The Best Chocolate Cupcakes - Decadent, Moist, and Easy to Bake
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The Best Chocolate Cupcakes

My chocolate cupcakes are moist and light, dome wonderfully, and have an amazing, strong chocolate taste. Most people think that this recipe is better than any cake mix and makes cupcakes that are just as good, if not better, than those at their favorite bakery.

This recipe is flexible and allows for the inclusion of coffee if you like a touch more bitterness (and caffeine) to go along with your sweetness. You can also make the recipe with milk or dark chocolate – the cupcakes come out incredible either way.

These chocolate cupcakes are easy enough to make that a total beginner baker can bake them. They were initially tested by over fifty people with a huge range of baking expertise.


I am so proud of this recipe. Like my vanilla cupcakes, I spent a year developing and testing the recipe; You can read about the testing process at the end of this post.

How to Make These Cupcakes

Best chocolate cupcakeTip: If you’ve never baked a cupcake from scratch before I suggest you take a minute to read my post on how to make cupcakes. It covers many of the basics of cupcake making and offers up help troubleshooting problems you may encounter.

After a year of experimentation, I found that the best chocolate flavor comes from a combination of cocoa powder and melted chocolate. Using just one form of chocolate didn’t yield cupcakes with chocolate perfection.

To begin making the cupcakes, you’ll need to whisk together the dry ingredients: all-purpose flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt.

Sifting is really important when working with cocoa powder as cocoa powder often has lumps and it won’t properly integrate with the other ingredients without sifting.

Sieve with dry ingredients including cocoa powder being siftedMix butter and sugar. Because there is only a little butter in the recipe (it calls for both butter and oil), when you mix the butter and sugar together, it will end up looking like wet sand.

Note: Cupcakes that are made with only only oil lack the flavor that butter provides; without the oil, the cupcakes can end up being too dense.

Butter and sugar mixed in stand mixerMix in the melted chocolate. The easiest way to melt chocolate is to use the microwave. Break or chop the chocolate into small pieces and put it into a microwave-safe bowl. Then, microwave in 20 second bursts, stirring after each burst, until all of the chocolate is melted.

Adding melted chocolate to chocolate cupcake batterMix in eggs and egg yolks one at a time. Adding the extra yolks gives the recipes a little more moisture and fat content.

Adding eggs to chocolate cupcake batterMix in sour cream and oil. The sour cream gives the cupcakes a subtle tang that enhances their flavor while also adding more dairy/fat to the recipe.

Adding sour cream to chocolate cupcake batterMix in the dry ingredients in three additions. Be sure to mix only until just combined. Over-mixing can cause the cupcakes to become gummy.

Mixing in dry ingredients to chocolate cupcake batterMix in water or brewed coffee. Perfect cupcake batter should be runny. Adding more liquid to the recipe gets it to the correct consistency.

Many people insist that coffee enhances the flavor of these cupcakes. These folks say that you can’t taste the coffee in the cupcakes; I often can, and the chocolate itself has enough caffeine for me. So, I wrote the recipe with a choice. You make the call, coffee or not.

adding water to chocolate cupcake batter
Fill cupcake liners and bake. I find that using an ice cream scoop / disher is the best way to fill cupcake liners.

Chocolate Cupcake Recipe
You’ll know that the chocolate cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out dry and the tops bounce back when lightly touched.

Best Frostings to Use on Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate cream cheese frosting being piped onto a chocolate cupcake

You can frost these cupcakes with any frosting that you choose. For the full chocolate experience, I suggest frosting with chocolate buttercream, chocolate cream cheese frosting, chocolate mousse frosting, or chocolate ganache.

If chocolate on chocolate sounds like too much for you, I strongly recommend my vanilla frosting or peanut butter frosting (chocolate and peanut butter are so good together!). And I don’t think you could go wrong with my fluffy and irresistible tiramisu frosting or toasting my marshmallow frosting on top, either.

For something unique, combine your favorite frosting with these cupcakes to make cake truffles or cake pops!

