Devil's Food Cupcakes with White Chocolate Espresso Topping

The rich brown hue of these cupcakes tells you that they will taste intensely of chocolate even before the first bite. The surprise might be the orange flavor that comes from the addition of the orange zest in the batter. The espresso in the topping adds a third dimension.

Use a microplane grater to zest the orange. The cupcakes are best when served the same day they are made.

Yields: 12 Cupcakes  Time: About 1 hour


The Cupcakes

  • 1 Cup (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (1 1/4 ounces) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated cane sugar
  • 1 (2 ounces) extra-large egg
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) whole milk
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) flavorless vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, preferably Madagascar Bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder dissolved in 1/2 cup (4 ounces) boiling water
  • 1 orange
The Topping
  • 2 3/4 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (4 1/3 ounces) heavy whipping cream
  • Unsweetened natural cocoa powder for dusting


        1. Pre-heat the oven to 325 F. Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners.
        2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar together into a medium bowl.
        3. Combine the egg, milk, oil, vanilla extract, and dissolved espresso powder in a medium bowl and whisk by hand until well mixed. Finely grate the zest from the orange directly into the bowl.
        4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk to combine.
        5. Using a tablespoon, divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling them about half full.
        6. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven until the cupcakes are puffed and feel springy to the touch, about 15 to 20 minutes.
        7. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. When cool, remove the cupcakes, still in their paper liners from the muffin cups.

        Make the White-Chocolate Espresso Topping

        1. Put the chocolate in a medium bowl.
        2. In a small saucepan, whisk the espresso powder into the cream and bring to a boil over medium heat.
        3. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until it is melted.
        4. Put the bowl of topping in an ice-water bath and stir occasionally until the chocolate cools to 45F, 15 to 20 minutes.
        5. When the topping has cooled, whisk it by hand until it is the consistency of soft ice cream.
        6. Put the topping into a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8 inch star tip. Pipe a swirl on the top center of each cupcake, distributing the topping evenly among them.
        7. Store in a cool place until serving. Just before serving, sift a dusting of cocoa powder over the topping.