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mocha Nutella cupcakes with Nutella frosting and chocolate sprinkles

I figure we have a lot in common, you and I. And this means you’ve got a bookshelf… or FIVE… full of cookbooks. You may even have it alphabetically organized or arranged by color. You can clean out your closet like a champ, but would never even dream about going through your cookbook collection. (Gasp!) Your husband/loved one/concerned family member may ask if it’s really necessary you add “just one more” to your Amazon cart and the answer is always: Yes. Duh.

Seriously why do they even ask???

mocha Nutella cupcakes on a silver plate with Nutella frosting and chocolate sprinkles

Truth is, we can never have too many cookbooks to sift through for inspiration. While regular people read novels on the beach, we read cookbooks for pleasure and inspiration.

Simply Beautiful Homemade Cakes. This is the most beautiful cookbook I own from the pastel pinks and blues to the magically towering cakes, stunning food styling, and endlessly tested recipes by Lindsay Conchar herself. Lindsay is the blogger over at Life, Love, and Sugar. If you ever need an inspiring (not to mention delicious) cake or cupcake idea– she’s your gal. Her cookbook was released yesterday and I had the pleasure of receiving an early copy. I giddily turned each page, my stomach grumbling louder and louder, and finally decided on a flavor combination that was too epic to pass up.

simply beautiful homemade cakes cookbook


I feel like Lindsay was channeling us directly with this recipe.

Coffee? Good.

Nutella? Good.

Together? Goooooooood.

2 images of instant espresso mixed with water and cupcake batter in a mixing bowl

I’ve never made a coffee flavored cupcake before. Have you? I was especially thrilled because I had all of the items on hand. Nothing too tricky here as far as ingredients go: butter, sugar, flour, eggs, milk, the usual gang. Lindsay uses only egg whites in a lot of her cupcake recipes, something I’ve picked up on in the past few years. They create a super fluffy cupcake while egg yolks typically weigh things down. You’ll need 3 egg whites for today’s recipe. One ingredient you may not have on hand, but is worth a trip to the store: instant espresso.

Instant espresso is what gives these coffee cupcakes their spot-on flavor; we use it in these milk chocolate mocha blondies, espresso chocolate chip cake, and peppermint mocha cookies, too. It’s typically in the coffee aisle of major grocery stores. Instant coffee– a dark roast– could be used, but keep in mind that it tends to taste a little sour. Instant espresso powder is your best bet and you can add a teaspoon or two to any batch of brownies, chocolate cake batter, or cupcake batter to intensify the chocolate flavor.

Mix the instant espresso powder with a little hot water to make an ultra concentrated liquid, which will go directly into the batter. And the batter is a beautiful coffee color (pictured above!). The aroma will remind you of your favorite cafe and bakery. Definitely taste test-worthy. You won’t regret it.

jar of Nutella

Lindsay’s nutella frosting looked incredible, but I used the last of my shortening in about 17 pie crusts I prepped for November. (Just you wait!!!) So I simply used butter instead. If you’re interested, I have a completely separate post for my beloved Nutella frosting. You can use it on anything and everything!

Sprinkles for good measure and a raspberry for color. These cupcakes are all set!

mocha Nutella cupcakes on a silver plate with Nutella frosting and chocolate sprinkles

I’m a fan of this frosting to cupcake ratio. 

I’m also unbelievably excited to find a cupcake that is the perfect combination of fluffy + soft + moist + flavorful. Typically you sacrifice here and there, but these mocha nutella cupcakes are completely spot-on. And so is the rest of Lindsay’s book!

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mocha Nutella cupcakes on a silver plate with Nutella frosting and chocolate sprinkles

Mocha Nutella Cupcakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 1214 cupakes 1x
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


These easy mocha Nutella cupcakes have it all! They’re moist and fluffy topped with creamy Nutella frosting.


  • 1 and 1/4 cups (156g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons (84g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 Tablespoons (85g) full-fat sour cream, room temperature
  • 3 Tablespoons (15g) instant espresso coffee powder
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) hot water
  • 6 Tablespoons (90ml) whole milk, room temperature

Nutella Frosting

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 cups (460g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 3/4 cup (225g) Nutella
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) heavy cream or whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • optional: chocolate sprinkles and raspberries


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Line a second pan with 2 liners – this recipe makes about 14 cupcakes. Set aside.
  2. Make the cupcakes: Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add the granulated sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg whites and vanilla extract. Beat on high speed until combined, then beat in the sour cream. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed so everything is incorporated.
  4. Stir the espresso powder and hot water together until smooth, then stir this into the milk. Set aside for a second.
  5. With the mixer running on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the espresso/milk mixture until combined. Do not overmix. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be on the thin side.
  6. Pour/spoon the batter into the liners – fill only halfway with batter to avoid spilling over the sides. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  7. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and add confectioners’ sugar, Nutella, heavy cream, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to medium-high speed and beat for 2 full minutes. Add up to 1/2 cup more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin or another Tablespoon of cream if frosting is too thick. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. (I always add 1/8 teaspoon salt.)
  8. Frost and decorate cooled cupcakes. I used a Wilton 1M tip for these photos. (Another favorite is this Wilton #12 round tip.)
  9. Serve immediately. Store leftover cupcakes in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Plain cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered and stored in the refrigerator overnight. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Bring cupcakes and buttercream to room temperature before frosting. Freeze frosted or unfrosted cupcakes for up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Room Temperature Ingredients: It really makes a difference!
  3. Special Tools (affiliate links): KitchenAid Hand Mixer | KitchenAid Stand Mixer | 5-qt Tilt Head Glass Measuring Bowl | Flex Edge Beater | Instant Espresso Coffee or King Arthur Flour Espresso Powder1M Swirl Frosting Tip | Reusable Piping Bags or Disposable Piping Bags | Cupcake Liners | Cupcake Pan
  4. Excerpted from Simply Beautiful Homemade Cakes: Extraordinary Recipes and Easy Decorating Techniques by Lindsay Conchar. Copyright © 2016. Reprinted with permission from Page Street Publishing Co. All rights reserved.

