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Chocolate Coffee Mini-Cakes with a Walnut Espresso Ganache

June 17, 2011

My Dad is superman.  We’re sure he changes in a telephone booth before he comes home from work.  He is hardworking (as in gets up at 4:30 AM to commute to work as a boilermaker, works 12 hours and then commutes home), always had time to play ball with his (six) children, does his own laundry (wash, dry, fold, and put away!), does dishes, can cook a mean egg and pancake breakfast, maintains a scrumptious garden, can fix anything…yes, anything, will drop whatever he’s doing to go to our church to help out if needed, has been married to our equally wonderful Mom for almost 30 years, leaps tall buildings in a single bound….ok, ok, it was all true until the buildings.  But seriously, I don’t think they make them like that anymore!

A man of his talents deserves a treat for a Fathers day 🙂  My Dad never turns down any sweet but he particularly likes cheesecake and columbian coffee ice cream.  I’ve already done cheesecake so I had big plans to make him some homemade ice cream.  Yeah, that was before I realized I had packed half the things I would need to make the ice cream.  And so, the walnut espresso ganache was born.  This stuff is good. like put the spoon down, and walk away because you’re going to be up for days if you keep eating it good.  I felt weird handing my Dad a bowlful of ganache though (although he wouldn’t turn that down either!) so I layered it with a dark chocolate cake and topped it with columbian coffee buttercream because I’m a pretty cool daughter.  This cake is super moist and rich, the ganache is silky smooth but has a nice crunch from the toasted walnuts and the coffee buttercream adds just enough sweetness to counteract the dark espresso flavor in the ganache.  Enjoy responsibly.

Normally I would insert pictures here of the process of making it but I have to apologize.  I was baking at night (and my matchbox kitchen has really poor lighting) and I’ve made some version of all these components before so I will just be linking to other recipes.

Coincidentally my husband (and totally awesome Dad to our 3 kids) also loves coffee…so I sorta killed two birds with one stone 🙂

Chocolate Coffee Mini-Cakes with a Walnut Espresso Ganache
Yields approximately 30 mini-cakes
*update-you can easily halve the entire recipe to get about 12-15 mini-cakes


Chocolate cupcakes

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
8 ounces heavy cream
2 tablespoons instant espresso granules
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped finely

2 sticks unsalted butter
3-4 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons instant coffee (recommended: starbucks via columbian)
1/3 cup heavy cream


1. Make the chocolate cupcakes as per the directions.  Let cool completely.

2. For the ganache: Place the chocolate in a large heat proof bowl and set aside.  Bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan.  When it begins to bubble around the edges turn it off and add the instant espresso, stirring to completely dissolve.  Poor the hot espresso cream over the chocolate and let it sit for a minute before whisking to combine.  Add the butter a tablespoon at a time, whisking until completely dissolved before adding the next addition.  After all the butter is incorporated stir in the walnuts.  Set the ganache aside and stir every 10 minutes or so until it’s thick enough to pipe (anywhere from 30-60 minutes).

3. For the Frosting: Heat the heavy cream in the microwave until steaming, about 1 minute.  Stir in the instant coffee until dissolved and set aside to cool slightly.  Cream the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed.  Beat in 1 1/2  cups of confectioners sugar a 1/4 cup at a time.  Add 2 tablespoons of the coffee cream.  Beat in another cup of sugar 1/4 cup at a time.  Then beat in 2 more tablespoons of the coffee cream.  If the frosting seems too runny, add a little more sugar, if its too thick, add a little more coffee cream.

4. To assembleRemove the wrapper from each cupcake and cut into 3 even layers, you may also need to even out the top of the cupcake but I like this recipe because it doesn’t get too much of a dome.  The cupcakes will be served upside down so the original top will now be the base. Spread a layer of ganache on the base, top with the second layer, spread more ganache on that layer and finish with the last cake layer.  Frost the top with the buttercream.  Keep cakes covered at room temperature until ready to serve.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. June 17, 2011 3:55 pm

    Individual little cakes are great for entertaining. They always go over so well and these look especially tasty. Love the dusting and the light icing. Yum-buzz

  2. June 17, 2011 7:56 pm

    You had me at the ganache!

  3. June 20, 2011 5:24 pm

    What gorgeous pictures and I’m totally lovin that walnut espresso ganace. The cakes are pretty outrageous too.

  4. Kathy permalink
    March 7, 2012 3:19 pm

    Maybe I’m nuts, but I don’t see the recipe for the cake. Ganache and buttercream, yes; Cake not here. Please help! This recipe sounds amazing.

    • March 7, 2012 7:14 pm

      thank you! the “chocolate cupcakes” at the beginning links to my chocolate cupcake recipe. sorry about that!


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