These are the best chocolate cupcakes ever: moist, fluffy bites of chocolate goodness that are incredibly easy to make. These from scratch chocolate cupcakes come out of the oven in under 30 minutes and are topped with an easy, fluffy Italian meringue.
Greyson Ares turns five today. He asked for cupcakes.
He’s been in cupcake heaven all weekend: class birthday party on Friday, mommy’s chocolate cupcakes since Saturday morning.
Vanilla cupcakes today, because Brian doesn’t do chocolate and Greyson doesn’t care what flavor they are, as long as he has cupcakes.
I mean, what’s better than one big cake? A ton of small ones.
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I actually was a little nervous bringing cupcakes to the blog.
I’m no pastry chef, and I don’t want to give you guys anything but the best I can give. Baking is a science, it involves a lot of chemistry and ingredients that must be at peak freshness or your entire batch fails.
I wanted to make sure that the cupcake is easy to make, with a moist, light, fluffy, sponge (cake), that wouldn’t take up a lot of mom’s time, and be totally 100% amazing not only to a crowd of kids but to, say, your church’s bible study group or your mother in law.
Whew, that’s a lot of pressure!
So let’s go over this cupcake recipe: there’s no creaming of butter, no sifting of ingredients, no need for a stand mixer or any fancy equipment. Two bowls, one whisk and a spatula are going to be your BFFs.
In this recipe we are using oil as the fat, which leads to a tender, moist crumb, and natural cocoa powder because we aren’t using baking powder and Dutch processed cocoa doesn’t react to baking soda, it’s a neutral ingredient. That can make your chocolate cupcakes flat and dense, instead of light and spongy. We’re adding two things that I found bring a touch of dimension to your chocolate in your chocolate cupcake: coffee, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Neither will overpower the chocolate or turn the cupcake from a chocolate cupcake into a mocha or ‘spicy’ cupcake, but just amplify and add dimension to the chocolate so it’s not just a ‘one note’ taste.
Now, when you make this batter, you’re going to think “What did I do wrong?” or “What kind of foolishness are you trying to pull on me?” because it’s thin.
Like, very thin. Like soup.
And then you’ll see I only have the temperature at 300 degrees F. And you’re going to think it’s a typo, but it’s not. And you’re going to look at your chocolate soup and feel your barely warm 300 degree F oven and you’re going to be like, “There’s no way this is gonna work. At. All.”
Then you’re going to read to only fill the liners half way. And then you’re probably going to be like “I’ve wasted ingredients. What is she talking about? How is this going to make me any type of cupcake?”
But I want you to trust me. Trust me, and when these come out great, I want you to send me a photo of them on Instagram. Seriously. share how amazing your cupcakes are. Be proud. Then devour them.
The cake itself is so rich and chocolatey, so moist and light, that I ate three by themselves (unfrosted) at 11:30 pm on Friday night.
And I was like “I’m living my best life”/”This is the epitome of adulting: working and eating chocolate cupcakes at midnight for my son’s birthday and my business.” and “These cupcakes are tax deductible?!” (I was reading some business articles).
Look, don’t judge me for my midnight cupcake thoughts, y’all. Or that I ate three of them in one go. They were delicious and I was enjoying my ‘my house is quiet and I’m finally getting alone time’ sweet tooth.
These were perfect Friday night. And on Saturday morning. And Sunday afternoon. Because they stayed so moist all weekend. These cupcakes aren’t over-baked and crumbly and dry, noooooo. These are absolutely perfect even on day 2 and day 3. The low cooking temperature made sure that these wouldn’t end up overcooked and crunchy on top or underbaked inside, and filling the liners halfway ensured there was no overflowing or sinking in the center. These cupcakes are the bomb.com.
As for the frosting…it came from necessity. I had ran out of butter and I was lazy and didn’t want to go to the store. So Italian meringue it was.
What is Italian meringue? It’s much like regular meringue, whipped up, fluffy egg whites, but with a molten sugar mixture added to cook the egg whites, making it edible without further cooking and therefore is soft and fluffy (instead of crisp and crunchy like the cooked stuff, pavlova, or meringue cookies) and stable with no weeping. It is almost like marshmallow in texture, and it’s not as sugary-sweet as a buttercream. It also is thick enough to use much like a buttercream and make pretty designs with piping tips. Or sculptures because you haven’t bought any piping tips yet.
It’s like grown up marshmallow frosting. Just eat the whole batch, I won’t judge.
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- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup natural cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp instant coffee
- 1/2 cup hot water, not boiling
- Sprinkles, optional
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 egg whites
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F and prepare a cupcake pan with liners.
- Add the dry ingredients to a large bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
- Whisk the egg, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and instant coffee in another medium sized bowl. Then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula until well combined. Add the hot water to the batter and mix until completely combined. Batter will be very thin and watery looking.
- Fill the cupcake liners about half way and bake for 20-23 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with only a few moist crumbs.
- Remove the cupcakes from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling off.
FOR ITALIAN MERINGUE
- Put sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat over high heat, brushing down the melted sugar on the sides of the pot as necessary with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cook until sugar syrup is 240 degrees F on an instant read or candy thermometer.
- While sugar is melting and heating up, combine egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Set mixer to medium and mix until fluffy and soft peaks form, about 2 minutes.
- When the sugar mixture is at 240 degrees F, with the mixer running on high speed, slowly (and VERY carefully! Melted sugar is HOT!) drizzle in hot sugar syrup and whip until the egg whites create stiff peaks.
- Pipe meringue onto completely cooled cupcakes and add sprinkles, if using.
- Keep in an air tight container in the fridge for 4 days.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 120
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.