Looking for the best of all the classic chocolate cupcake recipes out there? This is the one! Loaded with rich chocolate flavor and a moist crumb, this easy recipe will become your new go-to homemade chocolate cupcakes recipe for sure.
Try frosting these cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Frosting, Salted Caramel Frosting, a fun cookie Oreo frosting or Strawberry Marshmallow Fluff for a fun flavor combo!
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💕 Why you’ll love this recipe
- Super moist chocolate cakes, perfect for all the chocolate lovers in your life
- Easy to prepare
- Only basic ingredients needed, with a secret ingredient to amp up the chocolate flavor in this classic chocolate cupcake recipe
- The perfect chocolate cupcakes can be topped with a variety of frostings! For a fun twist, try topping with Salted Caramel Buttercream or Baileys Buttercream
- Need a couple vanilla cupcakes for the non-chocolate lovers? Here's my vanilla cupcakes, a version that's also fluffy and moist.
🧾 Ingredients & substitutions
For the best chocolate cupcake recipe, you need only simple ingredients:
- Unsweetened cocoa powder: use a high quality cocoa powder to maximize the rich chocolate flavor. Use natural cocoa powder instead of dutch process cocoa powder in this recipe
- Brewed coffee: This is the secret ingredient that takes this classic recipe from a good recipe to a great recipe! Coffee helps enhance the flavor of the chocolate without adding a coffee flavor to these rich chocolate cupcakes. Be sure the coffee is freshly brewed and hot. Hot water may be substituted
- Sour cream: sour cream helps keep these decadent chocolate cupcakes super moist. It may be substituted for plain full-fat Greek yogurt if needed
- Vanilla extract: for best results, use pure vanilla extract instead of imitation vanilla flavoring
- Unsalted butter: Remove the butter from the fridge at least 30 minutes prior to baking so it has time to reach room temperature. This will ensure the butter incorporates evenly into the cupcake batter without leaving chunks of butter throughout
- Granulated sugar
- Brown sugar: Use either light brown sugar or dark brown sugar for this recipe
- Eggs: Be sure to remove your eggs from the fridge at least 30 minutes prior to baking so they reach room temperature and incorporate evenly into the batter
- All-purpose flour
- Baking soda
✨How to make moist chocolate cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with cupcake liners or place paper cupcake cups on a sheet tray and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, coffee, sour cream, and vanilla to make a shiny fudge. Set the wet ingredients aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed to high speed until smooth and shiny, about 2-3 minutes. Add the granulated and brown sugars and continue beating until fluffy, and then beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing between each addition.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in thirds, alternating with the fudge mixture, mixing on low speed, scraping down the bowl several times as you go, just until the flour mixture is mixed in.
Divide batter between the muffin cups of the muffin tin, filling each only halfway to the top, and bake for 28 - 30 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of the middle cupcake should come out with just a few moist crumbs on it when they are done. If there's batter on the toothpick, continue baking for a few minutes more until it comes out clean.
Let the cupcakes cool before turning them out on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
🧁 Best frosting for chocolate cupcakes
Chocolate cupcakes can be topped with just about any flavor of frosting. Looking for a delicious chocolate frosting? Try Dark Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. Want to switch it up? Banana cake with chocolate frosting is snack size and perfect for after school or mid day coffee break!
For more flavor combinations, try Cream Cheese Frosting, Oreo Buttercream Frosting or Salted Caramel Frosting. Use a piping bag or offset spatula to top the cupcakes. Add sprinkles for the finishing touch.
👩🍳 Pro tips
- Use high quality natural cocoa powder to get the most chocolate flavor out of these cupcakes. I like Hershey's Special Dark or Guittard Cocoa Powder
- Mix the cupcake batter just until there are no dry spots or streaks of flour in the bowl of your mixer. Over mixing will lead to tough cupcakes without that tender crumb
- Do not overfill your muffin cups. How much cupcake batter per cupcake should be used? I recommend filling the cups ½ full. While this may not seem like enough, believe me, your cupcakes will turn out beautifully and will not form crunchy or crispy edges that overflow the cups when baked
- Wait until the cupcakes have cooled before topping with frosting, otherwise the frosting will slip or melt off
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The secret to moist cupcakes is added moisture from the sour cream. It's also important not to over mix the batter, as this will create dry, tough cupcakes instead of moist cupcakes with a tender crumb.
Do not overmix the batter! The air bubbles that are created when the dry ingredients are mixed with the wet ingredients expand in the oven, making for a light and fluffy cupcake. Over mixing deflates those air bubbles, making for a denser, drier cupcake. So it's important to resist the urge to keep mixing the batter.
Your cupcakes could be dry from overbaking them. Be sure to check the temperature of your oven using an oven thermometer. This will ensure your oven is at the temperature it says it is. If not, you can adjust it so your cupcakes do not overbake in a hotter than expected oven.
Be sure to bake the cupcakes just until they are done. Test them with a toothpick inserted into the center. If the toothpick has just a few moist crumbs on it, the cupcakes are done.
For standard size cupcakes like these, the baking time should be about 28-30 minutes.
Store frosted cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week. Bring to room temperature before serving.
FOR ALL MY FAVORITE BAKING TOOLS INCLUDING THOSE USED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE, CHECK OUT MY BAKING RESOURCES PAGE!
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- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup brewed coffee hot
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar packed
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners or place paper cupcake cups on a sheet tray and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, coffee, sour cream, and vanilla to make a shiny fudge. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or with an electric hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and shiny, about 2-3 minutes. Add the granulated and brown sugars and continue beating until fluffy, and then beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing between each addition.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in thirds, alternating with the fudge mixture, mixing on low speed just until the flour is incorporated, scraping down the bowl several times as you go.
- Divide the batter between the cupcake liners, filling each cup halfway to the top and bake for 28 - 30 mins. A toothpick inserted into the center of the middle cupcake should come out with just a few moist crumbs on it when they are done. If there's batter on the toothpick, continue baking for a few minutes more.
- Let the cupcakes cool before turning them out on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
- Frosted cupcakes can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week
- Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen. Wrap them individually in plastic wrap and freeze up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature before frosting
- Unused frosting should be stored in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using. If the frosting looks to be separated or lumpy, mix briskly with a spoon or with a handheld mixer for a minute or two
- Recipe from Andie Mitchell's memoir It Was Me All Along
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