Mocha Cupcakes

1/2 c (118 ml) strong brewed coffee, room temp
1 1/2 tsp espresso powder (I used instant coffee)
1/2 c (118 ml) whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 c (189 g) flour
1/3 c (30 g) cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c (118 g) butter, room temp
1/2 c (99 g) granulated sugar
1/2 c (71 g) brown sugar
1 egg, room temp

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a cupcake pan with 12 liners and set aside.

Mix the espresso powder/instant coffee granules into the brewed coffee. Add the milk and vanilla set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a separate medium-sized bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about five minutes. Add the egg and beat until fully incorporated, scarping down the sides and the bottom of the bowl. Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture to the batter, and mix slowly to combine. Scrape down the sides and add half of the coffee mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again and continue alternating wet and dry, ending with dry. Mix just until combined.

Scoop batter into the prepared liners. Bake 17-20 minutes or until the cupcakes spring back when pressed. Cool on a rack in pans for 3 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pans and allow to cool thoroughly before frosting.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Please click here for a step-by-step guide to making Swiss Meringue Buttercream and troubleshooting tips!

1 1/2 c (300 g) sugar
7 egg whites
27 Tbsp (381 g) unsalted butter, room temp
2 Tbsp instant coffee
2 Tbsp warm water

In a double boiler, cook the egg whites and sugar over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved (test by rubbing some between your fingers. If it's completely smooth, it's done). Pour into another bowl (a stand mixer is preferable) and whip on high speed until room temp. Then, on a medium-low speed, add the butter, waiting until each piece is completely incorporated before adding the next. The buttercream may turn into a soupy curdled mess during this process, but if you continue beating it for a few minutes it will become light and fluffy. While it's beating, combine the water and instant coffee. Pour into whipped buttercream as you would an extract, and beat to combine.