Chocolate Cola Cupcakes with Fizzy Cola Frosting

36 Comments
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These lovely little cupcakes have a not-so-secret ingredient . . .

Do you have a sweet tooth?

Given the content of this blog, the content of my kitchen cupboards and the way in which I can talk for hours about the joys of cake, baking, butter and sugar, it would be foolish to even try to suggest that I don’t. But my sweet tooth (or teeth, some might argue) is not exclusive or exclusionary – I’m unlikely to choose dessert over a main meal, I like to have it in addition to what I’m eating on a daily basis, enjoying flavours that are savoury, salty and sharp as much as I do anything sweet.

When I was a littler loaf, my biggest weakness was always savoury. While I loved chocolate, cake and sweets as much as the next child, sandwiches, crisps and Twiglets were always my first port of call at parties (my Mum, apparently, was the same). While other kids were getting hyperactive on luminous bowls of jelly, multicoloured sprinkles and synthetic sweets, I’d be quite happy munching on the corners of a Marmite sandwich (normally cut into triangles by the birthday boy or girl’s Mum, the crusts removed in an attempt to get everyone to eat them, much to my dismay).

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Top these cupcakes off with a straw & a slice of lemon

At home we were never really exposed to sweets. Homemade cakes and the occasional treat, of course, but we didn’t have the weekly tradition in which so many of my friends indulged of spending our pocket money on bags of pick and mix. Sweets were saved for special occasions, and even then their rationing was sensible to the extreme – a single Polo to stop our ears popping when an aeroplane took off, a Murray Mint to suck on long car journeys (I still associate the taste with feeling slightly car sick), or a tiny paper bag containing a couple of fizzy cola bottles to cheer us up if we were feeling ill.

Fizzy cola bottles are, apparently, the nation’s second favourite sweet after juicy strawberries, something I find slightly strange since I’m not sure I could even tell you what a juicy strawberry is. Tiny, tongue-tingling and with a unique, synthetic cola taste all of their own, these little bottle-shaped sweets are the kind of thing I’d never eat nowadays, but which hold a strange nostalgic place in my heart. They’re the stuff of midnight feasts, crumpled paper bags, sticky fingers and after-school afternoons, a taste of childhood and a trip down memory lane.

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Sweet, syrupy Coca Cola makes these little cupcakes extra moist

I’ve been wanting to bake with Coca Cola for a while now. Strange really, as I don’t really drink it much, but I’ve seen how it lends a sticky sweetness to Nigella’s cola-glazed ham recipe, and numerous websites and blogs wax lyrical about the incredible moistness it brings to a cake batter. So when my company decided to have a competitive Bake Off in aid of Sport Relief with the theme of ‘Sweets’, I decided it was time to try a chocolate cola cake.

Because the Bake Off was in aid of charity, with the proceeds being sold off afterwards to raise money, I decided to go for cupcakes – in my experience big cakes can be a bit daunting at that kind of bake sale and people tend to go for bite-sized treats they can eat at their desk with minimum mess or pack up to take home for their kids. A single slice of a larger cake can dry out within minutes of cutting, whereas a little cupcake stays beautifully moist under its layer of fluffy buttercream icing.

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Cola frosting is given extra fizz with the addition of popping candy

After finding the recipe I wanted for chocolate cola cupcakes on this website – rich and moist with a hint of cola flavour, without being overly intense – I decided to have a bit of fun with the decoration. The best thing about fizzy cola bottles is the tongue-tingling fizz, so I adapted a cola frosting recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery book, adding a little popping candy to make the icing crackle and pop as you take a bite. I’d originally intended just to top them with cola bottle sweets, but when I was in the sweet shop, I spied a jar of tiny candied lemon halves. On the rare occasions I drink coke, it had to come with ice, a slice and a straw (preferably also from a glass bottle), so what better way to mimic all this than with these candied lemon sweets?

The resulting recipe is a lot of fun. If you like Coke, you’ll love these cupcakes, but even if you don’t, I’d urge you to give them a try. The addition of Coca Cola to the cake batter makes for a light, moist, chocolaty crumb with a slightly sticky, shiny top, and although the icing undeniably tastes of Coke, the overwhelming flavour is of caramel sweetness, which works wonderfully with the chocolate sponge. The addition of popping candy is totally unnecessary, but absolutely essential for the full fizzy cola bottle experience. And enough to satisfy even the sweetest of teeth.

