Enjoy extra moist chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes with a sweet strawberry buttercream surprise in the center. Finish these perfectly rich cupcakes with fudge-like chocolate ganache and you’ll win the way to anyone’s heart! 😉
Originally published in 2018, photos updated in 2023.
If you adore chocolate covered strawberries—biting into rich dark chocolate with a juicy strawberry inside—this cupcake recipe is for you. We’re taking the most chocolatey chocolate cupcake and topping it with soft, fudge-like chocolate ganache. And hidden inside is the sweet surprise of fluffy strawberry buttercream. These are just like my top-rated cream-filled chocolate cupcakes but with a strawberry twist. SO GOOD!
Make the buttercream filling with freeze-dried strawberries, the same way we make the frosting for my homemade strawberry cake. (And actually these festive Valentine’s Day cupcakes too!) This is the best way to get REAL strawberry flavor… no artificial flavor here!
Why You’ll Love These Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes
- Extra soft & moist chocolate cupcakes, not dense or dry at all
- Extreme chocolate flavor; hot liquid “blooms” the cocoa
- Sweet, fluffy strawberry cream in the center, made with freeze-dried strawberries
- Rich, fudge-like chocolate topping is just 2 ingredients: chocolate and cream
- No piping tips or special decorating skills needed for these natural beauties
And if you love these flavors for breakfast, be sure to try these chocolate covered strawberry muffins!
3 Parts to This Recipe
Even for a decorated cupcake, the process is still pretty straightforward: Make the cupcakes, make the ganache, make the filling. Carve a little hole in the center of the cooled cupcakes, fill with buttercream, and spread cooled ganache on top.
- Chocolate Cupcakes: My team and I love these homemade cupcakes because they’re exceptionally moist with loads of chocolate flavor. They’re basically the cupcake version of this ever-popular chocolate cake. I have another recipe for plain chocolate cupcakes on my website, but today’s version holds up better with a filling inside. (And tastes even more chocolatey!)
- Chocolate Ganache Topping: Just 2 ingredients here: chocolate and heavy cream/heavy whipping cream/double cream. The chocolate ganache takes a bit of time, but most of it is hands-off as you let the ganache cool. I instruct you to make it before the filling, to give it time to thicken up.
- Strawberry Buttercream Filling: Freeze-dried strawberries are the secret to the most delicious strawberry buttercream. You can typically find them in the dried fruit section of most grocery stores, or online. If you can’t find them, use the whipped cream from these strawberry shortcake cupcakes or even this raspberry cake filling instead.
Make the Chocolate Cupcakes First
You don’t even need a mixer for this step, just grab a sturdy whisk. You’ll simply whisk together the dry ingredients, whisk together the wet ingredients, then pour wet into dry and add the hot coffee (or water).
Spoon/pour the batter into a muffin pan lined with cupcake liners—you should have enough batter to make 15 cupcakes, so you will either need 2 muffin pans or you can bake them in 2 batches. Fill the liners about 2/3 full. If you use the batter to make fewer than 15 cupcakes, you are overfilling the lined cups and your cupcakes will spill over the sides. You want them to bake up nice and flat on top.
Optional step: When the cupcakes are completely—or nearly completely—cool, place them in the refrigerator for 20–30 minutes to make them a bit easier to carve into and fill.
And now… is there any topping more rich and indulgent-tasting than chocolate ganache?
Make the Chocolate Ganache
Even though it’s the topping, I recommend making the chocolate ganache before you make the filling and while the cupcakes cool. This is because the ganache also needs to cool and thicken. You need just 2 ingredients to make chocolate ganache:
- Pure Chocolate: Make sure you use real, quality chocolate. I typically use the 4-ounce baking bars found in the grocery store baking aisle, labeled semi-sweet or bittersweet (like Ghirardelli or Baker’s brands). You can use quality chocolate chips instead, but the ganache won’t be as smooth, as chocolate chips have stabilizers in them. You need 6 ounces, which is 1.5 bars (170g).
- Heavy Cream: This may be called by another name where you are, like heavy whipping cream or double cream. Just make sure it has a minimum of 36% fat content, otherwise it won’t set up as well. Usually we use 6 ounces of cream per 6 ounces of chocolate (1:1 ratio), but I recently reduced it down to 2/3 cup (just over 5 ounces) cream, so the ganache is a little thicker.
By the way, if you’re looking for grownup Valentine’s Day dessert recipes, feel free to kick things up a notch by using red wine chocolate ganache as the topping for these chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes instead; or try the chocolate raspberry ganache from this chocolate raspberry cake.
