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Monday, January 21, 2013

Kahlua Caramel Mocha Cupcakes

“If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” 
― Martin Luther King Jr.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, dear readers! Hopefully you got to enjoy a day off. I know I really needed today off work - not that it was a restful, relaxing day - oh nooo no no. I had delusions of grandeur for my three day weekend, and was going to accomplish all kinds of great things. My house was going to be soooo clean, replete with freshly sealed and painted baseboards, and I wasn’t going to have a scrap of dirty laundry nor a dirty dish lying around. I was going to give myself a perfect manicure, after painting the baseboards, of course, create a new recipe I’ve been thinking about, and even squeeze in some time with girl friends.

Ohh yeah, I was delusional. I ended up relating very strongly to the MLK, Jr. quote, above.

Actually, I didn’t do too badly. Although I didn’t so much as touch those baseboards, nor did I work on developing that recipe, I did get a WHOLE lot done – including a LOT of things that weren’t even on my to do list. In all honesty, that’s about par for the course, for me. I obsessively make “to do” lists that even Martha Stewart couldn’t get through in one day – but it pushes me to keep moving forward, and sometimes that’s enough.

Ok, in ALL honesty, I’m totally putting those extra things that I got done on my to do list, so that I’ll have the satisfaction of crossing them off. Yesssss.

Bella helped with the laundry.
So, I just got back from a long run with my dog, which was preceded by a trip to the grocery store (which is one of the most exhausting and hated things in my life – that’s why I’m so keen on substitutions when I bake). I also went to the vet for the second time this weekend to get different medication for my new cat – oh yeah, I’ve been administering meds to a cat all weekend. If you’ve ever done that, you know that I feel super accomplished just from that. It’s a really, really good thing the cat is so cute. It makes up for the blood loss, a little bit.   

Selleck. As in Tom Selleck.

Anyway, I finally got a chance to sit down and enjoy my coffee that I’ve been carrying around from place to place all day (thank you, Starbucks insulated mug for keeping it warm!). And you know what? I do NOT feel like baking anything today. Plus, by the time I’m done it will be almost dark, and OMG bad evening lighting/yellow nocturnal pictures/lions and tigers and bears, oh my! But, my delightful Starbucks coffee reminded me of an already complete, already photographed project that I’ve been meaning to post, and there’s no time like the present! As MLK, Jr. said, keep moving forward.
I made these awhile back for a friend and co-worker of mine who is always going the extra mile to do things for others, so I wanted to do a little something and bring in a treat for her birthday. She used to be a Starbucks barista, so I thought these would be fun. Well, it ended up being a keep moving forward kind of recipe.

It was a work night, work was terrible at the time, I was tired, and although the cupcakes were PERFECT, the frosting was NOT. In fact, the frosting was downright nasty. Sure, it looked beautiful in the immaculate, professional-quality pictures that lured me in on the blog-that-shall-remain-nameless where I found it, but the taste was confusing and just not even close to the homemade caramel flavor I was going for. So, I had to make it over again, all the while kicking myself because I KNEW better than to trust that recipe. Word to the wise: don’t try to make caramel frosting out of cream cheese. Ever.

Once I fixed the frosting, everything was good to go! I had just enough cardboard sleeves, thanks to my partners in crime who indulged my crazy idea and grabbed a few extras for me with their drinks.

Totally worth it. And not nearly as hard as I made it sound – you get to use a mix!

Here’s how it’s done:

Recipe for the Kahlua Caramel Mocha Cupcakes (this will make about 22-23):


1 pkg chocolate cake mix
1 pint plain yogurt (I used whole, not lowfat)
1/4 cup oil
2 eggs
1 cup Kahlua
12 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp instant coffee (dry granules)


(1) Dump all of the ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer (or just a normal bowl, if you’re using a hand mixer). Mix until combined. How easy is that??
(2) Scoop into a prepared, lined cupcake pan. I use a 4 Tbsp ice cream scoop to fill my cupcake liners, and it works out to yield 22 cupcakes for me.
(3) Bake at 350 for about 22 minutes, until the cupcakes spring back when touched. (Note: the toothpick method won’t be reliable for these, because of the melted chocolate chips)
(4) Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting them.

Recipe for the Caramel Frosting: (this is the GOOD recipe, adapted from Martha Stewart):


12 tablespoons (1 & 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3-to-4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream, plus more if needed
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon salt


In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat until nut-brown in color, about 8 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour butter into a bowl, leaving any burned sediment behind. Refrigerate until it returns to a softened butter consistency. **Hint: it will cool more quickly in a metal bowl.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add confectioners' sugar, vanilla, salt, and butter. With the mixer on low, slowly add cream; beat until smooth and desired piping consistency is reached. If frosting seems too thick, stir another tablespoon cream into the mixture. If the frosting is too thin, add more confectioner’s sugar.

I also made a very simple chocolate ganache (Click for Martha's recipe; I just melted chocolate chips with a little heavy cream and a little Kahlua) to drizzle on top, but that’s entirely up to you!

Enjoy this recipe, enjoy the rest of your week, and keep moving forward!


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  1. What a great recipe Jacqueline! It sounds like you need a vacation from your long weekend!!

  2. haha, thanks Dorothy! I think I do!

  3. Seriously, I wish we lived closer!!

    1. Me too! What fun we would have!

  4. Sounds and looks delicious, Jaqueline!


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