Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes

I am thrilled to announce that my longtime boyfriend, Chris, and I are finally getting married! After eight years together, this milestone may appear to be a bit overdue, but I'm excited all the same.

We have survived two years long distance, two separate career changes (both my own),  five moves in three cities and two states,  a masters and a doctorate degree, my first years as a high school teacher (when I rarely emerged from my work), buying our first home together, and all of the small and big moments in-between.

There are two types of marriages: cornerstone and capstone. A cornerstone marriage is one in which the marriage is the starting point, and together a life is created from that point on. A capstone marriage is one in which the marriage is the "capstone," or icing on top, to celebrate a life that has already been built together.


Our engagement story differs from most—less romance, more practicality. We have both felt married for so long already that the actual ceremony feels more like a formality. I suppose you could say we fall firmly into the "capstone" marriage model. 

Sitting on the couch after dinner on a weeknight, the topic of marriage arose.

We should probably get married, shouldn't we?

Yeah, I think we should. But when?

From there, a wedding date was set for two months later, and the rest of the planning very quickly fell into place.


We are having a private outdoor ceremony in our favorite arboretum with family, followed by a nice dinner at a local restaurant. I'm still not sure how we were able to find a ceremony and reception venue, photographer, officiant, and wedding dress within a week for one of the busiest wedding weekends of the year, but I am grateful. A week later we will celebrate in my hometown with friends and extended family.

With everything falling neatly into place, it feels like it was meant to be.

With nearly three weeks left until the big day, there are still dozens of small details to sort out. Instead of letting myself get overwhelmed with the planning, I'm trying to tackle one detail at a time. For the reception, I'm ambitiously planning to bake my own cupcakes to share.

While I baked hundreds of cupcakes for my sister's wedding reception a couple years ago—vanilla beanchocolate, coconut, and dulce de leche—it's a different feat to do it for my own. However, with my own dairy intolerance to manage, I find the dairy-free options from local bakeries lacking both in flavor and texture. So, into the kitchen I must go.

These chocolate espresso cupcakes are a flavor I wanted to give a spin before the big day. Chris and I adore the flavors of chocolate and coffee, so it feels natural to bring them together in this cake.


The cupcakes are infused with chocolate by adding espresso powder and strong coffee to the batter. The frosting is made by mixing strong coffee into semisweet chocolate. The cupcakes are not overly sweet, instead focusing on the deep chocolate and coffee flavors. I topped the finished cupcakes with toffee pieces, but any type of sprinkles will work here (or feel free to keep them plain). Enjoy alongside a cup of coffee or tall glass of milk!

One Year Ago: Grandma's Chocolate Cupcakes
Two Years Ago: Blueberry Crumble Bread & Chocolate Chunk Coconut Oil Cookies (my favorite!)
Three Years Ago: S'mores Tarts, Raspberry Rhubarb Sorbet, & Banana Peanut Butter Green Smoothie
Four Years Ago: Mixed Berry Quinoa Crumble, Cookies & Cream Ice Cream, & Lavender Vanilla Bean Cake
Five Years Ago: Rhubarb Ginger Bars, Berry Cheesecake Tarts, Frozen Strawberry Bars, & Coconut Sorbet
Six Years Ago: Cherry Almond Granola, Vegan Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Cherry Cream Cheese MuffinsBlueberry Breakfast Quinoa, & Vegan Brownies
Seven Years Ago: Bizcochitos, Blueberry Hand Pies, Harry Potter Treats, Cauldron Cakes, Butterbeer, & Butterbeer Cupcakes
Eight Years Ago: Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, Mocha Frappuccino, & Roasted Cherry Coconut Ice Cream

Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes

Yield 1 dozen

1 1/2 cups (190 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (60 grams) cocoa powder
2 teaspoons espresso powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup (78 mL) vegetable oil
1 cup (240 mL) strong coffee, divided
1/2 cup (120 mL) milk of choice
6 ounces (170 grams) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped finely

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line a cupcake pan with baking cups.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the vanilla extract, oil, 1/2 cup strong coffee, and milk. Using a spatula, mix the batter until smooth. 

Divide batter evenly between 12 baking cups (about 3/4 full). Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from baking pan and allow to cool to room temperature.

To make the chocolate espresso frosting, place chopped chocolate into a mixing bowl. Warm the remaining 1/2 cup strong coffee to boiling and pour over the chocolate. Allow it to set for 5 minutes then stir until smooth. Allow frosting to rest in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally, until it cools and thickens into a spreadable consistency (anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes).

Place frosting in a pastry bag (or plastic bag with the corner cut out) and pipe frosting onto the cooled cupcakes or spread frosting with an offset spatula. 

