One day a week I am privileged to "work" at an incredible place called Silk Espresso in Gresham. (I put "work" in quotations because I actually consider it my day off. I get to drink amazing coffee and have adult interaction, enough said.)
I definitely consider myself a coffee snob/expert. Here are my qualifications: 1) I was born, raised, and currently reside in the Pacific Northwest 2) I have worked in the coffee business for four years 3) I have been to two coffee conventions (if you attend a convention about any subject that makes you an expert, and a nerd) 4) my wedding was coffee themed for Pete's sake, need I continue?
My point is, I feel that I can recognize good coffee.
But Silk is not just good coffee; it is excellent coffee. The espresso is sweet, rich, and smooth. It pours out of the portafilter (coffee lingo) spout looking like liquefied caramel. It was at Silk that I was taught to smell the shoots- as well as watch and time them- to make sure they are pulling correctly. And Silk shots smell like a sweet piece of heaven...
The tasty espresso is not the only reason Silk has a special place in my heart. I really love Silk because of relationships.
I know that may sound like an odd statement, but relationships are actually what makes Silk what it is. It seems to me that these relationships are what Silk means to the other baristas and to the customers that find sanctuary there as well.
It's like this special place that connects us all to each other; and even though the only way I know some of these people is because I make their quad mocha with extra whip, through Silk I am able to touch their lives in a small way, and maybe even make it a little bit better.
The relationships that I have formed with the owner, the other employees, the regulars, and even those customers that come in once, and leave smiling- these relationships are the real reason I keep coming back for more Silk.
Okay, before I get too gushy and misty-eyed (something that does not happen often with me), lets get to the sugar.
I wanted to make a cupcake that celebrated a classic Silk drink. But, oh! so many options. I decided that it had to be chocolate, so that eliminated Silk's caramel cream latte, made with real caramel and vanilla (perhaps a project for later). I considered Silk's PBJ (peanut butter and joe), but peanut butter and chocolate cakes are done so often together, plus I wanted something with a white cake so that it would show off the coffee granules embedded in the cake. Silk has many white mochas, but I thought the white russian would be adventurous, so I took it on. I am pleased with the results, especially the super simple kahlua buttercream frosting which is, if I do say so myself, to die for.
Anyways, these cupcakes are definitely for coffee lovers. In fact, I enjoyed one with my freshly brewed cup of Silk coffee this morning. Yup, that was breakfast... you won't judge me for it when you try them.
Silk Espresso White Russian Mocha Cupcakes
White Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes
Makes about 18, I think. i filled the tins way too full and only ended up with 12. Really, you should be making about 18. Remember to fill the unused tins with water so avoid burning the tins while they bake.
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp finely ground Silk espresso
1/2 cup low-fat plain or vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup milk*
3/4 cup sugar
4 tbsp + 2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
5 to 7 oz white chocolate**
about 18 chocolate-covered espresso beans, or plain espresso beans for garnish (chocolate shavings or white chocolate chips would also be cute)
Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and espresso. Measure out and whisk together yogurt and milk. Set aside.
In an electric mixer, beat together sugar, 4 tbsp butter, and salt until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg.
In a double-broiler, or a make-shift one like I used by putting a stainless steel bowl on top of a pan, bring the water to a simmer. Melt the remaining 2 tbsp butter in the double-broiler, and add chocolate. Stir the chocolate, watching it the whole time as it melts (it's a beautiful thing). As soon as it has completely liquefied, add it to the butter/sugar mixture in the mixer, with the mixer on a low speed.
Once the chocolate has been fully incorporated, add about a third of the flour/espresso mixture. Then add about a third of the yogurt. Continue to alternate adding the flour mixture and yogurt, ending with the flour. Mix until the batter is smooth. At this point, you must try the batter. It is amazing, like the consistency of mousse.
Pour batter into prepared muffin tins, filling tins 1/2 way. No more. (trust me on this one)
Bake 15-20 minutes -until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean- at 350. Remove from oven and let sit in pan 15 minutes.
* I did not add milk to the batch I made; I only used the yogurt. However, after a day of refrigeration, the cupcakes were a little dry, so I added the milk to the recipe for moisture.
** I used 3.5 oz (well, more like 3 oz because I had to sample for recipe related reasons, of course), and I just don't think the white chocolate taste came through enough. I feel completely comfortable telling you to at least double the amount I used.
1/2 cup butter
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp kahlua... If you are a minor, you could substitute really strong coffee (or straight espresso), but I would suggest just waiting until you're 21 to make this frosting. It is well worth the wait.
(note- I originally made the frosting with 1/3 c butter, 1 3/4 c powdered sugar, and not quite 3 tbsp kahlua, but it was just not enough frosting; however, this may have been due to my snacking -er, I mean, testing- so if you make it, let me know how the cake to frosting ratio is for you)
Beat together butter and powdered sugar with a handheld electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add kahlua and beat until evenly incorporated.
Spread an even amount of frosting on each cupcake. Garnish with chocolate-covered and plain espresso beans. Enjoy.