Chocolate Cupcakes with Creamy Chocolate Frosting

5 stars based on 2 votes


When my kids were babies, I started a home-based baking business making special occasion cakes and cupcakes, mostly for children’s birthday parties. Before I opened, I spent weeks testing every vanilla and chocolate cake recipe under the sun, often baking into the wee hours of the night while my family was sleeping. My husband would wake up in the morning to find the countertops (and, oftentimes, the trash can) littered with cakes and cupcakes. He thought I’d lost my mind — little did he know I was just discovering my passion for finding and creating great recipes that work, which was the impetus for this blog!


Ingredients for the Cupcakes

Most of the cake recipes I tried were either dry, so-so or just inconsistent but, eventually, I created a few recipes that I loved and could rely on. This is the chocolate one (for the vanilla recipe, click here). The cake portion of the recipe is modestly adapted from Magnolia Bakery in NYC and the frosting comes from Cook’s Illustrated. Together, they make an old-fashioned chocolate cupcake that is sweet enough for children but also intensely chocolate enough for adults.

Ingredients for the Frosting

Ingredients for the Frosting

Begin by making the cupcakes. Melt the unsweetened chocolate in the microwave in 20-second blasts, stirring in between, to prevent the chocolate from scorching.


When it’s about 3/4 of the way melted, take it out and stir, allowing the residual heat in the bowl to melt the remaining chocolate. Set aside to cool.


Next, whisk together the flour, baking soda, instant coffee and salt. (The coffee is optional; it enhances the chocolate flavor.)


Cream the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy.


Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition.


Mix in the vanilla and lukewarm melted chocolate.


Then mix in the dry ingredients in three separate additions, alternating with the buttermilk.


Spoon the batter into muffin tins.


And bake for 20-25 minutes.


While the cupcakes cool, make the frosting. Begin by melting the milk chocolate in the microwave.


Next, combine the butter, Confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor.


Blitz for about 30 seconds until well combined, then add the corn syrup and the vanilla.


Process until smooth, then add the lukewarm melted milk chocolate.


Process quickly, until the frosting is creamy, silky and shiny.


When the cupcakes are completely cool, spread the frosting over top.


Chocolate Cupcakes with Creamy Chocolate Frosting

Servings: 24 cupcakes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour


For the Cupcakes

  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules (optional, to enhance chocolate flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk

For the Frosting

  • 8 ounces milk chocolate, broken into small pieces (substitute semi-sweet chocolate for darker, more intense chocolate flavor)
  • 2-1/2 sticks (20 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • 1 cup Confectioners' sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


For the Cupcakes

  1. Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and cook in the microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring in between, until about 3/4 of the way melted. Stir, allowing the residual heat in the bowl to melt the remaining chocolate completely. (If necessary, place the chocolate back in microwave for a few seconds.) Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners and lightly grease the top of the muffin tins with butter (this prevents the cupcake tops from sticking to the pan).
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, instant coffee (if using), baking soda and salt until well combined.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl and beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and lukewarm chocolate.
  5. Add the dry ingredients in three separate additions, alternating with the buttermilk.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups until about 3/4 full (I think it's easiest to use an ice cream scooper with a wire scraper). Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops look dry and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean (note that one pan may finish cooking before the other). Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

For the Frosting

  1. Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and cook in the microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring in between, until about 3/4 of the way melted. Stir, allowing the residual heat in the bowl to melt the remaining chocolate completely. (If necessary, place the chocolate back in microwave for a few seconds.) Set aside to cool.
  2. In a food processor, process the butter, sugar, cocoa powder and salt until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the corn syrup and vanilla and process until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the lukewarm chocolate and pulse until smooth and creamy, 10 to 15 seconds. Do not overmix.
  3. Note: The cupcakes are best served on the day they are made. However, they can be stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator for a day or two; just be sure to bring them to room temperature before serving. The frosting can be used immediately or held at room temperature for about 3 hours. For longer storage, cover and refrigerate, but be sure to bring it to room temperature before using.
  4. Note: The frosting is pretty foolproof, but if it "breaks" for any reason, try adding a teaspoon or two of warm water and mixing again.

