Aug 15, 2010

My Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake

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I know this confession is a risky one, but I think our relationship can withstand such brutal honesty: Despite the chocolate-on-chocolate celebration of my latest posts, I can sort of take or leave chocolate. True story. I mean, I like chocolate, really I do–love working with it and putting it in my face on occasion. Because really, when a chocolate craving hits at certain, ahem, personal times, nothing but chocolate will do (holler if you hear me, ladies). However, I’d never be called a “chocoholic” or be gifted a mug that says something like “Ack! Don’t talk to me before I’ve had my morning chocolate!”, or whatever.

But even so, this here chocolate cupcake was so smack-the-counter good that they’ve become a Real Problem. Which is to say that my typical day of three meals and one dessert has basically inverted for the lifespan of these cupcakes. You can’t say I didn’t warn you.

I’ve shared the recipe for the chocolate cake with you before–it truly is my go-to recipe that I’ve tweaked and amped up a bit from Martha’s original recipe over the years. Love, love, love it. But the frosting is a new thing entirely, a result of my newfound love and fascination with flour frostings. I needed a chocolate version of this frosting, and I needed it to be a very specific frosting situation. For this part-time chocolate lover, it basically needed to blow my mind with chocolaty perfection, but not be cloyingly rich or overtly decadent like so many other chocolate frostings.

I wanted a cloud of chocolate atop the rich cake and some deranged combination between the flavor of melted chocolate ice cream, chocolate mousse and the center of a 3 Musketeers bar. It took a few attempts to get there. But judging by the ferocity and stealth with which I hid the leftovers of this frosting in the depths of my refrigerator, I’d say it was a total success. And the marriage of the cake and the frosting–mmm, mmm! I’d consider converting to Chocoholism for a cupcake like this.

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes

I get about 18 cupcakes out of this recipe, but you can stretch it to a full 2 dozen if need be. It also makes two great 9-inch cake layers. Using brewed coffee instead of just water makes the chocolate taste more…chocolatey. You can dissolve 1 teaspoon instant espresso in 3/4 cup hot water instead. Mini chocolate chips melt into the cake to make it extra rich and decadent.

Makes 18-24 cupcakes

For the cake:

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I love Ghiradelli or Valhrona)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup strong brewed coffee (see note)
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips (or regular chips, chopped fine)

For the chocolate flour frosting:

3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons premium cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Spray the top of the muffin tin with cooking spray for extra non-stick insurance, as these cupcakes can have a serious rise and can puff over the edges of the tin’s wells.

Sift together the cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add the eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Beat until smooth with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well-mixed. Fold in the mini chocolate chips.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups (an ice cream scoop works well here), filling each cup no more than 2/3 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting: In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, whisk together the flour, milk, cocoa powder and salt until the mixture comes together to form a thick paste. Press the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a small bowl, and press a sheet of plastic wrap right on the surface of the mixture to prevent a skin from forming. Cool in the refrigerator it for about 15 minutes, or until it’s cool to the touch.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the chocolate mixture until the frosting begins to lighten in color and texture, almost mousse-like. Beat in the melted unsweetened chocolate until the frosting is fluffy, smooth and well-blended. Frost cupcakes, and store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

  • OMW woman….my thighs hate you but my tastebuds? Singing your praises.

  • Intriguing! I too am a vanillaholic. I will have to convert for a day to try these. 🙂 (Absolutely LOVE your lemon cream cupcakes by the way. The fam can't get enough of them)! Thank you!

  • Ohh!! The chocoholic in me is in heaven!! Looks truly drool-worthy. Have you converted yet?

  • Any topping that rivals the center of a 3 Musketeers is cool with me.
    I am a chocolate lover, but not in cake form..weirdo

  • Lol "smack the counter good"! I totally get that and I agree with you on the chocolate indifference. I'm the same way. It's almost like if I do something with chocolate it has to be all or nothing. Go broke or go home am I right? Speaking of which, these cupcakes look amazing!

