Carajillo Quemado Cupcakes

Carajillo Coffee Rum Cupcakes

Disclosure: has partnered with Nestlé to bring you recipes using Nestlé products. As always, all opinions are my own.

The “Carajillo Quemado” is a classic Spanish mixed coffee drink and the inspiration for these cupcakes. Some of you may be more familiar with the Carajillos made in Mexico, which are simply a mix of espresso and Licor 43, which is often served iced, but in Spain the drink is made differently with a few variations.

There’s plenty of interesting folklore about this drink. It’s said that the word “Carajillo” derived from the Spanish word for courage (coraje), because when Spanish troops occupied Cuba, that’s exactly what they needed for combat. Still others say the name originated from the boat carriers at the French station in Barcelona. They would ask for a mixed glass of coffee and liquor instead of two separate drinks, presumably because they were in a hurry, or “que ara quillo” (“now I’m leaving in a hurry” in Catalan.) This phrase, when rushed, would sound like “caraquillo”, which is where we’d eventually got “Carajillo.”

Interesting, no?

In Spain, the simplest version of this drink is just brandy, cognac, anisette, or rum, mixed into strong black coffee – sugar optional. The “Carajillo Quemado” – or “burnt” Carajillo, is much more interesting. Sugar and alcohol along with a bit of lemon peel are mixed in a glass and lit on fire. The coffee is added to put the fire out once much of the alcohol has been burnt off and the sugar has been given a caramelized flavor. In the United States Carajillos typically have sugar around the rim of the glass and the drink is topped off with whipped cream. Cinnamon is also sometimes incorporated in both the Spanish and American versions.

I couldn’t resist developing a cupcake which combines these unique flavors, so I started with a coffee-flavored cupcake as the base. Nescafé Clásico provided the perfect roasted coffee flavor I was going for while being mild enough that it would play nicely with all the other flavors I planned to incorporate. A decadent combination of rum, coffee and buttercream was an obvious choice for the frosting, along with a pinch of fresh lemon zest.

Now for the caramelized sugar flavor. While I briefly considered sprinkling the cupcakes with sugar and rum then lighting them on fire, I decided I’m a little too accident prone to attempt it! (My eyebrows thank me.) Instead, I made caramelized sugar toppings which really gave the cupcakes an elegant touch. I’m sure any mother will appreciate if you decide to make these cupcakes for Día de Los Madres (Mother’s Day!)

Carajillo Quemado Cupcakes // Spanish Coffee Rum Cupcakes

Here’s my recipe if you decide to treat your madre (or yourself!) and then down below, enter for your chance to win a $50 gift card from Nestlé!

For additional recipes, visit

Carajillo Quemado Cupcakes


½ cup hot water
5 teaspoons NESTLÉ® Nescafé Clásico
1 ½ cups all-pupose flour, pre-sifted
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into cubes and softened
1 cup white sugar
½ teaspoon rum
2 large eggs, separated

1 batch rum buttercream frosting (recipe below)
1 lemon, zested, for topping
caramelized sugar garnishes (recipe below)


PREHEAT oven to 350 F. Put cupcake liners in muffin tin, set aside.

MIX Nescafé Clásico into hot water, set aside to cool.

COMBINE flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

BEAT butter and sugar together in a large bowl until smooth and creamy.

ADD rum to butter and sugar, then the yolks one at a time, beating after each addition.

ADD flour to the butter mixture, alternating with the cooled coffee, starting with flour and ending with flour, until well-combined.

BEAT egg whites in a separate bowl with hand mixer until soft peaks form then stir them gently into the batter.

FILL cupcake liners ¾ full with batter. Do not overfill as cupcakes will rise. Shake the pan to even out the batter.

BAKE on middle rack for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

REMOVE cupcakes to cool completely before frosting. Makes about 1 dozen cupcakes.

Tip: I used Bacardi brand light rum which is what I had on hand, but many bakers prefer gold or dark rum; you can use any of those in this recipe.

Coffee Rum-flavored Carajillo Quemado Cupcakes

Buttercream Rum Frosting for Carajillo Quemado Cupcakes


3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 teaspoon imitation rum extract
1 tablespoon NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk
1 teaspoon NESTLÉ® Nescafé Clásico


BEAT sugar and butter until creamy.

ADD rum extract and beat until combined.

MIX Nescafé Clásico crystals into evaporated milk until completely dissolved, then add to the frosting mixture, beating until combined.

FROST cooled cupcakes using a pastry bag and tip as desired.

TOP each cupcake with a pinch of fresh lemon zest and a caramelized sugar garnish. Keep refrigerated until serving.

Tip: As cinnamon is sometimes incorporated into Carajillos, feel free to add a tiny dash of ground cinnamon to your frosted cupcakes as well!

Carajillo Quemado Cupcakes

Caramelized Sugar Garnish for Carajillo Quemado Cupcakes


1 cup white sugar


HEAT sugar over medium heat in a large frying pan.

WAIT for most of the sugar to melt and become almost amber in color before stirring. Be patient as this process can take several minutes. Avoid the temptation to stir or turn the heat higher. While waiting, lay parchment paper out on a nearby clean kitchen counter.

STIR the melted, caramelized sugar with a wooden spoon, being careful to remove from heat before it burns.

USE a metal spoon to carefully drizzle small amounts of the caramelized sugar onto a parchment paper-covered surface, in whatever design desired. You must work somewhat quickly as the caramelized sugar in the pan will begin to harden.

Caramelized Sugar Toppings

WHEN cool the caramelized sugar designs will harden and you will be able to pick them up from the parchment paper. Use these as an edible garnish for your frosted cupcakes.

Caramelized Sugar Toppings

Tip: Because of the burn dangers of working with hot, melted sugar, make sure that pets and children are not in the kitchen while preparing caramelized sugar garnishes. If the remaining caramelized sugar hardens in your frying pan, you can remove it by simply adding a little water and heating it back up.

Coffee Rum Cupcakes


Giveaway Details

Prize description: One lucky winner will receive a $50 gift card.

How to enter: Just leave a comment below telling me what you love most about your mother or another woman you admire. (Please read official rules below before entering.)

Official Rules: No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must be able to provide a U.S. address for prize shipment. Your name and address will only be shared with the PR agency responsible for prize fulfillment for that purpose. Please no P.O. Boxes. One entry per household. Make sure that you enter a valid email address in the email address field so you can be contacted if you win. Winner will be selected at random. Winner has 24 hours to respond. If winner does not respond within 24 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between April 22, 2015 through April 27th, 2015. Entries received after April 27th, 2015 at 11:59 pm EST, will not be considered. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. If you win, by accepting the prize, you are agreeing that assumes no liability for damages of any kind. By entering your name below you are agreeing to these Official Rules. Void where prohibited by law.

Buena suerte / Good luck!


  1. These look delicious! Not to mention the caramelized sugar seems surprisingly easy to accomplish! Also, my boyfriend is Catalan and I told him about the “que ara guillo” story, which he did not know, although he was quite familiar with the drink itself! He says in Catalan they call this drink, cigaló. Thank you for sharing!

  2. I think my mom would like those cupcakes. The thing I love most about her is that she is a very good listener and she’s also very practical, discerning, smart and thrifty, too!

  3. I love my mother’s cooking since she is an amazing cook who continues to amaze me with her delicious, creative recipes and also her strength.

  4. I admire my sister who has been a best friend to me since forever. We have been through so much together and she never ceases to amaze me with how special she is to me.

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