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Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting

5 from 1 vote

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting are a fabulous dessert, special occasion treat or birthday surprise. Based off my Classic Chocolate Cake recipe and made with simple pantry ingredients, you will fall in love with this recipe. Need a really good vanilla cupcake recipe? My Vanilla Cupcakes are superb!

chocolate-cupcakes-with-vanilla-frosting on plate

Helpful Tips For Baking Chocolate Cupcakes

After a few failed attempts over the years of making cupcakes, I have come to know a few tricks for success.

  • Use room temperature ingredients. Believe it or not, using butter, eggs, egg whites, and milk all at room temperature yields you a smoother, better-incorporated cake batter and thus better cupcakes.
  • Do not over-bake. Moist chocolate cupcakes come with just the right amount of time in the oven. Start checking for doneness after 10 minutes and then go from there. Every oven is different (some run hotter than others) so be sure you are checking your cupcakes for doneness every few minutes once you’re getting close to them being completely baked.
  • Cool completely before frosting. Frosting is primarily made up of butter and the butter will melt if your cupcakes are not cooled completely. Be patient, you can do this!

Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder Versus All the Others

I have found the best cocoa that will give you the best chocolatey flavor is Dutch Process Cocoa Powder. Regular unsweetened cocoa powder is a little more acidic while Dutch processed is neutral. This just has to do with the way the cocoa beans are processed. While both kinds of cocoa powder will definitely work in this recipe, I like the Dutch-Process best. Ghirardelli has a great Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder that I’ve been using and it is fabulous. I would highly recommend it.

chocolate-cupcakes-with-vanilla-frosting with cocoa powder

How To Make Chocolate Cupcakes

Ordinary pantry staples come together to create these chocolate cupcakes! For full recipe details and ingredient measurements, see the printable recipe card down below.

Preheat Oven + Prep Muffin Tins

Preheat oven. Line 32 muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.

Make the Batter

In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together to combine. Set aside. In a liquid measuring cup, stir buttermilk, vanilla and instant coffee granules (if using) together. Set aside.

In a separate large bowl, mix oil and sugar together until combined. Mix in eggs and egg white, one at a time, until mixture becomes lighter in color, about 90 seconds.

Alternate adding in flour mixture with milk mixture, starting and ending with flour. Scrape the sides and mix again to ensure a smooth batter.

Bake and Cool

Using an ice cream scoop, fill muffin tins 2/3 of the way full with batter.

Bake in the lower 2/3 of the oven. Cupcakes will be done when a toothpick comes out clean or mostly clean with a few moist crumbs. Cool a couple of minutes in pans before trying to remove and transfer to cooling racks. Cool completely before frosting.

chocolate-cupcakes-with-vanilla-frosting on round wire rack

How to Make Vanilla Frosting

In a large bowl, measure and add butter, powdered sugar, salt and vanilla. Stir with beaters on low (or paddle attachment on stand mixer) to mix and break up the butter. It will still be very powdery and dry. Slowly add in the heavy cream. Once you notice the frosting start to come together stop adding the cream. You may need to add more than the amount listed. This is also normal. Increase mixer speed to medium to get rid of any lumps and create a smooth frosting. Scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl and mix again to ensure a completely smooth frosting.

Vanilla frosting will be done when it can hold its shape, but you can easily move a butter knife through it. If it’s too thick, add more cream and mix. If you’ve added too much cream and the frosting is too soft, add more powdered sugar. If you notice there are a lot of air bubbles in your frosting, use a large wooden spoon to beat a lot of the air out of the frosting by hand.

A Note About Heavy Cream

You can substitute milk for heavy cream in the frosting recipe. Start with half the amount and slowly add more in as needed until it reaches the desired consistency.

Make Ahead

The best thing about making this chocolate cupcake recipe (and really any baked cake) is they store beautifully if you make them ahead! Here are a few storage options:

Storing Cupcakes at Room Temperature

Once your cupcakes have been baked and cooled, put them in an airtight container and store at room temperature overnight. Prepare the frosting then cover and store in the fridge overnight as well. When you are ready to assemble and decorate, set the frosting out at room temperature to soften for about 30-45 minutes. Give it a quick mix to loosen it up in your mixer for about a minute, then frost away! (You may have to add a splash of heavy cream or milk to bring it back to life.)

