Friday, June 24, 2011

Caramel Frappuccino Cupcakes

This cupcake takes me back to my Starbucks days. I worked the opening shift in college, which meant getting there at 4:30 AM, bleary eyed and half dazed, filling the pastry case and waiting for the mob of high strung customers. I do actually kind of miss it...

This cupcake is a coffee flavored cake filled with coffee mousse and homemade caramel sauce, and topped with swiss meringue buttercream drizzled with caramel. It was a pretty big hit at work, so I suggest making it to all of you Starbucks fans.

For the Cupcakes (makes 24 cupcakes):
Recipe heavily adapted from Apartment Therapy's The Kitchn

3/4 cup whole or low-fat milk
1/4 cup sour cream
3 heaping teaspoons instant coffee
1 tbsp vanilla
3 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons very finely ground coffee
2 teaspoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder
3/4 cup butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cup white sugar
4 eggs, yolks and whites separated

Heat the milk in the microwave or on the stove until hot - stop short of a simmer. Stir in the instant coffee until well blended. Add the vanilla and set aside.

Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, soda, salt, ground coffee and cocoa.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar with the paddle attachment until creamed. It should be slightly fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time.

Add 2/3 of the flour mixture and the sour cream. Add the remaining flour mixture and milk. Beat until smooth.

Scrape all the batter out into a separate bowl and wash the mixer bowl thoroughly.

Switch to the whisk attachment and beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. They will hold a stiff peak but they will still slip around a little in the bowl.
Fold the egg whites into the cake batter gently, folding the batter around until well combined.

Fill cupcake liners with batter and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes (they baked up surprisingly fast).

For the Coffee Mousse (Recipe from Epicurious)

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
6 large egg yolks
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 1/2 cups chilled whipping cream
2 tablespoons coffee liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

NOTE: I cut the above recipe in half by eyeballing it (a lot of the measurements don't make for an easy division). I also used Starbucks Via Instant Coffee instead of instant espresso and cut out the nutmeg.

Whisk sugar, yolks, water and espresso powder in large metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bowl to touch water); whisk until candy thermometer registers 160°F, about 3 minutes. Remove bowl from over water. Add nutmeg. Using electric mixer, beat egg mixture until cool and thick, about 5 minutes.
Beat cream, liqueur and vanilla in another large bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold cream mixture into egg mixture.

Homemade Caramel Sauce (caramel recipe courtesy of Giver's Log)
3-4 quart saucepan
candy thermometer

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
2 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cut butter into evenly sized cubes and melt over low heat in large 3-4 quart saucepan.
Once butter is fully melted, add brown sugar, being careful to avoid the sides of the pan. If any stray sugar crystals fall onto side of pan, carefully brush off with a wet pastry brush.
Once butter and sugar are fully combined, add corn syrup and condensed milk. Clip on candy thermometer to side of pan.
Cook mixture on low heat (still continually stirring) for about a minute or two. Increase heat to medium and continue to cook/ stir until mixture reaches 225 degrees. Once the mixture is removed from heat, stir in vanilla extract.

NOTE: If caramel is too thick, simply reheat and add in some heavy cream until combined.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
1 cup sugar
4 egg whites
3 sticks unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Heat sugar, egg whites, and salt in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pan of simmering water, whisking until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Return bowl to mixer, and whisk, gradually increasing speed from low to medium-high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add butter, a few pieces at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in vanilla. Switch to a paddle attachment and beat until air bubbles are gone, 2 to 3 minutes more.

To assemble the cupcakes:

Once cupcakes are cool, core out the center of each one. Using a pastry bag, pipe a small amount of caramel sauce, then pipe coffee mousse until the center is almost full, and then top with another piping of caramel. Once all cupcakes are filled, pipe swiss meringue buttercream onto each one using a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Lastly, use a sturdy plastic freezer bag or disposable plastic pastry bag with a small hole cut out of it and drizzle caramel on top of each cupcake.


  1. WHAAAAT!? These look amazing! I want one.

  2. Thanks Frank!!! I promise to make them again and give you one! :)

  3. Heading to the store right now to get stuff to make this! And you said sour cream? I must not bake enough to know that that's correct. lol I'm making these for a bake off at work tomorrow. Wish me luck and thanks for the recipe!

