I’m sure you’ve all noticed how much I’ve been babbling about Starbucks recently. With my little visit to the States, I’ve been splurging and enjoying yummy chai lattes and salted caramel mocha frappuccinos whenever I can, but my Starbucks fund is more or less depleted.
Which really didn’t take too long, considering the price of a tall drink there.
I have to admit that, although my pocketbook can’t afford daily Starbucks after Starbucks after Starbucks, I really do think they are worth the occasional four bucks a pop. I mean have you tried the new salted caramel mochas and frappuccinos?!?! Holy heaven on earth. Yum.
Still, though… My bank account can only handle so many Starbucks debits.
I was beginning to think that I was going to have to kick the habit before my visit ended, which I guess is better than going cold turkey once I don’t have Starbucks around anymore, but then one of my blogging friends, Liz of Blog is the New Black, asked me on Facebook if I was planning a cupcake to celebrate a day of Starbucks and a new car.
I was immediately inspired to make a Starbucks cupcake. A salted caramel mocha cupcake, to be exact.
I got really excited about this idea and had to run with it. Really. I had to. I had zero choice in the matter…it was too irresistible.
I thought, though, that if I was going to make the cupcakes, why am I not making the drink? Aaaaaand then, I couldn’t stop thinking about making the drink. Really, I never had any choice (really), so I made the drink, too.
And now I’m saving beaucoup bucks, but still enjoying my yummy mochas and fraps. Not to mention an incredible, delicious, amazing cupcake version. And all is right with the world.
Alright, so Starbucks drinks are a lot easier to replicate than you might think.
As long as your not to picky over steamed milk vs. nuked milk.
Which I’m not.
Most importantly, you’re going to need hot brewed coffee and hot, or steamed, milk. I don’t have a steamer, so I just popped mine in the microwave until it was hot.
Next up is the mocha maker: chocolate. If you want to invest in the actual mocha syrup that they use at Starbucks (which you can buy online), then go for it. If, however, you don’t want a 5 gallon tub of the stuff sitting around, I recommend using cocoa powder. No, it doesn’t add any sweetness, but other ingredients cover that.
You can also use store bought chocolate syrup, but I recommend going with something darker, like Hershey’s Special Dark.
Personally, I prefer the cocoa powder since it is unsweetened, but the syrup is great for frappuccinos (the same coffee recipe, over ice, and blended).
For the flavoring of this, you have a few options. Starbucks uses a toffee nut syrup, which you can, again, buy online. This time it’s a much more reasonably sized bottle, but I already had both hazelnut and caramel syrups to work with, so I decided to save my money and try one of those.
I ended up trying each of them, eventually, and they both taste great. The caramel makes the drink taste the most like the actual Starbucks version, but the hazelnut was delicious, too, so I’m including it as an option.
Making the drink is incredibly simple: pour two ounces (1/4 cup) of hot coffee into a large mug (you can add more or less coffee, as you see fit, but this recipe will yield 12 ounces). Sprinkle the cocoa powder in and stir to dissolve the powder. Next, add six ounces (3/4 cup) of hot or steamed milk, and stir. Finally, stir in two tablespoons of flavoring syrup.
That’s it. You now have your very own salted caramel mocha latte. Almost.
You still need whipped cream. And salted caramel sauce.
I used my own (very favorite) recipe here, but you can also buy ready made caramel sauce. The major difference is that most store bought caramel sauces won’t be salted.
Not to pat myself on the back or anything, but if you’re looking to make it homemade, I highly recommend that you follow that link above and make mine. It’s not just that it tastes fantastic, but that post also offers up tips and visuals on how to get the perfect caramel. If you don’t get great caramel using those tips, I will eat my hat (doused in caramel).
Another little treat that I added to my homemade drink was a sweet and salty sprinkle mix. Starbucks puts this delicious toffee-ish, salted sugar on top of each of their drinks, and to be honest, it’s my favorite part. Well…the whole topping is my favorite; all that whipped cream and gooey caramel and salty-sweet, crunchy topping.
It’s pretty much amazing.
My sprinkle creation isn’t quite as good as the Starbucks stuff, but it’s a close replica, and it’s super easy. I used large sanding sprinkles, but you any large grain sugar. I love the glam that my pearly gold sugar adds, though.
Just stir a little coarse sea salt into the sugar, and you’re all set. I did a ratio of about one to six; one part salt, six parts sugar. I think it’s a pretty perfect ratio, but you can tweak it to be more or less salty to your tastes.
