My One and Only Professional Premiere of Blondies Cupcakes and Recipe for Espresso Chocolate Cupcakes

When I was in high school, I always said I wanted to open up a cupcake bakery. Mind you this was before the cupcake boom where now everyone and their mother wants to open a cupcake shop and win Cupcake Wars. I kick myself every day that I didn't push for that dream then, before the market was saturated with cute pink bakeries that only sell cupcakes. But for my cousin's wedding, I did get the opportunity to have my one and only professional premiere of Blondies Cupcakes and I thought I would share with you all what I created. 

I baked 200 cupcakes in total with three different completely homemade frostings and batter in one single rack oven. Yes you heard right, ONE oven and in ONE day! I felt like I was on my own episode of Cupcake Wars. I was exhausted by the end but it was definitely my most rewarding day of baking and I was so happy with the end result. It was also my first time to work in a professional kitchen, even if small, at the wedding location in Switzerland which was really exciting! And I had lots of help from my cousins who I put hard to work as Sous Chefs and dishwashers ;)
My first cupcake was a basic vanilla cake with raspberry jam filling and cream cheese frosting.

My second cupcake was a devil's food chocolate cake with dark chocolate ganache. 

And my last cupcake was an Espresso Chocolate Cake with Espresso Buttercream and it was the hit of the night so it will be the recipe I'm sharing with you today.
The display for all these yummy cupcakes matched the rustic decor of the wedding, which was held in Switzerland overlooking the alps with lots of twinkly lights, wildflowers in mason jars, and sheepskin rugs...aka the most beautiful wedding ever! We set the cupcakes on actual logs cut into cool is that?

I specifically chose cupcakes whose frosting colors would stay true to the natural, rustic palette of the wedding decorations.
Here's me the proud baker with all my babies :)

And now the star of the show...Espresso Chocolate Cupcakes! All of the cupcakes got rave reviews, the vanilla raspberry cake was super light but also tangy from the cream cheese frosting, the chocolate cupcakes were decadent and a chocolate lovers dream especially because they were made with the best Swiss chocolate, BUT the espresso chocolate cupcakes were just the perfect balance of chocolate and coffee...two of most people's favorite things. And its way more fun to get your caffeine fix through a cupcake than through a boring old cup of Joe ;) 

Espresso Chocolate Cupcakes with Espresso Buttercream
adapted from the novice chef

For the Cake: 

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup self rising flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp instant espresso powder
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted (preferably high quality Swiss chocolate such as Cailler if you can get your hands on it, it really makes such a difference)
2 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cream together the butter, sugar, and melted chocolate in your stand mixer. Beat in the eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl combine the flour, cocoa, and instant espresso and mix well. Then add flour mixture, alternating with milk, until you have a smooth batter.
Divide the batter into a 12-cup muffin pan prepared with paper liners. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 14-18 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. And frost as desired.

For the Buttercream:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 to 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder, mixed in 2 tablespoons water

Beat butter on medium high, for 3 minutes. Slowly add in 2 cups powdered sugar, about a half a cup at a time. Once it is fully incorporated, carefully add the vanilla extract and espresso powder/water mixture.
At this point check the consistency of the buttercream. You should be able to lift the beaters and have the buttercream hold its shape. If it is too loose, add more powdered sugar, again 1/2 cup at a time. Pipe onto the top of cooled cupcakes and garnish with high quality chocolate shavings.