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Almond Mocha Hi-Hat Cupcakes

Chocolate cupcakes topped with espresso meringue dipped in dark chocolate.

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen cupcakes

Servings 18 cupcakes
Author Maryanne Cabrera



  • 1 ½ cup (200 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cup (248 g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (40 g) sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 Tablespoon ( 7 g) espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temp
  • ½ cup water, room temp
  • ¼ cup grapeseed oil, or vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Meringue Frosting:

  • 1 ½ cup (300 g) granulated sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 teaspoon espresso powder

Dipping Chocolate:

  • 12 oz (340 g) dark chocolate, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon grapeseed oil, vegetable oil or coconut oil
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted



  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin tin with cupcake paper liners. Set aside.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, sifted cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, water, oil, and eggs until well combined. Add wet mixture to flour mixture. Use a sturdy spatula or a whisk to mix ingredients together until smooth, and there are no longer any dry streaks of flour.

  4. Spoon about 1/4 cup batter into each muffin tin cavity, filling the liners about 2/3 full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean. Allow cupcakes cool in tin for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from tin and let cool to room temperature on wire racks.

Meringue Frosting:

  1. In the bowl of stand mixer, whisk together sugar, egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar. Place bowl over a pot of barely simmering water to create a double boiler. Ensure simmering water does not touch bottom of bowl.

  2. Heat sugar-egg mixture until it reaches a temperature of 160°F, whisking often to distribute heat. Alternatively, if you don't have a thermometer, heat until the sugar has melted. Test this by rubbing mixture between fingers. The mixture should be smooth. You should not be able to feel the granules of sugar.

  3. Return bowl to stand mixer. Attach whisk attachment to stand mixer. Beat medium at low-medium speed for 3 minutes until shiny. Increase speed to medium-high and continue beating to stiff peaks, about 8 minutes.

  4. Add espresso powder and vanilla. Whip until thoroughly combined.

  5. Transfer frosting to a piping bag fitted with a 16mm round tip (5/8-inch round tip or Ateco 808 round tip). Pipe a spiral of frosting onto each cupcake, leaving about ⅛-¼ inch border of exposed cupcake. Place frosted cupcakes on a sheet tray and keep chill in the fridge for 25-30 minutes until frosting is cold. Alternatively, place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.

Dipping Chocolate:

  1. Combine chopped chocolate and oil in a large bowl. Set bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Make sure bowl does not touch water. Slow melt mixture and stir often to ensure even melting. Once mixture is smooth, pour into a tall drinking glass. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.


  1. Fully submerge chilled frosting into slightly cooled dipping chocolate. Allow any excess melted chocolate to drain. Flip cupcake upright and immediately top with toasted almonds.

  2. Allow cupcakes to set at room temperature or speed up the process by placing cupcakes in the fridge.

Recipe Notes

Ingredient Notes:

  • Espresso powder can be found in the coffee and tea section of the supermarket. Alternatively, it is widely available online through Amazon or King Arthur Flour.
  • I used 72% dark chocolate. Use dark, semi-sweet, milk, or white chocolate. 
  • Use any neutral flavored oil such as refined coconut oil, grape seed oil, or vegetable oil. 
  • If you want the chocolate shell to be thinner or thicker, adjust consistency by altering amount of oil used. Less oil equal thicker chocolate shell. More oil means thinner chocolate shell. To test thickness, dip a cold butter knife into chocolate mixture and allow to set. 

How to Toast Sliced Almonds: Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread almonds in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes. Stir almonds. Bake for another 3-4 minutes until lightly toasted. Remove from oven and transfer to cool baking sheet or large plate to stop almonds from cooking further. Cool before use. 

Caution of keeping assembled cupcakes in the fridge:

  • Condensation is the the enemy. Condensation is a problem during warm or humid weathered months. Moving from a cold fridge to the warm room will shock the set chocolate. Condensation will gather on the chocolate shell creating little beads of “sweat.”
  • The chocolate is still safe it eat. It will not affect the taste. However, the cupcakes will not look as appetizing.
  • To combat condensation, do not return assembled cupcakes to fridge once the chocolate has set.