This is my new favourite chocolate cupcake recipe. I have also used it successfully to make a layer cake. This recipe is very similar to the previous favourite chocolate cake recipe (see here), with the main difference being that this new recipe includes cornstarch. The difference in result is very subtle, but I’m convinced that the texture of these cupcakes is slightly better.
This nutella and chocolate frosting is also worth mentioning. I never knew that such a simple frosting could be so light in weight, smooth and delicate in flavour, and still hold its shape when piped. In fact, Sweetapolita calls it “nutella cloud frosting” to describe the texture. It is comparable to swiss meringue buttercream in heavenly texture but requires much less work, time, and ingredients. Note that I’ve also paired this chocolate cake recipe with a chocolate swiss meringue buttercream and it was incredible. See instructions here.
My favourite thing about this combination of chocolate cupcake and nutella frosting is that it’s chocolatey, not too sweet and not too heavy. I made a lot of these for John’s 30th birthday celebrations. For one of his celebratory restaurant dinners, I boxed individual cupcakes in round-bottomed take out containers and gave them to the guests as take away gifts. If you know me, you know that I’m not a fan of sprinkles, but John loves them and there’s no occasion more deserving of sprinkles than a birthday. These star sprinkles were the birthday boy’s pick. These cupcakes have been very popular. My dad doesn’t normally like or eat cupcakes that have frosting on them, but he requested that I make more of these cupcakes. 🙂 One of John’s co-workers asked for the recipe and another said, “You’re a lucky guy” after taking his first bite. I made these for my sister’s 28th birthday party too, and people loved how moist they were.
Favourite Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe
makes 24 cupcakes (recipe halves well); adapted from Sweetapolita’s Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes
Note: For the best and most consistent results, ingredients should be weighed, as different brands of ingredients, equipment, humidity, altitude, etc. can cause variations. However, I have found this recipe very forgiving and have had great luck even when I haven’t weighed the ingredients.
1 1/2 cups (190 grams) all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar
1/2 cup (60 grams) cocoa powder (Note: Using a dark cocoa powder results in a nicer colour and stronger chocolate flavour.)
1 1/2 teaspoons (7 grams) baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons (7 grams) baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons (7 grams) cornstarch
scant 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt (6 grams)
2/3 cup buttermilk, or substitute with 2 teaspoons of vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice topped up to a total of 2/3 cup with milk and allowed to rest for at least 10 minutes
1/2 cup brewed coffee or espresso, hot
6 tablespoons vegetable oil or extra light tasting olive oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature and lightly beaten
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with paper cupcake liners and set aside. Note that I used a dark, non-stick metal cupcake pan.
Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch, and salt into the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Set up the stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the buttermilk, vegetable oil, eggs, vanilla extract, and hot coffee to the dry ingredients and beat on the lowest setting until just moistened. Then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. The batter will be liquidy, but don’t worry as the cupcakes will rise once baked.
Pour equal amounts of the batter into each of the 12 cupcake liners. The liners should be filled just less than 2/3 of the way. Bake for 14 to 17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean or, preferably, with just a few crumbs attached to it. Do not over bake these cupcakes. Carefully remove the cupcakes from the hot pan and cool them completely on a wire rack. Then decorate with nutella and chocolate frosting (recipe below) and store in the refrigerator. Bring the cupcakes to room temperature prior to serving. Note that these unfrosted cupcakes freeze very well. Defrost in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.
Light and Fluffy Nutella Frosting Recipe
adapted from Sweetapolita’s Nutella Cloud Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (190 grams) icing sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (125 grams or 3 squares of the brand Baker’s Chocolate) bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely
1/3 cup Nutella
1 tablespoon milk
small pinch of sea salt
Melt the chocolate gently, stirring constantly. You can do this using the microwave or using a double boiler or in a heavy bottomed sauce pot over low heat. Set aside to cool slightly. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and icing sugar on low speed for 1 minute. Add the vanilla extract and beat on low speed until well combined. Add the melted chocolate and then beat on medium speed until very smooth, up to 2 minutes. Then add the Nutella, milk, and salt, and beat on medium high speed for one minute. Although best when used immediately to frost cupcakes, this frosting can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator or frozen. Defrost in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. Just be sure to mix it well prior to frosting your cupcakes.