Tips for Making These Cupcakes

Two chocolate cupcakes on a white background

  • Using different cocoa powders will alter the taste of the cupcakes, but you really can’t go wrong – it’s all chocolate!
  • The chocolate in these cupcakes doesn’t have to be one typically earmarked for baking – any chocolate, bar, chips, or discs that don’t contain mix-ins (like nuts, Rice Krispies, nougat, etc.) will work. This way, you can choose whatever type of chocolate you prefer to eat: milk, dark, or even flavored chocolate bars. I typically opt for dark chocolate, but love making them with milk chocolate for my German chocolate cupcakes.
    • I and Cupcake Project readers have tested this with so many different kinds of chocolate with amazing results. When I make these for a special occasion and want something fancy, I reach for chocolate with less sugar and a more complex flavor. A melted Patric Chocolate bar yielded my favorite version of these cupcakes to date. I also enjoy TCHO, Scharffen Berger, and Lily’s sugar-free chocolate.
  • If you don’t have sour cream in the house, I’ve done extensive testing and found that yogurt works perfectly as a substitute for sour cream.
  • Use any mild vegetable oil.
    • I’ve used canola oil, generic vegetable oil, and safflower oil. While I love using flavored oils in baking, keep in mind that they will change the flavor of these cupcakes. Experiment with using non-neutral oils and try baking these cupcakes with pistachio oil, for example, to get a totally different taste.
  • You can make this recipe as a cake. Increase the baking time if you plan to bake it as a cake.

Chocolate Cupcake Variations

Not that this chocolate cupcake could get any better, but if you want to switch things up, you can try these variations:

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Two chocolate cupcakes on a white background
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4.62 from 277 votes

Best Chocolate Cupcakes

This is the best chocolate cupcake you will ever eat!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword best chocolate cupcakes, chocolate cupcake recipe
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 33 minutes
Servings 16 cupcakes
Calories 218kcal
Author Stef

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder natural or Dutched will both work with this recipe
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 ounces chocolate Choose your favorite. You can use any chocolate that you like except white chocolate or candy melts. The chocolate doesn't have to be one typically earmarked for baking - any chocolate bar that doesn't contain mix-ins like nuts, Rice Krispies, nougat, etc. will work.
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks room temperature
  • 9 tablespoons vegetable oil This is the same as 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon - measure in a liquid measuring cup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup full-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup water room temperature, measured in a liquid measuring cup

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder into a separate medium-sized bowl. Use a fork or a whisk to ensure that the ingredients are mixed well after sifting. Set aside.
  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix butter and sugar until fully combined. The end result should look like wet sand.
  • Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler.
  • Once the melted chocolate is cool enough to touch, add it to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until just combined.
  • Mix in eggs and egg yolks one at a time until just combined.
  • Mix in oil, vanilla, and sour cream until just combined.
  • Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in three additions, mixing until just combined after each addition.
  • Mix in water until just combined.
  • Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and put in the oven.
  • Check for doneness at 18 minutes - a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake should come out clean. If they are not done, check again every three minutes until they are done.
  • Immediately remove cupcakes from the cupcake tin and place on a cooling rack or on the counter to cool to room temperature. Although they are really good when they are hot, be sure to wait until they are room temperature to give your evaluation.

Video

Notes

  • If you would like to add coffee to the recipe, either add 1 teaspoon espresso powder or instant coffee granules along with the sifted dry ingredients, or replace the water with room temperature brewed coffee.
  • Using different cocoa powders will alter the taste of the cupcakes, but you really can't go wrong - it's all chocolate!
  • The chocolate in these cupcakes doesn't have to be one typically earmarked for baking - any chocolate, bar, chips, or discs that don't contain mix-ins (like nuts, Rice Krispies, nougat, etc.) will work. This way, you can choose whatever type of chocolate you prefer to eat: milk, dark, or even flavored chocolate bars.
    • I and Cupcake Project readers have tested this with so many different kinds of chocolate with amazing results. When I make these for a special occasion and want something fancy, I reach for chocolate with less sugar and a more complex flavor. A melted Patric Chocolate bar yielded my favorite version of these cupcakes to date. I also enjoy TCHO, Scharffen Berger, and Lily's sugar-free chocolate.
  • If you don’t have sour cream in the house, I’ve done extensive testing and found that yogurt works perfectly as a substitute for sour cream.
  • For making these cupcakes, use any mild vegetable oil.
    • I’ve used canola oil, generic vegetable oil, and safflower oil. While I love using flavored oils in baking, keep in mind that they will change the flavor of these cupcakes. You can experiment with using non-neutral oils and try baking these cupcakes with pistachio oil, for example, to get a totally different taste.
  • You can make this recipe as a cake. You will just need to increase the baking time.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Best Chocolate Cupcakes
Amount Per Serving
Calories 218 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 9g45%
Cholesterol 54mg18%
Sodium 121mg5%
Potassium 76mg2%
Carbohydrates 22g7%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 14g16%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 180IU4%
Calcium 18mg2%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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The best chocolate cupcake recipe is so easy to make!  This cupcake is moist, super chocolatey, and test baked by over fifty people. You may have just found you sweet soulmate that is also perfect for kids! Save this pin for later!
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