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Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes

Moist, rich, cupcakes with intense chocolate flavor in every bite. These are the ultimate chocolate cupcakes!

These chocolate cupcakes really are the ULTIMATE! They are filled with rich chocolate flavor, are perfect for any special occasion, or just a chocolate craving. For more chocolate try Chocolate Cheesecake, Chocolate Cake with Frosting, and Homemade Chocolate Pudding.

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes | lifemadesimplebakes.com

All things chocolate

I don’t know about you, but I love ALL THINGS chocolate! These cupcakes are a scaled-down version of my chocolate blackout cake. They’re perfect for classroom treats, a girls night in, or a romantic dinner.

If you know me, you know I’m pretty particular when it comes to cupcakes. They have to be moist, rich and perfectly sweet. These cupcakes check all of the boxes. They’ve quickly become my go-to recipe.

I’ve used them as a base for raspberry buttercream topped cupcakes, salted caramel buttercream topped cupcakes, and mint chocolate chip buttercream topped cupcakes. They’re the best!

Today I thought I’d go all chocolate… and let me tell you, I have no regrets! They are heavenly. You’ll start by making the cupcakes, then while they cool you’ll mix up the frosting and gather the garnishes.

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes | lifemadesimplebakes.com

Making Chocolate Cupcakes

PREP. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line one standard size cupcake pan with 12 liners, and an additional pan with four liners, set aside.

DRY INGREDIENTS. Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a stand mixer using a low speed until combined.

WET INGREDIENTS. Add eggs, sour cream, buttermilk, warm water, oil, vanilla, and chopped chocolate. Beat on a medium speed until smooth, about a minute.

BAKE. Divide batter evenly between the liners (I prefer using a #20 scoop which is approximately ¼ cup of batter). Place in the oven and bake for 18-22 minutes or until the tops spring back when touched.

COOL. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 8 minutes. Remove and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes | lifemadesimplebakes.com

Chocolate Frosting

WET INGREDIENTS. In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), beat the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

DRY INGREDIENTS. Carefully add in the cocoa powder, vanilla and salt, beat until combined.

CREAM. With mixing speed on low, gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. When all of the powdered sugar has been added, beat in heavy cream, then add more if necessary to create a spreadable consistency. The frosting should be on the thicker side.

PIPE. Using a piping bag fitted with an extra large piping tip (see NOTES below for suggestions), pipe onto cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with desired garnish.

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes | lifemadesimplebakes.com

Tips + Storing Info

To make your cupcakes fluffy and moist, be sure to use room temperature ingredients and use enough sour cream and buttermilk. These ingredients will create a soft and moist crumb.

Make your own buttermilk by following this recipe

To get a dark chocolate taste without it becoming bitter you need to make sure to use high-quality cocoa powder. Cheap cocoa powder could result in a bitter chocolate taste.

STORE cupcakes at room temperature or in the fridge, it is up to you. Either way make sure to keep them covered. Unfrosted cupcakes should be stored in an airtight container with a paper towel lining the bottom of the tupperware and on top of the cupcakes. They will last for about 2-3 days before becoming stale.

To FREEZE, wrap individual, unfrosted cupcakes in plastic wrap. Place all of the cupcakes in an airtight container/bag for up to 3 months. Let them thaw to room temperature before frosting and serving.

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes | lifemadesimplebakes.com

CHECK OUT MORE AMAZING CHOCOLATE RECIPES:

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes | lifemadesimplebakes.com

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe

Moist, rich, cupcakes with intense chocolate flavor in every bite. These are the ultimate chocolate cupcakes!
4.69 from 89 votes
Pin Rate
Course: Cupcakes
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
Servings: 16 cupcakes
Calories: 595kcal
Author: Natalie
Print Recipe