Freezing Cupcakes

Yes, you can freeze even frosted cupcakes! Avoid adding any decorations or sprinkles until ready to serve. Use a container that is airtight, and big enough to not smoosh the tops of the cupcakes. Place them in the freezer for 2 hours. This time will allow the frosting to freeze. At this point, pull them out and quickly wrap each cupcake individually in plastic wrap and place back into the airtight container. Doing so will help retain the shape and moisture in the cupcake. Cupcakes will stay fresh in the freezer for about 1 month.

To Thaw: Remove from freezer, and gently unwrap plastic wrap from each cupcake. Place back in the airtight container with the lid on and allow to thaw at room temperature for a couple hours before serving.

chocolate-cupcakes-with-vanilla-frosting with bite taken out

More Cupcake Recipes to Try!

The printable recipe card is below. Be sure to save/print/bookmark or share this recipe! Have a great day, friends! 🙂

5 from 1 vote

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting

These Chocolate Cupcakes with easy Vanilla Frosting are a fabulous dessert, special occasion treat or birthday surprise. Made with simple pantry ingredients, you will fall in love with this recipe.
servings 32 cupcakes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 40 mins

Ingredients

For the Chocolate Cupcakes:

For the Vanilla Frosting:

  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cup heavy cream* or more, as needed (see notes about substituting milk below)

Instructions

For the Chocolate Cupcakes:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 32 muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together to combine. Set aside. In a liquid measuring cup, stir buttermilk, vanilla and instant coffee granules (if using) together. Set aside.
  • In a separate large bowl, mix oil and sugar together until combined. Mix in eggs and egg white, one at a time, until mixture becomes lighter in color, about 90 seconds.
  • Alternate adding in flour mixture with milk mixture, starting and ending with flour. Scrape the sides and mix again to ensure a smooth batter.
  • Using an ice cream scoop, fill tins 2/3 of the way full with batter.
    Bake 15-22 minutes in the lower 2/3 of the oven. Cupcakes will be done when a toothpick comes out clean or mostly clean with a few moist crumbs. Cool 5-10 minutes in pans before trying to remove and transfer to cooling racks. Cool completely before frosting.

For the Vanilla Frosting:

  • In a large bowl, measure and add butter, powdered sugar, salt and vanilla. Stir with beaters on low (or paddle attachment on stand mixer) to mix and break up the butter. It will still be very powdery and dry. Slowly add in the heavy cream. Once you notice the frosting start to come together stop adding the cream. You may need to add more than the amount listed. This is also normal. Increase mixer speed to medium to get rid of any lumps and create a smooth frosting. Scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl and mix again to ensure a completely smooth frosting.
  • Vanilla frosting will be done when it can hold its shape, but you can easily move a butter knife through it. If it's too thick, add more cream and mix. If you've added too much cream and the frosting is too soft, add more powdered sugar. If you notice there are a lot of air bubbles in your frosting, use a large wooden spoon to beat a lot of the air out of the frosting by hand.

Notes

*You can substitute milk for heavy cream in the frosting recipe. Start with half the amount and slowly add more in as needed until it reaches the desired consistency.

Nutrition

Calories: 252kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 177mg | Potassium: 102mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 247IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chocolate cupcake recipe, chocolate cupcakes, vanilla frosting

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10 Responses
  1. Maren

    I can’t even count how many times I have made this recipe
    (as mini cupcakes, cupcakes, and layer cakes) over the past 5 years. It’s my go-to chocolate cake and vanilla frosting recipe because it always comes out perfect and it always gets rave reviews. I make the frosting with vanilla bean paste and I’ve discovered that adding cocoa powder makes a delicious chocolate frosting. Thank you for this recipe!

    For those looking for the updated link, it is here: http://blog.caitlinwilson.com/cwd-contributor-new-years-eve-recipe/

  2. Karen

    Everything in moderation….these fit the bill. Lucky you having a personal trainer. The chocolate in these should help your sore muscles heal!

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