Swirl some fresh whipped cream on top, drizzle lots of beautiful caramel on, and finish it up with crunchy salted sugar. This is so AH-ma-zing! It’s warm and sweet and lightly chocolaty, with a punch of rich coffee flavor running through it all, and the toppings are just divine. The very best part about it is that I’m saving about four bucks every time I make one! Even if you splurge for all of the actual Starbucks products to make these at home, you’ll still be saving mucho dinero.
Plus! Plus!! It makes an excellent frappuccino. And it’s so excellent that you’ll find nary a photo of one in this post, because none of them ever lasted long enough to make it to a photo shoot.
All I did to turn this into a frappuccino was to mix up the coffee drink in the blender with cold milk instead of hot, add about a cup or so of ice, and blend. Top the whole she-bang with the same whipped cream, caramel, and salted sugar, and voila! Now you have a super incredible, yummy, not overpriced salted caramel mocha frappuccino. And happiness. Yes. Happiness can be found in a cup.
Once I had perfected these drinks, I finally got started on what I set out to do in the beginning: translate my new favorite Starbucks drink into a cupcake. A moist, chocolaty, coffee laced, caramel-y, salty sweet, amazing cupcake.
Then I died and went to heaven. But I came back so I could share this with you.
FOr the cupcake, I took one of my favorite chocolate cake recipes and tweaked it to have a coffee flavor. The reason I used a chocolate cupcake recipe is becuae the drink had a fair amount of chocolate in it, and I thought a plain coffee cupcake wouldn’t capture the flaovrs right.
You’ll need eggs (at room temperature), all-purpose flour, unsalted butter (at room temperature), brewed hot coffee, vanilla extract, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. There is nothing wild, or hard to find in these (yay!).
Once the coffee mixture is chilled, mixing up the cupcakes is pretty basic. The batter should have a pretty standard consistency (not too runny or thick). I decided that these were the perfect opportunity to break out my Fred Teacupcakes. I’ve had these little cuties for over a year, and this is the first time I’m using them. They turned out so darn cute, don’t be surprised if you see them again and again.
The cupcakes baked up beautifully, and they tasted wonderful, but they lost most of their coffee flavor. The uncooked batter has a gorgeous, rich coffee flavor. I expected to lose a lot of that in the baking process, but I actually lost more than I anticipated. You could still taste a slightly bitter coffee flavor at the end of each bite, but it didn’t have the impact I wanted.
Obviously, these had to be filled with caramel. They had to be…there was no way around it. I cored each cupcake, filled them each with a healthy teaspoonful of caramel sauce (the same that I made for the drinks), and replaced the bit of cupcake I had removed.
While I finished that up, I realized that the perfect solution for my coffee flavor loss was something I had whipped up for my cinnamon roll cupcakes last week: my coffee icing. And I was right. The icing not only added a great little punch of coffee flavor, but it added an extra but of sweetness that was just right for these cupcakes. After spreading a small amount of the coffee icing on, I topped each cupcake the same way that I topped my drinks: whipped cream, salted caramel sauce, and salted sugar.
I agonized a little over the frosting I wanted to use for these. I don’t usually like to top cupcakes with whipped cream, since it’s not exactly stable, and doesn’t last long in warmer temperatures, but fate decided that it was how these needed to be made.
I was going to top the cupcakes with Swiss meringue buttercream, but my stiff peaks never formed. This was a first for me, and quite discouraging, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I decided to use whipped cream instead, because I was crunched for time, and it was the right choice. These are fantastic with whipped cream.
That being said, if I were going to be serving these in a warmer climate, or if they were going to be sitting out for hours and hours, I would definitely go with the meringue buttercream, or even a regular vanilla buttercream. I think they would still taste amazing, but they would be more stable.
These cupcakes have skyrocketed to the number one position on my Favorite Cupcake List. Sometimes when I set out to make something new, I think it sounds like it’ll be great, but the results are so much more than I hoped for. This is one of those times. These cupcakes are my new Cloud Nine. They’re my new you-had-a-rough-week-and-deserve-a-cupcake cupcake. These (along with the drinks) are my latest excuse for always keeping fresh caramel sauce on hand.
I mean, come on! How can you look at that and not immediately think, “Must go make caramel. Must have caramel. Now.” If I ever turn to a zombie, I’ll be a caramel zombie…no brains for me, thanks. I just want a cupcake like this, with gorgeous caramel melting into each bite.