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Add fizzy cola bottles or little slices of candied lemon to these sweet treats

In case you’re wondering, I won the Bake Off, getting awards for both the best little cake category and Overall winner. Not that I’m competitive, or excited about winning, or anything like that (*polishes trophy with glee*), but if you’re wondering whether to try these cupcakes, please do. They are award-winning, after all :-)

Chocolate Cola Cupcakes with Fizzy Cola Frosting (adapted from Katie Cakes blog & The Hummingbird Bakery book)
Makes approx. 12 large cupcakes 

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes
200g plain flour, sieved
250g golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch salt
1 large free range egg
125ml buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla essence
125g unsalted butter
2 tbsp cocoa powder
175ml Coca-Cola

For the frosting
400g icing sugar
125g unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 tbsp cola syrup (I used Soda Stream)
40ml whole milk
Popping candy, to taste
Fizzy cola bottles, candied lemon slices, stripy straws, to decorate

Method:

For the cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line two 6 hole muffin tins with papers.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together the egg, buttermilk and vanilla.

Melt the butter, cocoa and Coca-Cola in a saucepan over a low heat. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients, stir well with a wooden spoon, and then add the buttermilk mixture, beating until the batter is well blended.

Pour into your prepared liners and bake for 15 minutes, or until risen and a skewer comes out clean. Set aside to cool.

For the frosting
Beat together the butter and sugar until no lumps are left – I use a free standing mixer with the paddle attachment but you could also use an electric whisk. Stir the cola syrup and milk together in a jug then pour into the butter and sugar mixture while beating slowly. Once incorporated, increase the speed to high and whisk until light and fluffy. Carefully stir in your popping candy to taste. It does lose it’s pop after a while so the icing is best done a few hours before eating.

Spoon your icing into a piping bag and pipe over your cooled cupcakes. Decorate with fizzy cola bottles or  slice of lemon, straw and an extra sprinkling of popping candy.

36 RESPONSES TO Chocolate Cola Cupcakes with Fizzy Cola Frosting

  1. Lisa -

    Coca Cola and Dr,. Pepper in baked and savory preps always seem to get raves. Your cupcakes look soo good – hard to olook at because I want TWO so bad! Congrats on winning the Bake Off! I especially love that it was for charity! I need to taste your food one day – seriously..I always leave your site – mouth watering and stomach rumbling!

  2. Congrats on winning! In my hometown (Coca Cola HQ – Atlanta) there’s a cafe famous for their coca cola cupcakes, but I never thought about making them at home since I don’t drink soda… Definitely bookmarking these for the future though :)

  3. I think I have a girl crush on The Little Loaf. I can’t help it. I mean, chocolate cola cakes. Seriously. Want! :-)

  4. These look great and so original too! I’m not the biggest fan of Coke to drink but LOVE cola bottle sweets so will definitely be trying these! I can imagine eating these in an American diner :)

  5. northsouthfood -

    Baking with Coke sounds so weird until you try it and then you realise it gives such a soft moist crumb you want to do it all the time. I’ve done a root beer cake that was like fudge instead and cupcakes made with Supermalt, but I never knew what to ice them with before now….

  6. These cupcakes are beyond awesome! Coke in cupcakes goes so well :)
    Especially maybe sweet cherry coke… Yum!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru
    Latest: Colossal Caramel Peanut Monster Cookies

    • Lisa – thank you :-) I’ll make you a deal – if you send me some of the delicious things you bake, I’ll send you some of mine…

      Amrita – do give them a go. I don’t drink Coke either but it does make the cupcakes beautifully moist.

      Kavey – haha, glad you like them :-)

      Amateur Food Ramblings – yep, they definitely have a very American feel.

      North South Food – both of those sound delicious. Who knew baking with fizzy drinks could produce such good results?!

      Choc Chip Uru – the recipe I adapted these from actually made the cupcakes with Cherry Cola and cherry frosting – definitely one to try next!