Keywords: mocha cupcakes, mocha nutella cupcakes

mocha Nutella cupcakes with Nutella frosting and chocolate sprinkles

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Sally, I would love to make these, but I don’t have espresso powder. Can I use instant coffee crystals instead?

    By the way I love your recipes!

  2. Hi Sally!! Can this recipe be baked in two nine inch round pans instead of a muffin pan?

    1. The cakes would be quite thin and I’m unsure of the bake time. Or you could make this batter twice so 1 batch goes into the 9 inch pan. (For a thicker cake)

  3. Another fabulous recipe! FYI – I made this in a 9 x 9 inch pan and it took roughly 20 minutes to bake and be perfectly brown. I also halved the frosting, which made a perfect amount to cover the small cake. I made a small amount of overly strong hot coffee and used 2 tbsp of that instead of the hot water/expresso powder. Very tasty and got compliments!

  4. I couldn’t find instant espresso coffee at the store. Is there anyway I can just use espresso coffee? Maybe if I brew it first and let it cool? Thanks! 

  5. These were a hit! The coffee flavor was not overwhelming and the Nutella frosting was DELICIOUS! They are a little bit complicated to bake and required things I don’t normally have, like sour cream, heavy whipping cream, and of course the espresso powder. But it seemed worth it!

    I did notice a few things though during the baking process. Maybe my oven is too hot, but my cupcakes only needed about 12-15 minutes instead of 18-20. I used a regular sized muffin tin and filled half-way as instructed! It also ended up making 16 cupcakes; maybe my idea of half-way is less than yours, Sally! Also, when I stored the unfrosted cupcakes in a Tupperware overnight, I noticed they were a bit sticky on the tops the next day even though I cooled them completely so it probably wasn’t condensation. Maybe the cupcake really is just THAT moist! Lastly, I had lots of leftover frosting even though I probably had a 1:1 cupcake to frosting ratio, so maybe next time I’d cut down the recipe by 1/3 to 1/2!

    Thanks for all the hard work you put into your recipes!

  6. Love your recipes.
    I have made your super moist chocolate cupcakes and chocolate cake pops. Loved them.

    Will these cupcakes taste of chocolate or coffee? Also, will they hold their shape if I core them and put some nutella panache in the middle? And then top with nutella frosting?

    1. Hi Rabia! They taste like coffee more than anything. You can certainly core and fill them before topping with nutella frosting, they’ll stay intact.

  7. I used this recipe to make cake pops. I baked the batter in a 9 inch cake pan for 28 minutes. For a binder I used the Nutella frosting but cut the recipe in half, using 6 Tbs total. I used ghiradelli chocolate melting wafers to coat the pops and overall, I was pretty happy with the results. I may cut back a little on the espresso powder next time though. It seemed a little strong tho I do love coffee

  8. Made these into mini cupcakes and they were great! Didn’t make the Nutella frosting but frosted them with Swiss meringue buttercream instead! A perfect combo!

  9. Hey Sally! I was browsing on your site and I found these and got SO excited!!! Nutella and coffee are pretty much my two favorite things!!! I am psyched to try this recipe!! Thank you so much!!!! Also I recently made your chocolate, guinness cupcakes and they were INHALED by my family!!! Thanks for another AMAZING recipe!!

  10. Hi Sally,

    Could I divide the ingredients in half or into a third in order to make a smaller amount of cupcakes?

    Thank You

  11. Making these today…thoughts on adding cocoa powder to the batter? I’d like the cake to be mocha but not sure how much to add or if it will even work? I have loved all your recipes!!

    1. Hi Jessica, cocoa powder is a finicky ingredient and not always easy to swap into the recipe without additional testing. If you decide to do any experimenting, let us know how it goes!

  12. I only made the cupcakes – and they were good – but they hardly rose at all. I double checked my baking powder and it seems fresh. Not one of them reached the top of the cupcake liner.

  13. These sound great! If I make mini cupcakes with this recipe, would I still fill the liners only halfway? Thanks for all of the amazing recipes!

    1. Hi Kristy, yes. Halfway still holds true for mini cupcakes. Enjoy!

  14. Hi Sally. I’m dying to make these cup cakes but i can’t procure sour cream. What is the alternative i can use instead?

  15. Hi Sally!
    I absolutely love, love, love this recipe! Besides the Nutella Buttercream is there another flavor that you feel would pair well with the mocha cupcake?

    Thank you!

  16. Oh My!!! Let me start by saying I, and my family are fairly picky about desserts. Any I am a more experienced baker than everyone I know save a couple of friends who attended culinary academy. This recipe is a keeper! I was under stress making this recipe for the first time for a party and I made 2 big mistakes with the espresso powder (which were both dumb mistakes). I made this up as a 2-layer 9 inch cake. It turned out perfect despite my dumb mistakes. Sally is the best!

    1. Hi Annacie, absolutely! Bake for about 11–13 minutes, same oven temperature.

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