  4. Hi Christy,

    I know it sounds weird, but, yes, I love adding sour cream and buttermilk to cake recipes- they're great to add moisture.

    Good luck! I'm sure they'll turn out fantastic! My only tip is that the caramel drizzled buttercream makes this recipe (at least that's what my co-workers thought) :)

  5. Won the bake-off! Thanks again for the recipe!

  6. Yay- how awesome! You're very welcome :)

  7. These look amazing! I love how you put in the cute little green straw just like the drink! Can't wait to try these! I featured you as a favorite find of mine for the week on my blog Copy-Cat-Crafter

  8. Thank you, Jessica! I literally stuffed some straws in my purse at Starbucks and cut them! :)
    And thanks so much for the feature! I really like your blog.

  9. I am so excited about these cupcakes! I found them on pinterest - I'm making 100 of them for a wedding rehearsal dinner (the couple met at starbucks over Frappacinos!) - I'm so excited about them! THanks for posting the recipe!

  10. Oh - and Heather - I just stuffed straws in my purse too last night - ahahaha! :)

  11. Aww, how sweet! That's so perfect for you to make Starbucks-themed cupcakes then! Thanks for your comment :)

    Hahaha! Even though the straws are TECHNICALLY free, I felt like I had to be really sneaky about it.

  12. These are amazing. I think I might just make them for my upcoming FRG meeting! Thank you so much!!

  13. Thank you!
    I hope you make them and enjoy them! :)

  14. The recipe makes 24 cupcakes- you will have extra caramel sauce if you use my caramel recipe, though!

  15. Oh my goodness! You should open a bakery and deliver! I featured these on my blog: They look and sound delicious (just like everything else you've posted)...keep it up! :)

  16. Hi Paula,
    Thanks so much! I appreciate you posting the recipe/link to your blog AND for your nice comments. I do hope to open up a bakery one day- I'll let all of you know if it happens! :)

  17. Do you think you could use Via in the cupcakes as well? How much would you say. One packet. Two?

  18. Hi Beth! I used 3 large tsp of Via in the cupcakes- I think it came out to about two packets.

  19. These are so cute! How did you make the cups?

  20. OK - so my brother in law is getting married this weekend. I'm making 100 of these for the rehearsal dinner (they met at starbucks- so it's a starbucks themed dinner!).

    I just thought you should know these things are going to be a huge hit tonight. :)

    *Running into starbucks to stuff 40 straws in my purse....

  21. Hi Steph!
    Thanks! I actually just baked them in regular liners and then wrapped them in homemade paper liners (made from regular white cardstock). I used this template:

  22. Hi Kim!
    Oooh how exciting! How did they turn out? I hope the wedding was beautiful! Did you get caught stealing the straws? ;)

  23. Hi Heather!

    What a great recipe. Just a few questions: in the cupcakes is it vanilla extract? in the buttercream is it powdered sugar or white sugar?

    Thank you so excited to get this a try!


  24. Hi Sarah!
    Thank you! Yes, it is vanilla extract that's in the cupcakes (you could also use vanilla bean paste or seeds from a vanilla bean pod).

    The buttercream has granulated white sugar- the sugar and egg whites are cooked over a water bath, then whipped and mixed with the butter.

    Happy baking! Thanks for the comment :)


  25. Does this recipe make 2 dozen cupcakes? Thanks!

  26. Hi Michelle!
    Yes, it will make 24 cupcakes. Thanks for pointing that out- I will update the post to include that! :)

  27. UMMM...these look illegal. :)

  28. Love this! Thanks for sharing! :-)

  29. Hi Heather! This recipe looks SO good - I posted about it on my blog today:

    Thanks for the inspiration!!
    Heather : )

  30. Hi Heather! Thanks so much for the feature!
    I took a look at your website and it's AWESOME! I'm totally a follower now :)


  31. made these today, but had a lot of trouble with the frosting! the sugar + egg whites went perfectly--a stiff peak to be envied! however, when i wisked in the butter, it became lumpy and liquidy. what happened?! did i wisk too feverishly?