  7. laythetable -

    I still love marmite sandwiches! But I do have a very sweet tooth these days. I had 4 slices of carrot cake I’d made the other day at work (hey it was my breakfast).

    Popping candy sounds amazing, what a great idea. You’ve decorated these beautifully, the straw and lemon finishes it off! I’ve seen amazing clear sugar cubes you could make look like icecubes in the chinese supermarket here too.

  8. Wow, I can just imagine these blew the socks off all other competition in your bake off! I do love the sound of these and love your choice of cake toppings too, perfectly cute! xx

  9. Oh dear! I would love to have a sit and talk with you! I’m sure we would be talking about food! I am the opposite though, i would definitely trade desserts for meals but i do not have a sweet tooth. I like my cakes a little less sweet than the recipe calls for! Btw, creative on the fizzy cola cream!

  10. Love how these sound and look! And the fizziness added is just superb! hehe YUMMOS!

  11. Congratulations fellow twiglet lover! what a beautiful presentation :D

  12. I’m not surprised you won with cakes like that! I haven’t had a cola bottle for years but this post took me right back to my childhood. Love the cute lemons and straws too!

    • Becs – ooh, the addition of little ice sugar cubes would be awesome too!

      Laura – thank you :-)

      Jesica – I’m sure we could talk for hours about food, sweet and savoury!

      Lorraine – thank you!

      While He Was Out – :-)

      Lianne – the fizziness is definitely the best bit!

      Joanna – thank you! You can’t beat a good twiglet ;-)

      Kathryn – thank you!

  13. cakebrain -

    wow wow wow! what a fun recipe! I really want to make this one for my kids!

  14. These are absolutely adorable!!! I have such a soft spot for beautifully decorated cupcakes. And although I’m not much of a sweet tooth like you, these are CUTE! Great post. xo

  15. ooh my! Those look delicious! Actually a lot of vegetarians use pop as a substitute when they bake! But I don’t think they’ve thought of a cola frosting yet! hehe..

    • Cake Brain – yep, I’m sure kids would love this recipe :-)

      Elaina – thank you!

      Samology – I didn’t know that…you learn something new every day!

  16. Congratulations on winning the bake off! Your cupcakes look fantastic! I love the straw decorations, they really add to it.

  17. My Great Grand Children will love this recipe I’m sure. So, I’ll make it for them this weekend when they come to visit. ;-)

    Thanks,

    Grandma Kat
    XOXOXOXOXO

    • Jennifer – thank you! I love my little stripy straws, definitely need to use them again soon!

      Grandma Kat – I hope they enjoy it!

  18. That looks like such a fun cupcake to eat. I posted a while ago about a crock pot pulled pork recipe whose secret ingredient was Coke, but I have never baked with it yet. Now I am curious.

  19. These look fabulous, no wonder you won! Congrats!!!

  20. Well done on winning! These have been on my list for a while and now I can see what they look like :)

    • Baker Street – thank you. If you like Coke, you’ll love this frosting :-)

      Nuts About Food – you should give it a go, it definitely adds a lovely moistness to the cake crumb.

      Lauren – thank you!

      Cake Boule – thanks :-)

  21. Pingback: Chocolate, Caramel & Peanut ‘Snickers’ Layer Cake | thelittleloaf

  22. Oooooo these will be made and soooooon! :D

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  24. Lisa -

    H there,
    Can I make this into 9″ cake??
    Thank you!!

    • You can definitely make this mixture as a cake, just adjust the baking times! Enjoy :-)

  25. asma -

    Hi!
    So I just tried these yesterday and they turned out not so well :( I was very disappointed! They turned out very dense and they didn’t rise at all. I was wondering if I was supposed to use baking soda rather then baking powder?!

    • Hello, I’m so sorry to hear about your cupcakes. The baking powder is definitely correct… My only recommendations are maybe to double sift the flour and stir the ingredients with an extra light hand. Good luck!

  26. Hi kate, how long does the frosting stay fizzy? Want to make tonight for tomorrow afternoon at work? Thanks :)

    • Hello, It’s a pain but I’d suggest you make the frosting tomorrow morning if you can. If not, you could leave the popping candy out of the frosting and sprinkle some on top just before serving instead x

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