Why Use Espresso Powder When Baking?

Why Use Espresso Powder when Baking?

Whether you see it called Espresso Powder or Instant Espresso, you'll want to have it in your baking arsenal. This is a STAPLE in my kitchen - I'm never without it. 

Why Use Espresso Powder when Baking?
Why Use Espresso Powder when Baking?

What is Espresso Powder? 

Espresso powder is ground coffee that's been brewed then dried. While at first glance, the powder might look like finely ground coffee beans, they're not. The coffee flakes are softer than ground beans and dried in a way that dissolves easily in liquid. 

The flavor is concentrated, so if you're making a cup of espresso using it, you'll get a deep espresso taste. This isn't your 1970's Sanka

espresso powder in baking

Why Use Espresso Powder when Baking? 

Probably it's obvious that espresso powder comes in handy when baking coffee or mocha-flavored desserts. I love it in these Frosted Hazelnut Cappuccino Bars and Cappuccino Cut-Out Cookies

Where espresso powder quietly shines is in chocolate desserts. You know how salt brings out the flavor of food? Salt makes chicken tastes more chicken-y, and bread tastes like, well, bread. Espresso powder does that same thing for chocolate. (I don't mean that it makes it taste like chicken...)

Espresso powder brings out and enhances the flavor of chocolate desserts without adding a coffee flavor. It's true! I'm always a little sad when I post a chocolate dessert recipe that calls for a bit of espresso powder, and someone will comment, "I'm going to make this, but I don't like coffee, so I'll leave out the espresso powder." Guys! Just try it! 


"Espresso powder brings out and enhances the flavor of chocolate desserts without adding a coffee flavor. It's true!"


Of course, if you use more espresso powder, your chocolate desserts will start veering into MOCHA TERRITORY. These recipes for Mocha Toffee Brownies and Chocolate Coffee Cheesecake come to mind. 

Why Use Espresso Powder when Baking?

How Much Espresso Powder Should I Use in a Recipe?

For recipes when you just want to enhance the chocolate flavor, use anywhere from 1/4 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon, depending on the recipe yield. In this recipe for Chocolate Brownie Energy Balls, I used only 1/4 teaspoon. 

Why Use Espresso Powder when Baking?

For recipes when you really want that coffee/mocha flavor to come through, bump up the amount of instant espresso powder. Start around 1 tablespoon, again depending on the yield of the recipe. For example, for these Guinness-Vanilla Bean Frosted Mocha Brownies, I used 1 tablespoon of espresso powder - this brownie recipe is baked in a 13 x 9-inch pan. For an 8 x 8-inch pan, I might use a little less. For comparison, my recipe for Everyday Brownies has 1/2 teaspoon of espresso powder. 

How to Use Espresso Powder in a Recipe

Espresso powder dissolves easily in liquid, so simply stir it into whatever liquid your recipe already uses. It can be milk, water, vanilla, beer, coconut milk - you name it!

How to Use Espresso Powder when Baking?

I find that in most recipes, I end up mixing it with vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste) before adding it to the recipe. 

espresso powder in milk

espresso powder in milk

Here, it's mixed with milk. No graininess - smooth coffee-flavored milk ready for your recipe. Hey! This would even be fun to drink along with a fudgy brownie, don't you think? 

Where to Buy Espresso Powder

My regular grocery store carries espresso powder, but they sometimes change where they stock it. Sometimes it's near the coffee, sometimes it's in the Italian food section. Sometimes they have it in both places. 

This week, I found a BIG jar of it at Target! Woo hoo! You can also buy Espresso Powder on Amazon, of course, or from King Arthur Flour.

espresso powder in cookies

Here are a handful of the recipes using espresso powder that we love around here:

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