Recipe: Chocolate-Coffee Chiffon Cupcakes

March 10, 2023

by Maggie Frank

Have you ever seen a recipe for a chocolate cake that calls for a little bit of hot water? It’s common for hot water, milk, or coffee to be added right at the end. But why? The reason so many bakers write this into their recipes is that the hot liquid blooms the cocoa in the recipe. This is an easy way to brighten the flavors of ingredients that are already going into the recipe, you just have to change how you do it.

As coffee-drinkers, you may already be familiar with the advantages of blooming coffee, but did you know cocoa powder gains the same benefits from this process?


To bloom an ingredient is to let it soak in water. Depending on the ingredient you will have to choose the proper technique to do it.

To bloom cocoa powder you have to pour a small amount of hot liquid over it and mix it together to create a paste. Alternatively, you can add a large amount of hot liquid that’s called for in the recipe into the batter at the end. This will still bloom the cocoa, creating a beautiful and rich batter. With a stronger aroma, better flavor, and a perfect crumb.

Any time you make a baked chocolate dessert, that calls for water you can go ahead and make the trade for hot coffee. It is by far the best liquid to use to bloom cocoa! The flavors complement each other in the best way. I also believe the acidity in coffee reacts well to the cocoa powder to make your dessert even more moist.

To see exactly how to bloom cocoa powder with coffee follow along with this recipe for the perfect chocolate cupcakes.

Chocolate Chiffon Cupcakes flavored with Coffee


1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
6 yolks
1 ½ tablespoons oil
¾ cup coffee, hot
6 egg whites
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoons cream of tartar


Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, combine yolks, oil, and vanilla. Then sift in the flour, first measurement of sugar, baking powder, and salt. It will be thick like a paste.

In a separate small bowl mix together cocoa powder and hot coffee, to bloom the cocoa.

Add the ½ cocoa and water to the electric mixer to thin out the paste. Scrape the sides. Then add the rest.

Mix for 2 minutes to emulsify the mixture, move into a large bowl and wash your electric mixer.

Using a whisk attachment makes a french meringue using the egg white, a second measurement of sugar, and cream of tartar. Mix to a medium peak. Be careful to not over mix.

Using a large rubber spatula take a third of your meringue and mix it into your chocolate batter. Then carefully add the rest of the meringue and fold it carefully. Be thoughtful, but intentional with your mixing of the batter. You don't want to knock out too much air.

Scoop into a lined cupcake tray and bake for 15-18 minutes at 350F.

Then, prep the icing!

Fudge Icing


12 oz of good-quality butter
1 ½ cups cocoa powder
1 cup brewed coffee, warm
6 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla


In a small bowl bloom cocoa powder with hot coffee by mixing them together. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer cream your butter on low speed. You want it to be soft and pliable but don't add too much air to this recipe. It should be dense or you could risk it separating.

Add 2 cups of powdered sugar. Mix well, then scrape the sides and add two more cups.

Pour in bloomed cocoa powder. Mix well, scrape the sides then add the rest of the powdered sugar. Stir in vanilla and keep mixing until smooth.

If the icing seems too thick, add a bit of milk. Or, if it seems too thin you can chill the entire bowl for about 15 minutes in the fridge then mix again.

To assemble


Use a spatula and mix fudge icing to ensure no air pockets need to be knocked out. Fold a piping bag over a cup fit with a star tip. Then you can easily fill the fudge icing into the bag. Be careful to not overfill it

Pull the piping bag out and do your best to frost a round rosette shape on top of the cooled cupcakes. Decorate with sprinkles or anything you have on hand. Even a small sprinkle of cocoa powder on top would be nice too. Store these cupcakes in an air-tight container, but they will be best if enjoyed the same day.