Heat the cream, pour over chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl, let sit for a few minutes to soften the chocolate, and then slowly stir until the chocolate has all melted. The mixture won’t seem to combine at first (left photo below), but keep stirring.
Let it cool and thicken for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator:
Make the Strawberry Buttercream Filling
This is basically my strawberry buttercream frosting recipe, but scaled down to make the right amount to fill these chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes.
Start by grinding the freeze-dried strawberries into a powder, either in a food processor or blender:
Tip: Do not use “dried strawberries,” which have a chewy/gummy texture like raisins or dried apricots. They won’t grind into a powder. You need freeze-dried strawberries, which have all of the moisture removed. They’re the same strawberries you need to make these strawberry and cream cookies.
You also need room-temperature butter, sifted confectioners’ sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla. Taste and add a pinch of salt if it’s too sweet. Now you’re ready to…
Fill & Assemble the Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes
We’ll use the same filling method as these cream-filled chocolate cupcakes and Easter cupcakes. With a sharp knife, cut a circle in the cupcake, and remove the center, which will be roughly the shape of a cone. Using a small spoon (or you could pipe it), fill the middle of the cupcake with as much strawberry buttercream as you can fit. (Usually between 1–2 teaspoons.) Slice/tear off the pointed tip of the cone-shaped piece of cupcake, and gently press the round piece back on top of the filling.
This can get a little messy because the cupcakes are oh-so-soft and moist. That’s fine, you’re covering up the mess with ganache. Spread it on top:
For a finishing touch, I love to top these cupcakes with a strawberry heart. Watch this video for how to cut strawberries into hearts. I rounded off the top of the heart and cut each into thin slices to top the cupcakes. A simple but elegant garnish! You could also top the ganache with sprinkles before it sets, or add a chocolate-dipped strawberry.
And if you have any leftover strawberry buttercream, you can spoon it into a piping bag fitted with a small round piping tip (like Wilton #6) and pipe a heart or letter on top.
More Valentine’s Day Treats
Be sure to check out my list of Valentine’s Day Dessert Recipes, which includes favorites such as:
These are deliciously indulgent and fudgy chocolate cupcakes filled with strawberry buttercream and topped with chocolate ganache.
- 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
- 1/2 cup (42g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable oil
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk*, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (120ml) hot coffee or hot water
Chocolate Ganache Topping
- 6 ounces (170g) semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 2/3 cup (160ml or 5.3 ounces) heavy cream
Strawberry Buttercream Filling
- 1/2 cup (about 12–13g) freeze-dried strawberries*
- 1/2 cup (8 Tbsp; 113g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 cups (240g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 2 Tablespoons (30ml) heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- salt, to taste
- optional garnish: sliced fresh strawberries or sprinkles
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. This recipe yields about 15 cupcakes, so line a second muffin pan with 3 cupcake liners or bake in batches.
- Make the cupcakes: Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. Whisk the oil, sugar, egg, vanilla, and buttermilk together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the hot coffee/water, and whisk until the batter is completely combined. Batter is thin.
- Pour/spoon the batter into the liners, filling only 2/3 full to avoid spilling over the sides. You should have enough batter for 15 cupcakes. Bake for 20–22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Cupcakes must be completely cooled—and even chilled for 20–30 minutes in the refrigerator if they’re particularly sticky on top—before assembling.
- Make the chocolate ganache: Place finely chopped chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it begins to gently simmer. (Do not let it come to a rapid boil—that’s too hot!) Pour over chocolate, then let it sit for 2–3 minutes to gently soften the chocolate. With a metal spoon or small silicone spatula, very slowly stir until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth. Ganache is thin. The finer you chopped the chocolate, the quicker it will melt with the cream. If it’s not melting, do not microwave it. If needed, see Troubleshooting Chocolate Ganache. Once ganache mixture is smooth, transfer it to the refrigerator and let it chill for at least 30 minutes to thicken before spreading on cooled and filled cupcakes.
- Make the strawberry buttercream filling: As the ganache cools and thickens, make the filling. Using a blender or food processor, process the freeze-dried strawberries into a powdery crumb. You should have around 1/4 cup. Set aside. In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add sifted confectioners’ sugar, strawberry powder, heavy cream, and vanilla. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. Taste. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. Set aside.
