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Soft, fluffy, and light, this Chocolate Cupcake Recipe is truly the best. It’s loaded with chocolate flavor and has a soft crumb that practically melts in your mouth.

Homemade Chocolate Cupcakes on a black wire rack

I’ve made these cupcakes before. They’re featured in my chocolate raspberry cupcakes post. But I then I thought, as much as I love raspberry… if we’re going to go for it, let’s really go for it. Chocolate cupcakes with a decadent, moist crumb topped with chocolate swiss meringue frosting. It is a choc-a-holics dream come true!

This homemade chocolate cupcake recipe is one of my favorites – no wonder, since it’s adapted from my favorite chocolate cake recipe. I halved the cake recipe and added a touch of oil along with the butter and the results are amazing.

These cupcakes taste decadent and are so soft in the centers. To get enough of that rich chocolate flavor I added both melted chocolate and cocoa powder. This is something I do often when making chocolate cakes.

You’ll also see buttermilk and coffee in the ingredient list. Have I lost my mind? No. Buttermilk adds moisture and tang to the cupcake. The coffee is just a touch – not enough to give you the jitters, but just enough to really bring out the deep chocolate flavor of these cupcakes.

When I was little, if I could scrounge up enough change around the house during the week – I’d splurge on a Hostess Chocolate Cupcake on Fridays at the school cafeteria. I haven’t had one in years, but the nostalgia I have for them is immense. I remember a moist delicious chocolate cupcake surrounding a cream-filled center and topped with a chocolate ganache frosting.

I don’t want to ruin the memory, so I am not going to have one anytime soon. They can continue to live on in my mind as cupcake perfection. But I know in my heart that these homemade chocolate cupcakes are better. The rich and moist cake, the creamy chocolatey frosting… it’s a chocolate lovers dream come true.

For all my chocolate fanatics out there – try this chocolate creme brulee, or get ambitious and make this triple chocolate mousse cake. It’s perfection.

Recipe Snapshot

TASTE: Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate
TEXTURE: Moist, soft crumb with a smooth frosting.
EASE:  Intermediate – a little melting, chopping and folding is involved. But it is well worth it.
TIME:  A little over an hour for baking, cooling and frosting.

What You’ll Need


These cupcakes might require a trip to the market, but everything you need should be easily and quickly found. You’re basically going to run through the store and grab as much chocolate as you can.

  • Flour – This recipe calls for all-purpose flour. The crumb isn’t as tight as when using cake flour but the cupcakes remain incredibly soft.
  • Cocoa powder – Unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Dutch-processed) adds a ton of chocolate flavor.
  • Unsweetened chocolate – Adding in melted chocolate will give the cupcakes even more decadent chocolate flavor. The flavor reminds me of brownies.
  • Semi-sweet chocolate – There’s a lot of chocolate involved in these cakes – this is in the frosting.
  • Buttermilk – This is the key ingredient for moist, spongy cupcakes. Do not try to substitute for whole milk or milk substitute.
  • Coffee – Adding a little coffee to chocolate desserts enhances the chocolate flavor. Use decaf coffee if you are sensitive to caffeine or replace the coffee with an equal amount of buttermilk.
  • Leavening – I use both baking soda and baking powder to make these cupcakes rise.
  • Butter – This is in both the cake and the frosting recipe. I always use unsalted butter when baking so I can adjust the salt myself.
  • Salt – See above!
  • Oil – I used vegetable oil but you can use any neutral-flavored oil of choice.
  • Eggs – you’ll use whole eggs for the cake and egg whites for the frosting. Reserve the yolks and make yourself a creme brulee.
  • Sugar – both the cake and the frosting call for granulated sugar.
  • Vanilla extract
Best Chocolate Cupcakes on a marble cake stand.

How to Make Chocolate Cupcakes

This chocolate cupcake with chocolate swiss meringue frosting recipe requires you to melt a little chocolate, make a meringue, and multi-task a little bit, but it is all worth it. These cupcakes are so good they deserve to be on a podium with a medal around their necks.

  1. Combine the dry ingredients. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to a medium bowl and stir with a whisk to combine.
  2. Mix the wet ingredients. Beat the butter, oil, and sugar until well combined. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until fully incorporated.
  3. Add melted chocolate. Whisk in melted chocolate that has been cooled.
  1. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture, alternating with the buttermilk and coffee. Stir until everything is well combined. The batter will be thick.
  2. Bake. Fill paper-lined muffin cups ⅔ of the way full with batter. Bake in a 350°F oven for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool until room temperature and frost.