Pumpkin Espresso Bundt Cake

The changing of the leaves from green to hues of red and orange marks the arrival of autumn flavors. When the weather grows cold and the coats come out of the closet, turning on the oven feels right. In partnership with King Arthur Flour, each month I will challenge you with a new recipe, filled with step-by-step explanations and techniques, to help you grow and develop as a baker. For October, I aspired to bring together my favorite fall flavors in a recipe that is meant to be shared.

This month is all about cake, as we undertake the respected Bundt cake. Bundt cakes are an American classic. Introduced in the 1950s by pan manufacturer NordicWare, the name Bundt refers to the architecture of the pan the cake is baked in, not the type of cake itself. Bundt cake pans are taller than the traditional cake pan, with a hole in the center. The hole has a dual purpose—it gives the cake a unique ring shape and allows heat to reach the center of the cake so it can bake more evenly. 

The Bundt pan used with this recipe is the NordicWare Party Bundt pan. The look is classic, but I love this particular shape because the portions are exceptionally easy to slice. 

Traditional whole wheat flour is ground from red wheat. This cake is made with white whole wheat flour, which is ground from white wheat—a slightly different type of wheat, lighter in color and milder in flavor. White whole wheat flour is 100% whole grain and mirrors the nutritional attributes found in traditional whole wheat flour. Its milder flavor makes it a great flour to substitute in many classic all-purpose recipes.

White whole wheat flour is a pantry staple in my kitchen. Adding a little extra nutrition to my baked goods, without compromising the flavor, feels like a superhero power.

The pumpkin cake starts with a mixture of pumpkin puree, eggs, and vegetable oil. The eggs act as a binder between the ingredients, but also add moisture to the final product. The main fat is vegetable oil instead of butter. This makes it dairy free(!), but the neutral flavor of the oil also allows the pumpkin and spice flavors to become more pronounced.

Both granulated and brown sugar is added, for sweetness and a greater depth of flavor, before the dry ingredients are folded in. In this recipe (and most traditional cake recipes), it is important to make sure that there are no lumps in the batter after the final beating. This is especially true for butter cake recipes. Small clumps of butter and sugar left in the batter, often hidden in beaters and the tops of spatulas, will melt in the oven and create holes in the finished cake. 

A well greased Bundt pan is necessary in order to remove the cake in one piece. I find it sufficient to use a heavy layer of cooking spray. When finished spraying, hold the pan up to the light and tilt it, making sure that every crevice is fully covered. Do any touch-ups with the cooking spray now, if necessary.

To create a swirled effect between the pumpkin cake and espresso filling, the ingredients are layered in the pan, alternating between cake batter and a thin layer of brown sugar mixed with cinnamon and espresso powder. Before putting the cake in the oven, tap the pan on the counter to release any bubbles that may have developed when layering.

Though it may be tempting, do not open the oven door while the cake is baking. The rush of cool air into the oven can cause the cake to collapsethis is especially true during the first 20 minutes, when the fragile cake is gaining the most height. When finished baking, cool the cake for fifteen minutes before unmolding.

Unmolding the cake may feel like the most difficult part of this recipe, but it just takes a bit of bravery. Avoid using an off-set spatula to release the cake from the edge of the pan. The spatula can scratch the pan (making it more difficult to remove cakes later) or slice directly into the cake if you slip. Because Bundt pans tend to have ornate designs and curved edges, off-set spatulas can cause more harm than good.

Instead, tap the pan firmly against your work surface to loosen the cake from the edges of the pan. Cover the top of the Bundt pan with a cooling rack, flip it over, and carefully lift the pan off the cake. 

While still warm, use a pastry brush to apply a coffee rum glaze to the cake. Using a pastry brush instead of pouring the glaze over the cake lets the glaze be applied evenly, allowing the cake to absorb it more effectively. The glaze not only adds another layer of flavor to the cake, but it helps to seal in the cake's moisture, keeping it fresher for a longer period of time. Once the glaze is set and the cake is no longer wet in appearance, it can be cut and served.


Pumpkin Espresso Bundt Cake is spiced with the classic flavors of autumn and layered with a sweet espresso filling. The cake is glazed with a mixture of strong coffee and rum to bring out the flavors in the filling and seal in the cake's moisture. When served alongside a cup of hot coffee, the cake truly shines. Share with family and friends.

One Year Ago: Vegan Caramel and Rustic Apple Tart
Two Years Ago: Apple Cinnamon Pancakes and Classic Apple Pie
Three Years Ago: Peanut Butter Cup Cookies, Pumpkin Waffles, Spider Cupcakes, and Apple Scones
Four Years Ago: Red Wine Chocolate Cake, Pear Spice CakePumpkin Latte Cheesecake, and Apple Cake
Five Years Ago: Butternut Squash Custard, Pumpkin Bread Pudding, Banana Nut Bread, and Apple Tart

Pumpkin Espresso Bundt Cake

Yields 8-10 servings

Pumpkin Cake
1 1/2 cups (370 grams) pumpkin puree
4 large eggs
3/4 cup (177 mL) vegetable oil
1 cup (200 grams) brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (250 grams) King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

Espresso Filling
1/3 cup (66 grams) brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Coffee Rum Glaze
1/3 cup (78 mL) strong coffee
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Heavily grease a 10-cup Bundt pan. Set aside.

