It all started with Nicole’s yummy Double Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes. Mi era venuta la voglia di CUPCAKES….I wanted cupcakes, immediately. I hadn’t made cupcakes in Italy, for many reasons, least of all that I didn’t have a muffin pan. After Nicole’s cupcakes, I knew exactly what I wanted for my birthday, even if I had to make them myself!
No, wait. It actually started way back with World Nutella Day. I had bought a bottle of Caffe’ Borghetti espresso liquor and used it for the Mini Nutella Tiramisu. The recipe didn’t call for very much, so I was left with almost a full bottle. Then recently, a girlfriend of mine gave me another bottle of Caffe’ Borghetti, so I knew I needed to start using it up!
I started with the Espresso and Cappuccino cupcake recipes from Nigella’s How to Be a Domestic Goddess, but I wasn’t impressed with the recipe and the fact that I would need self-rising flour and espresso powder (what?). Feel free to defend her, but I passed. Luckily, I have baking soda and powder, and plenty of regular flour, so I looked around some more.
Instead I remembered David’s Devil’s Food Cake recipe, which after I tasted some homemade cookies of his (Robyn has a picture of the crumbs here) and all the testing I did with his ice cream book, I know he is to be trusted!
PS: If you’re confused why I’m making my own birthday cake, read last year’s explanation of how Italians celebrate their birthdays.
Drunken Devil’s Food Espresso Cupcakes
Adapted from David Lebovitz’ Devil’s Food Cake
9 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup Borghetti espresso liquor, or other coffee liquor
½ cup whole or low-fat milk
- Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Mix all dry ingredients well with a spoon in a bowl. In a measuring cup (I used my 1-cupper) mix the milk and liquor together, set aside.
- In a (separate) mixing bowl, beat the sugar and the (softened) butter together. If it’s too hard, put the butter in the microwave (first) for 10 seconds to soften it. Mix in an egg at a time until well-blended.
- Add half of the dry ingredients, mix well and then add the milk/liquor mixture and mix. Add the rest of the dry ingredients. If you were hand-mixing before (me), I recommend using the electric one (or lots of caffeine) to do the final mix as it gets really fluffy.
- Pour into (lined) cupcake pans, about 3/4 of the way full, or a little more. Bake for 20 minutes, and pull out to test with a toothpick. Because of the alcohol, they take less time to bake as the alcohol evaporates pretty quickly. Make sure not to overcook!
I knew when I couldn’t stop tasting the batter, I had had an excellent idea. While my cupcakes were cooling down, I noticed the tops were a bit crispy, and I “accidentally” broke a piece off into my hand. Mmm…
I am a buttercream (it’s all about the vanilla!) frosting fan with my devil’s food, but you are welcome to use a chocolate ganache as David explains in his recipe. This is what I crave at birthday time: Mom’s Buttercream frosting.
Mom’s Buttercream Frosting
1 stick (4oz/125g) butter, softened
1 lb. (450g) powdered sugar
1 t. Vanilla extract
Cream the butter with 1/4 of the powdered sugar with a hand mixer. Add more sugar, alternating between the milk and the powdered sugar to get the desired consistency (I use very little milk, like 1/4 cup). Towards the end, add the vanilla, and spread on your cupcakes.
The muffin/cupcake pan I found only had space for 6 cupcakes (argh, small ovens!) so instead of doing 3 rounds of using the same pan, I also poured some of the mix into some mini-crostata pans I had bought. They were perfect making a little, two-layer cake. ALL FOR ME.
While I didn’t have the much-coveted candy corn (also my favorite!) I did have some Belgian chocolate from Jeff de Bruges my recent travels, and they were perfect. Espresso-flavored dark chocolate in the shape of coffee beans.
I don’t mind making my cake, and eating it, too.
Happy Birthday to Me.