocolate flavor.
(In fact, I always add a teaspoon of espresso powder to my brownies, even if the recipe doesn’t call for it. It’s my secret ingredient to make the brownies extra rich!)
I used espresso powder to flavor the frosting on top of these cupcakes. You can use instant coffee granules instead, but I find that instant coffee doesn’t mix in as well and you’ll most likely have to use more of it.
I can almost always find espresso powder at Target and sometimes I find it at the grocery store right next to the instant coffee.
Don’t substitute ground espresso or ground coffee! Your frosting will be gritty.
Did you make these mocha cupcakes? AWESOME! Let me know what you think with a comment and a rating below. And post a pic on Instagram too! Tag @theitsybitsykitchen so I can see!
Mocha cupcakes are a delicious treat for coffee lovers. They're simple to make and they taste like they came from a bakery!
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder sifted if it’s lumpy
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted and cooled
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cups lukewarm coffee
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 4 to 6 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder*
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350. Line 14 to 15 muffin cups with cupcake liners and set pan aside.
- Combine the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl and stir together. (These are your dry ingredients.) Set aside.
- Combine the sugar, melted butter, and oil in a large mixing bowl and stir well to combine. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix vigorously.
- Stir half of the dry ingredients into the sugar-butter mixture until just incorporated. Mix in half of the coffee.
- Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then mix in the remaining dry ingredients and the remaining coffee. Stir until smooth. (The batter will be very thin.)
- Divide batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups, filling each cup about 3/4 full. Bake 18 to 22 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
- Let cupcakes cool in pans for 15 minutes, then carefully remove from the pans to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting them.
- Place the butter in a medium mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until very smooth. Add 4 tablespoons of milk, the cocoa powder, espresso powder, vanilla, and salt and beat to combine.
- With mixer on low, gradually beat in 2 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar. Turn mixer to medium and beat until frosting is smooth. Add add additional powdered sugar if frosting is too thin; if it’s too thick add additional milk.
- Spread or pipe over the cooled cupcakes, then serve and enjoy.
- *2 tablespoons of espresso powder was right for me but if you’re not sure how much mocha flavor you want in your frosting, start with 1 tablespoon and add more to taste. If 2 tablespoons isn’t enough, feel free to add more!
- Uneaten cupcakes can be stored, covered, at room temperature for 2 or 3 days. You can also refrigerate them for 3 or 4 days (but I think they taste best served at room temp).
- Cupcakes can also be frozen, tightly wrapped, for a couple of months.