I know these look like they must take all day long, and tons of labor, but trust me when I say it isn’t so. I made the caramel and the whipped cream a couple of days before I made the cupcakes, and the coffee icing takes about two minutes to whip up. As for the cupcakes, I’d say they take 10 minutes, tops, to mix up, and even with chilling and baking times, they’re cooling on the counter in about an hour. Even assembly is quick: core, fill, ice, frost, drizzle, sprinkle. I’d say a minute per cupcake, and that’s a pretty big stretch, because I think I had each one done in about 30 to 45 seconds. Please, please don’t be intimidated by any part of these. From the caramel making to the assembly, these are quick, easy, and painless! And worth every last second you devote to them.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go devote some more time to them. After all, it’s a cupcake’s life ambition to be eaten. I have a lot of cupcakes’ dreams to fulfill today. You go make some cupcakes to make happy. Enjoy!
Salted Caramel Mocha Latte [Printable Version]
Makes 6 12-ounce servings
**I have included instructions for making many servings, as well as instructions for a single serving**
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces or 375 ml) hot coffee (for stronger mochas, double the coffee, which will yield 6 14-ounce servings)
6 tablespoons (42 grams) cocoa powder
4 1/2 cups (36 ounces or 1250 ml) hot milk (I used non fat with excellent results, but use whatever you prefer, including soy, almond, or other dairy free milks)
3/4 cup (188 ml) caramel or toffee nut syrup (hazelnut is also excellent)
Whipped Cream (recipe below)
Pour the hot coffee into a heatproof pitcher. Sprinkle the cocoa powder in and stir to dissolve the powder. Next, add the hot or steamed milk, and stir. Finally, stir in the flavoring syrup.
Top with whipped cream, drizzle with syrup, and sprinkle with salted sugar (1 part coarse sea salt, 6 parts coarse sugar).
FOR A SINGLE 12-OUNCE SERVING
1/4 cup (2 ounces or 63 ml) hot coffee (for a stronger mocha, double the coffee, which will yield a 14-ounce serving)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
3/4 cup (6 ounces or 188 ml) hot milk (I used non fat with excellent results, but use whatever you prefer)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) caramel or toffee nut syrup (hazelnut is also excellent)
Whipped Cream (recipe below)
Pour the hot coffee into a large mug. Sprinkle the cocoa powder in and stir to dissolve the powder. Next, add the hot or steamed milk, and stir. Finally, stir in the flavoring syrup.
Top with whipped cream, drizzle with syrup, and sprinkle with salted sugar (1 part coarse sea salt, 6 parts coarse sugar).
Salted Caramel Mocha Frappuccino [Printable Version]
Make as directed above, mixing in a blender and using cold milk instead of hot. Add one cup of ice per serving. Blend until smooth. Top with whipped cream, caramel, and salted sugar.
Salted Caramel Mocha Cupcakes [Printable Version]
Makes 30 cupcakes
FOR THE CUPCAKES
2 cups (16 ounces or 500 ml) strong brewed coffee, hot
1/2 cup (56 grams) cocoa powder
2 3/4 cups (349 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks or 226 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups (400 grams) sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons (7 ml) vanilla extract
1 recipe Salted Caramel Sauce
In a medium bowl, or a two cup measuring cup, stir the cocoa powder into the hot coffee until dissolved. Set aside until cooled to room temperature, or place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Once the cocoa/coffee mixture has cooled, preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 C). Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners; set aside.
In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined; stir in the vanilla. Sprinkle 1/3 of the flour mixture over the bowl and mix until just combined. Add 1/2 of the chocolate mixture, mixing again until just combined. Repeat with reamining flour and chocolate mixtures, ending with flour. Mix only until flour is just incorporated. Do not over mix.
Place 3 tablespoons of batter in each cupcake liner. Bake for 20-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs clinging to it. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
While the cupcakes are baking/cooling, place about 3/4 cup of salted caramel sauce in a small sauce pan and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 3 to 5 minutes to thicken the caramel slightly before using it to fill the cupcakes.
Once cooled, fill each cupcake with about 1 teaspoon of the thickened salted caramel sauce, ice with Coffee Icing (optional), and frost with whipped cream, vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream, or another vanilla frosting. Garnish with more caramel sauce.
Fresh Whipped Cream [Printable Version]
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, whip the heavy cream on medium high speed until it starts to thicken. Reduce speed to low and sprinkle the sugar into the cream. Return mixer to medium high and continue whipping until firm peaks form. Stir in vanilla. Refrigerate until ready to use.
All recipes by Darla