The Best EASY Chocolate Cupcakes are moist, have a tender crumb, are deeply chocolatey and made without an electric beater. No waiting for butter to soften, no creaming, the batter is simple and quick to make. These are the cupcakes I make most often – with good reason!
Using the term “BEST” is not something I do lightly. I do feel a bit uncomfortable saying that these are the BEST Easy Chocolate Cupcakes. But in the cupcake world, I truly do believe these to be the best that can be for a simple no-standmixer, no creaming butter recipe.
I was back and forth about which cupcake recipe to share. I was tempted to go for a “100% perfect” version which requires a stand mixer / electric beater to cream butter. And I wanted to be able to talk to you about how perfect they are.
But you know what? The Perfect version is not the one I make the most. This Easy version is. It’s my “go to”, the one I can make right now, without waiting for butter to soften, without pulling out my hand beater. And the difference between this Easy version and the Perfect version is so insignificant, I don’t care.
And so it was settled. I went for the Easy version. 🙂
WHERE THIS FALLS SHORT (and why I don’t care!)
A perfect chocolate cupcake should have:
- A tender crumb that is soft, not crumbly. Like Red Velvet Cake – it should be “velvety”;
- Be moist;
- Actually taste of chocolate (unfortunate many lack this!);
- While delicate, it should still be sturdy enough to support a generous pile of frosting (just in case!); and
- Have a very slight dome with a soft (not crusty), blemish free surface.
This EASY Chocolate Cupcake recipe ticks all the boxes except #5. The Perfect version I use is….well, it’s perfect. The dome is slight, it’s always even, and it’s smooth and blemish free.
Whereas this one is blemished. In the photos below, see how there are minor cracks? And the dome is slightly higher than it should be.
And I don’t care. Not in the slightest. Because no cupcake ever leaves my kitchen without frosting!!!
After all that back and forth about which chocolate cupcake recipe to share, then settling on a no stand mixer version, I stupidly pulled out my stand mixer to make a butter cream frosting. So illogical, right? Buttercream requires softened butter AND a stand mixer. 🙄
I was swayed by the pretty swirls I wanted to use in the photos. But actually, when I make these Easy Chocolate Cupcakes, I usually make a quick Chocolate Fudge Frosting made with melted butter. This is my everyday chocolate frosting because it takes minutes to make, it has a buttercream-like consistency (but obviously not as fluffy because you don’t have to beat it for 10 minutes!), smooth and spreadable and pipe-able (but I don’t, too lazy).
I also like that this Chocolate Fudge Frosting is a lovely deep chocolate colour (Chocolate Buttercream is a pale brown colour). Perfect for scattering with sprinkles – so pretteeee!
I’ve shared the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting in a separate post because I think it’s worthy of being a separate recipe. 🙂 Also because I’ve done a video for that too – I didn’t want to cram it into the cupcake recipe video.
The weekend is here!! Do I hear chocolate cupcakes calling your name?? I think I do….. 😉 – Nagi xx
The simple batter for these cupcakes is made with melted butter, so no beater is required to cream butter. The cupcakes are moist (and they stay moist), have a tender crumb, are deeply chocolatey and the recipe is more forgiving than most cupcake recipes. The only reason these would not be considered "perfect" by experts is insignificant to me - the surface is not blemish free and smooth, and the dome is ever so slightly higher (see photo in post). But when you pile the frosting on, no one knows! VIDEO below.
- 3/4 cup / 115g plain / all purpose white flour
- 3/4 cup / 165g caster sugar, (super fine sugar, or sub with normal white sugar)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda / bi carbonate soda (Note 1)
- Pinch of salt
- 120 g / 8 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1" / 2cm pieces (1 US stick / 1/2 cup)
- 60 g / 2 oz dark chocolate, preferably 70%+ cocoa, broken into pieces (Note 2)
- 1/2 cup / 35 g cocoa powder, preferably Dutch processed (Note 3)
- 1/2 cup / 125 ml milk
- 1/4 cup / 65 ml vegetable oil (or other neutral flavour oil)
- 2 eggs (medium, around 60-65g / 2 oz each)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tsp white vinegar
- 120 g / 8 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1" / 2cm pieces (1 US stick / 1/2 cup)
- 2 1/2 cups / 300g soft icing sugar / powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup / 35g cocoa powder, preferably Dutch processed
- 3 - 4 tbsp milk (any)
- Sprinkles and other decorations, if desired
Preheat oven to 180C/350F(standard) or 160C/320F (fan / convection). Put oven rack in the middle of the oven.
