Nana’s Black Joe Filled Cupcakes Recipe

You're going to love these cupcakes! Delicious cake flavored with coffee and chocolate filled with a creamy icing will satisfy any sweet tooth!

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This morning I was flipping through an old recipe binder.  My eyes fell on a typed recipe card.  Most of the other recipes were cut from magazines so this one really stood out.   I knew it was an old recipe since I don’t even know anyone who owns a typewriter anymore.  It turned out to be my Nana’s recipe for Black Joe Filled Cupcakes.  I still remember eating these at Nana’s house when I was little.  The cake was so rich and full of chocolate flavor.  The icing was creamy and sweet.  Nana would make these special cupcakes for birthdays and holidays.  No matter the occasion, they never lasted long.

I decided that I wanted to try to make Nana’s filled cupcakes myself.  After looking over the list of ingredients, I realized that I had almost everything I needed.  The only things I was missing were Crisco and a cup of strong, black coffee.  I decided to just use extra butter in place of the Crisco.  (I don’t recommend this, and I’ll tell you why later.)  Coffee isn’t something I make at home.  Luckily, there is a McDonalds right down the street.  I jumped in the car and drove through the McDonald’s drive through.  Once I had my small coffee, I headed home ready to get started.

Ingredients for Black Joe Filled Cupcakes

Making the Cake

I pulled all of the cake ingredients from my pantry and refrigerator.  After looking at the recipe, I realized that I would be able to make the cake batter in one bowl.  I pulled out my favorite kitchen gadget – my Kitchenaid mixer.  The flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and baking powder all went in first.  I turned the mixer on low to combine the dry ingredients.  Then, I added the eggs, oil, coffee, and milk.  Those ingredients mixed with the dry ingredients for about a minute on the mixer’s medium high setting.  It created a really dark brown batter with a runny consistency.  Most of my cake batters are usually thicker.  I was a little worried but decided to keep going with the recipe.  Hopefully Nana hadn’t typed the recipe incorrectly!

Mixing the batter for Black Joe Filled Cupcakes

I started filling the cupcake liners with a ladle, like I usually do.   However, I was making a mess.  The runny batter was dripping down the sides of it and onto my cupcake pan.  I decided to put the rest of the batter into a measuring cup.  Then, I was able to easily pour the batter into the liners with no more mess.

A measuring cup made it easy to fill the cupcake liners.

Once all of the cupcake liners were about 3/4 full, I slid the cupcake trays into the 350 degree oven.  The cupcakes baked for 30 minutes.  Waiting for them to be done was the hardest part.  The delicious smell escaping from the oven had my kids asking when they would be done every five minutes.

The Black Joe cake batter is ready for the oven.

Nana also made the Black Joe Cake as a regular cake instead of cupcakes.  It’s equally delicious that way.

 Black Joe Cake

Making the Icing

While the cupcakes baked, I started on the icing.  This is the only icing recipe where I have ever cooked part of the icing.  I put 1 cup of milk into a small saucepan and added 5 teaspoons of flour.  Stir the mixture until it boils and thickens.  Then, set it aside to cool.

Cooking the icing for the Black Joe Filled Cupcakes

Next, I rinsed out the bowl of my Kitchenaid Mixer.  I creamed a cup of butter and a cup of sugar until it was smooth.  This is where I was supposed to use 1/2 cup of butter and 1/2 cup of Crisco.  Then, I added one teaspoon of vanilla.

Once the flour mixture was cooled, I added it to the mixer and combined everything on low speed.  Of course, I had to try the icing to see if it tasted the way I remembered.  The taste was the same, but the consistency was a little bit softer.   I think this is where the Crisco would have been helpful.  It must have been the ingredient that held the icing together.  Either that or the heat was making the butter melt.  It was really hot today.  Either way, next time I will be sure to buy Crisco.

Assembling the Black Joe Filled Cupcakes

Once the cupcakes are out of the oven and cooled, you are ready to assemble your cupcakes.  I know that today most filled cupcakes have the filling piped inside.  However, Nana was from the Coal Region of Pennsylvania so there was no fancy piping for her.  In keeping with tradition, I made these cupcakes Nana’s way.  She would cut a round section out of the top of the cupcake and spoon the icing into the hole.  Then, the top goes back on the icing.

These Black Joe Filled Cupcakes taste amazing!



The first bite of the Black Joe Filled Cupcake took me right back to my childhood at Nana’s house.  I was so excited to share this special treat with my own kiddos.  Miss M pulled off the top piece of cake and licked all of the icing out before devouring the rest of the cake.  Yummy!  Miss M and J both loved the cupcakes and wanted more.  Luckily, the recipe makes a large batch so we’ll have some for future desserts.  I also remember Nana freezing these cupcakes and just pulling them out when she needed dessert for us.  Maybe I’ll freeze a few so I have them next time I get a craving for Nana’s Black Joe Filled Cupcakes.

What are your favorite food memories from childhood?



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16 thoughts on “Nana’s Black Joe Filled Cupcakes Recipe

  1. They look and sound delicious! I love putting a little coffee in my baked goods and that is my favorite kind of frosting, so I would be all over these!

  2. These look so amazing! Going down memory lane with Nana’s old recipes. I love doing that. I had a Nana who used to make us fresh squeezed OJ when we slept over. I know that is simple, but there is nothing like it, and other OJ doesn’t stand up to the challenge. I am very picky about my OJ, thanks Nana.

  3. These sound absolutely delicious. I love the flavors of coffee and chocolate together. Throw in icing? Over-the-top!

    When I was young I would make these dinner Muffins with my grandmother, we called them softies. They were the best dinner muffin ever. They melted in your mouth. After she passed we looked through all of her cookbooks and recipe boxes, but we’ve never found the recipe. I am so bummed by that, although now I am gluten free and couldn’t eat them. I still would love to have that recipe that I made with my grandmother. So happy that you found this one and you can carry on the tradition.

    1. I’m sorry you weren’t able to find the recipe for the softies. It’s even more special that you were able to make them with your grandmother. I remember baking Christmas cookies with my Nana. Her sandtarts are amazing! She would mix and roll the dough. Then, I got to help cut them and put sprinkles on them.

  4. These sound delicious! I have never had cupcakes with coffee in them. I’m not a coffee drink but I bet it really can’t be tasted over the cocoa and icing, and maybe it would be great for a early morning pick me up to help start my day. And I wouldn’t get my fingers all sticky because the icing is in the inside. Thanks for sharing your family recipe!

  5. These look so delicious! I love filled cupcakes! And I think one of my favorite food memories as a child is making buckeyes (an Ohio Christmas tradition) with my mom. We would of course taste some of the peanut butter cookie base as we went. Then we’d eat a little more while dipping the rest in chocolate. It was messy and so yummy!

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