Made from simple everyday ingredients, these chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting will be your new favorite. For best results, use natural cocoa powder and buttermilk in the cupcake batter.
- 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
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 4–5 cups (480–600g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream, half-and-half, or whole milk, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- salt, to taste
- Make the cupcakes: 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.
- 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 before decorating.
- Make the frosting: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add 4 and 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, heavy cream/milk, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to medium-high speed and beat for 2 full minutes. Taste. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. I always add 1/8 teaspoon. Add up to 1/2 cup more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin, or more cream/milk—a Tablespoon at a time—if frosting is too thick.
- Frost cooled cupcakes. You can swipe the frosting on with an icing knife or use a piping tip such as Wilton 1M. Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Make Ahead Instructions: You can bake the cupcakes 1 day in advance. Keep cupcakes covered tightly at room temperature and frost the day of serving. Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before frosting and serving.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): 12-cup Muffin Pan | Cupcake Liners | Glass Mixing Bowls | Whisk | Piping Bag (Reusable or Disposable) | Wilton 1M Piping Tip
- 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 can 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. You could also substitute sour cream.
- Hot Coffee: 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.
- Mini Cupcakes: Fill mini liners only halfway and bake for 10–12 minutes at 350°F (177°C). Yields about 3 dozen.
- Cake: Here’s a chocolate cake that is just as moist and chocolate-y. To make enough vanilla frosting for that 2-layer cake, use the frosting ratios from this white cake recipe.
- Why Room Temperature? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly.
- More Success Tips: Be sure to check out my How to Use Piping Tips post for instructions on how to fill a piping bag, and you can also read my 10 Tips for Baking the BEST Cupcakes.
Keywords: chocolate cupcakes, vanilla frosting