Place 12 cupcake liners in a cupcake tin.
Sift Dry ingredients into a bowl. Whisk briefly.
Place butter and chocolate in a separate, large heatproof bowl. Microwave for 45 seconds, mix, then microwave for another 30 seconds. Mix until chocolate is melted and smooth (keep microwaving in 20 sec bursts if chocolate not melted).
Add cocoa powder and mix.
Add milk and oil, then eggs, vanilla and vinegar. Whisk until smooth.
Add flour mixture and whisk until lump free.
Divide mixture between cupcake liners. I use a ice cream scoop for this. They should be just over 3/4 full.
Bake for 18 - 20 minutes, or until skewer inserted into the cupcake in the middle of the tray comes out clean.
Remove from oven and immediately transfer to cooling rack (spoon or knife helps).
Once cool, spread with frosting and decorate with sprinkles if desired. Alternatively, use Chocolate Buttercream Frosting!
Melt butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl (45 second on high, followed by 30 seconds then 20 second bursts if required). Mix until smooth.
Add icing sugar and milk. Mix until smooth. Use milk to adjust consistency if required - it should be a soft spreadable consistency (like peanut butter).
1. You can substitute the bi carb with 1 1/2 tsp baking powder. The cupcake is not quite as fluffy, but it is still lovely and soft.
2. Use dark chocolate purchased from the baking section of the supermarket, not eating chocolate. You can use any dark chocolate you want, but a good quality one with 70% or more cocoa (will say on packet) will give a better chocolate flavour.
3. Dutch processed cocoa has a more intense chocolate flavour than normal cocoa. However, you can use normal cocoa if you want.
Using a normal cocoa and normal dark chocolate will still yield a lovely chocolate tasting cupcake. It is just that by using 70%+ chocolate & Dutch processed cocoa powder makes a more intense chocolatey flavour. 🙂
4. For BAKING NERDS: Mixing cocoa powder with hot butter (or hot water, as is usually done in recipes) makes it "bloom", enhancing the chocolate flavour. Also, I add the milk and oil first into the melted butter mixture to bring the temperature down so you can add the eggs without worrying about the heat from the butter "cooking" the eggs!
This recipe is deliberately and specifically made with both oil and butter. Butter for flavour, oil for moisture.
Cup sizes in the US are slightly different to those in the rest of the world. For most recipes, the difference is immaterial and won't affect the recipe. For baked goods, it can matter. I have made this recipe using US cups, Australian cups (same as UK, EU) and weight measures and noticed no difference in the results. I find this recipe pretty forgiving compared to most cupcake recipes - because it's made like a quick bread / muffin batter.
5. The Frosting recipe makes enough to slather each cupcake quite generously - around 2.5 tbsp per cupcake. If you want less, use the SCALER (hover over servings) to reduce the butter to 70g - this will make enough frosting to just spread frosting on each cupcake.
6. These cupcakes stay beautifully moist for 2.5 days, in an airtight container. If it is very hot where you are, refrigerate them (because of the frosting) but ensure they are brought to room temperature before serving. They also freeze great (even with he frosting) - I've made so many in recent weeks, I've been freezing tons of them!
7. Nutrition includes the Chocolate Fudge Frosting.
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
Best Easy Chocolate Cupcakes recipe video!
LIFE OF DOZER
No chocolate cupcake for Dozer. Bad for you! How about a giant bone instead? (Mind you, it’s a dry aged one from a fancy butcher. Got it for free! 💪🏻)