Make the Frosting

  1. Prepare the egg whites. Combine the sugar, egg whites, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water. Whisk gently and continuously while dissolving the sugar and heating the frosting to 150 degrees.
  2. Beat the meringue. Beat the egg white mixture on medium speed until it is the consistency of shaving cream and the outside of the bowl is no longer warm to the touch, 1-2 minutes. (if the meringue is warm it will melt the butter.)
  3. Add the butter. Gradually add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, fully mixing in before adding the next, until smooth and creamy and all the butter has been added. Then beat on medium-high until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the cooled, melted chocolate and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until combined. Turn the speed up to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 30 seconds. Frost as desired.

Handy tip:

Buttermilk: If you can’t find buttermilk, make your own by adding a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a one-cup measuring cup. Then add 2% or whole milk to the one-cup line. Give it a stir and let it sit for 5 minutes before using

Tips For Success

Overhead of moist Chocolate Cupcakes.


Storage & Freezing

  • The cupcakes can be made 1 day in advance before frosting. Cover and refrigerate each overnight. Frost the cupcakes the next day.
  • Or the cupcakes can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and frost as desired.

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Best Chocolate Cupcakes on a marble cake stand.

The Best Chocolate Cupcakes

Yield: 14 cupcakes
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Soft, fluffy, and light, this Chocolate Cupcake Recipe is truly the best. It’s loaded with chocolate flavor and has a soft crumb that practically melts in your mouth.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 1 cup (130 g) all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup (28 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 ounces (85 g) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • ⅓ cup (75 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (120 ml) buttermilk
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) strong brewed coffee, cooled

For the frosting

  • ⅓ cup (67 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 (70 g) large egg whites
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup (170 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, softened
  • 5 ounces (142 g) semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

Make the cupcakes

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Line 14 muffin cups with paper liners. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir with a whisk and set aside.
  3. Add the chocolate to a small heatproof bowl and set it over a pot of barely simmering water. Stir continuously until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Set aside to cool.
  4. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a handheld electric mixer beat the butter, oil, and sugar together on medium-low speed until light and fluffy. 
  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla. Add the melted chocolate and mix until well incorporated.
  6. With the mixer set to low speed, gradually add half the flour mixture, followed by the buttermilk and coffee, and then the remaining flour mixture. Beat just until combined. The batter will be thick.
  7. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Bake until the cupcakes are set and just firm to the touch, about 15-20 minutes.
  8. Cool the cupcakes in the pan for about 10 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting

  1. Combine the sugar, egg whites, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water. Whisk gently and continuously while heating the frosting. It should register 150°F on an instant-read thermometer. The sugar should be fully dissolved.
  2. Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer and fit it with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is the consistency of shaving cream and the outside of the bowl is no longer warm to the touch, 1-2 minutes. (if the meringue is warm it will melt the butter.)
  3. Gradually add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until smooth and creamy. (Only add the next tablespoon of butter once the previous one has been fully mixed in.)
  4. Once all the butter is added, scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 30 seconds.
  5. Add the cooled, melted chocolate and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until combined. Turn the speed up to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 30 seconds.

Notes

Coffee: If you are sensitive to caffeine, you can use decaf coffee or simply replace it with ¼ cup more buttermilk.

Frosting: Instead of the chocolate swill meringue, you can pair the cupcakes with this chocolate frosting or cookie butter frosting.

Make ahead tip

  1. The cupcakes can be made 1 day in advance before frosting. Cover and refrigerate each overnight. Frost the cupcakes the next day.
  2. Or the cupcakes can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and frost as desired.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 14 Serving Size: 1 cupcake
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 193Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 39mgSodium: 212mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 2gSugar: 11gProtein: 3g

* Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy by an online nutrition calculator and is not guaranteed to be accurate. Always seek advice from a nutritionist or medical professional.

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25 Comments

  1. This recipe is epic, though I tried it several times, my cupcakes doesn’t rise perfectly in the oven. Please help

    1. First, check to ensure your baking powder and soda are still good. Second, make sure you are not overmixing the batter.

  2. Nigel Galashan says:

    Thanks for this recipe. Coffee is a fantastic cupcake ingredient. The results are sort of epic.

  3. I love this site and all your recipes and blog pieces and I just made this and it’s easily one of my favorites if not my favorite, I was wondering though what you may suggest to someone using this recipe to try and make a cake?

    1. It’s possible the recipe could be baked in a single 9-inch pan. You’d just need to watch it closely as the bake time may need to be adjusted. However, I haven’t baked this recipe that way so I can’t say for sure how it’s going to turn out. Good luck and let me know how it goes.