  32. Hello Lauren! Sometimes swiss meringue buttercream looks “curdled” once you add the butter and you basically just need to keep mixing (you can mix on medium-high too, if you’re using a stand mixer, you can’t really over mix it). It can take a few full minutes of mixing with the whisk attachment before the buttercream comes together and looks the way it should. Also, make sure your butter is pretty cold and that your egg white/sugar mixture is fully cooled before you add the butter.

    I hope this helps! Thanks for the comment :)


    1. 0o0o the cooling + "just keep mixing" tips are very helpful! i'll try it again tonight! :)

    2. tried it again and letting the egg mixture cool helped; however, it's still very clumpy/curdled-looking regardless of how long i've been beating it. it looks almost nothing like the picture you took. thoughts?

    3. Hmm...I don't know, Lauren, I'm sorry! I make swiss meringue BC so often, it's hard for me to say what went wrong. Are you adding the butter in piece by piece? You should always cut it up into pieces and add it little by little. It takes patience, but you have to do it this way for it to come together. The most important tips are to: A) allow the whites and sugar to completely cool- not even luke warm to the touch B) Use cold butter C) Cut up the butter and add it in piece by piece D) mix with a whisk attachment on high for a LONG time until it comes together E) Switch to a paddle attachment once all of the butter is fully incorporated.

      I hope it works out for you next time! I'm sorry you've had bad luck :(

  33. when it says cake flour, can you use all purpose flour? and does the coffee need to be original flavor?

  34. Use cake flour- do not sub for AP flour. You can find Swan's Down or Pillsbury cake flour at any major grocery store (even most Target stores sell it now too). Regular flour makes for a coarser crumb, so you wouldn't get the same result. I used a regular flavor of instant coffee- not vanilla or any type with added flavor. It may not make a difference, but to be sure, I would use just plain instant coffee.

  35. I want to make these, but I'm worried about the frosting. I have tried to make buttercream before and wasn't successful. I have a few questions. How long will it usually take for the sugar to heat to 160? Last time I tried it took a really long time and then when I beat it, it wouldn't become stiff after 10 minutes.

  36. Hello Tesla,

    It actually shouldn't take that long- it usually just takes a few minutes for me on my stove. I have also made this without using a thermometer- I make sure the sugar is fully dissolved and the egg whites have sort of a foamy look to them.

    The egg white/sugar mixture should stiffen up fairly quickly if you're beating on medium/high. Do you have a stand mixer, or a hand mixer? A stand mixer is MUCH easier to use because you can leave the whites to whip and do other things.

    If you really don't want to make the buttercream, you could always substitute for a whipped cream icing instead.

    Good luck!

  37. not sure if you even have the info for it or not, but I want to make these for my work and I work with a gal with gestational diabetes and she has to adjust her sugars and carbs based off of what she eats. she WAY wants one of these when I make them, do you by chance know any nutritional facts lol

  38. I wish I could help out, but I have NO idea about the nutritional facts! I suppose you could add up all of the ingredients for the components and figure it out, but I don't feel like I have the mathematical brain to do that :)

    Poor girl :(- It's bad enough being pregnant without extra complications like gestational diabetes.

    Good luck!

  39. hi i'm in the culinary magnet at my high school and my class is having a cupcake wars and we chose to make your cupcakes which i am really exited about but i have one very important question.... Does the finish product with the caramel and mousse and butter cream frosting have to be refrigerated over night or can i leave them on the counter? because the cupcakes are being judged the next day and my teacher says that they must not need refrigeration.

  40. Hello! How fun, that sounds like such an exciting project to do for a culinary class!

    The mousse definitely needs refrigeration, so I would recommend leaving that out. The swiss meringue buttercream and caramel should be fine if left out overnight, so I would suggest making extra buttercream and flavoring it with instant coffee and/or coffee extract and filling the cupcakes with that instead.

    Good luck!!!

  41. Could someone post a tutorial video for these Caramel Frappe Cupcakes? Thank you so much! :)