Delicious low carb vanilla and espresso cupcakes with a creamy vanilla frosting. It’s like your favourite Starbucks drink in cupcake form! By contributor Kim Hardesty of Low Carb Maven.
Like many Americans, I admit to having an unhealthy obsession with Starbucks. They lured me in with the Caramel Macchiato in the late 90’s (Meg Ryan’s drink of choice in the movie “You’ve Got Mail”) and ensured my return with other tasty drink creations, baked goods, and treats. My love of their specialty drinks prompted me to purchase an espresso machine to make my favorite espresso drinks at home and save money. Of course my versions had much less sugar than the originals, but they were hardly sugar-free. Nowadays, I rarely go to Starbucks, and although I order my cappuccinos and lattes with low carb and sugar-free ingredients, they’re still high enough in carbs to be an infrequent treat.
These vanilla latte cupcakes are an homage to what I opine is one of the best flavor combinations in corner-coffee-shop drink concoctions; vanilla, espresso and milk. The low carb batter boasts a healthy amount of vanilla and instant espresso while the creamy vanilla topping is nothing more than a stabilized whipped cream flavored with vanilla. All combine for great tasting low carb treat.
The technique for the cupcakes is old school (that of preparing a good scratch cake recipe), creaming the butter and “sugar” together and alternating the incorporation of the dry and wet ingredients while whipping as much air into the batter as possible. The erythritol helps to form an outer crust on the cupcakes, keeping the interior moist and delicious. Whipping heavy cream with a small amount of cream cheese intensifies the “milk” flavor – adding to the illusion of a vanilla latte. A small pinch or two of xanthan gum stabilizes the whipped cream, keeping it looking fresh for days.
Topping the cupcakes was easy – as in “anyone can do it”. I simply spooned the whipped cream topping into a zip-loc bag, snipped-off a corner and squeezed a healthy dollop onto each cupcake. Then, using a small metal spatula, pushed and smoothed the “frosting” to the edge of the cupcakes and flattened the tops by scooping and swirling. Optional grated sugar-free chocolate sprinkled over the top and a coffee bean finished the decoration, but a dusting of cinnamon is just as pretty.
Note: The cupcakes are best enjoyed if allowed to come to room temperature before eating.
Vanilla Latte Cupcakes
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened (4oz/113g)
- 1/2 cup granulated Swerve sweetener
- 1 large egg, cold
- Sugar-free chocolate, grated
- Coffee beans
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position rack to the middle of the oven. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake liners. Add all of the dry ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk thoroughly, breaking up any lumps. Add the wet ingredients and espresso powder to a small bowl and mix until the espresso powder melts (it will not dissolve completely).
- With a hand mixer, whip the butter, add the granulated sweetener and beat until lightened and fluffy. Add 1 cold egg and beat again until smooth and fluffy.
- Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients and beat until incorporated. Add 1/2 of the wet mixture and beat again. Add 1/2 of the remaining dry ingredients and beat until fully incorporated, making sure to scrape down the bowl. Add the remaining wet ingredients, beating until light and fluffy, followed by the rest of the dry ingredients. Beat the batter until it is thick and fluffy. It should almost be like a cookie batter but more mousse-like and much less stiff.
- Add the batter to a large zip-loc bag and cut off a corner, leaving about a 1/2 - 3/4 inch hole. Place the corner into the bottom of a liner and squeeze the batter to form a mound, filling approximately 3/4 of the liner. Repeat to fill all of the liners. Lift the cupcake tin a few inches off of the counter and let it fall 3-4 times to evenly distribute the batter. Knock down any peaks or points of batter by swirling a finger on the peak.
- Bake the cupcakes for 20-25 minutes or until the edges are browned and the middle feels springy but still sounds moist when gently pressed with a finger. They will gently dome in the oven and flatten-out as they cool. (Do not over bake.) Remove to a cooling rack to cool.
- In a small bowl, whip the cream cheese to loosen. Add the vanilla and sweetener, beating until incorporated. Add the heavy cream little-by-little, then whip until thickened. Add the two small pinches of xanthan gum and whip until thick. Place the whipped topping into a large zip-loc bag (or pastry bag with a large round tip) and squeeze a rounded dollop onto each cupcake. Spread the topping around with a small spatula or butter knife and flatten the top. Decorate with optional grated chocolate or cinnamon.