When I was in my teens I used to really dislike coffee. I found it far too bitter and to me it tasted like trying to drink a bonfire and I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to drink it. While studying for my A-Levels I got a weekend job working in the café/restaurant of a local garden centre and one of my jobs became being in charge of the coffee bar. The coffee bar was quite modern and used to grind the coffee beans fresh for every cup, and I made so many cappuccinos, mochas and lattes that I was permanently immersed in a cloud of coffee aroma. I used to find this quite off putting, but one day I suddenly realised I had grown to actually liked the smell, loved it in fact, breathing in the earthy smoky aroma of strong fresh coffee mingling with the childhood smell of hot frothy milk. I tried a cup of coffee when I went back home and really enjoyed it – I didn’t even need sugar and no one was more surprised than me. I suppose being around it for so long that I grew accustomed to it. I have heard that your main sensory flavour detectors are in your nose and based on my experience I can believe it.
Unfortunately my new found love of coffee had some drawbacks – it turns out caffeine and I do not mix well. If I have even one coffee after midday I am still buzzing from its effects by the time I go to bed and as a result I don’t sleep. I don’t go loopy or bounce off the walls, it just keeps me wide awake. One of my flatmates always has a coffee right before going to bed – I don’t know they do it! I still drink coffee, but only if I really need to stay awake. I know you can get decaffeinated coffee and I do have this if I go out, but I never make it myself as the rest of my family and friends all drink regular coffee and its easier just to avoid it. That being said, I love coffee used in cakes or desserts and find I can eat them without suffering long lasting caffeine effects (just don’t feed me tiramisu in the evenings!). Coffee cake is one of my favourites and so I decided to make some coffee cupcakes. I topped them with some creamy vanilla buttercream and a dusting of grated dark chocolate to remind me of the drink that got me into coffee – the cappuccino. Anyone else find caffeine really affects them? These cupcakes are yummy and the perfect mid-morning pick me up.
For the coffee cupcakes
115g self raising flour
115g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp instant coffee
Vanilla Buttercream Topping
130g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
10g dark chocolate for decoration
Preheat the oven to 175C. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases.
In a small bowl, dissolve the coffee in half a tablespoon of hot water and set to one side to cool.
In another bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until well combined and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each one.
Mix in the flour and baking powder. Pour over the dissolved coffee and beat until well combined.
Spoon into the cupcake cases, filling half way.
Bake for 22-25 minutes until risen and springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
Meanwhile make the buttercream, beat the butter until soft and then sift over the icing sugar in small batches, beating well between each addition until you have a smooth icing.
Add the vanilla and beat again.
Once the cupcakes have cooled, place the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a small star nozzle and pipe small blobs over the surface of the cupcakes.
Using a fine grater, grate the dark chocolate over the top of the cakes to create a dusted effect.
Makes 10-12 cupcakes
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