So, let me level with you. The reason these mocha cupcakes exist is because I fairly recently got a kitchen blowtorch and since then I have wanted to blowtorch everything. I got the idea of topping cupcakes with an Italian meringue and finishing them off with the blowtorch and got a bit obsessed with it. You might, rather reasonably, be thinking ‘well, I don’t have a blowtorch so this recipe is of no use to me’. I hear you. I get that most people do not have a blowtorch. But the Italian meringue topping these cupcakes is still perfectly delicious un-blowtorched.

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When you make Italian meringue, the hot sugar syrup you incorporate into the egg whites cooks the egg, so going over it with a blowtorch is for effect and a bit of toasty flavour rather than cooking. And if you cannot really be bothered with the whole meringue deal anyway, you can simply top these delicious chocolate cupcakes with buttercream. Or leave them plain and shove them, unadorned, directly into your mouth. It’s all good.

But, should you wish to go down my mocha cupcake route, then do read on to the recipe below.

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Notes

The recipe makes around 18-20 cupcakes.

The coffee in these cupcakes is mostly to boost and enhance the chocolate flavour, but it’s not really dominant. This is because I do not drink coffee. But if coffee is your jam, do feel free to up it here by raising the quantities of espresso powder, adding coffee extract, or brushing the finished cupcakes with a coffee syrup.

If you are making the meringue, you will need a sugar thermometer and some sort of electric whisk – hand held or a stand mixer will do it.

Ingredients

for the cupcakes

170g butter
170ml very strong black coffee
3 tsp espresso powder
40g cocoa powder
85g dark chocolate, finely chopped
225g light brown soft sugar
2 tsp vanilla
½ tsp salt
3 eggs, plus 1 extra yolk
130g plain flour
1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda

for the meringue topping

50g of egg white
100g of white granulated sugar
25ml of water
2 tsp espresso powder

Method

  1. Heat your oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Line two muffin tins with around 20 paper cases (if you only have one tin, just bake in two batches). Put your butter and coffee in a large pan over a low heat to melt the butter, then add the espresso powder and stir to dissolve. Whisk in your cocoa and chopped dark chocolate until the chocolate is melted. Add your sugar, vanilla, and salt, and mix again. Mix in your eggs and extra yolk. Finally, sieve your flour and bicarb over the pan and fold that in too. You should have a very runny cake mix.
  2. Fill your paper cases two thirds full (I use an ice cream scoop). Bake them for 15 minutes, or until your cakes are risen and fairly firm.
  3. While your cakes are baking, make your meringue. Beat your egg whites with an electric whisk or in a stand mixer until they form stiff peaks. Put your sugar, water, and espresso powder in a pan and heat gently, stirring a little, to dissolve the sugar. When the sugar is dissolved, whack the heat up and let it bubble away until it hits 120C on a sugar thermometer. Then pour the syrup into the stiff egg whites in a thin stream, beating all the while on high speed. When it’s all in you should have thick, glossy meringue. Keep whisking it for around five minutes, until the bowl is cool to the touch.
  4. When your cupcakes are baked, top them as you wish. If you’ve made the meringue, you can either spoon or pipe it onto the cakes, and you can blowtorch them or leave it at that. You could also top the cupcakes with buttercream or leave them plain.