Java Spice Cupcakes with Roasted Coffee Buttercream

As a student I was lucky enough to spend quite a bit of time in Java and Indonesia as a whole. There are many wonderful things about Indonesia but regrettably (and unusually for a South East Asian country), the cuisine is not really one of them.

The ubiquitous ayam goreng (fried chicken), soto ayam (chicken soup) and Indonesia’s most famous culinary export, nasi goreng (replete with an always greasy fried egg) even had me running for the golden arches at one point. The only time I have resorted to a Maccie D’s abroad. (Please don’t judge me – I was young and didn’t know any better.)

Had I been able to buy cupcakes like these in Java then that Mc Donald’s visit might well have been avoided. But, nope, I certainly don’t remember anything as tasty as these babies. Inspired by this recipe by Alistair Hendy, the link to Java is a bit tenuous (I am guessing it’s because Java exports spices and coffee) but, hey, I needed a “J” for this month’s Alphabakes* challenge so I am not complaining.

The original recipe was for one large cake but I decided to make cupcakes instead. Rather than Alistair’s sponge, I decided to adapt Annie Rigg’s recipe that I used for my Easter nest cupcakes and added ground cardamom and cloves. For the topping I chose a simple buttercream in preference to Alistair’s whipped cream but did add the ground coffee beans of the original.

I was worried that the beans would just make the buttercream gritty but, on the contrary, they worked rather well. It makes for a grown up icing, not too sweet, and with the coffee beans adding a nice textural crunch. The sponge is lovely and soft and moist with just a hint of spice. Cupcakes for adults these. Too good for kids!

*This month’s Alphabakes challenge is co-hosted by Ros from “The More Than Occasional Baker” and Caroline from “Caroline Makes

Java Spice Cupcakes with Roasted Coffee Buttercream 

(Makes 8 cupcakes)

For the cake:

  • 65g unsalted butter, softened
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 40g dark chocolate, melted
  • 90g plain flour
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 60ml buttermilk
  • 40ml boiling water

For the icing:

  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 250g icing sugar, sieved
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1 tbsp roasted coffee beans plus extra to decorate

1.  Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4 and line a muffin tin with 8 paper cases.

2.  To make the cakes, cream together the butter and sugar until light, fluffy and very pale. Add the beaten egg, mixing well, then add the melted chocolate and stir until incorporated. Sift the remaining dry cake ingredients together and add to the cake mixture along with the buttermilk and boiling water. Mix well.

3.  Divide the mixture between the paper cases and bake for 20 minutes until risen and springy to the touch. Leave to cool.

4.  For the icing, beat the butter, icing sugar and vanilla together to make a smooth buttercream. Grind the coffee beans finely in a mortar and pestle and stir through the icing.  Pipe large swirls of buttercream on to each cake and top with a whole coffee bean.


  1. These look gorgeous – grown up cupcakes! Must try! I’m surprised thought you didn’t like Indonesian food – I’m a big fan. Maybe it helps I’ve got Indonesian family so ate homecooked rather than street food…

    • Oops, thought someone might pull me up on this. To be honest, most of the time I was either in Jakarta or the middle of nowhere and little in between. It’s probably like saying British food is rubbish when you’ve only eaten in Garfunkels and an Angus Steak House! I am sure if you are lucky enough to have homecooked Indonesian food it is lovely and as a general rule, I LOVE Asian food. I do love a nasi goreng if it’s cooked well but I just remember the fried eggs I ate in Jakarta were always hard and dripping in fat. Not good!

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