Following on from Wedding Cake Chronicles – White chocolate mud cupcakes , I also made mocha cupakes for my sisters wedding. Here is the story…
Mocha cupcakes were my sisters idea. Well, she actually wanted tiramisu flavoured cupcakes. Which in the cupcake world is immensely different. However, tiramisu cupcakes are notoriously messy. After a few attempts at various different things, I settled on mocha cupcakes. It looked quite nice having the contrasting colour to the white chocolate mudcakes, and they tasted quite good.
And then, I thought, what icing? To add the tiramisu element, I tried a marscapone based cupcake. However, I knew these would have to sit out unrefrigerated for the best part of 6 hours on display at the wedding, so I didn’t want a cheese based icing. I faced similar issues with a cream based icing. I tried a buttercream frosting, but the icing was just a bit over the top for this cupcake, and refrigerated made it hard and unappealing. However, this was my back up plan. One thing I knew would be delicious is a 7 minute frosting. 7 minute frosting is common-place in the USA, but I’ve never seen it made before in Australia. In fact, before my best friend’s 21st, I had never eaten it before.
Several years before, I had offered to make my best friend’s 21st cake as her present. I had practiced, and made small batches before and it was delicious and reasonably easy. Her cake was cupcakes as well, strawberry butter cake with a beautiful glossy 7 minute frosting on top, sprinkled with pink sugar. Perfect for her “prom” themed party. However when I made 3 batches of 7 minute frosting at once, the icing didn’t set. I had run out of ingredients and time. I was to make a speech, and I couldn’t be late. It was a veritable baking disaster. I didn’t ever want to repeat it. Not one for avoiding a challenge, I knew this was the frosting for the job. I would just have to practice. Except.. I wanted to add an espresso flavouring to it – to add that real coffee flavour. Who could have guessed the complications that would ensue from this choice.
7 minute frosting is like a marshmallow/meringue icing. In its purest form, it is like an Italian meringue, where a hot syrup cooks egg whites while beating the egg whites. This is the technique I used for the 21st cake. Except when I did it then, I didn’t get the sugar syrup to the correct temperature (I didn’t have a thermometer), and the resultant icing was sloppy. Significant quantities of icing sugar later, and it was able to be piped onto the cake.
This sometimes occurs when upscaling a recipe. When temperature is a factor, if the syrup you’re using isn’t quite the right temperature, or you’re meant to use it to cook a large portion of egg whites, it can come out not quite right. I bought a candy thermometer for this cake, so that would never happen again. Most of these recipes will tell you the temperature it should go up to in order for the recipe to work.
Challenge number 2: espresso. I had amazingly found a Donna Hay recipe which was for this exact purpose – coffee meringue frosting with mocha cupcakes. This recipe used coffee granules in the syrup to flavour for espresso. However, even when I pre-dissolved the coffee granules, the syrup just wasn’t quite right. It was always a bit lumpier than desired. If yo don’t have an espresso machine, ensure you dissolve the instant coffee really well in 1/3 cup hot water, then cool before adding.
Another method of making 7 minute frosting is to put all of the ingredients into a double boiler (heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water) and beat with an electric mixer for 7 minutes, hence the name. Each method has its advantages. The difficulty with the double-boiler method is that it is easy for the egg white mix to stick to the bowl. Every minute or so, I had to scrape down with a spatula and mix. Even still, I got lost icing on the bottom of the bowl. It was a price I was willing to pay for much more reliable results when espresso was added.
I was not about to have a disaster with the icing for my sister’s wedding. I knew my results had to be reliable – especially for the icing, because it was to be done the morning of delivery for best freshness. And so I practiced – 7 minute frosting on everything! I experimented with various different recipes, and this one I found on someone’s website (lynnescountrykitchen.net/frostings/7mocha.html) turned out to be the most simple and reliable. Thanks Lynne! I substituted glucose syrup for corn syrup, and 1/3 cup fresh espresso for 1/3 cup water with 2 teaspoons instant coffee. Corn syrup is very difficult to find in Australia, but many of these recipes used it. It acts as a stabilizer for the egg white – you’ll notice no cream of tartar in this recipe for that reason. I also substituted the fresh espresso as with this type of icing, any lumps, or imperfect dissolving of the coffee granules would be unacceptable.I had to cool the espresso a little, or I was afraid it would start cooking the egg whites prematurely.
In the end, while the process of developing this cupcake for the wedding cake was more tumultuous than the white chocolate with salted caramel ganache, it turned out to be immensely reliable and also very delicious. The glossy icing made it look quite stunning. I hope with all this testing, if you give it a go, you’ll find it easy to follow.
Mocha cupcakes with 7 minute espresso frosting
Mocha mud cupcakes (Women’s Weekly)
330g butter, chopped coarsely
200g dark eating chocolate or good quality cooking chocolate
2 2/3 cups caster sugar
1 1/3 cup water
1/2 cup coffee liquer (tia maria, etc)
4 tablespoons coffee granules
2 cups plain flour
4 tablespoons self raising flour
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1. Preheat oven to 170 degC/ 150deg C fan forced. Line 2x 12 hole standard muffin tin with patty pans.
2. Melt butter, chocolate, sugar, water, liqueur and coffee in a small saucepan over a low heat until coffee is dissolved and butter and chocolate are melted.
3. Transfer to a large bowl to cool for 15 minutes. Whisk in sifted flours and cocoa, then eggs.
4. Bake for 50 minutes, then place cakes on a wire rack to cool.
5. Make icing (below) and pipe or spread on top as desired.
2 egg whites
1.5 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup slightly cooled espresso
2 teaspoons glucose or corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla essence.
1. Combine egg whites, sugar, salt, espresso and glucose syrup in a heatproof bowl. Beat for 1 minute until well mixed.
2.Place on top of a pot of boiling water with water low enough that it doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl.
3.Beat constantly for 7 minutes, or until the frosting will stand up in peaks. Depending on the speed of your mixing, this time will vary. Every 30 seconds or so, stop beating and scrape down the sides of the bowl to prevent uneven cooking.
4. Remove from heat and beat in vanilla.
5. Pipe onto your cake while still warm. When it cools it will set – which is great for the frosting if you move quickly. So have your piping gear ready to go.