Coffee Cupcakes

coffee cupcakes

As I write this I’m sat perched on a blue plastic chair in a small local cafe by the train station in the Thai railway town of Surat Thani. We left a very wet, windy and grey Koh Phi Phi this morning, and were loaded into a mini bus at the Krabi ferry pier. We’re 6 hours in to our 24 hour trip to Bangkok, and 1 hour into our 6 hour wait for the sleeper train that will take us the rest of the way to the capital.

We’re re-adjusting to the rhytmns of life on the road. The pace is slow whether we want it that way or not and, once we’ve handed over a handful of Ringgit or Baht and bought our tickets, the journey itself is taken out of our hands. We’re dropped at nameless bus stations and left pondering if and when someone else will pick us up for the next stage of the journey. Herded with groups of hungover, bleurry-eyed teenage backpackers into mini vans and driven across the country, watching unfamiliar landscapes unfold at the roadsides, watching out for road signs that give us an idea where we might be.

We’re re-learning how to sleep just about anywhere, on a 9 seat mini bus packed with 16 bodies and all their luggage, in a Phi Phi guesthouse with the walls vibrating with the beat of the party still going taking place on the beach.

coffee and sour cream cupcakes

Andy’s morning coffee, the dark 2 sugar sweetened nectar he needs to start the day, is no longer a simple kettle boil away. Our backpack has a stash of three-in-one nescafe sachets stored away; emergency rations incase the guest-houses don’t provide any. Each morning he heads down to seek out a supply of hot water, returns with an unfamiliar steaming mug, this morning’s bright pink and emblazoned with Hello Kitty.

On days when the budget looks healthy we treat ourselves to coffee with breakfast.

coffee sour cream cupcakes -

For me coffee is a drink only for lazy weekend mornings. Frothy cappuccinos with brunch, a luxury to be savoured slowly. In the thick heat of the Hong Kong summer I sip on iced coffee, ice cubes rattling in the cup; a sweet, milky ice cream substitute. Come the first cool mornings of the autumn I’ll look forward to the first Gingerbread Latte of the year, a sign Christmas is on its way.

Here I like the way coffee comes with a sticky puddle of condensed milk at the bottom of the cup. A vigorous stir turns the coffee creamy and pale. It’s sweet, sugary and rich.

coffee cupcake - scarletscorchdroppers

These little cupcakes are a delicious afternoon treat for any coffee lover.

The muscavado sugar and the coffee give them a rich, almost caramelly taste. They’re made with sour cream too making them deliciously moist, and giving them a slight tang that perfectly compliments the coffee.

They’re topped with a smooth coffee buttercream. The coffee taste is subtle, the butter, much like the condensed milk in my favourite South East Asian coffees, acting against the bitterness, keeping it smooth and light.


Coffee Cupcakes

(makes 8)


for the cakes

115g unsalted butter

115g light muscavado sugar

115g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

2 tablespoons sour cream

3 teaspoons instant coffee

2 tablespoons boiling water

for the coffee buttercream 

250g unsalted butter

200g icing sugar, sifted

3 teaspoons instant coffee

2 tablespoons boiling water

pinch salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 180C/160 fan/ 350F.  Line a cupcake tin with 8 paper cases.

Cream together the butter and sugar.

Add 1 egg, along with a tablespoon of the flour. Beat to combine. Repeat with the second egg and a second tablespoon of flour.

Add the remaining flour, the baking powder, and the salt.

Stir through the sour cream.

In a small cup, dissolve the instant coffee into the boiling water.

Pour into the cake batter and mix until the coffee is evenly distributed, and the cake batter is smooth.

Divide the mixture evenly into the cupcake cases.

Bake in the centre of the oven for about 18 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen, golden, and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the buttercream, beat the butter until soft and smooth.

Add in the sifted icing sugar and mix until combined.

In a separate cup, dissolve the instant coffee into the boiling water.

Mix the coffee and the vanilla extract into the buttercream.

If the buttercream is very soft, place in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up. Pipe onto the cupcakes.

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  1. Wonderful recipe and happy travels!

  2. These look so cute!

    Glad to hear you are okay after the news of that horrible-ness that happened on a beach in Thailand.

  3. How much icing sugar…..heeeeelp my cakes have come out of the oven and I can’t make the buttercream

  4. Ok panic over, I looked at another recipe and used 200g!

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