For the pumpkin cake, beat together the pumpkin, eggs, oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl until well blended. Stir in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and salt until smooth and uniform in appearance. Set aside.

For the espresso filling, whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and espresso powder in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.

In the prepared baking pan, spoon in 1/3 of the pumpkin cake batter evenly into the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle 1/2 of the espresso filling over the top. Spoon another 1/3 of the pumpkin cake batter into the pan and sprinkle with the remaining espresso filling. Layer the remaining cake batter on top and smooth with an off-set spatula.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in pan for 15 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

While the cake is baking, make the coffee rum glaze by whisking together the strong coffee, rum, and granulated sugar. Brush all of the glaze evenly over the cake with a pastry brush while it is still warm. Serve after the glaze has fully set. 

Bake with me! Show off your finished Pumpkin Bundt Cakes by tagging them with #kingarthurflour.

This post is sponsored through a partnership with King Arthur Flour. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Almond Espresso Cookies

I bottle up my emotionsfrustration, irritation, worries, and fears. I push them down into the well of my mind, bury them beneath responsibilities and tasks, and wish for them never to surface. At times, I have hidden them so well that they stay below my radar, leaving me with a consistently calm demeanor to put forth to the world. If I pretend I am fine, perhaps I will be fine. It may be flawed logic, but the idea of "faking it until you make it" is not a novel theory. While it may not always be healthy, it is my coping mechanism.

Lately, I have been feeling overwhelmed. Overwhelmed over the length of my to-do list. Overwhelmed at the new projects I have recently taken on. Overwhelmed at how unprepared I am for the holiday season. Overwhelmed at the idea of feeling overwhelmed. So I do as I have always done. I push these emotions down and bury them beneath other work and chores, knowing they will not disappear, but hoping I can cover them up long enough to let the feelings pass. For the most part, it works. I keep my calm at work, and I keep my calm at home.Yet, the feelings must find their way out somehow. 

The can opener, of all things, has become my form of therapeutic release. 

Less than a year ago, I picked up a cheap can opener at the store to replace the other cheap (but broken) can opener at home. It is, for all purposes, a piece of junk and fails to work more often than succeeds. I battle with the defective can opener often, cursing its rusted gears and inability to cut through metal. I throw tantrums when I struggle with it, describing to the inanimate object exactly how worthless it is and how I will replace it as soon as I get to the store. In the moment, I allow all pretenses to fade away and deal with my emotions directly. Ultimately, I realize the battle is not about canned corn, but about allowing myself to let out the feelings I have been holding in so long.

I am learning, as we all do, how to move through life. Some days (like today) I feel like I do a little more learning than on other days. Maybe, after a bit of practice, I will be able to manage with a bit more elegance and grace and a little less cursing at the canned tomatoes. 

Baking is another form of therapeutic release, one that I find both calming and serene. These Almond Espresso Cookies are one of the favorites in my cookie repertoire to both eat and prepare. Almonds are roasted and then ground finely to form the base of the cookies. Chocolate is drizzled over the top, with a little espresso powder mixed in the cookie to complement the flavor. It is a simple cookie, but the flavors are addicting enough to keep me coming back for more. As the holiday season grows closer, these are a simple enough treat to create, but still unique enough to leave an impression at your holiday table.

One Year Ago: Cranberry Upside Down Cake
Two Years Ago: Maple Roasted Chickpeas, Gingerbread Muffins, Persimmon Cake, and Lemon Cranberry Scones
Three Years Ago: Banana Espresso Chocolate Muffins, Cranberry Orange Brioche Rolls, Cranberry Sauce, and Cranberry White Chocolate Tarts
Four Years Ago: Chocolate Espresso Pots de Creme, Sugar-Coated Daydreams, Blueberry Brownies, and White Chocolate Saffron Truffles

Almond Espresso Cookies with Chocolate Glaze

Yields about 12-18 cookies

Almond Espresso Cookies
6 tablespoons (85 grams) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract, optional
1 1/2 cups (187 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (85 grams) almonds, roasted and finely ground*
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and almond extract until smooth. Gradually add the flour, finely ground roasted almonds, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring until batter is uniform.

Drop by the tablespoon onto a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Glaze
1/2 cup (85 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon (14 grams) butter

In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate chips and butter over low heat until smooth. Transfer to a pastry bag (or small plastic bag with the corner snipped off) and drizzle the warm chocolate over the cookies. Allow to set for 30 minutes to harden the chocolate before serving. 

*To roast almonds, spread into a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) until tan and fragrant.