CHOCOLATE CARDAMOM CUPCAKES & ESPRESSO BUTTERCREAM
1-BOWL, 1-HOUR & CAN BE VEGAN!
This is such a super simple and quick recipe, and one you can whip up with whatever you have in. Very versatile, it can be used in different ways and made Vegan. dairy-free, egg-free & lactose free. A great base chocolate cake recipe, this time with cardamom giving just a hint of a ginger feel, pairing perfectly with an espresso buttercream. What more could you ask for?
SUCH A VERSATILE RECIPE:
- Use any or combination of sugars – what ever you have.
- Use Self-raising or Plain/All Purpose Flour
- Use espresso coffee or instant coffee granules
- Use any neutral oil you like or have
- Can be vegan, dairy or lactose free
- Use any milk – almond & coconut milk work well
- Make with or without cardamom
- Make with or without the buttercream
- Buttercream can be made with Vegan butter or Vegetable shortening
- Used as is, to make a 8″/20cm layer cake or mini bundt cakes (see photo above)
Jump to Recipe
Make In 1-Bowl & In 1-Hour
This simple chocolate cupcake recipe is easily made in one bowl. Use a large mixing bowl or a stand mixer, but I would advise using a new bowl or cleaning this one, if you want to make the buttercream. Simply use your digital scales or measuring cups to add in the ingredients in order, and even sieve the flour over the mixing bowl. Not only makes it quicker to make these cupcakes, but saves on the washing up too! And I am all for that.
I actually tend to use my hand-mixer a lot, instead of getting the stand mixer out, which actually has an extra large bowl. You can also mix by hand, but just make sure to beat well. And you can easily make this recipe in 1 hour (provided you don’t take 100 picture like me!). Just use either the baking time or cooling time, to make up your buttercream & you will have finished & decorated chocolate cardamom cupcakes in 1 hour.
A Note On Ingredients
As mentioned this recipe is very versatile. The recipe has been tested with UK Self-raising flour (that has a raising agent in it – baking powder). It’s also been made with Plain/A.P. flour and if using that, you then also add bicarbonate of soda/baking soda and also vinegar (as per the amounts listed below in the ingredients). If you only have US Self-rising (that has a little less baking powder than UK Self-raising), just add 1/4 tsp Bicarb/Baking Soda & 1/2 tsp vinegar.
I have also used different combinations of sugar for this recipes, numerous times. You can use granulated, light brown & dark brown, and usually in a combination of 2 or 3 of these. Just make sure the total combined amount of sugar is 200g/7 oz/1 cup. Also remember that the brown sugars are packed cups.
The espresso coffee in the cake batter, does not give a coffee taste to the cake, but is rather there to intensify the chocolate taste. If you don’t have espresso coffee powder, you can use instant coffee granules, but use a little more, as stated in the ingredients.
For the coffee buttercream, you can also use the granules, again in a greater amount. This coffee taste, pairs beautifully with chocolate and cardamom. Talking of which, the cardamom gives a mild flavour , similar to ginger. I added and my youngest son didn’t even realise. But it is entirely optional. And if you want you can use vanilla bean paste in place of the Vanilla extract. Read my article on How To Make Vanilla Extract At Home.
VEGAN, DAIRY-FREE, EGG-FREE & LACTOSE-FREE
This chocolate cardamom cupcake recipe doesn’t use butter or eggs, and has been tested using coconut milk, almond milk & lactose-free milk. So can be Vegan, Dairy-free & Lactose Free.
For the espresso buttercream, you can also use Vegan Butter or vegetable shortening with the same effect.
Includes All Measurements & Conversions
Having written and reviewed nearly 500 recipes, I am well accustomed to converting measurements between imperial and metric and vice versa. I am in the UK and use a digital scale but the majority of my readers are in the states and Canada and most use cups. Also lots of recipes are written in cups. So with that in mind, I researched conversions on-line and realised how inconsistent and inaccurate Google and even other recipe conversions can be.
