Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes

Everyone needs a simple, yet indulgent chocolate cupcake recipe in their back pocket. They can make any occasion feel special, whether baking for a late-night quick fix or as the designated dessert person at the potluck. This recipe is designed to deliver all the feels with pantry staples you most likely already have on hand (plus, some easy substitutes for the ones you don’t).

The 8 Best Cupcake Carriers

Greek Yogurt is the Key to Moist Cupcakes

A lot of recipes use buttermilk or sour cream to add moisture and activate the baking soda through their acidity. I opted for plain Greek yogurt because of its subtle tang and the fact that it’s a more common refrigerator staple. Whole milk or full-fat work the best for flavor, but 2 percent will work too. Avoid fat-free/non-fat varieties as they have preservatives that will affect the cupcake texture.

Why Are My Cupcakes Dry?

  • Incorrect Measuring: Too much flour can cause a dry cupcake. Make sure to be consistent with measuring and leveling off ingredients.
  • Over-Baking: The number one cause of dry cupcakes is over-baking. Be sure to set a timer for 2 minutes under the bake time, and check them. Insert a wooden toothpick. Should a couple of fudgy crumbs remain on the toothpick, remove the cupcakes from the oven as they will continue to bake before cooling down.

How To Serve Chocolate Cupcakes

Serve these rich chocolate cupcakes as is, with whipped cream and red berries, or one of our favorite frostings. They are even better the next day as all the flavors have time to marry together.

Our Favorite Frostings:

  • Chocolate Buttercream
  • Vanilla Buttercream
  • Ganache
  • Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Vanilla Glaze with Variations
  • Vegan Peanut Butter Frosting
  • Maple Frosting

Tips for Making Chocolate Cupcakes

  • Spraying the cupcake liners helps prevent the cake from sticking. This is not completely necessary, but we think it makes for a cleaner look and even more to enjoy.
  • Do not use natural cocoa powder in place of the Dutch-processed as it will change the texture and flavor of the cupcakes. Natural cocoa powder is paired with baking soda because the leavener needs the acidity to activate. However, if a recipe calls for baking powder (or both baking powder and baking soda), like this one, Dutch-processed cocoa powder must be used.
  • We use a combination of baking soda and baking powder in this recipe because the combination gives it just the right lift.
  • Make sure the baking powder and baking soda are no more than 6 months old. If they are, replace them as they lose their potency quickly and the cake won’t rise properly.
  • For a softer cake, substitute cake flour for the all-purpose flour.

Useful Articles:

  • How to Select Chocolate
  • How to Bloom Chocolate

“These cupcakes are wonderfully moist and tender with a real depth of chocolate flavor. It may take a few minutes to ensure all of the dry lumps are removed from the batter, but it’s an important step to make sure you get a nice, even crumb texture.”  —Julia Hartbeck

Chocolate Cupcakes/Tester Image

 

A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray

  • 1 1/4 cups (150 grams) all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup (65 grams) Dutch process cocoa powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon Diamond kosher salt

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1 cup boiling water

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients to make chocolate cupcakes

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  2. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Lightly spray the liners with cooking spray.

    cupcake tin lined with cupcake liners

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  3. Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.

    cupcake batter dry ingredients in a bowl

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  4. Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a medium bowl until pale and foamy.

    whisked eggs in a bowl

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  5. Add the yogurt, oil, and vanilla to the egg-sugar mixture, whisking until combined.

    whisked egg mixture in a bowl

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  6. Slowly pour in the boiling water while whisking until combined.

    whisked egg mixture in a bowl

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  7. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients in the reserved bowl. With a rubber spatula, stir until well combined and no trace of dry ingredients remain.

    chocolate cupcake batter in a bowl

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  8. Use a 1/2-cup measuring cup to scoop and portion out the batter into the prepared liners.

    chocolate cupcake batter in cupcake tin

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  9. Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted in the middle of one comes out with a few moist crumbs, 20 to 25 minutes.

    baked chocolate cupcakes on metal cupcake tin

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  10. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove and transfer to a wire rack to completely cool. Top with your favorite frosting, glaze, or ganache, if desired.

    chocolate cupcakes

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

How To Store

  • One might argue these cupcakes are even better the next day, so they work well if you want a good make-ahead dessert.
  • These cupcakes can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days, depending on how warm your home is. After that time, they can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
  • To freeze frosted or unfrosted cupcakes, arrange them on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Wrap each cupcake in plastic wrap and place them in an airtight freezer container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost frozen unwrapped cupcakes on the counter for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Variations

  • Turn this into a cake by doubling the recipe and baking off in 2 (8-inch) cake pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Adding a splash of coffee can heighten the chocolate profile, enhancing its deep, earthy flavor rather than imparting the taste of coffee. Use coffee in place of some of the water.
  • Substitute brown sugar for the granulated sugar or use a 50/50 combo.
  • Sour cream or buttermilk can be used in place of Greek yogurt.
  • For a gluten-free variation, we recommend a 1:1 gluten-free flour blend that contains xanthan gum (like Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten Free Baking Flour Blend). The xanthan gum provides structure, acting as a binder in baked goods.

What is the difference between a chocolate muffin and a chocolate cupcake?

Plain and simple, cupcakes offer a lighter and fluffier texture more similar to cake. Muffins have a thicker batter, resulting in a denser product like bread. Cupcakes are a sweet dessert topped with a frosting, glaze, or ganache; whereas, muffins are most often served plain at the breakfast table with a smear of butter.

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