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:
  • c. all-purpose flour
  • c. granulated sugar
  • 3/4 c. quality unsweetened cocoa powder*
  • tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. coarse kosher sea salt - not fine
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 c. sour cream
  • ½ c. buttermilk
  • 3/4 c. warm water + ½ tsp. espresso powder - espresso is optional
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil
  • tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 oz. finely chopped semisweet chocolate
For the frosting:
  • 3/4 c. 1½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 oz. ½ block cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 c. quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • tsp. vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • c. powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp. whole milk or heavy cream
For the garnish:
  • 1/3 c. chocolate curls - mini chocolate chips or chocolate jimmies (sprinkles)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line one standard size cupcake pan with 12 liners, and an additional pan with four liners, set aside.
  • Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a stand mixer using a low speed until combined.
  • Add eggs, sour cream, buttermilk, warm water, oil, vanilla, and chopped chocolate. Beat on a medium speed until smooth, about a minute.
  • Divide batter evenly between the liners (I prefer using a #20 scoop which is approximately ¼ cup of batter).
  • Place in the oven and bake for 18-22 minutes or until the tops spring back when touched.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 8 minutes. Remove and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
  • For the frosting: in a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), beat the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Carefully add in the cocoa powder, vanilla and salt, beat until combined.
  • With mixing speed on low, gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. When all of the powdered sugar has been added, beat in heavy cream, then add more if necessary to create a spreadable consistency. The frosting should be on the thicker side.
  • Using a piping bag fitted with an extra large piping tip (see NOTES below for suggestions), pipe onto cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with desired garnish.

VIDEO

NOTES

For the frosting, I suggest using a large piping tip, like the Ateco 829, but really any tips are beautiful verses not using one at all. 

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Nutrition Facts
Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe
Amount per Serving
Calories
595
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
19
g
29
%
Saturated Fat
 
12
g
75
%
Trans Fat
 
1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
5
g
Cholesterol
 
56
mg
19
%
Sodium
 
267
mg
12
%
Potassium
 
479
mg
14
%
Carbohydrates
 
109
g
36
%
Fiber
 
9
g
38
%
Sugar
 
77
g
86
%
Protein
 
9
g
18
%
Vitamin A
 
444
IU
9
%
Vitamin C
 
1
mg
1
%
Calcium
 
75
mg
8
%
Iron
 
5
mg
28
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Comments:

  1. Hi…on step 9 for the frosting instructions do you mean add more powdred sugar or heavy cream for spreadable texture? 

  2. wow these are some very moist and tasty cupcakes! I made some salted caramel frosting and topped them with peanuts and chopped snickers bars-yum! thanks for the great recipe 🙂

  3. Hey, can you please tell me how to make the frosting if I want to eliminate cream cheese. 
    I just want a perfect choclate frosting recipe that stays firm. 

  4. Hi Natalie I hope you are having a good day, I was wondering if I could substitute the white sugar for brown sugar. If so what type of flavor would that give it and how much do you suppose I add?

    1. Hi Evelyn! Brown sugar tends to add a lot of moisture and denseness to cakes. I would suggest using light brown sugar and maybe only adding 1/2 cup and using granulated sugar for the remaining 1 cup. Is there a particular reason why you want to use all brown sugar?

  5. Hi Natalie thank you for responding, the only reason i was wondering was because many of the other chocolate cupcakes recipes I have been looking at have called for some, and I love that ¨caramel-e¨ taste you get sometimes when putting it in desserts. But if you suggest it it without i´ll do that, you should always trust the experts lol

  6. Hi, I a quick Can you use Hot chocolate, instead of the hot water to maybe give it even MORE chocolate flavor, considering you can never have enough chocolate!

    1. I haven’t tried butter in this recipe, I’d suggest maybe doing half butter, half oil.

  7. Are these bitter from the cocoa? I have been trying to find a go to recipe for chocolate cupcakes but they have all been too bitter for my liking!

    1. Not sure about in you country, but in the cake shops in my country, they have different ranges of cocoa powder…….ranging from light with less richness to really dark with a lot of richness. So maybe if your cocoa powder is very dark, you don’t have to use the exact amount as the recipe states.

      1. You can try Dutch processed cocoa. Dutch-processed cocoa is treated with an alkali to neutralize its acidity. The treatment process smoothes and mellows the cocoa’s flavor and darkens its color.

    1. It would be less, though I don’t have an exact time. I personally haven’t made them mini’s, but maybe 12-15 min. You can always add more time, if you need 🙂

  8. 5 stars
    These cupcakes are gorgeous! I am trying to make mine look as beautiful as your.s. What tip did you use? I saw where you listed your favorite tips but wasn’t sure which one you used. I usually use Wilton tips and only have a few ateco.
    Thank you in advance for your response. 

    1. I think I used the Ateco 829, but really any tips are beautiful verses not using one at all. Good luck!

    1. It does already call for buttermilk & I have not tried adding more, leaving out sour cream. You could use Greek yogurt (1 cup) instead or I found this online…You can use buttermilk instead of sour cream in a baked recipe, but the buttermilk is more liquid. So you’ll need to add butter to get the same body. To replace 1 cup sour cream, beat in -3/4 cup buttermilk and 1/3 cup butter.