Reviews & Comments

  • Hi Jen,
    I would like to swap the frostings from your chocolate cupcakes onto your buttermilk cupcakes and the frosting from your buttermilk cupcakes onto your chocolate cupcakes. But before I do this I would like to know if the flavors would suit or should I just do as per your recipe?
    Thank you

    - Mandy on March 29, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Mandy, Go for it – it’s really just personal preference :) Please come back and lmk how they turn out.

      - Jenn on March 30, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This cupcake recipe is to die for!

    - Jessica Herring on March 25, 2015 Reply
  • I live at an elevation of 6900 feet. What would you suggest as a high elevation adjustment for this recipe?

    - Karen S on March 7, 2015 Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Can I split the recipe in half to make 12 cupcakes?

    - Olena on February 28, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Olena, Yes, that’s fine.

      - Jenn on February 28, 2015 Reply
  • If I wanted to make this as a cake…instead of a cupcake…what size pan would I use?

    - Don on February 1, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Don, I would use two 9-inch rounds.

      - Jenn on February 2, 2015 Reply
  • Would this convert well to a layer cake??

    - Edi on December 18, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Edi, Yes, I think it would convert very well.

      - Jenn on December 19, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I like each and every one of your recipes.
    I have not tried them all yet though, but I am working on it. I like cooking and baking with my 11-year-old daughter, she teaches me so much! She made the cup cakes, they are fabulous, very good recipe. The only change she made: she piped the icing into the cup cake with a tip and covered it with a dot on the top. Great surprise for dad! Thank you for your recipes.
    -Maria in Princeton

    - Maria on December 4, 2014 Reply
  • OMG this recipe is devine! I have made it 3 times now and my gorgeous & skinny sister ate two cupcakes and asked for the recipe. Very happy to have this recipe up my sleeve… thank you Jenn!

    - Monique on November 18, 2014 Reply
  • Hi Jenn, I don’t have corn syrup, what can I use instead?

    - Masuda on November 16, 2014 Reply
  • Can I freeze these cupcakes? I want to make these and the vanilla for my daughter’s pasta party for 26 girls. This way all I need to do is frost them the day of.


    Kathy Vinci

    - Kathy on September 12, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Kathy, Yes, it’s fine to freeze the cupcakes.

      - Jenn on September 13, 2014 Reply
  • For the frosting, can you use an electric mixer instead of a food processor?

    - Mary on April 6, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Mary, You really need a food processor for this recipe; it prevents the frosting from separating and turning greasy. This type of chocolate frosting is very finicky. If you don’t have a mixer, you could try a basic chocolate buttercream. It won’t be as deeply chocolate but it will still be delicious. Here’s a recipe:

      - Jenn on April 7, 2014 Reply
  • These are amazing!!!! My new favorite chocolate fix that I crave waaaay too often! I love that they’re not too sweet, but perfect. Completely rich and decadent! I don’t think I’ve had a more delicious chocolate cupcake.

    - Kelly on March 15, 2014 Reply
  • These look divine. And after reading Jeff’s comments above, I will DEFINITELY be giving these a try!!

    - Dee on March 1, 2014 Reply
  • I know that a cupcake is a fun, sweet confection that is rooted in the joys of childhood. But if a cupcake could be considered “serious”, this would be the one. Last night I finally got to try one (well actually 1 1/2) The texture, moistness, and flavor were all I needed to confirm that I am no longer on a hunt for the ultimate chocolate on chocolate cupcake experience. This is it. Now, just crossing fingers here, that they will freeze like a dream, as I have 3 remaining. Now, on to your millionaire’s shortbread….isn’t life great?

    - Jeff Winett-again on February 17, 2014 Reply
  • Wow, what an honor to post the first review for this evidently awesome recipe. I use the word “evidently”, as hubs and I won’t be trying them until tonight while watching Seinfeld re-runs in bed. So how do I know these are incredible? I prepared this recipe to the letter this morning as a gift to someone who is recovering from a painful knee surgery. Jon is a foodie and baker, par excellence. He was sleeping when I dropped the cupcakes off, and if there were any way that I could include the voice message that was waiting for us, when we got home, I would be doing so. I have never heard him rave about anything, such as he did for these cupcakes. It was bordering on embarrassing, but I loved every second of this :) Anyway, very psyched for dessert tonight. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

    - Jeff Winett on February 16, 2014 Reply
    • Jeff, That is so nice to read! I hope you enjoyed them as much as your friend Jon did :)

      - Jenn on February 17, 2014 Reply

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