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Death By Chocolate Cupcakes

Today we’re turning my favorite cake into cupcakes! These death by chocolate cupcakes are moist, filled with decadent chocolate ganache, and topped with rich, dark chocolate buttercream.

image of death by chocolate cupcakes that have been frosted with chocolate buttercream and chocolate ganache and are sitting on a wire rack lined with parchment paper

I’m happy to report that they’re just as delicious as my death by chocolate cake!!

How to Make These Death by Chocolate Cupcakes

Let’s walk through each step of this death by chocolate cupcake recipe to make sure it turns out as amazing as possible.

I’ve also shared a video tutorial below.

Step 1: Make the Soft Chocolate Ganache Filling

Make the chocolate ganache filling first! It needs time to cool to room temperature.

Add the heavy cream into a medium sized bowl and heat it until it just begins to bubble. This can be done in either the microwave (takes me about 45-60 seconds in my microwave) or a double boiler.

Then pour in the dark chocolate and corn syrup and let the mixture sit for a minute.

image of spreadable dark chocolate ganache being mixed together

After a minute the chocolate should be softened.

Stir the mixture until the cream and chocolate are combined and the mixture is smooth. If any bits of chocolate aren’t fully melted, heat the mixture again for 15 seconds and stir until smooth.

Then mix in the unsalted butter and fine salt.

image of chocolate ganache being mixed together in a glass bowl with a whisk

Cover with plastic wrap placed flush against the top of the ganache to prevent it from forming a skin, then set aside to cool to room temperature.

If you need to make this filling in advance, it can be covered and stored in the fridge for up to a month.

image of spreadable dark chocolate ganache being covered and set aside to cool to room temperature

Step 2: Make the Chocolate Simple Syrup

The chocolate simple syrup in this recipe is optional but recommended.

These cupcakes bake up pretty moist on their own, but I wanted this recipe to be exactly the same as my death by chocolate cake recipe.

The added moisture makes them that much more delicious, and I think it helps balance the texture of the ganache filling. It only takes a couple minutes to make, and I think it’s worth it!

After bringing the water and granulated sugar to a boil, remove the pan from heat and stir in the unsweetened cocoa powder. Then pour the mixture into a separate container to cool.

image of a small batch of chocolate simple syrup in a small jar

Step 3: Make the Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Next, we tackle the dark chocolate cupcakes! Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C and line a muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners.

Make the cupcake recipe following the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

image of death by chocolate cupcake batter being scooped into cupcake liners to be baked

Divide the cupcake batter evenly between the liners and bake them for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. Remove the pan from the oven.

Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove them and place them on a wire rack to finish cooling.

image of baked dark chocolate cupcakes that are cooling in the pan

If you’re in a rush, place the entire pan in the freezer for 30 minutes to accelerate the cooling process.

Step 4: Make the Decadent Chocolate Buttercream

While the cupcakes bake and cool, make the dark chocolate frosting.

image of chocolate buttercream that's been mixed in a bowl to frost death by chocolate cupcakes

If the frosting seems too thick, add an extra Tbsp of heavy cream. If it seems too thin, add in another 1/4 cup of powdered sugar.

Or if you’re unsure what consistency the frosting should be, check out my frosting consistency guide.

image of decadent dark chocolate buttercream in a bowl

Once the frosting is made, stir it by hand with a rubber spatula to get it SUPER smooth. Then cover the buttercream with plastic wrap and set aside.

Step 5: Fill and Frost These Death by Chocolate Cupcakes

Poke holes on top of each cupcake with a fork. Use a silicone brush or kitchen brush to brush them with chocolate simple syrup to make them extra moist.

image of a dark chocolate cupcake being brushed with chocolate simple syrup

Then use a small circle cutter to remove the center from each cooled cupcake.

You can also use the wide opening of a large frosting tip or a small knife.

image of the center of a dark chocolate cupcake being cut out so that it can be filled with ganache

Fill each cupcake with a rounded tablespoon of room temperature chocolate ganache.

The ganache should have thickened by this point and be scoopable.

image of scoopable chocolate ganache filling

If you made it in advance and it’s chilled, set the container out a few hours ahead of time to let it come to room temperature before using it.