- Fill the cupcakes: Using a sharp knife, cut a circle into the center of the cooled cupcakes to create a little pocket about 1 inch deep. The piece you removed will be sort of cone-shaped. Spoon or pipe strawberry buttercream inside each carved-out cupcake—use however much frosting will fit. (I use either a teaspoon measuring spoon or Wilton piping tip #12 to fill cupcakes. Usually you can fit between 1–2 teaspoons of frosting in each.) Slice/tear off the pointy end of the “cone” piece of cupcake you removed, and gently press the round piece back on top of the filling.
- Top with ganache: With a knife or small icing spatula, spread the thickened chocolate ganache on top of each cupcake. Spread on a thick layer, so it sets as a thick fudge-like topping. Garnish with fresh strawberry slices or sprinkles, if desired.
- Serve immediately or store covered at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 1 day before serving. Cover and store leftover cupcakes in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. I recommend a cupcake carrier for storing and transporting decorated cupcakes.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Bake the cupcakes 1 day in advance. Keep cupcakes covered tightly at room temperature and fill/frost the day of serving. Strawberry buttercream and chocolate ganache can be prepared the day before too. Cover each and refrigerate overnight. After refrigerating, the buttercream will be stiff. Beating in a splash of heavy cream or milk will help thin the frosting out again, if needed. The ganache will be nice and thick. If needed to thin out, spoon ganache into heatproof bowl and place over a pot of simmering water. Stir constantly until thinned out. Unfrosted, unfilled cupcakes can be frozen up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before assembling and serving.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): 12-cup Muffin Pan | Cupcake Liners | Whisk | Glass Mixing Bowls | Cooling Rack | Food Processor | Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand) | Freeze Dried Strawberries | Sifter/Sieve | Piping Bag (Disposable or Reusable) | Wilton #12 Round Piping Tip | Small Icing Spatula | Cupcake Carrier
- Strawberry Buttercream: See the separate post on how to make the strawberry buttercream. You can read all the details about the frosting in that blog post. The freeze-dried strawberries are the secret; do not use fresh or frozen. Where to buy freeze-dried strawberries? I always find them in my regular grocery store in the dried fruit aisle. If you can’t find freeze-dried strawberries at the store, you can purchase them online or try strawberry whipped cream instead.
- Cupcakes Sinking: The cupcakes may look like they’re sinking in the center while they’re baking, but they should pop back up by the time baking is finished. It doesn’t matter all that much if they sink a bit in the center, though, because we’re cutting out the middles and filling them with cream.
- Buttermilk vs. Sour Cream: I tested these cupcakes both ways. Made with buttermilk, they have the best flavor, but can be a little soft and sticky, so slightly more difficult to cut and fill (I recommend a quick chill in the refrigerator before cutting and filling, to make them a bit easier to work with). Made with sour cream, they have a sturdier crumb, but the chocolate flavor isn’t as strong. You can also try using half of each, if you happen to have both!
- Buttermilk: Buttermilk is required for this recipe. You can make your own DIY version of buttermilk if needed. Add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Then add enough whole milk to the same measuring cup until it reaches 1/2 cup. (In a pinch, lower fat or nondairy milks work for this soured milk, but the cupcakes won’t taste as moist or rich.) Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes. The homemade “buttermilk” will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in the recipe.
- Hot Coffee or Hot Water: Hot liquid enhances the cocoa powder’s flavor. It also encourages it to bloom and dissolve appropriately. I promise these cupcakes don’t taste like coffee at all! If you don’t drink coffee, you can use hot water. For deeper and richer flavor, though, use coffee (regular or decaf, but make sure it’s black with no sugar or cream). You can either brew it in a coffee maker or make instant coffee.
- Chocolate for Ganache: Real, quality chocolate is ideal for ganache to set properly. I use the 4-ounce baking bars found in the grocery store baking aisle, such as Ghirardelli or Baker’s brands. You’ll need 1.5 of the 4-ounce bars to yield 6 ounces. If you can’t find those, you can use 170g (about 1 cup) of high-quality semi-sweet chocolate chips.
- Can I Make This Into a Cake? Absolutely. Use my chocolate cake recipe for 2 cake layers, spread the strawberry buttercream on one cooled cake, top with 2nd cake, and top entire cake with ganache.
- Top With Strawberry Heart Slices! Super simple. Watch this video for how to cut strawberries into hearts. I rounded off the top of the heart and cut each into thin slices to top the cupcakes.
- More Success Tips: Be sure to check out my 10 Tips for Baking the BEST Cupcakes.
Keywords: Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes