Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes, Gluten Free

Chocolate Mocha Buttercream Cupcakes, Gluten Free. Where's the coffee?

I like GF cake mixes. Most of them, anyway. There is a place for them on my pantry shelf along with lots of scratch ingredients. Sometimes I want a cake or cupcake without having to think about a hundred ingredients. It’s easy to toss this one-bowl cupcake recipe together in minutes. 

Adding black coffee to a chocolate cake mix helps cut that over-the-top sweetness that seems to plague many commercial cake mixes. It’s a nice balance, coffee and chocolate.

Also, we are trying to move more toward DF whenever possible in the Canteen kitchen, though that is a challenge. The 2nd option for buttercream can be made with shortening instead of butter. The DF version of buttercream is not as rich as using butter, but it will hold up without wilting in warm weather – should we ever see those days again.

And crazy as it sounds, nothing goes better with this cupcake than a nice big cup of coffee on the side. Mocha cupcake with a side of coffee – redundancy at its finest.

Hear that? That’s the sound of my imagination making a pot of coffee. And more mocha cupcakes. Guess what I’m doing tomorrow?

Chocolate Mocha Buttercream Cupcakes, Gluten Free. Breakfast?

Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes, Gluten Free
These are so easy to prepare it is embarrassing to call it a recipe. This will make a dozen big fat cupcakes. Remember to fill the liners generously, ⅔ big. That way they will have a nice dome and when they shrink, they'll still be big - all GF cakes shrink a bit. One cup of coffee in the batter may seem excessive but it really works here and makes it almost grown-up tasting.
  • 425 grams GF chocolate cake mix (one 15 oz. box) (hi, Betty C.)
  • 3 extra-large eggs
  • 200 grams brewed coffee (decaf is fine) (1 cup)
  • 84 grams solid vegetable shortening (7 tablespoons) (Spectrum)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Espresso Buttercream option 1
  • 4 extra-large egg whites
  • 200 grams granulated sugar (1 cup)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon brewed coffee
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 288 grams unsalted butter, soft and in pieces (2.5 sticks or 20 tablespoons)
Espresso Buttercream option 2
  • 115 grams unsalted butter (8 tablespoons) or 7 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening (Spectrum)
  • 330 grams powdered sugar, sifted (3 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (decaf is fine)
  • 2-3 tablespoons brewed coffee (decaf is fine)
  • Bittersweet chocolate sticks or chocolate covered espresso beans
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and place liners in a muffin pan (12 cupcakes).
  2. Mix cake mix with eggs, coffee, shortening and vanilla in a large bowl. Blend until batter is smooth and somewhat fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scoop into liners about ⅔ full and bake 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with dry crumbs.
  3. Remove cupcakes to a rack (carefully - they are fragile when warm) and cool completely before adding icing, about 30 minutes.
Espresso Buttercream option 1
  1. In a double boiler over a medium low flame, gently whisk egg whites with salt, cream of tartar, and sugar to combine. Heat until mixture reaches 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Stir frequently.
  2. Once the mixture has reached 160 degrees, remove bowl from double-boiler and whip the mixture using an electric mixer until you can touch the bottom of the bowl with your hand, and it is no longer hot and stiff, shiny white peaks are forming. It will take about 5 minutes in a stand mixer but about 2x longer using a hand-held. Be patient.
  3. When the mixture is light and fluffy with shiny white peaks, and you are using a stand mixer, change to the paddle attachment. If you're using a hand-held, carry on and take Advil because your arm will be very tired. Toss in pieces of butter a couple at a time until the whole mess is used up. In a stand mixer the buttercream will look curdled and ruined, but keep going. Using a hand-held, it will just look somewhat deflated. Keep mixing. Soon the sound you hear is buttercream forming. At that point add in the teaspoon of brewed coffee and instant espresso powder. Once blended it is ready to spoon or pipe onto cupcakes.
Espresso Buttercream option 2
  1. In a large bowl mix the butter until it is just a smooshed splat (technical term). Add the sifted powdered sugar and mix on low until incorporated. Add instant espresso powder. Turn mixer to higher speed. Then add brewed coffee one tablespoon at a time until the buttercream gets big and lofty and has lots of fluff. Pipe or spoon onto cupcakes.
  1. Top the thing with a chocolate stick or chocolate covered coffee bean or leave it plain. It's all good.

Chocolate Mocha Buttercream Cupcakes, Gluten Free. I have cupcakes, you bring the coffee...


  1. These look amazing!!! 🙂 bet you couldn’t guess what I’m going to be making soon. 😉