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EpicureanPiranha | July 7th, 2010 - 18:27

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Espresso Cupcakes & Single Malt Whisky Espresso Buttercream

Espresso Cupcakes with Glenlivet Single Malt Whisky & Espresso Buttercream, decorated with crystalised roses.

I’ve been a die-hard coffee lover since I was a child and tasted my first coffee-flavoured chocolate!  This incredible ingredient can be used in everything from confectionery to main courses, to desserts and drinks of all kinds, but I have to admit that a good dessert flavoured with coffee ranks top of my list!  In fact, some of the most exquisite desserts I ever tasted were perfumed with coffee, either to add a delicate taste or the more intense notes of espresso. The more intensely flavoured creations often contained a liqueur or eau-de-vie of some kind, such as cognac or brandy.

My Dad and I, however, prefer the taste of a ♥ single malt whiskey ♥, which of course, also perfectly complements coffee.  I’m particularly fond of Speyside malts, and had a bottle of Glenlivet 12 Year Old single malt whisky on hand.  This elegant Speyside malt is a light golden amber, smooth as silk, has a medium rounded finish, and is quite simply a pleasure on the palate. It’s wonderful to drink neat, or a perfect match to dark chocolate [70% or more cocoa] or coffee.

So on Father’s Day, I decided to create a cupcake for my Dad that married this lovely malt whisky with the rich flavour of espresso. It’s a delicate sponge cake, flavoured with highly concentrated espresso, then topped with a buttercream that’s flavoured with concentrated espresso, Glenlivet single malt whisky, and a touch of vanilla.

I made a simple buttercream for these because I was a little short on time, but you could make a silky Swiss meringue buttercream and flavour it the same way [see below for notes].

Espresso Cupcakes & Irish Whisky Buttercream

These cupcakes are an irresistible treat for coffee and Irish whisky aficionados.

Everyone loved these except for my cousin, who liked them, but is a pure chocoholic … can’t win ‘em all! But if you love coffee, then you will love these

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375 ml (1 1/2 c) plain [all purpose] flour
7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) baking powder
1 ml (1/4 tsp) salt
65 ml (4 Tbs + 1 tsp) instant espresso powder

125 ml (1/2 c) butter, room temp.
2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) vanilla
250 ml (1 c) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
100 ml (3.5 fl oz) skimmed milk + 50 ml (1.5 fl oz) water, combined

  • Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Line a 12-hole muffin tin and 4 – 6 holes in a 6-hole muffin tin with paper cases.
  • Place dry ingredients in a large measuring cop or small bowl and mix well with a fork.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, beat butter until pale and fluffy, adding sugar gradually; add vanilla and beat.
  • Add eggs one at a time beating well after each.
  • Carefully fold 1/3 of dry ingredients into butter mixture. Gently incorporate 1/2 the liquid, beating well. Repeat, ending with dry ingredients. Do not over beat!
  • Fill lined cupcake tins no more than ¾ full. Bake 15 to 18 minutes in centre of oven. Check with a wooden pick after 15 minutes – if pick does not come out clean, leave an extra 1 to 3 minutes, depending on moistness of batter.§
  • Remove from oven when baked, and allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Then allow to cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

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180 g (1 c) butter, room temp.
950 ml – 1 l  (4 c) icing sugar

15 ml (1 Tbs) boiling water
7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) instant espresso

22,5 ml (1 1/2 Tbs) Glenlivet or other good Irish whisky
5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla

5 ml (1 tsp) boiling water
1 ml (1/4 tsp) instant espresso

  • Cream butter until very pale and light – about five minutes at top speed of hand mixer or med-speed of stand mixer.
  • Gradually add 750 ml (3 c) icing sugar, beating very well between each addition.
  • Boil water and prepare first portion of espresso. Add it to the creamed butter and sugar mixture and beat well.
  • Add enough of the remaining icing sugar, beating well, to make a soft cream that is thick enough to hold its shape.
  • Add the whisky and vanilla and beat well.
  • Prepare second portion of espresso with the 5 ml (1 tsp) boiling water, and stir into buttercream.


  • If you decide to make a Swiss meringue buttercream [you'll find one here "Afternoon Tea Chez Epi"], once it is prepared and you are ready to add flavouring, add the first portion of espresso to the buttercream and beat well. Then add the whisky and vanilla and beat well. Lastly, stir in the second quantity of espresso.
  • § If there are only a few tiny crumbs sticking to the wooden pick, leave no longer than an additional minute.

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  1. dubonnet says:

    an upscale cupcake!

    • Hi Sharon :-) Thanks! If you want this to be really upscale, then you could pierce the tops of the cupcakes in a few places with a wooden pick, and drizzle a teaspoon of the same malt whisky over each one before icing with the buttercream ♥

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