Cupcake Series: Classic Chocolate Cupcake


Hello again!

Apparently tomorrow is National Chocolate Cake Day! (I know, right?) So originally, I was planning on sticking with my fancy desserts theme and rolling out a monthly other-desserts-as-cupcakes series, starting out with black forest cupcakes or something else equally delicious and chocolate-y. (Mmm chocolate.)

And then I realized that I haven’t baked cupcakes in…3 years? Eeep.

So instead, I decided to take this opportunity to fully dissect the art of chocolate cupcakes in a scientific-ish sort of way – let’s call it theoretical cupcake-ology (as opposed to experimental cupcake-ology. You’ll see why later.)

I figured since Google basically knows everything about everything, it probably knows something about chocolate cupcakes. So, I started by analyzing the top 5 search results for “best chocolate cupcake recipe” (this one, this one, this one, this one, and this one) and doing a side-by-side comparison of the ingredients list, looking for patterns that would point toward what exactly goes into perfect chocolate cupcake. I also looked over the directions, baking temperatures, and baking times, but there really wasn’t too much of a difference in any of those things.

What I found was that while every recipe is a little bit different in the exact ingredients, the types of ingredients and the ratios of these types remains more or less the same. Which makes sense, since baking is a science, so there’s only so much room for deviation in recipes that actually produce a Google search user-approved moist, fluffy, chocolate-y cupcake. So using the results of my semi-intensive Googling, I have compiled a generic chocolate cupcake recipe that can be tweaked and adapted to your personal tastes.

Chocolate cupcakes: pretty on the outside AND on the inside

The only problem? Technically, I’ve never actually tested most of these combinations. Hence, theoretical, not experimental, cupcake-ology. So while I’m 95% sure that my suggested tweaks and recommendations do, in fact, produce delicious chocolate cupcakes, there is also a slight chance that they produce delicious not-quite-cupcakes instead. So, I’ve also included my favorite combination of these adaptations, which I used for the lovely pictures you see above and below. For those of you in the more adventurous mood however, feel free to experiment to your heart’s desire, and let me know how things go!

So without further ado, customizable chocolate cupcakes and my own favorite recipe, complete with white chocolate ganache frosting and a dark chocolate garnish (because I couldn’t resist fancy-ing it up a little bit (: ). Hope you enjoy!

Happy day before National Chocolate Cake Day,

PS, shout out to snowpocalypse for the 3 day weekend for photogenic cupcaking (:

DIY Recipe Classic Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted from various (see above)
Makes 16 cupcakes


150 g (1 1/4 cup) flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, any variety
1 1/2 tsp baking soda and baking powder in any ratio you’d like*
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, medium or large
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup liquid (water, milk, or buttermilk)
1/2 cup oil or butter, any variety
1 tsp vanilla extract

Other optional additions and adjustments:
1/2 tsp instant coffee (or use strong coffee as your liquid)
1 tbs vinegar (remove 1 tbs liquid)
up to 3 oz chocolate (remove 1/2 tbs oil or butter per 1 oz chocolate)
up to 2 egg yolks (remove 1/2 tsp baking soda/powder mixture per 1 yolk)

*Note: If you choose to use more than 50% baking soda, make sure to have some kind of acid in your recipe (for example, buttermilk or vinegar). Otherwise, your cupcakes will not rise properly!


See below! Omit any ingredients from my recipe that you chose to skip in yours, and add in your ingredients of choice at the same time as any of my substitutes (for example, if you choose to use oil, add it in place of the butter in my recipe).

Anne’s Favorite Classic Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted from various (see above)
Makes 16 cupcakes


150 g (1 1/4 cup) flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 oz bittersweet chocolate
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup + 3 tbs skim milk
1/2 tsp instant coffee
1 tbs vinegar
7 tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

White Chocolate Ganache:
2 cups white chocolate
1 cup whipping cream

Dark Chocolate Garnish:
1 oz dark chocolate



  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F.
  2. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
  3. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or by microwaving in 15 second increments and stirring in between. Set aside to cool slightly.
  4. Dissolve the instant coffee into the milk.
  5. Beat together butter, eggs, yolks, and sugar until sugar is fully dissolved, then add the coffee milk, vinegar, and vanilla extract and continue beating the mixture.
  6. Once the melted chocolate is cool enough to comfortably touch but still warm enough to remain melted, slowly add to the egg mixture while mixing. Continue to beat until well mixed.
  7. Pour the sifted flour mixture into the liquid ingredients. Gently stir in one direction until the ingredients are just combined.
    Tip: Under-mixing is better than over-mixing in this case. A few small (~1/8″ diameter) stray clumps of flour shouldn’t be a problem!
  8. Fill your cupcake liners a little over halfway with cupcake batter. Bake for 16-20 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck into the middle of the cupcake comes out with only a few dry crumbs attached.
  9. Set aside to cool before frosting!

Ganache Frosting:

  1. Add white chocolate and cream into a large bowl. Melt the chocolate mixture in a double boiler or in the microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between. Allow chocolate mixture to cool completely.
  2. Whip the cooled chocolate mixture until it forms stiff peaks.
    Tip: Beat just until sharp, triangular peaks form when you lift the whisk out of the mixture. If your frosting starts getting grainy, it’s overbeaten! To rescue overbeaten frosting, add in 1-2 tbsp cream and whisk lightly until fully incorporated and the surface of the frosting is smooth again.

Chocolate Garnish:

  1. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.
    Tip: Wax paper or lightly greased aluminum foil will do in a pinch!
  2. Melt dark chocolate in the microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between.
  3. Pour chocolate into a sandwich bag and snip off a small corner (about 1 mm from the corner) to form a small hole for piping.
  4. Pipe out any design as desired onto parchment paper.
    Tip: Here’s how to create the one I used for this photoshoot, but don’t be afraid to get creative! Lacy hearts for Valentine’s Day, anyone?

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  5. Pop the baking sheet into the freezer for 5-10 minutes or the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes, or until the chocolate fully hardens.


  1. Load the frosting into a piping bag with a large round tip and pipe in a large spiral from the outside into the center of each cupcake.
    Tip: Remove the cupcakes from their pan before you start frosting! Also, I used a Wilton 2A tip, but any tip that suits your fancy will do.
  2. Dust with a light layer of cocoa powder through a fine mesh sieve.
  3. Top with a garnish and enjoy!
    Tip: Use a pair of tweezers or a small set of tongs to pick up the chocolate garnish! Your design might be too fragile to pick up with your fingers without melting it!



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