This weekend we celebrated my dad's birthday, and since my dad is particularly hard to buy for, I decided to get him a gift that always pleases: cupcakes. For this recipe I was inspired by Mounds, a chocolate and coconut candy bar that is one of my dad's favorites. I also knew I had to work coffee into this birthday treat because my dad is a huge coffee drinker (I think he knows where every Dunkin' Donuts is in the tri-state area). Luckily for me, coffee and chocolate go together like two peas in a pod, add some coconut and I knew he would love my Mocha Mounds Bar Cupcakes.

For this cupcake, I made a dark chocolate espresso cake (the mocha part of this recipe). I have made this cake recipe from Brown Eyed Baker before, and it's always a hit. The only thing I add is more espresso - I really am my father's daughter.

For the cake (yields 12):

1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup whole milk
½ cup strong brewed coffee, at room temperature
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature

  • Start by preheating the oven to 350° F and stirring the espresso powder into the coffee until dissolved, then set it aside for later.
  • Next whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

  • In a separate bowl beat the butter and sugars together until combined and fluffy. Then beat in the egg. In a small bowl mix together milk, vanilla extract, and the coffee mixture from earlier.
  • Slowly add the dry mixture and coffee mixture to the batter, alternating between the two and ending with the dry mix.
  • Fill lined muffin tins 3/4 of the way up with batter, then bake for 15-18 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted into the center can be removed cleanly. While the cupcakes cool, it's time to make the frosting.

For the frosting:

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk

I tried to make this frosting off the cuff, and for someone who bakes all the time, I really should have known better. After a few failed attempts and a lot of frustration, I came up with this super easy coconut buttercream recipe. The key: coconut oil. Coconut oil has a similar consistency to butter, so I basically used it as a substitute, which is why this recipe only has two tablespoons of real butter. That makes these cupcakes healthy, right?

  • Beat the coconut oil and butter until fluffy and smooth. Then add the powdered sugar in parts, beating until smooth each time. Add the milk and beat until combined.  That's it, you're done.

Now I usually pipe frosting onto cupcakes but for this recipe I knew I wanted to top the cupcakes with toasted coconut so I only made enough frosting to spoon it on. If you like a lot of frosting just double all the measurements and pile it on.

Toasting coconut literally could not be easier. All I did was lay a couple of handfuls of shredded, sweetened coconut onto a cookie sheet and baked it in the oven for 5-10 minutes at 350° F. The trick is to shake the pan every minute or so to keep it from burning. Once all the coconut is golden, you're done. It's smells divine, and it makes for a really pretty garnish on the cupcakes.

My dad loved his Mocha Mounds Bar Cupcakes, and I hope you will too! Happy baking, Lovelies.

Will you try this recipe, Lovelies? What are some of your favorite cupcake recipes?