chocolate espresso cupcakes

A coworker had a birthday last week and I decided to bring in cupcakes. I knew she loved chocolate and coffee so decided to combine the two into a chocolate espresso cupcakes, filling it with homemade dulce de leche. I found that they actually didn’t have enough coffee flavour so will make a couple changes – using all concentrated coffee for the liquid and adding more espresso powder.

chocolate espresso cupcakes filled with dulce de leche
Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes filled with Dulce de Leche

I get my coffee concentration from a local coffee house called Creekside Coffee Factory, where they make dewdrip coffee – cold water run through beans over a 24 hour period. It produces an absolute dreamy concoction that isn’t bitter, yet holds all the intense coffee flavour someone could desire.

I have to blushingly admit that when I need to pump out cupcakes in a hurry, I use box mixes. Devils Chocolate Cake Mix is an absolute winner and is not only quick to whip up, but moist with a super chocolately taste. For these use all concentrated coffee (1 1/4 cups) and adding a teaspoon of espresso powder, along with a cup of dark chocolate chips. To get that bit of extra fluffiness, when living at sea level, add about an extra half teaspoon of baking soda. When I make cupcakes I like BIG cupcakes, so use 1/3 scoops, filling the cupcake liners almost full. I use a small paring knife, cute a cone wedge out of the top, put in a teaspoon or two of the filling, cut off most of the wedge and place the cap back on top (like this).

For the dulce de leche, I forgot to take a picture of it out of the can, but will try and take a picture next time! I followed The Pioneer Women’s instructions (see below) and it came out perfectly! you want a thinner dulce de leche, cook the sweet and condensed milk for 2 hours, for a thick rich one, 3 and a half hours. As a bonus, I didn’t realize that my Cuban coworker also loved all things caramel!

For the icing I used old school fluffy pudding whip cream icing, using chocolate pudding and adding 2 teaspoons espresso powder. Note that this is NOT a firm icing! Best to hold off icing cakes as late as possible. It also does not hold sprinkles or toppings well, and if let to sit on the icing, they will get a “melted” look. Store the cake/cupcakes in fridge. I topped each cupcake with a coffee-nut M&M.


Homemade Dulce de Leche

Prep Time 1 minute


  • Cans of sweet and condensed milk
  • Water


  • Peel the label off the can (or cans!) of sweetened condensed milk, place it in a pot or large saucepan, and cover it with water by 1 to 2 inches. Bring it to a very gentle boil, then reduce the heat to LOW, so that the water has a nice slow simmer.
  • VERY IMPORTANT: Watch the water level and add water if the level of water falls below the top of the cans. Very important to keep a watch on the water level!
  • Simmer the can(s) for 2 to 2 1/2 hours for a lighter golden dulce de leche. Simmer it/them for 3 1/2 hours for a deeper color and flavor. (Using tongs, VERY CAREFULLY turn over the cans halfway through the simmering process.)
  • After the simmering time, turn off the heat and allow the cans to come to room temperature.


IMPORTANT: Do not open the cans while they are still hot! Let them cool completely before opening.
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

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