I love baking for birthdays. Nothing beats a cake from scratch or batch of cookies. Maybe it’s lingering childhood memories of homemade (never store bought) birthday cakes. I made these simple chocolate cupcakes for my roommate’s birthday in August. The cake is an old recipe from Moosewood restaurant in Ithaca, New York. The original did not involve soaking the cake in coffee-flavored tequila (that’s my twist). Patron XO Cafe is a rich, sweet coffee/chocolate liqueur that is the perfect addition to buttercream frosting – it’s just boozy enough to feel worthy of a birthday.
Loosely adapted from Moosewood Restaurant
- 1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1 cup cold water or coffee
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup Patron XO Cafe liqueur
Adapted from Magnolia Bakery
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 6-8 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/4 cup coffee liqueur (I used Patron XO Cafe)
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- Pinch Kosher salt
Heat oven to 375F. Line a cupcake pan(s) with 12 liners. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. In another bowl, whisk together the oil, water or coffee and vanilla. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. When the mixture is smooth, stir in the vinegar and thoroughly combine. Divide the batter amongst the 12 cupcake liners. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely.
With a toothpick or skewer, poke a few holes in the top of each cupcake. Using a pastry brush, coat each cupcake with the liqueur. This is called imbibing and it will allow the flavors to really soak into the cupcake.
Beat butter and a few cups of sugar until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Gradually add the rest of the powdered sugar, alternating with coffee liqueur, until frosting is thick, creamy and fluffy. Take your time with this, you really want to fully incorporate the sugar before adding more. You may not need all the sugar. Add vanilla and a pinch of salt. Transfer to a piping bag with a star tip or frost the cupcakes by hand. You may have extra frosting. It will keep for a few days in the fridge. Just allow it to come to room temperature before using.