Coffee & Toffee Cupcakes

Years ago I used to be a Barista at Gloria Jeans (like Starbucks Australia) and since I went to Uni during the days I often worked the Thursday night shift. In Australia, malls open late on Thursday for what we call ‘late night shopping’. I think it’s supposed to coincide with pay day and pension day. On my Thursday night shift, about once a month, a Vietnamese couple who owned a local restaurant would come and order a bag of ground coffee beans in GJ’s butter-toffee flavour. I loved those nights. Once you finished grinding the coffee, the whole kiosk would smell of butter, toffee and coffee. We always got more customers on those nights too, drawn in by the smell of this flavoured, ground coffee.
The taste was always a bit of a disappointment though, it just tasted like coffee with a butter-toffee smell. I could never taste the toffee or the butter in the coffee. I always figured it would taste amazing in a cupcake. So when Mr Firehouse asked for some co-worker treats, I decided to make a butter-toffee cupcake, or the far more fun to say ‘coffee & toffee’ cupcake.  
This cupcake only has a mild coffee flavour, you could easily add 1-2 tsp. of coffee over what’s written here for a more robust coffee flavour. Even better, a shot of espresso would work just as well, just add enough water to make it 1/3 of a cup of liquid.
The cake is based on the butter cake from Exclusively Food. 


Coffee Cupcakes (makes about 22)


  • 150g butter, chopped and softened (if using unsalted butter, add 1/4 teaspoon fine table salt with the butter)
  • 1 cup sugar (caster or if you want a more caramelly flavour in your cupcakes, brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 2 tsp. of instant coffee

Toffee (butterscotch) Buttercream

  • 250g of butter
  • 3 cups icing sugar ( or to taste)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup butterscotch toffee sauce (using the recipe at the bottom of this page)


Preheat oven to 180C or 350 F  and line 2 12 hole cupcakes tins with liners. Combine self-raising flour and plain flour in a medium bowl and set aside. Combine the hot water and coffee until it is dissolved. Then add the milk.
Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla together in the bowl of your stand-mixer. Increase speed to medium once the sugar is incorporated. Stop the machine once or twice during beating to scrape down the side and base of the bowl with a spatula. Beat the mixture until it is pale and creamy (about five minutes).
Add eggs one at a time, beating about a minute between each addition. Don’t rush the addition of the eggs as the mixture will be more likely to separate and look ‘curdled’ in appearance. Always crack the eggs into a bowl first. The last thing you want is a bunch of eggshells camouflaged in your cake-mix or worse, a rotten egg!
Add the sour cream and beat until just combined. Make sure you’re scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time.
Sift half the combined flours over the butter mixture. Add half the milk mixture and, with the machine on very low speed, beat for about 10 seconds until just incorporated. Scrape down the side of the bowl and mix using a spatula to get any bits stuck to the bottom.

Add the remaining milk and sift in the remaining flour and beat on a very low speed for 5-10 seconds to combine the ingredients. Stop beating as soon as the ingredients are combined as over-beating the mixture may cause the cupcakes to be tough.


Place about 1/4- 1/3 a cup of mixture in each cupcakes case. I’ve found that cup cake cases vary greatly in size, I use some that take 1/3 a cup and some that only need closer to 1/4 cup. Ideally you want the cases to be 2/3 full at most.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until wooden skewer inserted into the centre of a cake comes out clean. The cakes should be golden brown and spring back when lightly pressed in the centre. My oven isn’t fan forced so I set my timer for 15 and then swap the two trays. I also turn the trays from front to back to avoid the hot-spots making some cakes look browner than others.
Cool the cupcakes on a wire-rack to cool completely before icing.
For the buttercream:
In the bowl of your stand mixer, start beating your butter. Start slow and once it’s smooth, turn the mixer to medium and beat for 2-3 minutes until the butter changes colour (this is a sign of the butter being aerated – air = fluffiness).
Stop the mixer and add your icing sugar. You can hold some back if you’re worried about the sweetness. Put the mixer on the lowest speed (mine has a “stir” function) and mix until the icing sugar is incorporated and won’t spray your kitchen white.
When the sugar is combined, add the vanilla and  turn the mixer up again to high and beat for 4-5 minutes until it’s all light and fluffy. Finally add the toffee sauce and beat for 2 minutes to mix all the toffee in.
Pipe/spread onto the cooled cupcakes and serve straightaway or place in the fridge for later. The addition of the toffee sauce will make the buttercream less solid than usual so be mindful of keeping it cool if you’re not planning on gobbling these babies up immediately.

Butterscotch Sauce

  • 25g butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2  cup cream
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Place all the ingredients  in a small saucepan over medium heat. Watch for the sugar to dissolve and then reduce the sauce for a few minutes until it thickens slightly. Cool completely before using in the buttercream.



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