Happy birthday to me!

birthday treats

Today is my birthday! To celebrate, I made cupcakes for my colleagues.

Who says birthday treats have to end after elementary school?

I spent most of last night baking and woke up early today to make the frosting. I have not had this many cupcakes in my kitchen since last year when I was in charge of making cupcakes for a baby shower.

(I made 99 miniature cupcakes that day in two flavors – chocolate mint and strawberry cream. I may have gone a little overboard.)

If you are ever looking for a fun, easy cupcake cookbook, I highly recommend Ann Byrn’s Cupcakes: From the Cake Doctor. I’ve made at least 25 cupcakes from this book and they always get great reviews. My daughter’s Girl Scout troop and huge fans of the s’mores cupcakes. They’ve never had the chance to make s’mores on a camping trip, yet, as it is either raining or there’s a burn ban. The cupcakes are an excellent consolation treat.


  • 1/3 cup water
  • 4 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • 1 package (18.25 ounces) plain yellow cake mix
  • 1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding – I didn’t have any, so I used chocolate
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • Mocha Buttercream (recipe below)
  • 1/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips, for garnish

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper lines and set aside.

Place the water and instant coffee in a small glass liquid measuring cup and microwave on high power for 40 seconds. Remove and stir until the coffee is dissolved. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

Place the cake mix, pudding mix, milk, oil, eggs and coffee in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixture on low for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixture speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look thick and well combined. Fold in 1 cup of the chocolate chips. Spoon or scoop 1/3 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it three quarters of the way full. You will get between 22 and 24 cupcakes.

Place the pans in the oven and bake until the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched with your fingers, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Then remove the cupcakes from the pans and cool for another 15 minutes before frosting. Meanwhile, make the frosting.


  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of instant coffee granules
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of butter, at room temperature
  • 2 ounces (1/2 bar) German’s sweet chocolate, grated
  • 3 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon water, if needed

Place the milk and instant coffee in a small glass liquid measuring cup and microwave on high power until the milk is hot enough to dissolve the coffee, about 30 to 40 seconds. Remove and stir until the coffee is dissolved. Set aside to cool.

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and add the coffee and grated chocolate. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until the mixture has softened, about 30 seconds. Stop the machine and add the confectioners’ sugar. Blend with the mixture on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute more. Blend up to 1 tablespoon of water if the frosting seems stiff.

Frost the cupcakes. Garnish with miniature semisweet chocolate chips and serve.

NOTE: These cupcakes can be stored in a cake serve or under a glass dome, at room temperature, for up to 3 days – if they last that long. They can also be stored in a container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Recipe courtesy of Cupcakes: From the Cake Mix Doctor by Ann Byrn


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