So my answer was to hand measure each ingredient during development. Doesn’t take just one go to perfect a recipe, so plenty of practice and measuring in cups and on the scales, I was soon able to calculate my own conversions for common baking ingredients. I write every single recipe, with grams, ounces & cup measurements, and I even provide my conversions in recipes I review too. So I created a table of these conversions, which you can save to your computer or phone, print off or share. Go to my Handy Conversion Table Of Common Baking Ingredients.
I also in my recipes & reviews, provide alternative names for ingredients, equipment, etc. If you want to read more about those, go to my Differences Between UK & US Baking Ingredients Article.
Super Simple Recipe For Beginners
This recipe is so simple to whip up, I am not going to do the usual thorough step-by-step instructions with lots of photos. I will just provide a little collage of photos of the process – because visual helps, right? But if you want to see in more detail, check out my Chocolate Cupcake & Whipped Buttercream recipe.
For experienced bakers, you can skip to the abbreviated recipe – Recipe card, click below:Jump to Recipe
The Easy Process
The cake batter is simply made in one-bowl in an ‘almost’ all-in-one method. No creaming of butter and sugar. Everything is mixed together, to produce quite a liquid cake batter. See Photo 1 above.
Cardamon is then ground, before adding to the cake batter. See Photo 2. After which, the cupcake cases are filled and the cupcakes baked. See Photo 3 below.
Make The Espresso Buttercream
While the cakes are baking (or cooling), you can make the buttercream. Simply beat the softened cubed butter – always best to cube into about 1cm, 1/3″ size. Cubing makes a smaller surface area, allowing it to soften faster (as well as be incorporated easier). But if you forget, or are short on time, why not try this hack I reviewed? Go to How To Soften Butter In About 12 minutes Video. Note for butter alternatives, these will soften faster. See Photo 4.
The espresso and vanilla extract are then added to the beaten butter, and then the icing/powdered sugar is gradually added in, in increments, until thoroughly combined. After this, you continue to beat the buttercream for 2 -3 minutes but on high speed until the mixture is fully aerated. See Photo 4 above & Photo 5.
The buttercream is then placed into a piping bag and piped onto the cooled cupcakes and served. I used a long open tip star for all the toppings in the photos.
See Photo 6 below of the cakes and buttercream frosting applied.Jump to Recipe
Before We Get To The Recipe
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Also why not try a whipped chocolate orange ganache as a topping instead? See photo below.
DIFFICULTY LEVEL: super simple, beginner
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- Scales or measuring cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Small Jug (optional)
- Large mixing bowl
- Stand or Hand Mixer (not essential)
- 12-hole Cupcake tray/sheet
- 12 cupcake/muffin paper cases
- Timer or Phone Timer
- Cooling rack
- Mixing spoon(s)
- Wooden Cocktail stick
- Piping bag or syringe & nozzle
- Clean Tea-towel
FOR THE CUPCAKE BATTER
- 209 grams Self-raising Flour (7¼ oz, 1⅔ cups – alternatively All Purpose or Plain Flour plus 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda plus 1¼ tsp Vinegar *see note below)
- 200 grams Sugar (half granulated & half light brown) (7 oz, 1cup/1 packed cup)* see below for variations
- 31 grams Cocoa Powder (1 oz, 1/4 cup)
- ½ tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Espresso Powder (For Instant coffee granules use 1½ tsp)
- 240 ml Milk (8 fl oz, 1 cup – Any milk, lactose/dairy free or vegan alternative. See notes below)
- 80 ml Vegetable Oil (2¾ fl oz, ⅓ cup – any neutral oil)
- 1½ tsp Vanilla Extract (Or Vanilla bean paste. See notes for how to make Vanilla Extract)
- 4 pods Cardamom – green, shelled and ground (Optional, see notes)
FOR ESPRESSO BUTTERCREAM
- 76 grams Butter – unsalted, cubed & softened (2¾ oz, ⅓ cup. Alternatively Vegan butter or Vegetable shortening, see notes)
- 375 grams Icing Sugar, sieved (13¼ oz, 3 cups Powdered Sugar)
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract (Or Vanilla Bean Paste)
- 1½ tbsp Espresso Powder dissolved in 1½ tbsp Boiled Water (Or 2½ tbsp Instant Coffee Granules to 1½ tbsp hot water)
- Chocolate Sprinkles (optional)
PREPARE CUPCAKE BATTER
- Weigh or measure out the flour, while sieving into the large mixing bowl. If using the cardamom, use a small knife to split open and peel off the shell of the pods. Then using a mortar & pestle, grind the seeds as fine a possible.