You can also heat it in 10 second intervals in the microwave at half power, stirring between intervals.

image of dark chocolate cupcakes being filled with ganache

Use a small offset spatula to top each cupcake with a generous dollop of buttercream. If you don’t have an offset spatula, you can also use a butter knife.

Make a swirl on top of the cupcake with a small offset spatula.

image of a swirl being added on top of a death by chocolate cupcake with a small offset spatula

Smooth around the sides of the cupcake with the offset spatula like in the photo below.

image of chocolate buttercream being smoothed onto a dark chocolate cupcake with a small offset spatula

Wipe the offset spatula off on the edge of a bowl, then use it to scoop up a bit of chocolate ganache. Spread the ganache inside the buttercream swirl and around the side of the cupcake. Then enjoy!

image of chocolate ganache being swirled into chocolate buttercream on top of a death by chocolate cupcake

Substitutions & Swaps in This Death by Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

This recipe use quite a few ingredients and I know you might not have them all on hand. Or if you have food allergies or restrictions, I’ve got you covered.

Below are some swaps and substitutions that you can make.

  • All Purpose Flour – This recipe turns out best with all-purpose flour. However, you can swap in a good gluten free flour blend (like this) if needed. Just be sure to stir the batter longer than normal to help give the cupcakes proper structure, and let the batter sit for about 20 minutes before baking it if you opt to make a gluten free version.
  • Granulated Sugar – I do not recommend reducing the amount of sugar or changing the type of sugar, as it will change the texture of the cupcakes.
  • Dark Baking Cocoa – I like to use the Hershey’s brand of dark baking cocoa, but you can also use black cocoa. If you can’t find dark cocoa powder or don’t have any on hand, you can use regular unsweetened baking cocoa in its place.
  • Sour cream – You can also use full fat yogurt, buttermilk, whole milk, or an alternative yogurt or milk (almond, soy, oat).
  • Vegetable Oil – Any flavorless oil can be used in this recipe. Canola, vegetable, or even sunflower oil would all work great. I don’t recommend olive oil though, as it has a strong flavor and will change the taste of the cupcakes.
  • 1 Large Egg – This recipe uses a large egg. If you have an egg allergy you can try using a vegan egg replacer.
image of a death by chocolate cupcake that's been bitten into to show it's decadent chocolate ganache filling

Substitutions and Swaps – Decadent Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • Unsalted Butter – If you only have salted butter on hand, you can use it in place of the unsalted butter. Just be sure to omit the salt that this frosting recipe calls for. You can also use vegan butter in its place!
  • Dark Baking Cocoa – I like to use the Hershey’s brand of dark baking cocoa, but you can also use black cocoa. If you can’t find dark cocoa powder or don’t have any on hand, you can use regular unsweetened baking cocoa in its place.
  • Heavy Cream – Whipping cream, coconut cream or alternative milk (soy, almond, oat, coconut) will work fine in this frosting recipe if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Dark Chocolate – You can use dark chocolate chips, baking chocolate, or good-quality chocolate bars to melt and add into the frosting. Alternatively, you can also use milk or semi-sweet chocolate if you have a strong preference.
image of melted dark chocolate being added into chocolate buttercream

Making These Death by Chocolate Cupcakes in Advance & How to Store Them

You can make these cupcakes in advance! Frosted cupcakes can sit at room temperature for up to a day or be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

They can also last up to a month in the freezer. If you plan to freeze them, I suggest waiting to fill and frost them until they’re thawed.

The ganache filling can also be made up to a month in advance. Store it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a month. When you’re ready to use it, heat it in 10 second intervals until it reaches the right consistency to fill the cupcakes.

You can also make the buttercream ahead of time or save any leftovers. This buttercream frosting will last in the fridge for up to a month.

Be sure to give the frosting a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.

You can also store buttercream in a piping bag in the fridge. I find buttercream keeps its consistency well in piping bags and doesn’t require any mixing after it’s thawed.

image of death by chocolate cupcakes that have been frosted with chocolate buttercream and chocolate ganache and are sitting on a wire rack lined with parchment paper

Tips for Making the Best Death by Chocolate Cupcakes

  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better. Set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Properly measure the flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level) or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Mix the cupcake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated. This will ensure your cupcakes are tender and fluffy.
  • Use a large cookie scoop to easily fill the cupcake liners. It also makes sure the cupcakes end up being the same height.
  • Make sure the cupcakes have fully cooled before you fill and frost them.
  • Let the soft chocolate ganache filling cool to room temperature to let it thicken! This will make it easier to scoop into the cupcakes.
overhead shot of death by chocolate cupcakes that have had chocolate ganache swirled into the frosting

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you make these death by chocolate cupcakes, I’d love to hear what you think! Please leave a rating and let me know your thoughts with a comment below.

