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Chocolate Cupcakes with Mocha & Espresso Buttercream

These chocolate cupcakes are more indulgent than usual, with a creamy dulce de leche filling and (two!) separate espresso infused buttercreams! The dulce de leche is incredibly easy featuring only one ingredient, and each buttercream frosting brings a little something different to this cupcake. The mocha buttercream is soft and creamy while the espresso buttercream is thick and full of rich espresso flavor. Despite having a filling and two buttercreams, I can assure you that these chocolate cupcakes are not too sweet!

These chocolate cupcakes remind me of a mocha latte with a sweet caramel swirl. The addition of ground cinnamon to the espresso buttercream is key (I always sprinkle cinnamon on top of my morning latte!)

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5 chocolate cupcakes with espresso buttercream and mocha buttercream.

The Chocolate Cupcakes

These chocolate cupcakes are made with dark, rich cocoa powder that becomes “activated” by the addition of hot espresso and hot water.

Sour cream is a go-to ingredient for adding moisture to cakes and cupcakes! Always be sure to buy the full-fat version since low fat sour cream tends to be watery. These cupcakes are incredibly soft and delicious!


The Dulce de Leche filling

Once you see how easy it is to make dulce de leche out of cream of condensed milk, you’ll want to make it all the time and put it on everything! The sweetened condensed milk is slow cooked for 3 hours in this recipe, resulting in a beautiful caramelized dulce de leche filling.


The Mocha Buttercream

This buttercream features both cocoa powder and dark chocolate for maximum flavor! I always prefer adding both butter and cream cheese to chocolate buttercream. The cream cheese adds a richness and creaminess while keeping the buttercream nice and light. This also means the buttercream will be on the softer side. I don’t like buttercreams that are overly sweet, so I always use a minimal amount of confectioner’s sugar in my recipes.


The Espresso Buttercream

This espresso buttercream is incredibly thick, luscious and full of flavor! The high proportion of butter (400 grams!) makes butter the star and allows the deep espresso flavor to really shine through.

In this recipe, 1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon is added to the espresso buttercream. If you love cinnamon as much as I do, you can even add a bit more once the buttercream is finished mixing, to taste!

Espresso buttercream on a stand mixer's paddle attachment.

Equipment needed


Prepare in advance

  • Measure and set out all ingredients ahead of time.
  • Finely chop the chocolate (by hand or with a food processor).
  • Set out the following ingredients to bring to room temperature:
    • 683 g unsalted butter
    • 43 g full-fat cream cheese
    • 150 ml whole milk
    • 90 g full-fat sour cream
    • 2 large eggs (100 g)

Print
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Chocolate Cupcakes with Mocha and Espresso Buttercream


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  • Author: Amy @ The Pastry Blog
  • Total Time: 5 1/2 hours (3 inactive)
  • Yield: 12 cupcakes 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale

For the dulce de leche filling:

  • (1) 14ounce can sweetened condensed milk

For the chocolate cupcakes:

  • 90 ml whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 150 g unbleached all purpose flour
  • 35 g dark dutched proccessed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 113 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 200 g granulated sugar
  • 90 g full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 30 ml hot espresso
  • 30 ml hot water

For the mocha buttercream:

  • 170 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 43 g full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 70 g dark chocolate 60-70% recommended
  • 30 g dark dutched proccessed cocoa powder
  • 195 g confectioner’s sugar
  • 40 ml whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp espresso powder
  • 2 tbsp room temperature water

For the espresso buttercream

  • 4 tsp whole milk, at room temperature
  • 8 tsp espresso powder
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 180 g confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 400 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

Instructions

For the dulce de leche filling:

  1. Remove the paper label off of the can of sweetened condensed milk.
  2. Fill a large saucepan with water and place the unopened can of sweetened condensed milk into the water on its side. Ensure that the can is covered by water by 1-2 inches.
  3. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to as simmer. Let simmer for 3 hours, adding additional hot water periodically so the can is always fully submersed.
  4. Carefully remove the unopened can from the hot water and let cool for at least 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle. 
  5. Open the can and transfer the caramelized milk into a bowl to cool completely. Once cooled, transfer to an airtight container until use.

For the chocolate cupcakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F and line a cupcake tin with paper liners.
  2. Combine the milk and vanilla, set aside.
  3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer using a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the sour cream, mixing until fully incorporated.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated after each addition.
  7. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the sifted dry ingredients alternately with the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated – do not overmix!
  8. Add the boiling water and hot coffee and mix until incorporated.
  9. Remove the mixing bowl from the stand and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, being sure to incorporate any hiding ingredients.
  10. Divide evenly into a cupcake tin and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry.
  11. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.

For the mocha buttercream:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer using a paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Finely chop the chocolate and place into a bain-marie over simmering water, stirring occasionally, until just melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  3. Sift the cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar into a medium bowl and set aside.
  4. Combine the whole milk and vanilla extract and set aside.
  5. Combine the water and espresso powder and mix until completely dissolved.
  6. With the mixer speed on medium speed, gradually add the partially cooled chocolate into the butter and cream cheese mixture, mixing until fully incorporated.
  7. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add in the coffee extract and mix until incorporated.
  8. Gradually add the sifted dry ingredients alternately with the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
  9. Store in an airtight container at room temperature until use.

For the espresso buttercream:

  1. Stir the whole milk, espresso powder and vanilla extract until completely dissolved and set aside.
  2. Sift the confectioner’s sugar and ground cinnamon into a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer using a paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the espresso mixture to the creamed butter.
  5. Gradually add the sifted dry ingredients, stopping frequently to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and being sure to incorporate any hiding ingredients.

To assemble: 

  1. To core the cupcakes: Using the base of a large round pastry tip with a 1-inch diameter, press into the center of the cupcake to half of the way through. Use a cake tester or toothpick to release the cake from the pastry tip and repeat. If you don’t have a pastry tip, you can core the cupcakes with a paring knife!
  2. Prepare three piping bags: One with a small round pastry tip for the dulce de leche, and two with large round pastry tips for the mocha and espresso buttercreams.
  3. Fill the cupcakes with the dulce de leche filling. Pipe the espresso buttercream onto the cupcakes followed by the mocha buttercream.
  4. Store in an airtight container at room temperature (the espresso buttercream hardens if refrigerated).
  • Prep Time: 3 (inactive) hours for the filling + 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes

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