- Next spoon in the sugars, salt & espresso coffee powder & mix everything together till evenly distributed. (If using Plain/All Purpose flour, also add bicarbonate of soda/baking soda).
- Using a hand/stand mixer or even just a spatula or wooden spoon, add in the vegetable oil & vanilla extract. (If using Plain/All Purpose flour, also add the vinegar). Add in the milk in 2 or 3 increments, mixing on the lowest setting, before increasing and mixing till all combined. If mixing by hand, ensure you mix & beat well.
- Pre-heat your oven to: 180c/160c Fan oven/350f/Gas mark 4 (or earlier if your oven takes a longer time to heat up).
- Now line the cupcake tray/sheet with your 12 paper cases & divide the batter equally among them. They will be about ⅔-¾ full. Give the cupcake tray a few taps on the counter/worktop to expel any trapped air before placing in the centre of the oven.
BAKE THE CUPCAKES
- Bake for about 18 – 25 minutes till done. Mine take 21 -23 minutes & I turn the direction of the tins after about the half way point, for an even bake. Once well risen, start testing with a wooden cocktail stick, around about the 17 minute mark. You want the stick, when inserted in the centre of the cake, to come out completely clean of crumbs or batter. If not ready, bake a further 1 minute or 2 and check again.
- Remove from the oven & place the cupcake tray on top of a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes. Then you can remove the cupcakes from the tin and leave to cool down completely on the cooling rack.
MAKING THE ESPRESSO BUTTERCREAM
- While the cakes are baking or cooling, prepare the buttercream. Begin by dissolving the espresso coffee in the hot water, then add in the softened cubed butter/vegan butter/vegetable shortening & vanilla extract and beat together.
- Place the bowl over the scales (if using) & over a sieve, add in ¼ of the icing/powdered sugar (93g. 3¼ oz , ¾ cup). Cover the mixer/bowl with a splash guard or clean tea-towel and begin mixing on low speed till the sugar is incorporated. Proceed to add in more sugar in 3 more batches, mixing well in-between each addition.
- Continue beating on high speed for another 2-3 minutes till the buttercream becomes more aerated and bubbles are noticeable.
- Fill a piping bag with the espresso buttercream & use a medium sized nozzle to pipe buttercream on the cupcakes. Pipe swirls to form roses, or press down and pull up while squeezing, to produce tall 'ruffles'. The choice is yours.
- Keep somewhere cool but no need for a fridge unless a hot environment. Store covered or the buttercream will crust with time. Will last 2 – 3 days. Cupcakes alone can be frozen and thawed at room temperature.
- Choice Of Flour – you can use Self-raising (UK), or Plain/A.P. flour for these cupcakes. Just note from the ingredients & directions, that if using Plain/A.P. flour, you also need to add the Bicarb/Baking Soda & Vinegar. For using self-rising (US) flour, you can add 1/4 tsp Bicarb/Baking Soda & 1/2 tsp vinegar.
- Choice of Sugars – you can also use a combination of light brown, dark brown and granulated for these cupcakes. All work well, just use what you have to the combined final total weight/volume of 200g/7oz/1 cup.
- Choice of Milk – you don’t need to use cow’s/dairy milk. Almond & coconut milk have both been tested as well as lactose free milk.
- Vanilla Extract – make your own Vanilla Extract at home
- Cardamon – is optional, and gives a subtle flavour similar to ginger.
- Buttercream – optional, but you can also make using Vegan Butter or Vegetable Shortening.
- For recipe instruction photos, see the beginning of the recipe blog.
- All measurement conversions hand tested by myself as Google is inconsistent & often innacurate. Click to go to my Handy Table Of Common Baking Ingredient Conversions.
- For anything else, please see beginning of recipe blog.
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