In a mixing bowl whisk together the cocoa powder, instant coffee, brown sugar, and hot water. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar together, beating well until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract.
Add eggs, one at a time with a cup of the flour mixture in between eggs. Mix in the half the flour mixture followed by half the cocoa mixture followed by the cocoa mixture (alternating until fully combined).
Divide the batter evenly into 12 cupcakes and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Cool completely before frosting.
For the frosting:
In a large bowl, beat the melted chocolate with the softened butter and cream cheese.
Add the cocoa, vanilla extract, salt and ½ cup of the powdered sugar adding another ½ cup of the sugar until smooth and desired consistency. If using, add the black food coloring a little at a time (mixing in between) until the color deepens to your liking.
Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.
What chocolate? Use dark chocolate that is between 54-66% cocoa solids. In the US, bittersweet chocolate works well. I use Couverture Dark Chocolate Callets (54.5% Cacao). It’s the only chocolate I bake with. You can get it on Amazon by clicking here or in the UK click here (As an Amazon Associate, a small commission is made from qualifying purchases)Chocolate higher in cocoa percentage would probably be too bitter. I would also avoid milk chocolate unless you have a real sweet tooth.This recipe makes 12 large cupcakes.
Be careful not to over beat the batter. To ensure proper mixing, beat cake batter on low until ingredients have just combined. Overmixing the batter will result in a cupcake that's denser, with a tighter grain (almost bread-like).
Always bake with ingredients that are at room temperature.When you use eggs or milk straight out of the refrigerator, they won't combine as well with the dry ingredients that are at room temperature. Poorly combined ingredients can also cause a cake to be too dense rather than fluffy and light.
Avoid opening the oven door. Opening the door lets heat escape and lets in the cold air causing uneven baking, especially with cupcakes. If you want to check on them as they bake, just peek through the oven window.
Bake cupcakes on the center rack in the middle of the oven for the most even bake.
Remove the cupcakes from the pan to cool. Once your cupcakes are out of the oven, transfer them to a wire rack to cool out of the pan. Keeping them in the pan will allow them to continue baking and may dry them out.