Don’t forget to tag me @chelsweets and use #chelsweets so that I can see your amazing creations on social media.

image of death by chocolate cupcakes that have been frosted with chocolate buttercream and chocolate ganache and are sitting on a wire rack lined with parchment paper

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 12

Death by Chocolate Cupcakes

image of death by chocolate cupcakes that have been frosted with chocolate buttercream and chocolate ganache and are sitting on a wire rack lined with parchment paper

These death by chocolate cupcakes are moist, filled with decadent chocolate ganache, and topped with rich, dark chocolate buttercream! They're a chocolate lover's dream.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 21 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 51 minutes

Ingredients

Chocolate Ganache Filling

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (120g)
  • 2/3 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips (120g)
  • 1 Tbsp corn syrup - optional (20g)
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature (30g)
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt (2g)

Chocolate Simple Syrup - Optional

  • 1/4 cup water (60g)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (50g)
  • 1 Tbsp dark baking cocoa powder (6g)

Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (125g)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
  • 1/3 cup dark cocoa powder (33g)
  • 1 tsp baking powder (4g)
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda (5g)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt (3g)
  • 1/2 cup water, warm (120g)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature (125g)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (55g)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature (56g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4g)
  • 1 tsp instant espresso or coffee (2g) - optional

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 1/4 cup dark or milk chocolate chips, melted and cooled (45g)
  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature (113g)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (25g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4g)
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt (1g)
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (190g)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or whipping cream (60g)

Suggested Equipment

Instructions

Chocolate Ganache Filling

  1. Make the chocolate ganache first, because it needs time to cool and thicken before it's used to fill and frost the cupcakes.
  2. Heat 1/2 cup of heavy cream in a heatproof bowl in the microwave for 45 seconds, until it's just beginning to bubble.
  3. Gently pour 2/3 cup of dark chocolate chips and 1 Tbsp of corn syrup into the heavy cream. Make sure the chips are fully covered with cream. Let the mixture sit for 1 minute. If you want to use milk chocolate to make the ganache, use a little less than 1 cup or 160 grams of milk chocolate.
  4. Stir slowly until the cream and chocolate are combined and the mixture is smooth. If any bits of chocolate aren't fully melted, heat the mixture again for 15 seconds and stir until smooth.
  5. Mix in 2 Tbsp of unsalted butter and 1/4 tsp fine salt until combined.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent the ganache from forming a skin, then set aside to cool to room temperature. If you need to make this in advance, it can be covered and stored in the fridge for up to a month.

Chocolate Simple Syrup

  1. Pour 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup granulated sugar into a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking continuously until the mixture starts to boil.
  2. Remove from heat and whisk in 1 Tbsp cocoa powder. Pour into a small bowl to cool to room temperature, then cover and set aside. If you're making this in advance, it can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. 

Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C. Line a muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. Sift or whisk together 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup dark cocoa powder, 1 tsp baking powder, 3/4 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Into a separate, large bowl, add 1/2 cup warm water, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup oil, 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 tsp instant espresso and whisk together until combined.
  4. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners (they should be about 3/4 full) and bake for about 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. Remove the pan from the oven.
  6. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then place them on a wire rack to finish cooling. If you're in a rush, place the whole pan in the freezer for 30 minutes to accelerate the cooling process.

Decadent Chocolate Buttercream

  1. While the cupcakes bake and cool, make the chocolate buttercream.
  2. Start by melting 1/4 cup of dark or milk chocolate with either a microwave or double boiler. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large glass bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat 1/2 cup of room-temperature butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a hand mixer or paddle attachment until smooth.
  4. Mix in 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1/4 tsp salt on a low speed.
  5. Slowly mix in 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar and 1/4 cup of heavy cream on a low speed. Once combined, mix in 1/4 cup of melted and cooled chocolate. The chocolate should still be fluid, but it shouldn't be hot to the touch.
  6. Mix on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting seems too thick, add extra heavy cream one tablespoon at a time. If it's too thin, add in additional powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time.
  7. Once the ingredients are combined, stir by hand with a rubber spatula for a couple of minutes to make the frosting SUPER smooth. Cover flush with plastic wrap and set aside.

