These are the ultimate chocolate cupcakes. They are perfectly moist and insanely chocolaty, topped with a supreme fudge chocolate frosting.
Looking for the perfect recipe can be exhausting because there are just so many out there. I’ve tried countless cupcakes over the years, but this is my top favorite recipe. I know we all have different preferences when it comes to our taste buds, but I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with this.
The cake itself is moist and tender, not too dense nor too light, with just the perfect crumb texture. This is the only cupcake batter I’ve used for years now. Sometimes I replace the ½ cup of milk in the recipe with an additional ½ cup hot water. I love both versions equally, so you can make the two of them and see which one you prefer. This recipe yields 16 cupcakes for me, but it might not be the same for you since each muffin tin brand is a bit different in its size capacity. Just fill the tins ¾ full with batter.
And then there’s the frosting. I’m talking deep, intense, chocolaty, fudge-consistency frosting. One that you’ll steal bites of from the bowl so many times that you’ll end up having nothing to frost your cupcakes with. The intense flavor comes from a combination of dark chocolate and cocoa powder. If you don’t want it too intense, add just a bit of cocoa powder at a time until you reach the desired taste. Then there’s some heavy cream and the other usual goodness such as butter and powdered sugar.
If you happen to have corn syrup, you can substitute some of the powdered sugar with it. This will make for an extra smooth frosting. Both natural unsweetened and Dutch-processed cocoa powder are ok, and either milk, semisweet, or bittersweet chocolate can be used.
It’s very important to sift the powdered sugar and cocoa powder, or else the frosting will be grainy. Also, make sure to beat the butter, sugar, and cocoa for at least 3-4 minutes, until completely smooth. If the frosting is still somewhat grainy, switch to the whisk attachment.
If you’re aiming for death by chocolate cupcakes, then would you like to be my best friend? Please think about it. I suggest adding chocolate ganache (half of the recipe is enough) as a filling, or adding 1/2 cup chocolate chunks or chips to the batter itself. But do prepare to meet death—in a totally good way.
- 1⅓ cups (185 g/6.5 oz) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (50 g/1.7 oz) cocoa powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick/113 g) butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200 g/7 oz) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup (120 ml) whole milk
- ½ cup (120 ml) hot water
- ⅔ cup (1 and ⅓ sticks/150 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1⅓ cups (160 g/5.5 oz) powdered sugar, sifted (plus more as necessary)
- ¼ cup (25 g/1 oz) cocoa powder, sifted
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 115 g/4 oz dark chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners and set aside.
- For the cupcakes: In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary. On medium speed, beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla extract and beat until combined.
- With the mixer on low speed, add half of the dry ingredients and beat just until combined. Then beat in milk, followed by the other half of the dry ingredients, beating slowly until combined. Add hot water and beat just until combined. Do not overmix—the less you mix, the lighter the cake will be. The batter should be liquid.
- Divide batter evenly between cups, filling them about ¾ full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. Allow cupcakes to sit for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
- For the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add powdered sugar in 2 additions and beat until smooth. Add cocoa powder and beat until completely creamy and smooth. Beat in vanilla extract, melted chocolate, and heavy cream, mixing until combined. Add powdered sugar as necessary until frosting is spreadable.
- Use frosting immediately to frost cupcakes, or store in the fridge, covered, for up to 3 days. Before using, bring to room temperature and whisk until smooth.
- Cupcakes are best the same day they’re made, but can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Unfrosted cupcakes can be kept in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw, still covered, on the counter or overnight in the fridge.