The Best Dark Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

I’m starting a cupcake series on my YouTube channel, and plan to use this recipe as my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe!

After testing out several different recipes, it’s by far my favorite! It’s a modified version of the Brown Eyed Baker’s chocolate cupcake recipe.

I am a huge fan of one-bowl recipes, and have done my best to make this cupcake recipe as easy as possible!

I replaced the dutch-processed cocoa with black cocoa powder, to really give these a beautiful color, and to intensify the taste!

The best comparison is to think of the bittersweet, chocolaty taste of an Oreo cookie!

I only recently discovered black cocoa, and I’m obsessed. Black cocoa has a slightly higher pH than dutch-processed cocoa (8 vs.7), and is much less acidic than natural baking cocoa (5-6).

However, this is optional, and you could also use regular cocoa if that’s what you have on hand.

I always frost my cupcakes with a half batch of my American buttercream, and usually use a Wilton 1m tip (open star) or a Wilton 2D tip (closed star).

Begin by preheating the oven to 350°F (175°C). Place cupcake liners in baking pans.

Fill measuring cup with very hot water, and add in espresso powder. Stir until combined, then pour into a bowl.

Add the chocolate chips and black cocoa powder. Let this sit for 2 minutes to melt the chocolate, then stir until no chunks remain.

Add the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt into a large bowl and gently mix.

Pour in chocolate espresso mixture, and stir until just combined, being sure to scrap the sides and bottom of the bowl while mixing.

Next, mix in the eggs, one at a time. Then add the oil, vinegar, and vanilla, and mix until the batter is smooth.


Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full, and bake for about 18 minutes. Once a toothpick comes out clean (or with minimal crumbs), remove from oven.

Allow cupcakes to cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove and place in the freezer for 15 minutes (to accelerate the cooling process).

While the cupcakes bake and cool, prepare the chocolate frosting. Beat the butter on medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth.

Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Add the cocoa powder half way through, along with the heavy cream.

Once all the powdered sugar is added, mix in the vanilla and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated.

If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

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Once  the cupcakes are fully cooled, it’s time to fill them!

Remove the center of the cupcakes using the wide end of a frosting tip, and add chocolate ganache to the center of each cupcake.

Pipe on a large swirl of frosting, using a Wilton 2D tip.

If you don’t have any frosting tips, you can always use a zip lock bag and just trim the tip to have a 2 cm opening.

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To make these a bit more fun, I also added drizzle some warmed up ganache over the frosting, and grated some dark chocolate over the top of the cupcake!

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Chocolate Cupcake Batter:

  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
  • ⅓ cup (28 grams) black  cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup (177 ml) hot water + 1 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
  • ¾ cup (117 grams) flour
  • ¾ cup (149 grams) granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate American Buttercream Frosting:

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup black cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Optional Filling: Chocolate Ganache

Yield: 14 cupcakes

Prep time: 10 minutes

Bake time: 18 minutes

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I work in finance during day, and like to think of myself as a baker by night! Follow me here at, on instagram @chelsweets, and on YouTube ( ) to see my creations :D

28 thoughts on “The Best Dark Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

  1. Used Dutch processed cocoa and bittersweet chocolate and these were sooooo good 😍 My new go to chocolate cupcake recipe!

  2. Hi chealssweets, if im going to omit the expresso powder, do i have to take out the water too? Or just use the 3/4 cup water alone? 😊

  3. What brand of black cocoa powder do you find best? Is it something you find in a store or online?

  4. Hi! These look amazing! What is the difference in vanilla extract in the cake batter and vanilla in the buttercream?

  5. I tried the cupcakes and was worried when I saw how runny the batter was, but I tried a batch and was amazed! The buttercream is so much sweeter than one I used to use, but the kiddos love it so much!! My husband too, but he won’t say it out loud. I’m still learning ganache, but it’s cooling in the fridge right now. Hoping to assemble these babies and treat the ladies at church tomorrow!

    1. So happy to hear that!!! They really are so tasty! Ganache takes a bit of time to get comfortable with, but that’s just a great excuse to make it more often 🙂

  6. Unfortunately the black cocoa powder I ordered from Amazon is stuck at the shipping facility due to a snowstorm. I have Hershey dark cocoa powder and was going to try this instead. I wanted to make black frosting, not sure it will get dark enough without the black cocoa. What do you suggest?

  7. If I use coffee instead of expresso, do I need to brew it? Or just use instant? Also, does using the coffee instead of the expresso change the taste?

    1. you can just use instant! I like using espresso powder because i think it adds a richer taste, but coffee or instant coffee would have a similar effect 🙂

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