If you’ve been searching for the ultimate chocolate cupcake recipe… look no further. These moist chocolate cupcakes are topped with the most divine chocolate frosting you’ve ever had!
Chocolate on chocolate on chocolate, what could be better? These cupcakes will be your new go-to: ultra moist and topped with a cloud-like chocolate buttercream. Don’t forget the chocolate sprinkles!
I’ve gotten a number of questions and comments on my ultimate chocolate cake recipe about whether it’d work for cupcakes.
Normally cake recipes can be scaled down to cupcake-size pretty easily, and this recipe is no exception. Still, they turned out so fabulous that I figured they more than deserved their own post!
The recipe isn’t exactly halved, I tweaked a few proportions just to make a slightly thicker batter that’d be easier to scoop into cupcake papers (although the batter is still quite thin compared to a lot of recipes). It’ll still rise beautifully in the oven, with a gentle dome that’s perfect for frosting.
The only other change I made was to use hot coffee in place of the hot water (I often add a bit of espresso powder to chocolate cakes to intensify the richness of the chocolate flavor; the coffee here serves the same purpose). That said, you can certainly use water instead.
These cupcakes are nothing short of incredible, and I’ll reiterate that this frosting is absolutely divine.
I called it chocolate fudge frosting in the original recipe, but chocolate cloud frosting or chocolate silk frosting are probably more appropriate monikers (it’s so light and creamy it’s ridiculous!)
As with most chocolate recipes, the quality of your cocoa matters. For these I used my favorite Cacao Barry Extra Brute, with a tablespoon or two of Guittard black noir cocoa to darken the color and deepen the flavor (but please, do not use all black cocoa – you’ll end up with a dry, bitter cake that’s less than ideal).
Let’s talk about this frosting though. It starts out like an American buttercream, with butter, powdered sugar and cocoa powder. But then you add sour cream and, get this, hot water, followed by some melted and cooled dark chocolate. It does get a bit dicey when you add the sour cream and water, but surprisingly comes together after a minute or two of high speed mixing. Like magic, basically.
The result is an incredibly rich, yet surprisingly light and silky smooth chocolate buttercream with an amazing chocolate flavor and perfect balance of sweetness. It’s quite possibly my favorite frosting I’ve ever made.
I have had a few comments from folks who had issues with the frosting, namely that it turned out “soupy”. I’ve tried to replicate this issue and I cannot—every time I make it it comes together beautifully. My best guess is it’s a temperature issue—it’s important to use room temperature ingredients, namely the butter and the sour cream; also the melted chocolate should be cooled to under 80 degrees before you add it to the frosting (although it seems counter intuitive since you are also adding hot water, but it’s very possible that room temperature ingredients make for a better ’emulsion’ once the water is added, that’s my theory at least).
When a recipe calls for room temperature ingredients, I’ll often stick my digital thermometer right in the stick of butter (this works for sour cream, also eggs if a recipe calls for room temperature there too). Ideally you’re looking for 68-72 degrees F, and a consistent temperature across all your ingredients (especially when creaming together liquid and fat ingredients). Get in the habit of taking your ingredients out of the fridge an hour or so before baking to let them fully come to room temperature before you begin.
If you find that your frosting is a bit too soft to pipe, you can first try adding a bit more (sifted!) powdered sugar to thicken it up. You can also try briefly chilling it to bring the temperature down. This frosting will firm up significantly at cool temperatures (which is why I don’t recommend refrigerating the final frosted cupcakes since the frosting sets up like a ganache essentially).
I decorated my cupcakes simply, reinforcing the already triple dose of chocolate with even more chocolate, including a border of chocolate sprinkles (hold the cupcake at an angle, and use a small spoon to gently adhere the sprinkles to the base of the piped frosting) as well as some chocolate twigs I picked up recently and have been waiting for an occasion to use!
I used a jumbo round tip to pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. Hold the tip of the frosting low, and don’t lift it too quickly as you squeeze out the frosting. Also, if you’re using a round tip like this, don’t swirl it, or your cupcakes might end up looking more like 💩.
The cupcakes and especially the frosting are best enjoyed at room temperature, when the frosting is divinely smooth, not unlike a dark chocolate cloud. For that reason, I don’t recommend refrigerating these cupcakes unless you absolutely have to (and if you do, they’ll still taste great, the frosting will just be firmer, more like a light ganache). My cupcakes kept perfectly fine at cool room temperature (stored in a cake carrier or other airtight container) for 4-5 days.
Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes with Fudge Frosting
These ultra moist chocolate cupcakes are topped with a cloud-like chocolate buttercream that will easily become your new favorite chocolate frosting.
