Tonight, Evan and I have a date to have dinner and game night with some friends. They’re providing pizza and salad, so I offered to bring dessert. I was trying to think of something new and delicious to make and spent about an hour on blogs reading dessert recipes, failing to find inspiration.
Then I got a Starbucks craving and it struck me! Caramel macchiatos are one of the more popular drinks at Starbucks. They have a new CM biscotti that’s absolutely divine. Why not attempt to reinterpret it as a cupcake?
A caramel macchiato is a layered drink. The barista puts some vanilla syrup in the bottom of the cup, tops it with steamed milk and foam, pours in the espresso shots and then drizzles it with caramel syrup. Mixing this drink is practically a sin, as the purpose is to taste each of the individual flavors–a hit of sweetness from the caramel, followed by a punch of espresso and then sweet and creamy vanilla milk. Even those who don’t generally care for coffee often find that they enjoy this beverage. And, the iced version of this drink is absolutely beautiful, because you can actually see these layers through the clear plastic cup.
I really liked the idea of having a cupcake that could mirror these flavors and also have that layered look. I added cinnamon to both the frosting and the cupcake because it’s a good pairing and cinnamon helps your body metabolize sugar, although in no way is this a “healthy” recipe. I also wanted to make a small batch of cupcakes. There’s no reason I need 2 dozen cupcakes for a group of 4.5. I highly doubt their pint-sized 2 year old will be chowing down on too many of these but I did make a few plain vanilla (no coffee) cupcakes for him. By the end of the night, everyone was in love with the sugary goodness of these cupcakes. Here is the recipe.
Caramel Macchiato Cupcakes
I made 10 cupcakes, but they were overflowing a bit. I think this recipe should actually make 11 or 12.
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 cup plus 4 teaspoons of sugar
- 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/4 cup of shortening
- 1/2 cup of milk
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons of instant coffee
- approximately 1 tablespoon of boiling water
- Turn on oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
- Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
- Add shortening, milk and vanilla. Beat on medium for 1 minute.
- Scrape down the sides with a spatula. Add egg. Beat for another 2 minutes, scraping down sides again.
- Place approximately 2 tablespoons of batter in each cup. Afterwards, there should be about 1/2 cup of batter remaining in the bowl.
- Boil some water. Mix 2 tablespoons of instant coffee granules with just under a tablespoon of the boiling water (perhaps start with 2 teaspoons of boiling water and add a third teaspoon if you need it). Mix well until the crystals are dissolved. Add this mixture to the remaining batter and mix well. It’s very important you don’t water down the batter too much!
- Top your cupcakes with a tablespoon of your coffee-flavored batter.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool completely before frosting them.
Cinnamon Caramel Frosting
- 6 tablespoons of butter, room temperature
- 2 2/3 cups of confectioner’s sugar
- 1/3 cup of milk
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
- caramel ice cream sundae topping
- Beat the butter and sugar together until combined.
- Add the vanilla, cinnamon and half of the milk. Mix it on medium until the frosting becomes creamy and starts to get fluffy. Add a little more of the milk, if necessary.
- Spread a couple tablespoons on each cupcake. Top with a drizzle of caramel ice cream sundae topping.
Special thanks to my sister Valerie for the advice on the coffee part of the cupcakes. I was going to just mix the instant coffee granules in with the batter, but she recommended dissolving them with a touch of hot water first. She’s really the cupcake pro in the family. I’m just a poser.
Here’s a photo collage of the cupcake baking process.