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These are a labor of love. I made them three times before they were right. Seriously. Three times.

They started out like this:

Embarrassing, I know. It didn’t stop me from tasting them, though.

Luckily, when I made the final batch they were like a party in my mouth. Thank goodness. So, it was totally worth spending 24 straight hours in the kitchen.

Salted Espresso Devil’s Food Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso salt (if you don’t have this, you can just use a mixture of instant coffee grinds and salt)
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar (do not pack firmly)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot water
1/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with liners and spray with non-stick spray. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and espresso salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well. Once combined, add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk and water until all has been used. Sprinkle sea salt on top and mix until just combined. Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full and bake for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Chocolate Peppermint Frosting
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon espresso salt
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
2 tablespoons milk

Beat butter until it becomes fluffy. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate and add the cocoa powder to it, stirring to combine. Add about 1 cup of the confectioner’s sugar to the butter, as well as the chocolate mixture, peppermint extract, and espresso salt. Continue to mix. Add the rest of the confectioner’s sugar in small portions, alternating with the milk. Mix until blended well and smooth.