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Moist Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

Being the chocolate fan that I am, I needed a really solid, moist chocolate cupcake recipe.

I wanted something that was rich, decadent, and packed with chocolate flavor.

After testing out several different recipes, this chocolate cupcake recipe is by far my favorite!

image of moist chocolate cupcakes that have been frosted with a decadent dark chocolate buttercream

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 moist chocolate cupcake recipe come together as easily as possible.

The Perfect Topping: A Decadent Chocolate Buttercream

While the base of the cupcake is important, the frosting is just as big of deal!

Why go to all the trouble of making a cupcake from scratch if you don’t have an amazing frosting to top it with?!

Since this moist chocolate cupcake recipe is packed with chocolate, it only seemed fitting to frost them with chocolate buttercream.

image of moist chocolate cupcakes that have been frosted with a decadent dark chocolate buttercream

The frosting comes together in less than 10 minutes, and I usually to whip up a batch while my cupcakes bake.

I like to frost my cupcakes with a quarter batch of my American buttercream recipe. This is just enough buttercream to frost a dozen cupcakes.

Sticking with the quick and easy theme of this cupcake recipe, I like to decorate them with a simple buttercream swirl. Sometimes that’s all you need!!

When it comes to decorating the cupcakes, I usually use a Wilton 1M tip (open star) or a Wilton 2D tip (closed star). Both types of frosting tips make gorgeous swirls!!

image of chocolate cupcakes being frosted with a wilton 1M frosting tip

Let’s Make These Chocolate Cupcakes Together!

Let’s walk through each step of this 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 Chocolate Cupcake Batter

Begin by preheating the oven to 350°F/175°C and lining a muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners.

Add the warm water and espresso powder into a large bowl. Stir together until combined.

Whisk in the melted chocolate and cocoa powder and stir until smooth.

image of water and espresso and chocolate being whisked together

Next, mix in the eggs, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Mix until the batter is smooth. The batter will be thin!

image of chocolate cupcake batter being whisked together in one bowl

Then sift the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda and salt) in and stir until just combined.

Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula as needed.

Step 2: Bake the Chocolate Cupcakes

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 17-19 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. Remove from the oven.

image of chocolate cupcake batter being poured into a cupcake liner with a cookie scoop

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

If you’re in a rush, place the entire pan in the freezer for 15 minutes to accelerate the cooling process.

image of a moist chocolate cupcake being held up to show how nicely baked it is

Step 3: Make the Chocolate Buttercream

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

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.

Once the frosting is made, stir it by hand with a rubber spatula to get the frosting SUPER smooth.

Then place in a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1M tip.

image of silky smooth, decadent dark chocolate buttercream

Step 4: Frost the Cupcakes

If you want to fill the cupcakes, remove the center of the cupcakes using the wide end of a frosting tip and add a scoop of chocolate ganache filling to the center of each cupcake.

Then pipe on a frosting swirl using a Wilton 1M tip.

image of moist chocolate cupcakes that have been frosted with a decadent dark chocolate buttercream

If you don’t have any frosting tips, you can also use a Freezer ziplock bag and trim the corner to have a 2 cm opening.

No matter how you decorate them, they’re going to be incredibly moist and delicious.  I mean, just look at that crumb!!

image of a moist chocolate cupcake that's been cut into to show how tender the crumb is

Substitutions and Swaps – Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

Now that we’ve covered how to make these cupcakes, let’s talk about the ingredients!!

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.

  • Chocolate Chips – You can use milk, dark or semi-sweet chocolate to make these chocolate cupcakes! Just be sure it’s a good quality chocolate so it will melt down smoothly.
  • Instant Espresso or Coffee – You can omit the instant espresso if needed, but it really enhances the chocolate flavor in these cupcakes.
  • All Purpose Flour – This recipe turns out best with AP flour, but you can use a gluten free flour blend if needed.
  • Granulated Sugar – I do not recommend reducing the amount of sugar or changing the type of sugar as it will change the texture of these cupcakes.
  • Vegetable Oil – You can use any flavorless oil in this recipe. Canola or sunflower oil would work great!
  • Large Eggs – If you have an egg allergy, try using 2 flaxseed eggs or a vegan egg replacer like this one made by Bob’s Red Mill.
  • Vinegar – This recipe needs a bit of vinegar because it uses baking soda as a leavening agent. The vinegar activates the baking soda and helps the cupcakes rise. You can also use white or apple cider vinegar.
image of baked chocolate cupcakes cooling in a cupcake pan

Substitutions and Swaps – 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!
  • 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.
  • Vanilla Extract – Other extracts can also be used in place of the vanilla extract if needed.
image of moist chocolate cupcakes that have been frosted with a decadent dark chocolate buttercream

Tips for Making the Best Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better. Set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Properly measure your flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level) or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Mix your 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 your cupcake liners. It also makes sure your cupcakes end up being the same height.
  • Seal off the top the piping bag with a rubber band to prevent any frosting from coming out the top of the bag and make the piping bags easier to use.

Making This Moist Chocolate Cupcake Recipe in Advance

You can make these cupcakes in advance! Frosted cupcakes can sit at room temperature overnight 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 frost them until they’re thawed.

