My husband doesn’t especially like his birthday, cake, or sweets in general. Occasionally he will partake in some cookie, cupcake, and/or ice cream eating but it takes a special something to get him to say “Yes, please may I have another?.” He dislikes chocolate, but loves coffee, caramel, and toffee, so I set out to create the perfect birthday cake for him. I thought, why not coffee toffee  cupcakes? Most of the coffee flavored cakes I’ve had have been chocolate cake with coffee flavoring, but given that he dislikes chocolate cake the recipe below requires just enough cocoa powder to cut the coffee flavoring! They were a huge hit with him and our friends and family, so I thought I would share the recipe. Making cake from scratch takes a bit of time and effort, but these are so worth it!

CUPCAKES (makes 2 dozen):
3/4 cup low-fat milk
1/4 cup low-fat yogurt
1 package of Starbucks Via Caramel Instant Coffee
1 Tbsp vanilla
3 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons of a second pack of Starbucks Via Caramel Instant Coffee
2 teaspoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder
3/4 cup butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cup white sugar 4 eggs, yolks and whites separated

Heat the milk in the microwave. Stir in the instant coffee until well blended. Add the vanilla and set aside. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, soda, salt, the 2 teaspoons of the instant coffee, and cocoa. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar with the paddle attachment until creamed. It should be slightly fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Add 2/3 of the flour mixture and the yogurt. Add the remaining flour mixture and milk. Beat until smooth. Scrape all the batter out into a separate bowl and wash the mixer bowl thoroughly. Switch to the whisk attachment and beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. They will hold a stiff peak but they will still slip around a little in the bowl. Fold the egg whites into the cake batter gently, folding the batter around until well combined. Fill cupcake liners with batter and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

CARAMEL BUTTERCREAM FROSTING:
4.5 oz caramel candy – I purchased a small generic bag of vanilla caramel candy, but any caramel candy or caramel bits will do!
1 tsp Starbucks Via Caramel Instant Coffee
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Stir instant coffee into heavy cream to dissolve. Over medium-low heat, cook caramel candy and heavy cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan for 3-5 minutes until the caramel candies are completely melted, stirring constantly. Set aside to cool. Place the butter, sugar, milk, coffee, caramel and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting. I frosted my cupcakes with a simple swirl and sprinkled Heath Toffee Bits on top for extra deliciousness.

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