- 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
- 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (60 grams) dark or dutch-processed cocoa powder (I used mostly Dutch processed, except 1 tablespoon black cocoa for color – do not use all black cocoa).
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 3 tablespoons hot brewed coffee (or use plain hot water)
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil or light olive oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For Fudge Frosting:
- 1 cups (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/4 cups (150g) powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/2 cup (60g) dark or Dutch processed cocoa powder (I used 2 tablespoons black cocoa and Dutch-processed for the rest), sifted
- 1/4 cup full fat sour cream, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons hot water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch fine sea salt
- 5 ounces dark chocolate (60-70%), melted and cooled to lukewarm
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a 12-cup capacity muffin tin with cupcake liners and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt, whisking until thoroughly combined. Add eggs, buttermilk, water, oil, and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until all dry ingredients are incorporated. Scoop about 3 tablespoons (a large cookie scoop is the perfect size) into each cupcake tin, filling them no more than 2/3 full.
- Bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack until completely cooled (do not try to frost still-warm cupcakes… trust me!)
- To prepare frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until very pale and creamy, about 5 minutes. Add sifted powdered sugar and cocoa powder and mix to combine. Add sour cream, hot water, vanilla and salt and mix on low speed until the liquid is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. It may look slightly curdled at this point, but don’t worry. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until smooth, another 2-3 minutes. Add lukewarm chocolate and mix until smooth and glossy.
- Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Store at cool room temperature (refrigerating will cause frosting to harden).
Frosting adapted from Sweetapolita.All images and text © Lindsay Landis / Love & Olive Oil
Did you make this recipe?
Let us know what you think!
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The Chocolate Frosting is amazing holds its shape well and very pipable.
If I omitted the cocoa powder and melted chocolate could I make this into a vanilla frosting by adding vanilla bean paste.
No, the chocolate and cocoa make up the bulk of the frosting. Leaving them out would not have the same result. You’d be better off with a plain buttercream recipe, something like the frosting on this cake: https://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2023/01/blackberry-red-wine-chocolate-cake.html.
I just made these and they are great! Just what I was looking for – simple but with a nice chocolate flavor. I used blood orange olive oil that I had and reduced the sugar just a little and the texture is still nice and tender. They are quick to make and don’t last long once they are out of the oven. Thank you, these will quickly become a favorite.
So glad you enjoyed! I love the idea of using a flavored olive oil here, sounds delicious!
The cup cakes look delicious. I’m confused about your cup sizing in that 1 cup equals different measurements in the recipe. I thought 1 cup would relate to a specific weight throughout the recipe.
The weight depends on what you are measuring, for example 1 cup water weights more than 1 cup flour. If you want to read more about baking by weight check out this post: https://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2020/01/weight-vs-volume-measurements-in-baking-and-the-best-way-to-measure-flour.html
I made these for a family get together and everyone LOVED them. Comments I heard were “the best cupcake I’ve ever eaten in my life” and “If this is a chocolate cupcake, I don’t think I’ve ever had a real one before.”
I used hot water instead of coffee but then added 1 tsp of espresso powder.
These will now be my go-to chocolate cupcakes. The frosting turned out just as pictured.
I’m Jackson, I’m a chef who loves food, I’m always interested in new foods. Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Cloud Frosting is great! I just finished them tonight, taste is great and i had a great dinner with my little family. Thanks for your sharing.
These are in the oven right now, and they are totally sunken in the middle. I’ll give them another minute or two, but I’m not hopeful. The recipe was followed exactly, and my oven is calibrated correctly. Not sure what went wrong!
Expired baking powder/soda, perhaps? Overmixing, or filling the liners too full can also cause this sometimes. If the cupcakes rose first and then sunk, that usually means the oven was likely too hot. But if they never rose at all, it’s probably one of the other reasons.
Good news is… sunken cupcakes are still delicious. Just make extra frosting, or you could even fill them with something delicious like ganache or caramel!
Hi Lindsay! Just wanted to say that these sank for me, too – first time trying this recipe. I made them the same day as other cupcakes (lemon) which came out great. The oven was off and cool before I preheated it for these, and my ingredients were fresh.
The good news is, they still tasted great and weren’t undercooked/gummy or anything! And like you said, the “well” was perfect for extra frosting. :) As an experienced baker, I really liked the simplicity of this recipe and the “reverse” methodology. Will try again in the (near) future!
I made this today and just realized I put in 1.5 tsp of bp, but no bs (I had the bp in two different containers). The rise seems fine. Can you think of any other issues I might have?
