I wonder how many bakers rejoiced upon tasting Starbucks’ new instant coffee, VIA. I got off the El at Merchandise Mart a few weeks ago and was greeted with a hot cup of VIA and a free sample to take home. After tasting it- so close to the real thing it was spooky- I knew I had to take that sample home and bake with it. For too long I have been baking coffee-flavored treats with inferior instant coffee. Of course, the sample lasted about 5 seconds with Tony the caffeine fiend in the house, but he liked it enough to buy more and thus, VIA cupcakes were born.

It would probably be more Starbucks-y to top these with a mini vanilla scone or a Top Pot donut but I’m a simple girl with simple taste and there’s nothing I like better than a powdered sugar donut in my hot cup of coffee. And really, if you’re topping a cupcake with a donut, who’s going to argue with you?

For the cupcakes you will need:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 Tbs finely ground coffee (or espresso)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbs VIA Italian Roast instant coffee
  • 1 tsp warm water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup sour cream

Then you:

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and line your pan with paper liners. Sift the flour, ground coffee, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a small bowl. Stir in chocolate chips. In another small bowl, mix together water and instant coffee.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil and egg until smooth. Whisk in instant coffee mixture and vanilla. Alternately beat in flour mixture and sour cream, making three additions of flour mix and two of sour cream.

Scoop batter into pan, bake 20-25 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool on wire rack in pan for 10 minutes. Then remove from pan and cool completely.

For the VIA buttercream you will need:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbs VIA Italian Roast instant coffee
  • 1 tsp freshly “brewed” VIA
  • 1 tsp milk or cream

Then you:

Beat together the butter, salt and sugar until well combined. Add vanilla and beat until frosting is smooth. In a small bowl or cup mix together the VIA granules, hot “brewed” VIA and milk or cream until the instant coffee is dissolved. Cool completely. Add coffee mixture to butter mixture and beat until smooth.