The coffee (and the salt) help intensify the flavor of the chocolate. If you don't have or don't want to use coffee, just skip it and use water instead. If you do use coffee, just use what would be considered regular strength coffee (or slightly weak coffee) in America, not something super concentrated like espresso. If caffeine is an issue, use decaf.
If you want to make a cake instead of cupcakes, double the recipe and use two 8-inch round cake pans and cook for 35-40 minutes.
Check your olive oil and make sure it is fresh, not rancid. Check your baking soda to make sure it still works (add a little vinegar to a teaspoon, if it bubbles up vigorously, it's fine.)
- 1 1/2 cups (188 g) all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (23 g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda (4 g) (make sure it's fresh!)
- 1/2 teaspoon (1 g) salt
- 1 cup brewed coffee (or 1 cup of warm water mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons of espresso powder or instant coffee granules)
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup (30 g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cup (158 g) powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 Preheat oven and prep muffin tin: Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Prepare a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
2 Whisk dry ingredients: In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt until there are no visible clumps (cocoa tends to clump up).
3 Mix wet ingredients: In a separate bowl, mix together the coffee (or water plus coffee granules), vinegar, vanilla extract, and olive oil.
4 Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir only until they just come together. Do not over-beat! The mixture should be thin and rather lumpy.
5 Ladle the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about two-thirds of the way full.
6 Bake: Place in oven and bake at 350°F for 18 to 20 minutes, until a bamboo skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
7 Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool on a rack. Once cool, you can eat plain, sprinkle with powdered sugar, or drizzle or coat with frosting.
While the cupcakes are cooking, make the frosting. Melt butter in a small saucepan and remove from heat. Stir in the cocoa until smooth. Sprinkle in about a third of the powdered sugar, stir, then sprinkle in about a half of the milk. Keep alternating with the powdered sugar and either milk or vanilla, stirring after each addition, until the frosting is the consistency you want, and smooth. If it's too runny, add more powdered sugar. If too stiff, add a little more milk or vanilla extract.
To pipe in a decorative pattern, scoop the frosting into the corner of a ziplock freezer bag. Use scissors to cut away 1/4-inch or so from the tip of the corner. Then just squeeze the frosting out of the bag onto the cupcakes in any design you like.