Simply Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes
Scratch-made chocolate cupcakes that are moist, deeply chocolatey, and so easy to make! These cupcakes have a slightly domed top and a fluffy texture, but are sturdy enough to stand up to your favorite buttercream.
*This post originally published on August 13, 2013. I thought it was about time the pics were updated. So, many of the photos you see here now are new and improved. And I added a video! Everything else is exactly the same as it ever was! Hopefully you’ll enjoy this recipe as much as my family and I do.*
After settling on my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe, I knew it would be a tough act to follow with chocolate. Those cupcakes are so outstanding, and were so easy to make, they made me realize that my usual chocolate cupcake recipe was maybe a little lacking!
In the past, I’ve always relied upon the Perfectly Chocolate Cake recipe on the back of the Hershey’s Cocoa Can. I’ve been making it for decades! As a matter of fact, it was probably the first from-scratch cake I ever baked.
It tastes pretty fabulous, especially as a layer cake topped with their Perfectly Chocolate Frosting. But as cupcakes, I’ve found it to be a little too delicate to stand up to the generous pile of frosting that I prefer to top them with (evil).
Not to mention the batter is extremely runny. When filling well after well of a cupcake tin, this recipe’s proven to be a bit of a drippy mess.
So I went into this challenge with some pretty specific ideas about what I wanted:
- A sturdy enough cupcake to stand up to a generous pile of frosting.
- A thicker batter that’s easier to portion out without dribbling everywhere.
- A moist texture.
- A nicely domed top.
- A deeply chocolatey flavor.
That last requirement is achieved in rather a counter-intuitive way. I prefer a chocolate cake that doesn’t actually contain any chocolate. I know! Sounds crazy, but if you think about what exactly it is that constitutes “chocolate,” it makes perfect sense. Chocolate, in bar form, is made up of cocoa butter, milk, emulsifiers, vanilla, sugar, and cocoa solids. The cocoa solids are what flavor the chocolate. And all of those other ingredients are already in a cake recipe, in one form or another. All we are really after is the chocolate taste, and that is distilled (or rather, dried, roasted, and ground) down to its essence in the form of cocoa powder. I suggest using the highest quality cocoa powder you can get your hands on. For the most chocolatey flavor of all, use pure, unsweetened cocoa powder.
Also I am a lazy baker and I prefer not to have to chop and melt chocolate, and dirty all those dishes. (Real talk.)
I looked at a crap-ton of chocolate cupcake recipes, and while they all sounded super fabulous, none of them really met all of my criteria. So, I’ve gone out on a limb and developed my own recipe. That’s right, this one’s all me, baby. I was a little nervous tasting it for the first time, but I have to say, it’s pretty terrific! And my taste-testers all agreed. (I tested it out on around 40 of my closest friends :))
You are going to love how quick and easy this recipe is! Only one dirty bowl when it’s all said and done, and the shortest list of ingredients I’ve seen in my extensive chocolate cupcake recipe research. 😉
The method is a little bit unusual. Like most other cake recipes on this site, it utilizes the reverse-creaming method. I love it because it’s no-muss, no-fuss! Easy peasy.
Throw all the dry ingredients (including the sugar) into the mixing bowl and give them a little stir to combine them. Then add the butter in, all at once.
Mix it on low until it resembles damp sand. Then just crack in your eggs, a splash of vanilla, and a few dollops of Greek yogurt (Sour cream or buttermilk work really well too!) The natural acidity helps to activate the baking powder and make the cake super fluffy.
The batter is so nice and thick! But you’ll notice, it’s fluffy like a mousse. Fluffy batter = fluffy cupcake. 😉
I love to use an ice cream scoop to portion out the batter. It helps to ensure an even measure in each cup, and it’s also mess-free. Great investment!
I’m sure I’m not the only one who loves to dip a finger in the cake batter and give it a taste, right? Well, when you do, you’ll know how good these cupcakes are going to taste! Soooooo chocolatey, almost like a brownie! All that cocoa powder gives these cupcakes such an incredibly rich, deep flavor!
The addition of cake flour keeps the texture fluffy and light, but the all purpose flour gives them enough structure to be durable. My Simply Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes are light and fluffy without being overly delicate or wimpy. Go ahead and pile that frosting on, these cupcakes won’t buckle under the pressure!
Simply Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes will pair well with just about any kind of frosting you can imagine, but my hands-down favorite has to be Swiss Meringue Buttercream. The vanilla version is here, and the chocolate version is here. Both are just heavenly!
For the cupcakes you see in the newer pics here, I used my favorite Easy Chocolate Frosting recipe. This one whips up in a heartbeat! And I’ve used Whipped Cream Frosting on them many times too- it’s so light and fluffy! A perfect balance to all that rich chocolate.
I like to top them with a pinch of this India Tree Chocolate Vermicelli. It looks like just regular chocolate jimmies, but the flavor is more like real chocolate shavings. It’s the little details…!
I’m sure I’ll be dreaming up all sorts of incredible ways to top these cupcakes over the coming months, but for now, I just wanted to share the base. It’s part of a recurring series on Baking a Moment called “Simply Perfect,” where I share my favorite recipes for basic “building block” baked good recipes. Many of these recipes are tried and true, that I’ve made over and over again, through the years, tested on my friends and family, and deemed to be the best. Check out the whole series here: Simply Perfect Recipes.
And be sure to check out this recipe for the layer cake version!
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Simply Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes
- 1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (62.5 g) cake flour
- 1 cup (86 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (1.5 teaspoons) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) kosher salt
- 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, , softened
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup (200 g) Greek yogurt, (sour cream or buttermilk* may be substituted)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place the sugar, all-purpose flour, cake flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.
- Mix in the butter on low speed, until the mixture resembles moist crumbs.
- Stir in the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula after each addition. Add the Greek yogurt and vanilla, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl to be sure all the ingredients are well-combined. Beat on medium speed for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, to aerate the batter and build the cake’s structure.
- Fill lined cupcake wells just over half full (approx. 1/4 cup of batter).
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean or with moist crumbs.
- Cool completely before frosting.
- Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Easy Chocolate Frosting
- Whipped Cream Frosting
Click here for the vanilla version of this cupcake recipe: Simply Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes.
Click here for the vanilla layer cake recipe: Perfect Vanilla Cake Recipe.