Feature, Food

RECIPE: Espresso Brownie Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting

It’s my last day of vacation. Oh, the sorrow. I’ve only had to work 4 days in the past two weeks and going back to this place called “work” seems like such a bizarre concept.  And I woke up this morning thinking about brownies. And coffee. Well, I am always thinking about coffee when I wake up, because I can’t get anything done without a mug of coffee within a few inches of me at all times. So as my last hurrah, I decided to get baking. And eating. Always both.

Once I had sipped my TMNT mug of coffee for a bit all whilst thinking of brownies, I made the executive decision to combine the two. Since I have enough coffee to last until next winter since I bought a bajillion bags from Starbucks after Christmas, so why not throw it into some baked goods? Especially some lovely espresso roast? Why NOT combine my two true loves?


But then I had all this extra batter left over, because I only had my 8×8 pan. What is one to do with a bunch of extra brownie batter? Oh, I know. TURN IT INTO BROWNIE CUPCAKES. Beautiful brownie cupcakes that are slightly crispy on the outside and so, so chewy.

Brownie cupcake

And did I mentioned I decided that they really, really needed frosting? Like smooth, cream cheese frosting? With brewed coffee, ground coffee, and vanilla bean? Because they definitely did. And it needed to be piped on. The coffee really shines through in the cupcakes and is a such a lovely contrast to the frosting (which I could eat out of the bowl).













Espresso Brownie Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Category: Feature, Food

Servings: 12-18 cupcakes

Espresso Brownie Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting

Espresso Brownies with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting A rich, fudgy, coffee flavored brownie cupcake, contrasted with sweet cream cheese frosting! Partially adapted from this recipe.


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 15 tbsp unsalted butter (2 sticks minus 1 tablespoon)
  • 3-5 tbsp finely ground espresso or dark roast coffee
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 whole vanilla bean
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 8 tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 2 tbsp brewed espresso or dark roast coffee
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 dash finely ground espresso or dark roast coffee (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line cupcake pan with parchment cupcake liners.
  • Combine sugar, butter, cocoa, finely ground coffee and salt in a metal bowl. Place bowl over saucepan of simmering water and whisk until butter melts and ingredients are blended (it willbe grainy!) I used 5 tbsp total of coffee, because I wanted to make sure the flavor really came through, but you can adjust to your preference.
  • Remove bowl from water and let cool.
  • Once cool (you don't want to cook your eggs!) whisk eggs in one at a time and add vanilla. Sift in flour and fold in.
  • Cook for 25 minutes, checking at 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely in the pan.
  • For the frosting, cream butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and brewed coffee in your stand mixer.
  • Sift in confectioner's sugar one cup at a time with mixer on medium, then scrape vanilla bean in.
  • Put in fridge to chill. Frost cupcakes once they're cool!


I used pre-ground espresso roast coffee and then put it in my own coffee grinder and ground it until it was nearly a powder - this worked perfectly to prevent any grainy texture in the brownies.

I also added a dash of the finely ground coffee to the frosting because I really can't get enough of coffee!

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