These chocolate cupcakes are moist, fudge-y, velvety and a chocolate lover’s dream. They’re some of the best chocolate cupcakes I’ve ever had.
Dear baking world,
You can learn a lot about someone if you put a plate of vanilla cupcakes and chocolate cupcakes in front of them and see which they go for. Actually, I have no idea what it says about a person except they will eat a cupcake, which is good. See, if you put both chocolate and vanilla in front of me, I would hover my hand over one, then switch to the other and then go back and forth before my head exploded and I never got to eat a cupcake in the first place. But really.
So what’s my idea of an ideal chocolate cupcake? I love when a chocolate cupcake is so moist it’s almost shiny. I love when they’re tender but firm, velvety but dense. I love when the cupcake can easily hold up a stack of frosting six inches high.
My first idea was to edit my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe into an equally delicious chocolate cupcake recipe. The result was, well, interesting. It more resembled a Mexican hot chocolate cupcake than a good ole Devil’s food. It was also too fluffy. I wanted more dense, so I dumped those into the trash.
Naturally, after this first failure, I asked the Lord of the Web (Google) what the Best Chocolate Cake was. “The Best Chocolate Cake” yielded link after link with an extremely similar cake: some fresh brewed coffee or boiling water/espresso powder and lots of unsweetened cocoa powder. Each recipe was almost identical, with slight variations in the amount of flour, sugar and baking soda and baking powder. All I had to do was decide how I wanted my cupcake to taste, work some magic/science and voila! So, here’s what I did:
I used all-purpose flour. Why? Ever since I started baking cakes with cake flour, I never thought I would go back, but boy have I changed my mind. The first round of cupcakes were delicious but too delicate. I guessed that because cocoa powder acts as a replacement for some of the flour, this made the cupcake more delicate. In order to offset the cocoa powder, all-purpose flour would yield a more sturdy cupcake. I was right. The third batch, when I used all-purpose flour instead of cake flour, was sturdier with the same delicious chocolate taste.
I wanted to up the chocolate factor so I increased the amount of unsweetened cocoa powder to a cup.
A MAJOR NOTE ON COCOA POWDER: The first day I made my recipe, I used Hershey’s Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. The cupcakes were extremely chocolatey and delicious. The second day I made my recipe, I used Nestle Cocoa Powder. These cupcakes were not nearly as chocolatey. They were almost lackluster. What cocoa powder you use makes a big difference. In fact, America’s Test Kitchen chose Hershey’s as the best cocoa powder out there; during their test, it fared even better than Dutch Processed cocoas.
In order to compensate for the extra powder and also increase the tenderness and moistness, I added an egg yolk. (You can never go wrong with adding an egg yolk because it increases the moisture of the recipe.)(My roommate remarked that they had the “best moisture in any cupcake you’ve made.”)
In order to up the moist factor even more, I substituted all of the white sugar for brown sugar. Brown sugar has a higher moisture content and thus would yield a more moist final product.
I added a teaspoon of espresso powder to get that little extra kick of something-something. If you don’t have espresso powder, substitute the espresso powder AND the boiling water for a half cup of freshly brewed, strong coffee. You will have the same moisture addition. (You will NOT be able to taste the coffee.)
And of course, last but not least, I chose to use buttermilk instead of regular milk because everyone knows that I’m having a love affair with buttermilk and I don’t care what anybody thinks.
The result after the first bite?
Evil laughter. Yes, it was one of THOSE moments. This cupcake is damn delicious. It’s fudge-y and dense and moist and oh-so-melt-in-your-mouth perfect. One word: wow. So delicious.
A few hints for making cupcakes:
- Eggs must be at room temperature or they will not incorporate into the batter
- While they are baking, check them around 11 minutes with a toothpick. It’s very, very easy to over-bake chocolate cupcakes because you can’t see browning. This is why chocolate cupcakes are frequently dry. These bake much quicker than you anticipate, so like I said, check around 11 minutes. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cupcakes are done.
- Under fill, don’t over-fill, the cupcake liners. I am frequently guilty of over-filling cupcake liners and then I have cupcake baked all over my cupcake pan. My rule of thumb is to fill them slightly less than what I want to. They will dome much nicer. Oh, these cupcakes have a beautiful, stunning dome.
And the frosting. Oh my goodness! A few weeks back, I saw this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction and it was instant drool town. I decided that Oreos would be more up my alley, but I added some crushed up Oreos and enjoyed. This frosting is very flexible, so put in as much or as little mint as you want. I prefer more, but then again, I was raised on mint.
Enjoy these cupcakes as much as I did! You won’t go back to your boring old box mix.
P.S. the picture below this are cupcakes frosted by my beautiful fellow tour guides, Gina and Monica. They did a beautiful job. ❤
P.S.S. (or second P.S.) I am fourth on Google for best vanilla cupcake! It was one of those moments where I realized this blogging thing is working in my favor. OMG!
- Chocolate cupcakes:
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 egg yolks, room temperature
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
- 1/4 cup chocolate chips (any kind, baking chocolate works too)
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter
- 4 cups of powdered sugar
- 3 Tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoons mint
- 2 drops green food coloring
- 12 crushed Oreos
- Chocolate cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set out eggs so they reach room temperature.
- In a bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder. Make sure the cocoa powder is dispersed evenly throughout the mixture.
- Add the oil. Mix until fully incorporated.
- Add each egg to the batter. Then finally the egg yolk. Make sure you add the eggs separately. Mix until smooth, about thirty seconds. Do not over mix or the cake will be tough.
- Slowly add the milk until fully incorporated.
- Meanwhile, bring 1 cup of water to a boil; melt in the chocolate chips and espresso powder. Add to the mixture.
- Mix the batter for 1 minute/until smooth.
- Split the batter evenly between the cups. I filled them about 2/3 full.
- Bake for 11-15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. (Check around 10 minutes.)
- Cream together the butter, sugar and milk. Whip for a minute until fluffy. Add mint, food coloring and Oreos. Continue adding mint and food coloring until at desired flavor and texture.