baileys and espresso cupcakes

Baileys and Espresso Cupcakes Are An Easy Crowd Pleaser

Gourmet Desserts Shouldn't Be Complicated

If you’ve ever created a dinner party menu, you know it can be stressful. You want to create dishes that are memorable, but also easy to make for your time budget. When hosting a party, I plan at least one course that will create a “wow” effect without needing to spend hours in the kitchen. And while that effect can be created with flavors or presentations, I try to incorporate both when possible. One of the easiest courses to achieve that is during dessert. There’s room to experiment with the flavors, and the presentation can be simple but stunning. Plus, the last dish is a chance to end the night on a memorable note. One of my favorite desserts to make are Baileys® and espresso cupcakes. The flavor combination is irresistible, and a dusting of espresso powder and chocolate shavings makes them a statement piece. Best of all, they can be made ahead for less stress the day of your party!

These are Not Your Kids Cupcakes

When hosting a dinner party for those over 21, sometimes some of the best desserts contain some alcohol for a slight buzz. (However, this recipe is easily customizable for those that don’t drink!) And when it comes to alcohols that can be used in various recipes, Baileys® is the reigning champion. While all alcohols provide flavoring, the fat content of Baileys® makes it even more versatile. It’s why Baileys® works so well in my Bailey’s Mint Ice Cream recipe. And in this instance, it quite literally takes the cake. Baileys® and espresso cupcakes look like they belong in a bakery’s window display and taste like cocktail hour heaven. What makes these cupcakes stand out is the flavors of fresh coffee, espresso powder, and Baileys added directly to the icing. It’s like biting into an espresso martini! The coffee in this recipe comes from one of my favorite local coffee shops, Brothers Cortado.

Baileys® and espresso cupcakes look like they belong in a bakery’s window display and taste like cocktail hour heaven. What makes these cupcakes stand out is the flavors of fresh coffee, espresso powder, and Baileys added directly to the icing. It’s like biting into an espresso martini! The coffee in this recipe comes from one of my favorite local coffee shops, Brothers Cortado.

baileys and espresso cupcakes

Brothers Cortado is the Star of Baileys and Espresso Cupcakes

If you live near Concord, New Hampshire, and haven’t checked out Brothers Cortado, you’re missing out! They’re located off Main Street behind Margaritas at 3 Bicentennial Square. If that address is bringing a bell, the building formerly housed True Brew. If you loved it then, you’ll be even happier now! Brothers Cortado opened in 2021 and brought coffee to the next level. Their menu has a fantastic lineup of coffees, teas, and pastries that will have you hooked. Two of my favorite drinks are the Orange Clove Latte and London Fog. The Orange Clove is perfectly balanced and neither too sweet nor spicy. And if you love Earl Grey tea, try the London Fog! If you’re unsure what to try first, the baristas are amazing and will give recommendations based on the drinks you like. If you work remotely or are a student, you will love the amount of seating (and the number of wall outlets they added during the renovation.) Check out Brothers Cortado on Facebook and Instagram for their latest updates! 

The Flavors Inside Baileys and Espresso Cupcakes

  • The star flavor of this recipe is freshly brewed coffee and espresso powder. The brewed coffee I use in my recipe is Brothers Cortado’s Eclipse blend. I also use Brothers Cortado’s Espresso powder in the batter and as a garnish on top of the icing. Their Eclipse blend is a dark roast bold blend and pairs well with the sweetness of the icing.
  • Baileys® is the other star flavor of this recipe. It creates an icing that is creamy, sweet, and slightly boozy. It also balances well with the bitterness of the coffee and espresso.
  • Dark chocolate chips balance with the sweetness of the icing and adds additional flavor layers.
  • Vanilla extract balances the bitterness of the coffee, espresso, and dark chocolate while adding a touch of sweetness.
  • Sour cream provides acidity that reacts with the baking powder to create a rise in the cupcakes and a light and silky texture.

