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| August 29, 2016


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kahlua chocolate cupcakes with mousse-ganache.

Earlier last week, Kristian Irey stopped by the house after a wedding shoot to photograph my kitchen endeavors.

Late Thursday evening, I arrived home from a full day at Cedar Point to commemorate a young friend's graduation from high school.

And an hour ago, I walked back through the door from spending a weekend with my two best friends, celebrating Erin's belated birthday and meeting her boyfriend's family at the annual hog roast (about time - they've been dating for five years and I've known her for four).
It's been a week.

Moments before I walked out the door on Friday afternoon, I finished up a batch of chocolate cupcakes per Erin's request. They're delicious, and they're simple enough for just about anyone to make. Why? I doctored up a cake mix... and by doctored, I mean heck yes, these are sooo good. Am I awful for not giving her a full two dozen? Obviously I had to try one. And save another.

The answer's no. No, I am not awful.

Thank you for siding with me on this one.

At first, I had planned to bake up a dozen birthday cupcakes from scratch. But with six hours of sleep (I like sleep, six is horrendous, okay?) and a short timeframe to prepare these before hitting the road again, I decided upon Plan B.  Frankly, it's a top notch second option and I'm only sorry that I didn't make a double batch.

For those of you who don't like or don't want Kahlua in your cupcakes, substitute milk instead. Or at least use cold brewed coffee. Trust me on this. It's worth it. Just don't use water. Anything but water.

Another tip. All boxed cake mixes are not alike. Go for Duncan Hines - it's better. :)

I was running late, and ended up decorating and photographing these in less than three minutes... so they look a little scary. Regardless, these taste so much better than I expected. I definitely wanted them to be good since it was partially a birthday gift, but really now - it's a box mix and I threw everything together on a whim. Even so, it worked!  The Kahlua flavor is light, which is what I was trying for since Erin has never been a fan of coffee. Just noticeable enough to give a little "oomph" to the chocolate flavor.

In fact, the big man's comment after the first bite was, "Wow, these are rich! Yum!" I asked if he could tell that there was Kahlua in the mix, and he looked at me skeptically, claiming to taste only "really good" chocolate. Ah, the magic of coffee and chocolate combined! And all of this was without the ganache. Because sometimes I like to eat cake without all the extra frills.

But with the ganache topping... it's the perfect addition, with the gooey glaze and the sweet mousse-like frosting. Mmmm, yes. The recipe below results in extra frosting for you to create higher frosting peaks or to dip the cupcakes in the ganache. If you'd rather cut down for cupcakes closer to what you see in the photos, simply halve the recipe!

Here's to box mixes and crossing fingers!

Kahlua Chocolate Cupcakes

1 box Duncan Hines Devil's food cake mix
½ cup milk
½ cup Kahlua
⅓ cup melted butter (5⅓ tablespoons)
3 large eggs
½ cup sour cream

Chocolate Mousse/Ganache

16 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cupcakes in typical fashion, mixing in the milk, Kahlua, melted butter, eggs, and sour cream. Pour batter into lined cupcake tin and bake until set - around 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on wire rack.

2. To prepare the topping, pour chocolate chips into medium-sized bowl. Over medium heat, warm cream until it just begins to simmer, then pour over chocolate and whisk until fully melted and velvety smooth.

3. Separate ganache to save out a small amount for drizzling. Allow the rest to cool to room temperature until thick, refrigerating if necessary, then beat with an electric mixer until fluffy to create a mousse-like frosting. Frost as desired. Serves 24.


  1. These look amazing! Proving my theory that there is no shame in using a box mix. Especially if you put Kahlua in there. ;)

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks for visiting again, Dina! They definitely are. :)


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