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How To Make Fabulous Desserts Using Starbucks Via Instant Coffee: Mocha Cupcakes

Updated on June 2, 2013
Messy, but delicious, mocha cupcake with coffee buttercream frosting (and Kahlua whipped cream filling)
Messy, but delicious, mocha cupcake with coffee buttercream frosting (and Kahlua whipped cream filling)

For these cupcakes you can blame my remarkable friend Kat. She likes to be encouraging of my baking addiction. So, naturally, she sends me links to beautiful food blogs, like Cupcakes Take the Cake. This particular link she sent was devoted to espresso cupcakes. Of the many beautiful photos, I picked one to emulate: Sweetness in Seattle's Mocha Cupcake. These cupcakes have three main components: the cake, the filling, and the icing.


  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 4 tbsp Kahlua

Homemade Whipped Cream

Yes you can buy it from a can. And yes it is rather labor intensive to make it on your own. But I feel like it is a matter of pride to hand whip your own whipped cream... and it is useful in other recipes. If you want to try it, here are the directions:

PICTURE ONE: Using a whisk, beat your whipping cream until soft peaks form. This will take awhile. Do not give up!

PICTURE TWO: Using a spatula, fold in vanilla extract, sugar, and Kahlua. Refrigerate until ready to fill your cupcakes.


  • 3 cups packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 2/3 cups flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/8 cups cocoa powder
  • 1 packet Starbucks Via

Mocha Cupcakes

As there was no recipe accompanying the gorgeous picture on Cupcakes Take the Cake or Sweetness in Seattle's Flickr account, I chose to use a variation of the recipe used to make my chocolate cake. A three layer cake translates to about 36 cupcakes, and with some added additions to the buttercream frosting, I was all set! The cupcakes come out rich, slightly dense, and fudgy, which makes them delicious. The main addition to the cake recipe is the Starbucks Via, which I add directly to the batter.

PICTURE ONE: Preheat the oven to 350F.

PICTURE TWO: In a large bowl, combine brown sugar and oil.


PICTURE FOUR: Beat on low until combined.

PICTURE FIVE: In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

PICTURE SIX: In a separate, small bowl, combine milk and vanilla.

PICTURE SEVEN: To the egg mixture, add one third of the flour mixture and beat on low.

PICTURE EIGHT: Add half of the milk mixture to your egg and flour mixture. Beat on low to combine.

PICTURE NINE: Continue adding to your egg mixture, first another third of the flour, then the remaining half of milk, and then the final bit of the flour.

PICTURE TEN: In a third separate bowl, combine the cocoa powder and the Starbucks VIA.

PICTURE ELEVEN: Boil the water.

PICTURE TWELVE: Pour the boiling water over the the cocoa mixture. Whisk until fully dissolved.

PICTURE THIRTEEN: Pour cocoa mixture over your batter. Mix at low speed.

PICTURE FOURTEEN: Ladle your batter into cupcake cups, filling them about 2/3 full.

PICTURE FIFTEEN: Bake your cupcakes for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.


  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet butter, soft
  • 3 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 packet Starbucks Via

Coffee Buttercream Frosting

Buttercream frosting is the perfect decadent addition to any dessert of a cake-like consistency. The addition of a little instant coffee gives a little bitterness to its usual sweet flavor.

PICTURE ONE: In a large bowl, cream butter.

PICTURE TWO: Slowly beat in powdered sugar.

PICTURE THREE: Add Starbucks VIA, salt, and vanilla extract.

PICTURE FOUR: Beat on medium until combined.

Filling and Frosting

Filling cupcakes simply requires a tool to extract the center of the cupcake and a bag to pipe in the billing. You can either buy the tools at your local kitchen supply store (or Target, depending on your budget) or improvise with what you already have in your kitchen. The trick to frosting is making sure that the frosting is neither too cold or warm (my frosting was way too warm to spread neatly). And for professional looking cupcakes, you want to make sure you have a topper of some sorts. I chose the rather appropriate dark chocolate covered espresso bean.

PICTURE ONE: Take a cupcake and insert your corer into the center, pushing it down partway (make sure not to push it all the way through).

PICTURE TWO: Core all of the cupcakes in the same manner.

PICTURE THREE: Fill your piping or ziploc bag with your Kahlua whipcream.

PICTURE FOUR: Pipe the whipped cream into the center of your cupcake, making sure to fill the hole to the top.

PICTURE FIVE: Repeat the filling process with your other cupcakes.

PICTURE SIX: To finish your cupcake, fill your second piping bag with your buttercream frosting. Pipe onto the top of your cupcake. Finish off with a dollop of the whipped cream and your chosen topper.


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    • mandination profile image

      Amanda W 

      5 years ago from Pittsburgh

      I'm so glad I stumbled onto this recipe! I work at Starbucks, and I LOVE to bake. I've occasionally dabbled with using coffee in my recipes, but the results have never been great. I tried this recipe and it was amazing. I think this is going to become a regular at my parties. :)


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