The Secret to Icing Baileys and Espresso Cupcakes

When making buttercream icing, most of the flavor comes from the butter, sugar, and extracts. Extracts are usually added in small amounts, typically less than two teaspoons. But to taste the Baileys®, you need more liquid. The problem is that it creates a thinner icing, almost like batter. Adding more icing sugar would thicken it, but it battles with the Baileys® flavor. So how do you thicken it without losing the taste of Baileys®? Modified corn starch! If you’re raising an eyebrow, I cover why it’s not as unnatural as it sounds in Modified Food Starch BenefitsThe corn starch will absorb the liquid and thicken the icing without being a competing flavor. The result is a boozy icing worthy of any cocktail party cupcake! 
Baileys and espresso cupcakes

Espresso and Baileys Cupcakes

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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Baileys, cupcakes, espresso
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Servings: 18
Calories: 488kcal


Espresso Cupcakes

  • ½ cup freshly brewed Brothers Cortado Eclipse coffee blend
  • ½ cup whole milk, room temperature
  • ½ cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp. Brothers Cortado Espresso powder plus extra for dusting
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips (For a stronger espresso flavor, add espresso chocolate chips)

Baileys Frosting

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 Tbsp. modified corn starch
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 10 Tbsp. Baileys (½ cup plus 2 Tbsp.)


Espresso Cupcakes

  • Grease and line 18 cupcake molds. Set aside.
  • Brew a half cup of fresh Brothers Cortado Eclipse coffee and add it to a small bowl. Allow it to chill in a fridge. Add the milk and sour cream and whisk to combine. Set aside at room temperature.
  • In a medium bowl or the bowl attachment of a stand mixer, add the granulated sugar and ¾ cup of unsalted butter. Set aside.
  • While the butter comes to room temperature, separate four egg whites into a small bowl and set aside. You can discard the yolks or store them refrigerated in an air-tight container for use in other recipes.
  • Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, and espresso powder into a medium bowl. Set aside.
  • Preheat an oven to 325 °F
  • Once the liquid ingredients and butter have come to room temperature, whisk the butter and eggs on medium-low speed until light and fluffy.
  • Add half the egg whites to the butter and sugar, mixing on low speed until evenly mixed. Add the remaining eggs and vanilla extract, and mix to combine.
  • Add a third of the flour mixture to the butter, and mix on low speed for about 5 seconds.
  • Add a third of the coffee mixture to the butter, and mix on low speed for about 5 seconds.
  • Alternate adding the flour and coffee mixtures until fully encorporated.
  • Add the chocolate chips, and mix just until evenly mixed. Be careful not to over-mix.
  • Transfer the batter to a piping bag and fill each muffin mold abou 2/3 of the way.
  • Bake the cupcakes at 325 °Ffor 18 to 22 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick removes clean.
  • Once baked, allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan before removing.

Baileys Icing

  • Add ¾ of room temperature unsalted butter to a stand mixer and beat until light and airy.
  • Sift the powdered sugar into the bowl, and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  • Combine three tablespoons of modified cornstarch in a small saucepan with three tablespoons of Baileys. Whisk to combine.
  • Warm the cornstarch and Baileys over low heat for about three minutes.
  • Pour the warmed Baileys and cornstarch into the stand mixer and add the remaining Baileys.
  • Blend the icing until evenly mixed. Transfer the icing to a piping bag with a decorative star tip inserted.
  • Once the cupcakes have fully cooled, pipe the icing onto the cupcakes.
  • For added decoration, you can sift espresso powder over the top of each cupcake. You can also add a whole espresso bean or two and piece of dark chocolate.


Nutrition facts are calculated by WP Recipe Maker using an AI generator. Nutrition information will vary based on the brands and ingredients selected. The nutrition information is a general guide.


Calories: 488kcal | Carbohydrates: 74g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 184mg | Potassium: 132mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 54g | Vitamin A: 524IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 1mg

Baileys and Espresso Cupcakes Tips

The Mixing Method

The secret to making a great cupcake is all about the method. That includes using room-temperature ingredients and separating the wet and dry ingredients. Allowing the butter and liquid ingredients to come to room temperature before mixing makes them easier to blend, requiring less mixing. The more you mix a batter, the more gluten can form, producing tougher cupcakes. Adding dry and wet ingredients in alternating batches also reduces gluten formation by reducing overmixing of the flour.

Baileys and Espresso Cupcake Storage

One baked and iced Baileys® and Espresso cupcakes can be refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to three days for the best flavor. For longer storage, the cupcakes hold up well in the freezer too! For the best flavor, use frozen cupcakes within three months of the frozen-on date. And if you have leftover icing, it can be frozen as well.

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