I have a very long way to go before I can actually say I know how to bake. I’ve got the phyllo bases covered – baklava, spanakopita – and have dabbled in bread making for a couple month-long stints on farms. But I leave cakes and pastries to professionals, including a few favorite cupcake nooks I like to visit when travelling. That was until I got this incessant hankering to make a dessert flavored like frappe, the sugar-saturated Nescafe drink that Greeks gulp down with a side of cigarettes at least three times a day.
Frappe cupcakes finally debuted on our family’s Christmas table this year. I’m kind of effin’ proud of myself. It’s a Christmas miracle! They’re not perfect—Nescafe dehydrated the batter a bit. But the result was a very tasty, caffeine-potent dessert. I altered a coconut cupcake Ina Garten recipe from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. My attempt to mimic the frappe’s frothy topping was to make a marshmallow crème icing. I think I could have gotten a better stacked height with regular frosting, but the extra sweetness complemented the coffee flavoring pretty well. And I got the idea to plop a straw on top from Hello Cupcake in D.C., where the root beer float cupcake is adorned with a cute, hunched-over straw for kitsch effect.
This may be best as a breakfast cupcake. Nescafe keeps you wired, and you may catch yourself trying to smash a plate on your kitchen floor if you eat too many. Opa!
Makes 24 cupcakes.
¾ lb. unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup or more of Nescafe Classic grounds (this is a ballpark figure. I didn’t technically measure it.)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
In the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer running on low, add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl with a spatula after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and mix well.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a separate smaller bowl, whisk the Nescafe in with the buttermilk.
In three parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined.
Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each cup to the top with batter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.
Marshmallow crème frosting
½ cup sugar
2 tbs. water
2 large egg whites
about 10 oz. marshmallow crème
½ tsp. vanilla extract
Place sugar, water and egg whites in a medium-size heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat, beating continuously with an electric hand mixer on high speed until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Make sure to keep cord away from the burner.
Remove the pan from the heat. Add the marshmallow crème and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form, 2 or so minutes more.
Use at once.