  9. 5 stars
    I’ve made these cupcakes three times now and I cannot get over how good they are! This time I was baking pretty late and totally forgot the sour cream, and even when its missing ingredients, it still blows my mind how moist and delicious these cupcakes are!

  10. Hello! So I have made this recipe once before and I loved it! But I’ve been asked to make a two tier wedding cake, a double 8’’ bottom layer and a double 6’’ top. Do I need to make adjustments to the recipe to make it work for cakes instead? Thank you in advance!!! 

    1. Oh, wow…how exciting for you! I have never made these into cakes, so the bake time will be longer for sure & I’m not sure how many times you will need to make the batter. The temp can stay the same. Man, I’m not much help…I don’t want to tell you the wrong thing. It would take some experimenting for me. You’ve got this!

  11. 5 stars
    Fantastic!  I have tried multiple chocolate cupcakes (and they have all been great) but these are the winner!  Thank you!

  12. 5 stars
    I absolutely love chocolate, so you better believe I love these soft, chocolatey cupcakes. The frosting is so smooth & creamy!

  13. What are the recommended brands for cocoa powder?
    The frosting section also references notes but I do not see these. 

  14. Hi, I wanted to know if this recipe could be halved? Or possibly quartered? I’m looking to bake only 4 and this is the best recipe I’ve found thus far just not too sure how to quarter it.

    1. You could half the recipe but because of the ingredient list calling for only 2 eggs it’s usually pretty hard to split an egg in half and still keep the texture that you want in the cupcakes. You could half the recipe and maybe give the extra cupcakes to friends and neighbors?

    1. You sure can. If you do not have espresso powder, use an equal amount of instant coffee powder or granules and they will work fine.

  15. 5 stars
    Super delicious and really easy to make! Highly recommended! Thank you so much for sharing this chocolate cupcakes! Will have this again!

  16. 5 stars
    If you love chocolate, then you will love these cupcakes! They are so moist & the frosting is so smooth & creamy!

  17. 5 stars
    I consider myself a chocoholic and these definitely are the ULTIMATE! So moist and perfectly textured. Loved the rich flavor without being too sweet.

  18. 5 stars
    These cupcakes are AMAZING. I did have to adjust for high altitude but they are freaking awesome. Thanks for the awesome recipe.

  19. Am I missing the NOTES section? Lol. I have scrolled up and down this whole page and have yet to find the NOTES referred to in step 10. Lol. 😬

    1. Hi Beth, thanks for letting us know. It has been added to the Notes section in the recipe card.

  20. I am looking for a dark chocolate cupcake, can I use dark cocoa powder to achieve this?

    1. Hi Patricia, you can use dark cocoa powder, but it won’t taste as chocolatey. You might keep the regular cocoa powder and switch out the semi-sweet chocolate for dark chocolate. Whichever way you go, let us know how it turns out.

  21. 5 stars
    I’ve made these cupcakes before and they are my go to recipe for chocolate cupcakes! They are so light and fluffy and moist! I really wanna make them into a chocolate cake. Would you know about how many cups of batter this makes? Then I can try to figure out whether I need to double or triple or quadruple the recipe for a 8 inch layer cake. Thanks!! Making this tomorrow!!

    1. Hi Lori, thanks for your question. Based on the information from this post: https://handletheheat.com/how-to-convert-cake-into-cupcakes/, you can use the recipe for 18-24 standard cupcakes to make two 8 inch round cake layers. The baking changes from 18 to 22 minutes at 350°F for the standard cupcakes to 30 to 35 minutes at 350°F for the 8-inch round cake.
      So, you can easily make this change on the recipe card, by changing the servings from 16 cupcakes to whatever number you want to use from 18-24 and the recipe will automatically update the amounts of each ingredient. When I changed the servings, it looks like 21 servings might be the best to try as the ingredients are increased to near 2, 1, 1/3 and 2/3 amounts for easy measuring and it is halfway between 18 and 24. Please let us know how it turns out.

  22. 5 stars
    These truly are the ultimate in chocolate cupcakes. I ended up reducing the sugar by a quarter cup and bumping up the flour by a quarter cup, but WOW, they were delicious!❤