mocha cupcakes with vanilla buttercream

Posted on April 13, 2014


So, terrible thing about the apartment, I guess, huh Julia?” I looked past the very tall lady standing at the counter who was being ignored by all salespeople, “How’s that?” I asked, wondering just what gossip these guys had been spreading about me. “Well, if the stove doesn’t work, I guess you’ll just have to find another apartment, and that could be tough…” Finally he peeled his eyes away from the computer long enough to flash a smile my way and wink. This guy wanted cookies, or something. It has been a long time since I have baked, anything. Or, lets be real – taken a picture of anything either. My Canon was part of a recall and so had been vacationing in NJ for a while getting new rubber grips installed…


There is some sort of hierarchy of customer who shops at supply houses, and while I don’t really have it all figured out, after 12 years, I have figured enough out to find the place that I would like to be, and kept myself there. Homeowners are at the bottom, well-dressed ones, especially, and nobody wants to see a well-dressed homeowner waltz in on a Friday when it’s about 10 minutes before closing. Then there are the people who don’t have an account, then there are the people who have an account and don’t spend that much money, then there is the average spender, then theres me, then theres the huge shops who get all the extras cause they spend tons of money there.


Why do I think I fall in where I got in? Cause I’ve been testing out cookies, brownies, cupcakes, breads and candy on this entire branch for years now, and before that, I would bring them coffee when I worked weekends at a cafe. You gotta keep up some sorta good rapport with these dudes, cause some day (which will then turn into soon and often) some clients gonna ask for some crazy item that you will try to track down, and I mean… cupcakes never hurt in that situation.

Having to make a special order is sometimes almost as dreadful as watching a homeowner explain what type of recessed light they want their electrician to install, it takes a painful amount of time to explain, and when you are done – the counter guy looks at you with this “who even came up with that crackpot idea” look, and instead of apologizing for making anybody’s job any more difficult, it’s way nicer to push cookies towards them and without skipping a beat just tell them what kind of baked goods they can eat while grumping about what you just asked them to order.


Once I explained that the one thing that was going really well in my life right now WAS in fact my stove, and that I would do my best to make something in the near future for them, but that I’d been in a body fat contest at the gym, and in order not to fail miserably, I had cut baking out, entirely for a month. As hard as that was, it was successful, and though I wasn’t first place, I got a lot closer than I thought was even possible. “Oh, it’s on, buddy, don’t you worry your little head – I’ll getcha something soon.” As I walked out and headed towards my weekend, I heard him finally acknowledge the woman who had been notsopatiently waiting to be served. “She really takes good care of us, and she makes some of the most delicious things, you wouldn’t believe…”




<strong>Mocha Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting</strong>

  • Servings: 12-16 cupcakes
  • Difficulty: easy
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[adapted from BrownEyedBaker]

Set the oven to 350F, line your cupcake tins

In a large bowl, sift together:

1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt

In a measuring cup, combine: 
½ cup whole milk
½ cup strong brewed coffee (room temp)
1-1/2 teaspoons espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 tablespoons chocolate syrup

In your stand mixer (or with hand mixer) beat the sugars and butter until it begins to fluff up. 
½ cup unsalted butter (room temp)
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar

1 egg (room temp)
12 oz baking chocolate (grated) (optional)

Once the butter, sugar mixture starts to get airy and change color, add the egg and the grated chocolate (if using) and combine. Add your dry ingredients in parts, alternating between the wet ingredients, until you have combined it all – always ending with the dry ingredients.

Bake at 350F 17-25 minutes (depending on your oven) and I always turn the tins around 180 degrees in the oven half way through, but that’s cause my oven is a little finicky… Test the cupcakes with a toothpick, or other highly evolved tool to check if cooked through.

Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting them!


Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1 cup (this time i only had salted, so that’s what I used…) butter, softened
3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (sifted)
1 teaspoon 1/2 & 1/2 (or milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

In mixer, beat the butter, vanilla and salt until creamed. Slowly add sugar followed by either half&half or milk, whichever it is you want to use. Always check the consistency of the frosting, and at this point add more sugar or dairy product of choice to get the desired consistency. Decorate the cupcakes however you see fit, always remember to test frosting before using it, also tasting the left over bits is good too…