Espresso Frosting for Dark Chocolate Cake

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Espresso Frosting by angela Roberts

Sometimes things go unexpectedly right. This delicious frosting came quite by accident, as I had every intention of showing off my newly developed strawberry frosting that stands to attention and works in a piping bag (If you know anything about strawberry frosting, that’s a big deal).

But this very chocolaty cake made with coffee just wouldn’t work with strawberry.

Cappuccino is my extreme morning pleasure. It starts with a good espresso and perfectly frothed milk, which my husband has been perfecting for years.

Mr. ST has a strong passion and a good nose for coffee beans. In his fantasy world, he owns a coffee house that is old on the outside, but urban-modern and heavy in technology on the inside. I’m sure he sees me in there somewhere?

He was in the kitchen when I told him I was going to make an espresso frosting and he immediately offered to pull a fresh shot. I told him I had instant espresso, and he look horrified. We had a little debate about it really making a difference, which ended up in blind taste test.

Instant espresso vs. freshly brewed.

Of course, the freshly brewed shot won. Thus, the frosting is made with a real shot of espresso, and I encourage you to do the same, even if this means going to your local coffee house.

This frosting is especially suited for a dark chocolate cupcake. Great ingredients played a major role. I used a high quality vanilla paste, compliments of Heilala from New Zealand and it seems silly now to think I almost compromised the coffee flavor.

Tell me, do you drink espresso or cappuccino at home or do you only partake at the coffee houses?

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4.28 from 11 votes

Espresso Frosting Made with Real Espresso for Chocolate Cupcakes

A truly flavorful espresso frosting, using a freshly pulled shot or two, and a little cream cheese to bring to bring extra richness.
Servings: 12 -18 cupcakes


  • 4 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter softened
  • 4 tablespoons cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract
  • 2-4 tablespoons espresso made very cold


  • Sift sugar and salt together. Set aside.
  • Cream the cream cheese for a minute or two to make sure it is soft enough. Add in butter and cream for another minute or two until fully incorporated.
  • Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes. This helps ensure a proper texture for the frosting.
  • Cream again for a minute, add in two tablespoons of espresso and vanilla paste.
  • Slowly add in the confectioner's sugar one cup at a time.
  • You may find you like the texture at 3 1/2 cups. Taste the frosting and add in the last two espresso tablespoons as needed. I like it very strong.
  • Add in the last cup of confectioner's sugar 1/4 cup at a time.
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes before piping.
  • Keep refrigerated for up to three days before using.
  • You can freeze for several weeks. Take out and let it come down to cool, not room temperature, if you want to pipe.


If you look closely, you can see the vanilla specks from the vanilla paste. I think the vanilla adds another layer of flavor and complexity.

Please follow me on instagram. If you make this recipe,  please tag me #spinachtiger.

If you love this recipe, please give it five stars. It means a lot. xoxo

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  1. 5 stars
    Great recipe!! Used 3Tbs of espresso and it gave it a wonderful rich flavour without overpowering it.

  2. I just made this! It tastes absolutely amazing, but the texture didn’t set nearly the way yours does in the pictures. Mine was more of a glaze. I followed the directions, but must have done something wrong. Any ideas on how I could improve this in the future?

    Thank you!!

  3. May I simply say what a relief to uncover somebody that actually understands what they’re discussing on the internet. You actually know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More and more people ought to read this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised you are not more popular because you certainly have the gift.

  4. Greate post. Keep writing such kind of information on your blog.
    Im really impressed by it.
    Hi there, You’ve performed a fantastic job. I’ll certainly
    digg it and in my opinion recommend to my friends.
    I am sure they will be benefited from this website.

  5. i am wondering what your man’s take is on the fancy n’espresso cappuccino machine? or does he brew it old school in a french press? always in search of the perfect espresso. ps super jealous of your mad cupcake skills!

  6. 5 stars
    Just in time for Gavin’s birthday, 9/4! He’ll turn 15! 6’1″ 175 lbs. I’ll never forget your fun, food and faith-filled, energetic presence as we settled into that birth room 15 years ago. And those famous words as you rolled out a picnic for me….”Ya Gotta Eat!” We love you, Mr. and Mrs. Spinach Tiger : D

  7. This sounds absolutely delicious! I only drink coffee/espresso drinks when i’m out at coffeehouses, + only about once a month. the rest of the time, i just stick to tea. so, that means when i have coffee/espresso, i really savory + enjoy it. I know i’d love this!

  8. We’ve been making espresso at home for years. From the moment I first was aware of a machine I could buy to do just that, to be exact.
    I really love the way espresso enhances the flavor of chocolate and while starbucks goes gangbusters selling muffins and the like, I personally think the best thing to have with an espesso or macchiato is just a little nibble of some really good dark chocolate.
    Your icing looks marvellous. So much so that I think I can smell it through the screen!

  9. This sounds fabulous. I brew my own espresso at home, more in the winter than summer (HOT here in North Carolina, but I do use instant in some recipes. For THIS, however, I would DEFINITELY use brewed!! I can’t wait to make this frosting!!!!

  10. Gorgeous. I’m always attracted to anything that says “expresso, cappuccino” etc., especially when it’s used to flavor a sweet. I guess it’s the yin-yang. P.S. Why didn’t you use this for challenge?

  11. I bet this frosting tastes so much better with that real espresso shot in there. I love using vanilla paste for that extra depth of flavor.

4.28 from 11 votes (8 ratings without comment)

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