Cinnamon Mocha Cupcakes

      Cinnamon Mocha Cupcakes by Chloe Coscarelli

      Cupcakes can be made in advance and frozen, unfrosted, for up to 1 month. Frosting can be made the day before and stored at room temperature. Thaw cupcakes and frost before serving.

      Cupcake Ingredients:1 1/2 cups all purpose flour*
      1 cup sugar
      1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
      1 teaspoon baking soda
      1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      1 cup canned coconut milk, mixed well before measuring
      1/2 cup canola oil
      2 tablespoons white or apple cider vinegar
      1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
      2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

      Frosting Ingredients

      1 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
      3 cups powdered sugar
      1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
      2 tablespoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 1/4 cup water

      Ground cinnamon, for serving
      Chocolate curls for garnish

      *For a gluten-free alternative, substitute gluten-free all-purpose flour plus 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

      To make the cupcakes:

      Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup cupcake pans with 14 cupcake liners.
      In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together coconut milk, oil, vinegar, vanilla and espresso powder. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined. Do not overmix.

      Fill the cupcake liners about two-thirds full with batter. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out dry with a few crumbs clinging to it. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

      To make the frosting: Using a stand or hand mixer, beat shortening until smooth. With the mixer running on low, add powdered sugar and vanilla, and beat to incorporate. Add 1 tablespoon of espresso liquid at a time, as needed, until it reaches desired frosting consistency and espresso flavor. Increase speed to high and beat for 2 more minutes until light and fluffy.

      To assemble the cupcakes: Pipe or spread a layer of frosting on the cupcakes. Dust with cinnamon and garnish with chocolate curls.

      Chloe's Tip: Making chocolate curls

      To make chocolate curls, run a vegetable peeler along one edge of a bar of chocolate. If the chocolate breaks into small pieces, the chocolate is too hard. Microwave the chocolate for about 10 seconds to get it soft enough to form curls. Place the curls on a plate and refrigerate immediately, so that they don't get crushed. Use a toothpick to hook and pick up the curls and place them on your dessert.