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Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

This chocolate cupcake recipe is a basic recipe every baker needs on hand. These ultimate chocolate cupcakes are moist, fluffy and full of flavor you won’t want to miss!

Chocolate cupcake recipe with chocolate buttercream frosting on a cooling rack.

Everyone needs a good chocolate cupcake recipe…. that one you return to time and time again for birthdays, celebrations and the occasional weeknight pick me up. 

This recipe is just that. It is simple, comes together easily and results in moist chocolate cupcakes that are rich and delicious.

There are no special tools, no fancy ingredients. This is just a simple, undeniable, delicious chocolate cupcake. Sometimes that is all you need!

Why Make This Recipe

  1. Classic: When it comes to cupcakes, there are plenty of places to get fancy. But sometimes all you need is a simple chocolate cupcake recipe you can count on. 
  2. Simple: This easy cupcake recipe doesn’t call for any tricky baking science or fancy secret ingredients to create the perfect moist crumb and rich chocolate flavor. You probably have everything you need in your pantry already and you don’t even have to break out the stand mixer.
  3. Make Ahead: This is the best chocolate cupcake recipe to make ahead. Unfrosted you can freeze and store these cupcakes in an airtight container and then top with your favorite chocolate buttercream frosting, vanilla frosting, chocolate ganache or even cream cheese frosting to serve and please all the chocolate lovers in your home!

What Do You Need to Make This Recipe?

Ingredients

Ingredient shot of ingredients needed for this chocolate cupcake recipe
  1. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: Use regular cocoa powder versus dutch-process cocoa powder. Dutched cocoa powder is made through a slightly different process and will add just a bit more weight to your cupcakes.
  2. Boiling Water: The hot water brings out an extra rich flavor in the cocoa powder. It also adds moist texture to the cake without adding any density to the dough. You could substitute fresh hot coffee for an even richer flavor.
  3. Butter: I use unsalted butter so that I can control the amount of salt in the cupcake recipe, but you can also use salted butter if that is all you have on hand. Make sure it is melted but cooled a bit! 
  4. Vegetable Oil: Vegetable oil gives the cupcakes moisture. We are also using melted butter but trust me, the vegetable oil is a necessary ingredient
  5. Vanilla Extract: This recipe uses 1 teaspoon, but measure with your heart 😉 
  6. Milk: I use whole milk or 2%

Tools

  1. Large Bowl
  2. Medium Mixing Bowl
  3. Whisk
  4. Muffin Pan

Chocolate Cupcake Instructions

Step One: Bloom the Chocolate

Pouring water into a large bowl with cocoa powder
a mixing bowl with coco powder and water and a whisk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 24 wells of a muffin pan with paper cupcake liners and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Carefully add the boiling water and whisk until well blended. Set the mixture aside.

Step Two: Mix the Wet Ingredients

a mixing bowl with eggs and sugar and a rubber spatula
mixing bowl with wet ingredients after cocoa powder has been added with a rubber spatula

In a large mixing bowl, combine the granulated sugar, melted butter, vegetable oil, and vanilla.

Using an electric mixer or a whisk, beat in the eggs and egg yolks just until combined.

Then beat in the cocoa mixture and the milk until just combined.

Step Three: Add the Dry Ingredients

Mixing bowl with a rubber spatula with wet ingredients and dry ingredients waiting to be mixed together.

Sift in the flour and stir the batter with a wooden spoon or spatula until the flour is just incorporated.

Step Four: Scoop and Bake

Cupcake pan with raw batter in the liners
cupcake pan with cooked cupcakes in the liners

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling each well to about 2/3 full.

Bake the cupcakes for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely to room temperature.

Chocolate Buttercream Instructions

Mixing bowl with chocolate and powdered sugar to make chocolate buttercream frosting

Step One: Cream the Butter

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until smooth and creamy. 

Step Two: Add the Chocolate

Add the unsweetened cocoa powder, milk, and vanilla extract, then beat until well incorporated.

Mix in the powdered sugar about ½ cup at a time until you reach your desired consistency.

Step Three: Pipe and Serve

Spread or pipe the frosting onto the completely cooled cupcakes.

Expert Tips

3 chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting on a cooling rack
  • Your batter will be thin because of the hot water and that is OK. This allows the cupcakes to rise beautifully and become soft and fluffy rather than thick and dense.
  • Fill your cupcake liners about half way to 2/3. Don’t try to overfill them as this will make your batter overflow and create a strange shape on top.
  • The cupcakes can be frozen (unfrosted) for up to three months.
  • Leftover cupcakes can be kept in an airtight food storage container for up to five days. It’s best to refrigerate them and then bring to room temperature before serving.
  • I love this chocolate buttercream recipe but feel free to make a vanilla buttercream or your own favorite frosting for these cupcakes. Their simplicity leads to versatility and they are the best homemade cupcakes!

