Coffee Cup Cake




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is it coffee cake or a cup cake? it's 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

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

Step 2: Combine Dry/wet Ingredients

Start by preheating your oven to 200°C (400°F).
While the oven is warming up we can start mixing the ingredients.

In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients:
  • flour
  • baking powder
  • brown sugar
  • salt
sift together and set aside
In a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients:
  • butter
  • milk
  • egg
  • vanilla extract
whisk together

Slowly fold the wet ingredients to the dry. Don't over-mix.
Somehow some chocolate chips fell into the batter while I was mixing.

Step 3: Grease and Fill Cups

Once your mixture is folded it's time to prep the cups. These cups are paper and have a slight film on the inside. As a precaution I used butter to grease the inside of each cup to ease releasing of the cupcake after cooking.

After each cup has been greased, fill each cup almost to the top. These will rise, we want enough room for expansion so each cupcake creates a nice muffin-top for our glaze.

By now your oven should be at 200°C (400°F), fire in those cupcakes and set the timer for 15 minutes.
These burn easily so keep an eye on them.

Step 4: Topping

While the cupcakes are baking we can make the glazed topping. In my opinion the topping is what gives coffee cake it's character, this topping is a nut-espresso glaze.

I usually have a stockpile hidden somewhere close by. The nut mix shown here is called Royal Nut Mix and consists of: peanuts, brazil nuts, cashews, macadamia, pecans, almonds, and filberts. Smash those nuts!

Combine melted butter with some brown sugar, add in a half shot of espresso, then fire in those crushed nuts. Mix, then let stand for a few minutes until the butter has cooled and the mixture coagulates some.

Step 5: Cool, Add Toppings and Serve!

After about 15 minutes your cupcakes should be finished, time to drizzle on your glaze and serve warm.

This tiny tasty treat goes well with your favourite cuppa joe, some strong Earl Grey, or on their own as a snack while procrastinating about exercise. Share your own recipe variations and ideas in the comments below.

First Prize in the
Coffee Cup Challenge



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    37 Discussions


    9 years ago on Step 5

     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......

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Step 3

    does it burn? I mean the cup? Does it get into the cake? Is this healthy?


    9 years ago on Introduction

    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!

    6 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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. :)


    9 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    2 replies

    9 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    let me know how it turns out in the microwave, and if you have to modify the ingredients.


    9 years ago on Step 5

    my god that looks delicious. safe to say the most delicious thing i've seen on the web! me want!


    9 years ago on Step 4

    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.

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 4

    fire in those nuts means add nuts to butter-sugar mixture. Good luck with your cup cakes, share photos if you can!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    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?