Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cinnamon Dulce de Leche Espresso Cupcakes

Cinnamon + Dulce de Leche + Espresso: I had this flavor combo floating around my idea bin long before I set out to make my own batch of dulce de leche.  Cinnamon and dulce de leche play very well together, as do dulce de leche and coffee.  Cinnamon and coffee also pair nicely, so a combination of all three could only result in pure and utter deliciousness.  The most difficult part was deciding which flavor would go into each component of the cupcake.  I finally decided upon pure dulce de leche sandwiched between a cinnamon cupcake base and an espresso buttercream crown.  Result?  Amazing.  Without a doubt, one of best things I've made so far.

The cupcake is based on the "Yellow Butter Cake" recipe from Baking at Home with The Culinary Institute of America.  Wow, folks.  I think I've finally found the recipe to replace my yellow and white cake mix cupcakes.  It's soft and buttery, with a delicately fine crumb.  In other words, absolute perfection.   They don't even need frosting, but since this is a special occasion* I figured I'd go all-out and top it with THREE toppings, including a chocolate football!

* The Saints winning the NFC Championship, naturally.  Superbowl XLIV celebration treats coming soon...


Cinnamon Dulce de Leche Espresso Cupcakes (makes 36)

Adapted from Baking at Home with The Culinary Institute of America

3½ cups cake flour
2 cups sugar
1 Tbl. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1½ tsp. cinnamon 
1 cup unsalted butter, diced & at room temperature
1 cup whole milk, divided
4 large eggs
2 large egg whites
2 tsp. vanilla extract

14 oz. can prepared Dulce de Leche (tutorial & recipe here)
Espresso Swiss Meringue Buttercream (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Place paper liners in 36 wells of three muffin tins.

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Add butter and ½ cup milk.  Mix on medium speed until smooth, about 4 minutes.  Scrape down the bowl as needed.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, egg whites, remaining ½ cup milk and vanilla extract until combined.  Add to the batter in 3 additions, mixing for 2 minutes on medium after each addition.  Scrape down the bowl between additions.

Divide the batter evenly between the muffin tins.  Bake for 16-20 minutes, or until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched in the center.  Cool completely on wire racks.

Spread about 1 heaping teaspoon of Dulce de Leche on each cupcake.  Top with a generous swirl of Espresso Swiss Meringue Buttercream. 

Espresso Swiss Meringue Buttercream (frosts about 36 cupcakes)

4 egg whites
1¼ cup sugar
2 Tbl. espresso powder 
1 cup unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 Tbl. vanilla extract

Place the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl; whisk to combine.  Place bowl over a small saucepan of gently simmering water (double boiler set-up).  Heat egg white mixture to 160°F, whisking constantly.  The mixture will become thin and foamy as you approach 160°F.

Pour the heated egg white mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add espresso powder.  Beat on high speed with the whisk attachment for 7-9 minutes, until stiff peaks form and mixture has cooled.  The mixture MUST be cooled to room temperature before proceeding.  

With the mixer running at medium speed, add the butter, 2 Tablespoons at a time.  Allow the butter to incorporate before adding more.  As you add butter, the appearance of the mixture will go from a fluffy meringue to a thin, cake batter-like consistency.  Once all the butter has been incorporated, increase the speed to medium high and beat until an emulsion forms and the mixture has transformed into a thick & smooth icing.  (How long this will take depends on the starting temperature of both the egg white mixture and the butter pieces, so be patient.  Pay attention as the mixture is whipping--you'll hear a definite difference in sound when the buttercream is ready.)  Add vanilla extract and beat on low speed for a minute or two to incorporate and to reduce any air bubbles.


  1. These are so cute! Honestly, they look like something I'd find at my favorite bakery! And I completely agree, the cinnamon, dulce de leche and coffee combo is incredible!

  2. SO cute! Glad you used your dulce de leche. I am still scared to try it a little, do you think the cans could explode??

  3. Divine Mrs D & Faith - Thanks! :)

    cookies and cups - As long as the water completely covers the can, you'll be safe. Exploding cans usually result when letting the water evaporate too much during stovetop boiling. In the slow cooker the water doesn't really boil on LOW heat, especially with the lid on.

  4. Hi, I came back to see what you made. Those look absolutely amazing.

    My family would probably die for them, but I'm a total novice. Not sure I could make those.

    Hope you have a great weekend :)

  5. These look great! Did you know that the Culinary Institute is only 5 minutes from my house? My boyfriend and I will sometimes go to the little on campus bakery and bring home awesome sweet treats. You have no idea how delicious their baked goods are....yum!

  6. These look amazing Dorothy!
    Where'd you find those little footballs--or did you make them?


  7. Lindsey - I made them by rolling chocolate candy clay about 1/8" thick, then cut out little footballs with a small circle cutter--Venn Diagram style. I pressed a smaller diameter circle cutter in the ends to make those stripes, then used a small knife to do the laces.

  8. I'm a pastry chef, and I made these tonight but without cinnamon and they were great! Super moist and very fine crumb. They didn't make 36, though.. it was more like 28, and the frosting (also a great, classic recipe...) barely reached for those. I added extra vanilla and coffee to the icing, plus some coffee extract, just to contrast with the sweet cookie dough and DDL. But I filled them with cookie dough, which was yummy, and the vanilla is a nice and subtle complement to the sweet cookie dough and icing. Dulce de leche was a great little touch, too! I live in Argentina so that was necessary. :) Anyway, thanks for sharing! Great combo!