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

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you make this moist chocolate cupcake recipe, I’d love to hear what you think of it! Please leave a rating below.

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

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 12

Moist Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

image of moist chocolate cupcakes that have been frosted with a decadent dark chocolate buttercream

Looking for a moist chocolate cupcake recipe? I've got you covered! This recipe can be made in one bowl, and is frosted with a delicious chocolate buttercream.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 3 minutes

Ingredients

Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup water, warm (180g)
  • 1 1/2 tsp instant espresso or coffee (3g)
  • 1/3 cup milk or dark chocolate chips, melted (60g)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder or black cocoa powder (30g)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature (114g)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (75g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4g)
  • 1 tsp white vinegar (4g)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (98g)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (150g)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda (3g)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt (2g)

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature (113g)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa, sifted (25g)
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt (2g)
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (188g)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream or whipping cream (80g)
  • 2/3 cups dark chocolate, melted and cooled (120g)

Suggested Equipment

Instructions

Chocolate Cupcake Recipe:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 175 C. Line a muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. Pour 3/4 cup of warm water into a large bowl. Mix in 1 1/2 tsp of coffee or espresso powder and stir until dissolved.
  3. Add 1/3 cup melted chocolate chips and 1/3 cup of cocoa powder. Whisk together until the ingredients are fully combined.
  4. Whisk 2 large eggs, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 tsp vinegar into the cocoa mixture.
  5. Sift the dry ingredients (3/4 cup flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp salt) into the chocolate espresso mixture and whisk until just combined. The batter will be thin, but that’s how it’s supposed to be.
  6. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for about 17-19 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. Remove from the oven.
  7. Let 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 15 minutes to accelerate the cooling process.

Chocolate Buttercream:

  1. Beat 1/2 cup of butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment or hand mixer until smooth. 
  2. Add in 1/4 cup sifted cocoa powder and 1/4 tsp salt. Mix on low until the cocoa is fully incorporated and no clumps remain.
  3. Slowly mix in 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar on the lowest speed. Halfway through add in 1/3 cup heavy cream to make the frosting easier to mix.
  4. Next, mix in 2/3 cup of melted and cooled chocolate on a low speed. Mix on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the desired consistency is reached.
  5. If the frosting seems too thick, add an extra Tbsp of heavy cream. If it's too thin, add in another 1/4 cup of powdered sugar.
  6. Stir by hand with a rubber spatula for a couple minutes to make the frosting SUPER smooth.
  7. Place the frosting in a piping bag fit with a Wilton 1M tip. Pipe a large swirl on top of each cupcake and enjoy!

Notes

If you want to fill these cupcakes or add a chocolate drizzle, I recommend using my chocolate ganache recipe.

Making Mini 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 Chocolate Cupcakes

  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better. Set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Properly measure your 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 your 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 your cupcake liners. It also makes sure your cupcakes end up being the same height.
  • Bang your cupcake pan on the counter before putting it in the oven. This brings any air bubbles that are trapped in the batter to the surface.
  • Seal off the top of your piping bag with a rubber band to prevent any frosting from seeping out the top of the bag and make the piping bag easier to use.

Chocolate Cupcake Variations

To make gluten free 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 Chocolate Cupcakes in Advance & Storage Tips

You can make these cupcakes in advance! Frosted cupcakes can sit at room temperature for a day or be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container. However, they taste best when they're freshly baked!

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

You can also make the buttercream ahead of time or save any leftovers. The 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 piping bags in the fridge. I find they keep their consistency well in piping bags and don't require any mixing after they've thawed.

Nutrition Information

Yield

12

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 423Total Fat 25gSaturated Fat 11gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 12gCholesterol 65mgSodium 244mgCarbohydrates 48gFiber 2gSugar 37gProtein 4g

Dawn

Saturday 27th of August 2022

These taste wonderful! I have made them twice but for some reason my cupcakes are flat on top and I was wondering what I might be doing wrong that is keeping them from doming? I mixed by hand, checked my baking soda and vinegar. Any advice please?

Chelsweets

Sunday 28th of August 2022

Hi Dawn,

This recipe does bake up pretty flat, you're probably not doing anything wrong!! If you want a slightly higher dome, you can use buttermilk or sour cream in place of the water in this recipe. Hope that helps, happy baking!

S'mores Cupcake Recipe: Chocolate Cupcakes Filled w Marshallow Cream

Sunday 31st of July 2022

[…] used my moist chocolate cupcake recipe as the base for this cupcake. However, I did make a couple changes to […]

Deb

Thursday 28th of July 2022

I made these chocolate cupcakes as well as Chelsey's vanilla cupcakes for my daughter's baby shower and they were the stars of the dessert table. They were easy to make and dense, moist and delicious. I'll be a follower of her recipes.

Chelsweets

Sunday 31st of July 2022

Thank you Deb!!! I love that you're putting my recipes to good use :)

Baileys Chocolate Cake: Easy Recipe with Decadent Chocolate Frosting

Monday 11th of July 2022

[…] you want to make cupcakes, I highly recommend using my chocolate cupcake recipe as a […]

Erin Glynn

Friday 8th of July 2022

OMG I loved this recipe thx 4 sharing Chels!!!

Chelsweets

Tuesday 12th of July 2022

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

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