Cocoa Stout Cupcakes with Espresso Buttercream

Happy National Beer Day! It always seems that I’m a step behind on these national celebration days, but I’m trying to stay on top of things. You know, for the blog…and because every time I miss one, I feel I’ve missed an opportunity. While we’ll have to wait and see if I remember to observe the others, I am well prepared for National Beer Day with these Cocoa Stout Cupcakes with Espresso Buttercream!

Some of the more interesting national celebration days I came across on the interwebs include: National Lima Bean Respect Day (April 20; see [here]), National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day (August 8; see [here]), and of course we’re ALL fans of *International* Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19; see [here]). While they’re all fun, this is really just about making cupcakes to celebrate, isn’t it? 😉

So. We need to address one thing up front. You see…I don’t like beer. Please don’t hate me. I just can’t get behind it. I must be like one of those poor souls who hates cilantro…only with beer. HOWEVER, I’m all about putting beer (and wine and booze) in baked goods. For these little babies, I used a vanilla porter. I’ve also used a stout for this recipe in the past. Use what you like (or, in my case, what has pretty packaging and sounds good, even though you know you don’t like it).

These cupcakes are–dare I say–moist. There’s really no other good word to describe a not-dry cupcake. Using high quality ingredients in your baked goods makes a big difference in flavor and overall result. For these, I used Valrhona unsweetened cocoa powder, which lends your chocolate sweets an eye-rolling richness (link [here]). You can’t go wrong with coffee and chocolate, so each of the cupcakes is topped with a  swirl of espresso buttercream. I’ve found it difficult to find espresso powder–especially one that isn’t already hard as a rock–at my local grocery store. I use King Arthur Flour’s brand, as it’s very fine and made specifically for use in baked goods (link [here]).

I highly recommend using the chocolate extract in this recipe! This (sometimes overlooked) extract lends an amazing depth of flavor to chocolate baked goods! If you can’t find it in your local grocery store, you can find some [here]. Even better, makes yourself some [Homemade Chocolate Extract] for next time!

If you choose to, you can decorate your cupcakes with chocolate and/or chocolate-covered espresso beans. I’ve also never had luck finding chocolate-covered espresso beans at my local grocery store, but I seek them out because I love using them for garnish (and then eating the leftovers by the handful, spending the afternoon with a wicked caffeine buzz). The ones I used here I got on the cheap from HomeGoods (score!), but you never know what they’re going to have in stock. You can get them consistently from Amazon (link [here]).

So if you’re like me and don’t like beer (gasp!), I highly encourage you to make these cupcakes so you can share in the National Beer Day festivities. They’re still excellent if you like beer, too. Let me know how you like these, and I’ll try to keep up with my national celebration days. What do you suppose is the best way to show respect to a lima bean?

Other posts you may like:

Chocolate Espresso Shortbread

Mocha Sweet Rolls

Death by Chocolate Cupcakes

Cocoa Stout Cupcakes with Espresso Buttercream

Rich chocolate cupcakes with espresso buttercream. You can't go wrong with coffee & chocolate.
Recipe adapted from Bake from Scratch (link here)
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 30 cupcakes


For Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups stout or porter beer (12 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp chocolate extract (see note)

For Buttercream:

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (4 sticks)
  • 2 Tbsp espresso powder
  • 6 cups powdered sugar

For Decoration (optional):

  • 3 oz melted bittersweet chocolate
  • 30 chocolate-covered espresso beans
  • whole milk or heavy cream, if needed



  • Preheat oven to 350F. Spray muffin tins with nonstick spray or line with paper liners.
  • Heat beer and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat.
  • Whisk sugar and cocoa into beer mixture. If cocoa is lumpy, be sure to sift cocoa prior to adding to the beer mixture.
  • In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, vanilla extract, and chocolate extract. Combine sour cream mixture with beer mixture, whisking until smooth.
  • In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt). Stir to combine. Pour beer mixture into dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Divide between muffin tins, filling each about 3/4 full. You will get about 30 cupcakes.
  • Bake 13-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. I rotate my pans halfway through baking to ensure an even bake.
  • Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans and allow to cool completely on wire racks.


  • Beat butter and espresso powder until smooth. Sift powdered sugar into mixer bowl, one cup at a time, mixing until smooth after each addition. 
  • If buttercream is too stiff, add heavy cream or whole milk by the tablespoonful until you reach the desired consistency. If buttercream is too runny, add additional powdered sugar.
  • Top each cupcake with espresso buttercream. If you like, decorate with dark chocolate and chocolate-covered espresso beans.


Note on chocolate extract: I highly recommend this (sometimes overlooked) extract! It lends an amazing depth of flavor to chocolate baked goods! If you can't find it in your local grocery store, you can find some [here]. Even better, makes yourself some [Homemade Chocolate Extract] for next time!

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