Mocha Cupcakes with Kahlua Buttercream

Well, I’ve had my first week of internal medicine under my belt. I have my specialty month first and was assigned to Pulmonary/Critical Care/ICU (oddly, we can’t know our specialty until actually stepping foot in the hospital on the first day, and we pull our assignment out of a sealed envelope like a secret agent). It’s a bizarre feeling being 3rd year medical student. In other schools, I wouldn’t even have been the hospitals yet, but just stuck in the classroom, so having an extra 6 months of wards to transition is so nice.

In second year, people are like, “Aww, you’re a baby second year. You’re not even supposed to be in clinics yet. Let me explain this very basic concept to you.”

Now it’s like “Oh, you’re a 3rd year? You better know something!

But it’s nowhere near as frightening as being a new intern. Especially when your patient in the ICU goes into cardiac arrest. Or they stop breathing. Or their blood pressure crashes. I’ve never met seen people as terrified as my interns, mere med students just a few weeks ago. Now the real responsibility comes in, but you know nothing…yet.

Alas, there’s no magical “Bam! I’m now a resident, so I become smart.” Ah, why is learning such a long and slow process? So our whole team is kinda figuring things out and learning together.

So with great excitement, I carried my first patients and even filled out my own scutsheet of daily vitals and labs. Yes, I, Chef Uy, have my very own patients I visit every day and write notes about. Talk about a promotion!

My attending has given me a surprising amount of freedom – in fact, I have my own patients like a sub internship (basically, I report directly to the attending about updates). In the words of my attending “You’re flying solo honey!”

Ok, so my patients are very simple cases, which suits me fine. I’d rather not have tough patients like my those of my nervous intern, who is trying to navigate a new EMR to place orders in the computer.

So these cupcakes are also a new experience for me. I’ve never made buttercream icing, nor have I piped anything – these were for a friend’s large birthday party, and of course I try a brand new recipe. The icing kept separating, making me a nervous wreck (no stress like last minute baking, of course) until, bam! it combined. Now … if only obtaining medical knowledge worked like that. Adapted from Baking Bites.

Mocha Cupcakes with Kahlua Buttercream

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tbsp Kahlua
2-3 tbsp instant coffee powder
3/4 cup water
garnish – cocoa powder, sprinkles, cookie crumbles, etc

6 tbsp butter, room temperature
2 tbsp instant coffee powder
2 tbsp milk, room temperature
2 tbsp Kahlua liquor
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

MOCHA CUPCAKE: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin cups with paper liners (makes 9).

In a bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, sugar, eggs, Kahlua and instant coffee power until combined. Whisk in half the flour mixture, followed by half of the water. Stir in all of the remaining flour and the water, mixing until batter is just uniform (do not overmix).

Divide evenly into prepared muffin pan. Bake for 18 minutes until done (knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean). Allow cupcakes to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

KAHLUA BUTTERCREAM: In a small bowl, dissolve the instant coffee powder in milk and Kahlua. In a large bowl, beat together butter, instant coffee mixture and confectioners’ sugar until frosting is smooth, thick and fluffy. Add additional confectioner’s sugar to thicken if necessary. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes on the day of serving and dust with desired topping.

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  1. I like how flying solo equates to more time baking. How are your patients doing? Nonetheless, the cup cakes look fantastic my dear!

  2. Wow congratulations on being a 3rd year! Sounds like it's really exciting!

    And yeah, this recipe looks amazing- I'm going to pin it for later 😀


  3. did i mention that every alcoholic drink i make for myself must involve kahlua in some way? i LOVE that stuff. too much for my own good. 🙂

  4. Hi, the cupcakes are great but i had issues with the buttercream. Its like there is too much liquid compared to the butter and icing sugar?