Vanilla Cupcakes with Coffee Buttercream

Vanilla Cupcakes with Coffee Buttercream

This was my last project from before I left for UNC! The dorm kitchens are pretty dismal, but I’ve found several baking buddies so hopefully something yummy will come out of there soon! (I heard that cookies are a good way to make friends in college…?)

Anyways, back to the cupcakes – I was looking for a vanilla base to go with this amazing coffee buttercream for a client, so I thought I’d take a stab at one of the many ‘best vanilla cupcake’ recipes floating around the interwebs. Finding ‘best’ and ‘go-to’ recipes take a lot of trial and error… and since I don’t normally even like vanilla cupcakes, I haven’t tried a lot of variations.

While it was good, I thought this recipe was still too sweet to complement this light, fluffy coffee buttercream. Even baked at 325 F, the cupcakes are easily overcooked which dries them out. I’ve adjusted the sugar and baking time to reflect this, and also scaled down the amount of frosting because the original recipe made way too much for just 12 cupcakes.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Coffee Buttercream

This coffee buttercream really outshines the cupcake base, but next time I’m going to try to pair it with the white-out cake in cupcake form! It would also be great with chocolate cupcakes for a mocha combination.

Recipe: Vanilla Cupcakes with Coffee Buttercream


For the cupcakes:

  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 T. butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the buttercream:

  • 1 T. instant coffee granules
  • 1 T. water
  • 1 T. vanilla extract
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 c. confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 T. milk
  • Pirouline cookies for garnish (optional)


Prepare the Cupcakes:

  1. Line 12 cupcake tins with paper or foil liners and preheat the oven to 325 F.
  2. Cut the butter into the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat on slow speed until everything is combined and you have a crumb mixture with a sandy consistency.
  3. Gradually pour in half of the milk; beat until the milk is just incorporated. Whisk together the remaining milk (1/4 cup), egg, and vanilla. Pour into the flour mixture and beat until all ingredients are just incorporated. Beat for about another 30 seconds to one minute until the batter is smooth. Do not over mix.
  4. Divide the batter among the 12 cups – each should only be about half full. The batter really makes 12 cupcakes, because they rise quite a bit. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until light golden and the cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool slightly in the pan before removing cupcakes to a wire rack. Cool completely before frosting.

Prepare the Coffee Buttercream Frosting:

  1. Combine water, coffee granules, and vanilla extract in a small bowl; stir to dissolve coffee. Set aside
  2. Beat butter in bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 1 minute. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add confectioners’ sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating for a few seconds between each addition. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the coffee mixture and milk; beat on low speed to combine. Scrape down sides and bottom of the bowl. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat until fluffy, about 4 minutes.
  4. To frost the cupcakes, fit a disposable piping bag with desired frosting tip and fill with frosting. If the buttercream is too soft to pipe, refrigerate it for about 10-15 minutes. These swirls were achieved by piping in a circle starting on the outside and pulling up as you go towards the middle, using a Wilton 1M tip. Garnish with cut up Pirouline cookies, or whatever else floats your boat!

Number of servings (yield): 12 cupcakes

Adapted from The Kitchen is My Playground

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