Tips for the Best Buttercream

Buttercream can be heavy and overly sugary if not done right. For the best buttercream, really get your butter nice and fluffy before adding anything else. I like to whip it for a minimum of five minutes before adding in the powdered sugar. 

This simple step makes a frosting that is light, fluffy and delicious.

Can I Use This Recipe for Mini Cupcakes?

Yes, you can absolutely use this recipe for mini cupcakes. Simply adjust your cooking time to reflect the smaller cupcake. You may only need to bake for 8-10 minutes.

How to Properly Measure Flour

Front view of chocolate cupcakes piped high with chocolate buttercream frosting. Other cupcakes are cooling behind it.

One of the biggest mistakes people make with baking is using too much flour or too little flour. It can really make a huge difference in the final product!

Too little flour is easy to solve. Make sure you are gathering a full, level scoop. Too much flour is what really frustrates people, but it’s all about proper technique.

To properly measure flour you should always fluff the flour with a fork or even just with your scoop before scooping. Flour should not be packed into your measuring cup. You want it to feel light and fluffy.

Take an extra large scoop of the flour, allowing plenty to rest on the top. Resist the urge to pat the top down or to tap your scoop to make it level. Instead take the backside of a knife and push the excess flour off the top, back into your container. 

This will give you a perfectly level scoop that is light and fluffy, not packed. 

Sifting the flour into your bowl will also help avoid lumps in your batter which can create pockets of flour later on.

Did you enjoy this Chocolate Cupcake Recipe? If so, make sure to check out these other recipes I picked out just for you: 

Chocolate cupcake recipe with chocolate buttercream frosting on a cooling rack.

Chocolate Cupcake Recipe with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

This chocolate cupcake recipe is a basic recipe every baker needs on hand. These ultimate chocolate cupcakes are moist, fluffy and full of flavor you won’t want to miss!
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Course: Dessert
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 24 cupcakes

Equipment

  • Large Bowl
  • Medium Mixing Bowl
  • Whisk
  • Muffin Pan

Ingredients

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs + 2 egg yolks
  • ½ cup milk, whole or 2%
  • 1 ¾ cup all purpose flour

Chocolate Buttercream Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

Cupcake Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 24 wells of a muffin pan with paper cupcake liners and set aside.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Carefully add the boiling water and whisk until well blended. Set the mixture aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the granulated sugar, melted butter, vegetable oil, and vanilla.
  • Using an electric mixer or a whisk, beat in the eggs and egg yolks just until combined.
  • Then beat in the cocoa mixture and the milk until just combined.
  • Sift in the flour and stir the batter with a wooden spoon or spatula until the flour is just incorporated.
  • Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling each well to about 2/3 full.
  • Bake the cupcakes for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely to room temperature.

Chocolate Buttercream Instructions

  • In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until smooth and creamy.
  • Add the unsweetened cocoa powder, milk, and vanilla extract, then beat until well incorporated.
  • Mix in the powdered sugar about ½ cup at a time until you reach your desired consistency.
  • Spread or pipe the frosting onto the completely cooled cupcakes.

Notes

Recipe copyright The Domestic Spoon. For personal and educational use only. 
  1. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: Use regular cocoa powder versus dutch-process cocoa powder. Dutched cocoa powder is made through a slightly different process and will add just a bit more weight to your cupcakes.
  2. Boiling Water: The hot water brings out an extra rich flavor in the cocoa powder. It also adds moist texture to the cake without adding any density to the dough. You could substitute fresh hot coffee for an even richer flavor.
  3. Butter: I use unsalted butter so that I can control the amount of salt in the cupcake recipe, but you can also use salted butter if that is all you have on hand. Make sure it is melted but cooled a bit! 
  4. Vegetable Oil: Vegetable oil gives the cupcakes moisture. We are also using melted butter but trust me, the vegetable oil is a necessary ingredient
  5. Vanilla Extract: This recipe uses 1 teaspoon, but measure with your heart 😉
  6. Milk: I use whole milk or 2%
  7. Your batter will be thin because of the hot water and that is OK. This allows the cupcakes to rise beautifully and become soft and fluffy rather than thick and dense.
  8. Fill your cupcake liners about half way to 2/3. Don’t try to overfill them as this will make your batter overflow and create a strange shape on top.
  9. The cupcakes can be frozen (unfrosted) for up to three months.
  10. Leftover cupcakes can be kept in an airtight food storage container for up to five days. It’s best to refrigerate them and then bring to room temperature before serving.
  11. I love this chocolate buttercream recipe but feel free to make a vanilla buttercream or your own favorite frosting for these cupcakes. Their simplicity leads to versatility and they are the best homemade cupcakes!
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @TheDomesticSpoon or tag #TheDomesticSpoon!

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