Give it a taste, but the quantities are so small you’re probably ok. Powder is less strong per tsp since it also contains acidic ingredients, so the final acidity of the cupcakes will be affected slightly.
In the frosting recipe, the recipe says 1/2 cup cocoa powder tablespoons.. is this a typo?
1/2 cup is the correct measurement!
Frosting is good, but I wouldn’t say it’s the best I’ve ever tried
sorry my previous comment was posted for the wrong website!!
I tried this frosting and it is actuallly very delicious :) very good frosting!!
you can delete my previous comment
Love this recipe, it is easy and so tasty!!! I just finished it last night and the result was unexpected, my wife and daughter both liked it, which made me happy. Thanks for your recipe
Taught my g-daughter this recipe to teach her how to read a recipe and cook it. Came out delicious.
This is one of the best recipes I’ve ever prepared for chocolate cupcakes. The cupcakes were rich and intensely chocolate in flavor and incredibly moist. I doubled the recipe so I could give them as gifts to friends and neighbors around Christmas. I made a cream cheese/buttercream frosting so I could sprinkle them with holiday-colored jimmies and decorator’s sugars. They were absolutely perfect. This is now my go-to recipe for chocolate cupcakes. Thank you. :-)
Taught my g-daughter this recipe to teach her how to read a recipe and cook it. Came out delicious.
Thank you, Lindsay!
Woah..! Looking so pretty..! Yeah… I love your blog. So amazingly written. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful article. I definitely try this at home. I really loved it. Thanks for sharing. I hope to hear more interesting topics from you. Keep sharing..!
Looks great! The recipe is quite simple and easy to prepare, added to the menu for this weekend. hope to enjoy the best chocolate cupcake with my family. Thanks and have a nice day!
Oh! I love it. Yesterday I made it for my child and she enjoyed a lot. Hope to get more delicious food tips in future.
Good morning! I’m making these cupcakes this weekend for my sons’ birthday. For the frosting, the melted chocolate you say to use should be between 60-70% dark. Any recommendations on brand?
At this point whatever you can find! :) I personally always have a big bar of Trader Joe’s pound plus on hand just because it is great quality for the price. I also like Cacao Barry and Callebaut callets and Valrhona feves because you don’t have to chop them.
Love your recipes ..
Where I live sour cream is not easily available what’s the best substitute for the frosting
In that case I’d recommend seeking out a different frosting recipe, maybe something more like the fudge frosting here: https://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2013/03/lemon-layer-cake-with-chocolate-fudge-frosting.html
Love how moist and delicious they look, and especially love the name of the frosting!
This recipe looks delicious, im going to try this soon. ive been looking for a moist cupcake recipe.
Love how deep in color the cake part came out, it looks divine! Do you have a link to the black cocoa powder you used? i tried looking for it but couldnt find black cocoa powder by Callebaut. thanks!
Sorry, I misspoke, it’s actually Guittard Cacao Noir! It’s this giant bucket here: https://www.chocosphere.com/default/brand/d-i/guittard/cacao-noir-cocoa-powder-5lb-bucket.html (because everyone needs a 5lb bucket of cocoa, right?? lol)
Can this be quadruple to make 48 cupcakes?
Yes, you can definitely scale this recipe up or down. :)
These are insanely good. I just finished making them, already my kids want me to make some more!
How many cupcakes does this make?
These cupcakes look amazing! Can I omit the black cocoa completely?
Yes, you can use all Dutch process cocoa if you’d like, your cupcakes just won’t be quite as dark in color.
Hi. Do you happen to have the actual measurments in grams or oz for making these cakes?
The recipe includes gram measurements for all the dry ingredients already. :)
How long would you bake this if you made a sheet cake instead of cupcakes?
Here’s the same recipe in layer cake form: https://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2018/02/chocolate-cake-fudge-frosting.html written using 2 8-inch round pans. I haven’t tried it personally but it should be about equal to a 9×13 pan (keep an eye on it as it bakes).
I love chocolate cupcakes! These look amazing!
oh yum. i love chocolate and i adore frosting. i always think that cake and frosting should be equal amounts :-) cheers sherry
Hello! :) Your recipe looks lovely! Question- what is the reason as to why you add the hot water to the frosting?
Magic? lol. Just part of the reason this frosting is so amazing!
With having a dairy allergy, what can be used in place of the sour cream in the icing?
I have not tested to see whether this would work with a dairy free sour cream alternative, so I can’t say whether it would work or not. You might be better off with more of an American-style buttercream where you can easily swap vegan butter. I think this frosting recipe would work well with dairy alternatives: https://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2013/03/lemon-layer-cake-with-chocolate-fudge-frosting.html