Picture of coffee cup cake
is it coffee cake or a cup cake? it's both...in a coffee cup!

Make your own espresso coffee cake with espresso-nut glazed topping.

While I was in line at my local Starbucks I noticed they were giving away samples of biscotti in tiny disposable espresso cups. Many of the customers were taking the samples and leaving the cups on the tray by the register. Since no lips touched these cups it seemed a shame to have them go to waste. Sensing an opportunity, I snagged the empties and headed back to the lab.
note: each cup was inspected for cleanliness and suitability for this project.

This instructable won First Prize in the Coffee Cup Contest
Check out all the entries!

Enough talk, let's make some coffee cake!

Step 1: Ingredients

Picture of ingredients
Since we're using coffee cups as our form I thought it would be fitting to add a shot of espresso to the mix, feel free to edit this recipe to suit your tastes.

Coffee cake is easily adapted to add in apricot, marshmallows, sour cream or apple streusel.
Experiment and have fun with it, post your results if you decide to make your own!

coffee cup cakes:
dry ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • handful of chocolate chips (optional)
wet ingredients
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 shot espresso
  • brown sugar
  • butter
  • crushed nuts
  • 1/2 shot espresso
 yield: about 6 cupcakes
hawkfrost645 years ago
 Looks awesome, unfortunately, I'm allergic to nuts. would practically any cupcake recipe work in this? And an idea: There's a "calvin and hobbes" strip in which calvin shows susie that he just puts his pb&j sandiwich and banana in his milk thermos, and sludges it down. There's a roman dish of cake stuffed dates soaked in wine. why not pop these out of the cups, fill the cups up about a quarter, and put the cake in? the filling up liquid could be coffee, or milk, or chocolate syrup......
That sounds really good!
haref4 years ago
does it burn? I mean the cup? Does it get into the cake? Is this healthy?
pueblita5 years ago
My only concern is that these cups  have a plastic coating on the inside (the film you mentioned) toxic if heated - especially because it is fat soluble and you coated it with butter!
mikeasaurus (author)  pueblita5 years ago
toxic if heated, you mean like with hot coffee? and the coating is fat soluble, sorta like fat that's in coffee creamer too I suppose.
maybe not as dangerous as you think.

Guess you'd better not make any, save yourself from the delicious horror.
According to pueblita's link, "most paper cups are coated with a plastic resin (i.e., polyethylene) for durability and convenience, therefore making both their composting and recycling uncommon and raising the specter of carcinogenic chemical leeching". Sounds very questionable to me. These cups were make for drinks that would be heated to 180 F at the most- not 400 F.
Anyway, your recipe sounds delicious, and I'll probably be trying it soon- in cupcakes pans. I'll let you know how they turn out. :)
Thanks for clarifying... and they do sound delicious!
I don't know, do you heat your coffee to 400f, I drink mine from a ceramic mug!
Kaki pueblita4 years ago
I think she meant that her cupcakes are baked at 400 F°! :o
actually if you want to know what these coffee cups are made of check out this website...
always good to check the contents of any vessel you use for cooking/baking... maybe not such a good idea afterall,
Coffee cake....augggghh (Homer's gargling....)
gobobbo5 years ago
Couldn't this be made in a microwave? Quick would make it even better.

I've made chocolate cake in a coffee cup, nuked for 3 minutes on high.
Found recipe on 'net, don't remember where.
If anyone interested I'll post it here.
scoochmaroo did it: http://www.instructables.com/id/5-minute-Chocolate-Cake/
mikeasaurus (author)  gobobbo5 years ago
please post your microwave results!
mojobo15 years ago
These look amazing! I'm definitely going to try it. I also feel the need to try microwaving it- microwaved brownies are good, but this is denser, so hopefully it works too.
I was thinking maybe cook it slightly not enough in the microwave, then put it in the oven for another 5 minutes to get the light-brown slightly crunchy texture on top, and finish cooking it. That might reduce the 'burnt cup' factor.
mikeasaurus (author)  mojobo15 years ago
let me know how it turns out in the microwave, and if you have to modify the ingredients.
wrenawild5 years ago
my god that looks delicious. safe to say the most delicious thing i've seen on the web! me want!
In Step 4, what do you mean by "then fire in those crushed nuts"? This looks great, and it might be something the grandkids will be able to make.
mikeasaurus (author)  SpinninJenny5 years ago
fire in those nuts means add nuts to butter-sugar mixture. Good luck with your cup cakes, share photos if you can!
rose.yell5 years ago

I definitely want to give these a try.  Has anyone tried aluminum foil around the outside, so the cups won't burn, you know, like with a pie crust rim?

dollywild5 years ago
 I have seen (and made) pies in canning jars. ( Saw it over on Angry Chicken's blog)  So, you could make them in little jars if you wanted.  King Arthur Flour sells paper baking pans ( designed to give away) and they feel like paper cup material.  Great idea- I will try this cake!  Wouldn't it be perfect for a bake sale?  Must check out coffee cup options at grocery store...
Hay  mikeasaurus;
No biiggy about whether or not the cups have been lip locked, going into the oven is going to kill almost any nasty. Also free makes up for a lot hhahaha. One thing I can mention though is if you put these in some sort a cheap decorated cup they would make wonderful gifts.
localtalent5 years ago
 Great re-use of the cups, definitely in the spirit of this contest!

Did you try any without greasing the cup to see if the cakes come out easily?  Surprised the cups didn't burn at 400F, but it's great that they didn't!

And the cakes look really, really delicious.  Awesome!
mikeasaurus (author)  localtalent5 years ago
thanks localtalent!

Having my suspicions of the cake releasing from the cups, I tried with only one cup un-greased. When cooked all cups wanted to stick to the cakes, but with some love came out, the un-greased cup was fused to the cake and had to be destroyed in order to eat the portion.

As for cups burning: you can see from the photos there is some browning on a few of the cups (mostly along the seams and lip, cleverly disguised in some of my shots). You'll need to keep an eye on them as the cake is quite dense and takes some time to cook, and the paper cups don't like to be kept waiting.

When I make these again I'll consider cooking them in ceramic espresso cups as suggested by Ward_Nox below, eliminating the possibility of burnt cups altogether.

Thanks for your support, post some pictures if you make your own!
 Too bad, I was hoping that the PE coating on the inside of those cups would act as a non-stick surface.  

400F is a reasonably hot oven - you might get cracking in a coffee mug if there were any cracks in the glaze or if it isn't 'oven safe'.  
8mill5 years ago
oh, this looks soooo yummy
traveller825 years ago
looks superb! I am running out to get one now. hahahah....
Wasagi5 years ago
 Yum! Look Super-Delicious!
vandal11385 years ago
I gotta try these. They look freakin AMAZING
vandal11385 years ago
"SMASH THOSE NUTS" : Three words I never want to hear (especially directed at me)
canida5 years ago
Those look awesome!
jeff-o5 years ago
Looks great!  The only downside?  I'd probably eat about half a dozen at a time!  ;)
mikeasaurus (author)  jeff-o5 years ago
jeff-o, you and me both.
I wish I could make my broccoli taste this awesome
scoochmaroo5 years ago
LURV!  Another winner, mikeasaurus!
mikeasaurus (author)  scoochmaroo5 years ago
Thanks scooch!
Ward_Nox5 years ago
be a neat thing to bake into a coffee cup you give as a gift
Cabe5 years ago
Rogue chocolate chips are the bane of many a baker. I remember one time when I only wanted nuts in my cookies, but NOOOOO the chips had to get in on the act as well.

I shall definitely be trying this next time I feel the need for cake.