  • I have wanted to find a chocolate version of this cooked frosting using superfine sugar instead of powdered. I don't care for the taste of powdered sugar and my white version of this frosting uses superfine. Could you help me with the substitution? Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

  • These look so amazingly delicious! I'm a chocoholic and will add these to my list of recipes to try soon : )

  • Great. Now it's past 10pm and all we can think about are chocolate cupcakes with frosting that tastes like the fluffy perfection of a 3 Musketeers bar. Wonder how long the oven will take to preheat? Do we really need sleep?!

  • I am SO not a chocolate person either. Like, a chocolate dessert basically has to blow my mind from here across the universe in order for me to really crave it. I trust the word of a fellow chocolate apathist. Totally going to make these.

  • Your description is so compelling, you've got me wanting those cupcakes now! I've never made a chocolate flour frosting- it sounds like a perfect complement to these cupcakes. Thanks!

  • The simple mention of anything tasting like a 3 Musketeers bar makes me want to pack my bags and get a one way ticket back to the US. I need to try this frosting!

  • These look really yummy. I love the chocolate chips on top, cute!

  • this cupcake is so good. i just made some for my cousin.thank you

  • My daughter's 11th birthday was yesterday, and I used this recipe to make her birthday cake (frosting too). It was a huge hit! Thanks! 🙂

  • Blackbookkitchendiaries and Shauna–

    So glad to hear the recipe worked for you and you liked it! Hooray!

  • @Shauna: Just posted a blog entry about making the birthday cake with my daughter. The final product didn't turn out as beautiful as your cupcakes did, but everyone still thought it was delicious!


  • These sound amazing and the way you describe them and talk about them makes me want to run into my kitchen right now and whip up a batch! I'll definitely try them and let you know how they go when I do 😀

  • Your cupcakes look amazing! I've been on a chocolate kick recently and will have to bake these soon, I bet they would be good with Nutella mixed in somehow.
    I love your blog!

  • I made these yesterday and they are AMAZING. Truly the best chocolate cupcakes ever. Quite grown up, but my friend's 2 year old and 5 year old loved them too – so not all that grown up afterall! The two year old decorated them with Smarties. The flour frosting is so light and fluffy. I have never heard of it before, but I am now a big fan! Not sure I will ever make normal buttercream again! Thank you so much.

  • Becki D – don't worry about the thighs – these are quite low calorie without the frosting as they don't contain any butter! I used half the quantity specified and got 14 cupcakes, and worked it out on calorie count – only 140 calories each! (Until you add the frosting – 200 each!!!, so just dust with powdered sugar or just have a little frosting or one cupcake if you are really worried. I say life is too short though! Enjoy!).

  • OMG! These look incredible! Bookmarked!

    New to your blog; happy I found you!

    Mary xo
    Delightful Bitefuls

  • oh my goodness. i am in love

  • I actually don't like chocolate. Horrifying, I know. 🙂 But I love baking treats for my chocoholic friends. I've stayed away from flour frostings becuse I heard they don't last well. How long did yours keep?

  • I'm not a chocoholic either but I do enjoy it occasionally. Always need cupcakes to take to some church event so I'll give this recipe a try.

  • Laura–Flour frosting is definitely on the softer side and needs to be kept in a cool place (not the fridge, necessarily, just not in a warm room). It's divine!

  • […] adapted from Piece of Cake and Annie’s […]

  • Just made these today. Definitely the best chocolate cupcake I’ve ever tasted! The frosting is downright amazing, very rich and creamy. This is the first flour recipe I’ve tried that tastes so good! And the cake… It was all amazing! I was worried about how thin the mix seemed at first, but the cupcakes turned out wonderfully moist and decadent. My only qualm was that the chocolate chips sunk to the bottom. But considering how delicious these babies were, it’s hardly a problem. Will definitely remake these again someday!

  • Do you put vanilla in the frosting? It’s on the ingredient list but no in the instructions. I just added after the first chocolate bit. Can’t wait to ear these!

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