Decorating These Death by Chocolate Cupcakes

  1. Poke holes on top of each cupcake with a fork. Use a silicone brush or kitchen brush to brush them with chocolate simple syrup to make them extra moist.
  2. Then use a small circle cutter to remove the center from each cooled cupcake. You can also use the wide opening of a large frosting tip or a small knife.
  3. Fill each cupcake with a rounded tablespoon of room temperature chocolate ganache. The ganache should have thickened by this point and be scoopable. If you made it in advance and it's chilled, set the container out a few hours ahead of time to let it come to room temperature before using it. You can also heat it in 10 second intervals in the microwave at half power, stirring between intervals until it softens and can be scooped.
  4. Use a small offset spatula to top each cupcake with a generous dollop of buttercream. If you don't have an offset spatula, you can also use a butter knife. Make a swirl on top of the cupcake and smooth around the sides of the cupcake with the offset spatula like in the photos above.
  5. Wipe the offset spatula off on the edge of a bowl, then use it to scoop up a bit of chocolate ganache. Spread the ganache inside the buttercream swirl and around the side of the cupcake. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes, then enjoy!

Notes

Ingredient Swaps & Substitutions

For a detailed list of ingredient swaps and substitutions that can be made in each component of this recipe, please refer to the "swaps and substitutions" section above.

Making Mini Death by Chocolate Cupcakes

If you want to make mini chocolate cupcakes, this recipe can be baked in mini muffin tins! It makes about 40 mini cupcakes, and they only need to bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 F / 175 C.

Tips for Making the Best Death by Chocolate Cupcakes

  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better. Set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Properly measure the flour (spoon into the cup measure and then level) or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Once you add the flour, mix the cupcake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated. This will ensure the cupcakes bake up tender and fluffy.
  • Use a large cookie scoop to easily fill your cupcake liners. It also makes sure the cupcakes end up being the same height.
  • Make sure the cupcakes have fully cooled before you fill and frost them.

Death by Chocolate Cupcake Variations

To make gluten free death by chocolate cupcakes, swap in your favorite gluten free flour blend for the AP flour this recipe calls for. Be sure to over-mix your batter and let it sit for at least 30 minutes before baking for best results.

Making These Death by Chocolate Cupcakes in Advance & Storage Tips

You can make these cupcakes in advance! Frosted cupcakes can sit at room temperature for up to a day or be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

They can also last up to a month in the freezer. If you plan to freeze them, I suggest waiting to fill and frost them until they're thawed.

The ganache filling can also be made up to a month in advance. Store it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a month. When you're ready to use it, heat it in 10 second intervals until it reaches the right consistency to fill the cupcakes.

You can also make the buttercream ahead of time or save any leftovers. This buttercream frosting will last in the fridge for up to a month.

Be sure to give the frosting a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.

You can also store buttercream in a piping bag in the fridge. I find buttercream keeps its consistency well in piping bags and doesn't require any mixing after it's thawed.

Nutrition Information

Yield

12

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 496Total Fat 28gSaturated Fat 14gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 12gCholesterol 68mgSodium 357mgCarbohydrates 59gFiber 2gSugar 46gProtein 4g

Syuhaidah

Friday 2nd of June 2023

Hi Chels! can i halve this recipe to make 6? im afraid to let the ingredients go to waste if it doesnt turn out fine.

Kristen

Saturday 18th of March 2023

Amazing recipe. Easy and so very tasty. Thank you! Will make again.

Chelsweets

Tuesday 21st of March 2023

So happy to hear that Kristen :) Thank you for sharing!!

Renata

Thursday 16th of March 2023

Hi Chels can you plz do an eggless choc cupcake as well as a red velvet eggless cupcake for us who cant eat eggs thanks will appreciate.

Chelsweets

Tuesday 21st of March 2023

Hi Renata,

Thank you for the suggestion!! I'll add them to my list of recipes to test :)

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