I come from a family of non-coffee drinkers (yes, I know, there are some out there!) My sister and I have both been through coffee drinking phases, which at the time seemed like a very sophisticated idea, and we have both discovered that we too have the anti-coffee gene. Admittedly after a big night I am partial to a very well made mocha (in between glasses of cold lemony water) but really I think it's time to accept that I will never be a fanatic coffee drinker. Luckily for me, I can still get my takeaway hot chocolate and look like one.
Coffee in baking, however, is another matter entirely. It almost (but not quite) knocks chocolate off the pedastal, especially when in cake or cookie form. When coffee and chocolate are combined in baking, my life goes on hold until the gazing-savouring-devouring-reminiscing process is all over. I have even converted my family to coffee in baking, weaning them onto it piece by piece.
So last week two of my friends had birthdays. Because I am a poor student and an awful present buyer cupcakes are all my friends ever recieve from me on their big days, unless I have time to make then a card which I usually don't, because I am busy adding final touches to cupcakes and procrastinating over whether the decorations are sitting at the right angle/are the right colour/size/shape/choice/amount. Whilst consulting my Father in the proces of this last week, he tentatively suggested that it probably didn't matter. Woe is him.
Anyway, the cupcake part is adapted from the Coffee and Pecan Cupcakes by Tamara Jane, a Wellington based cupcake baker whose recipes never seem to fail. I did try to convert the measurement into cups rather than grams but if I managed, I ahve since forgotten. I HATE weighing things! The icing I just made up. I've found it's usually easier and moer reliable once you have a good buttercream recipe to just adapt it to whatever you need; I don't even bother following the instructions anymore.
Coffee Cupcakes (makes 24)
1 heaped T baking powder
230g castor sugar
2t vanilla essence
2T instant coffee granules
1/4 C boiling water
Preheat oven to 170C and line two 12 hole muffin trays with cupcake papers.
Soften butter until you can stick your finger in it easily. Sift flour and baking powder together in a bowl.
In the large bowl of a cake mixer cream butter. Add half the caster sugar, beat 1-2 minutes then add the rest and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well in between. Mix in vanilla.
Add half the flour and beat on low speed until combined. Dissolve the coffee in the water, add to butter mix with remaining flour and beat until just combined.
Divide batter evenly between papers and bake one tray at a time for 20 minutes, or until a skewer stuck in the middle comes out clean. Cool in their trays for five minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
Cream 250g softened butter with 2C icing sugar until pale and fluffy. Add 3T strong instant coffee, 2T milk and, gradually, another cup of sugar. Beat throughly, adding more sugar until you reach a soft, thick consistency suitable for piping. Add more sugar as needed.