Chocolate Cupcakes & Strawberry Espresso Frosting

My mom absolutely loved these cupcakes – they were one of her Mother’s Day presents from me!


My mother (like anyone in their right mind) is a huge chocolate fan. We have to hide the chocolate covered almonds so she doesn’t eat them all in one sitting! She also loves any type of fresh fruit, and has a real penchant for coffee, too. So, when crafting the perfect Mother’s Day dessert recipe, I knew I had to incorporate all of her favorite flavors. Hence, the decadent and delicious chocolate cupcakes with fresh strawberry espresso frosting.


For the cake, I used my go-to basic chocolate cupcake recipe, and experimented by adding a tablespoon more of espresso powder than usual. They turned out perfectly for me – but if you’re a really big espresso fan, I’d recommend another tablespoon or two. One tablespoon definitely deepened the chocolate flavor in my batch, but the espresso was not prominent.


I am really, REALLY proud of this frosting. I had strawberries and espresso powder on the counter, and was planning on topping each cupcake with plain espresso frosting and then a whole strawberry on top, but I was hit with a stroke of genius, if I may say so myself! After making a base, regular vanilla buttercream, I added espresso powder to give it that sweet coffee taste. Then came the good part, I roughly diced the strawberries, pressed them all dry with a paper towel, and incorporated them into the rest of the frosting with a few spins of the paddle mixer. And, bam! A sweet, coffee buttercream with fresh strawberries throughout, that paired perfectly with my rich chocolate cupcakes. Also, my mom’s favorite color is turquoise, so I made sure to use the perfect liners!


I love that you can see the little flecks of espresso in the buttercream, and how vibrant the strawberries are in the photos – they add the perfect lightness to an otherwise heavy cake. Mmmm… I could really go for a spoonful of that frosting right now.


Anyway, happy (belated, now) Mother’s Day to my smart, beautiful, kind, loving, and supportive mother!

And I hope you liked the sweets (I think she did – they were gone in two days)!

Leave a comment below to let me know how they go!



Chocolate Cupcakes & Strawberry Espresso Frosting

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Frosting Ingredients

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons instant espresso powder (I like the brand Medaglia D’Oro)
  • 2/3 cup finely diced strawberries (pat them dry to remove excess water without crushing them)

To bake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350*F and line two cupcake pans with paper liners.
  2. Stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso in the large bowl of a stand mixer.
  3. Add in the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla, and beat the whole mixture on medium speed for about two minutes.
  4. Stir, or put your mixer on the lowest possible setting, and add in the boiling water. Your batter will not look like regular cupcake batter, but rather, brown soup! This is correct – you’re doing it right!
  5. Fill the cupcake cups 2/3 full with batter and bake for 22 to 25 minutes. Before frosting them, make sure they’re totally cooled.

To frost

  1. Using a paddle attachment in the bowl of a stand mixer, whip up the softened butter until almost completely white and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  2. Add in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, until completely incorporated. Feel free to add milk if you want a thinner consistency, but remember that the strawberries will add liquid to the recipe.
  3. Blend in the vanilla, salt, and espresso powder until the bits of espresso are relatively evenly distributed in the frosting.
  4. Using a spatula, gently incorporate the strawberries, trying not to crush them too much.
  5. Fill a prepared piping bag with a star tip (or whatever tip you choose) and frost each cupcake with a swirl. It may be difficult for the strawberries to it through a really small tip, so I’d use a large star tip, or something bigger. Or just slather it on bag-less!

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