One year ago (November 17, 2019), I started this blog, and it only seemed fitting that on the one year blog-iversary that I share one of my favorite cupcake recipes. Now, these are not the chocolate cupcakes of childhood birthday's past. These are the adult version, where sugar is cut down and chocolate is amped up. They're rich, creamy, and have a little bite. And, they come out this beautiful deep color that is achieved without having to use food dye or black cocoa!
The Trick to Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
It's simple: espresso powder! Normally, I like to use dark cocoa powder (easily found in grocery stores) to amp up the chocolate flavor, but the combination of regular cocoa powder and instant espresso powder makes all the difference. Not only does the espresso powder give it a rich color, it amplifies the chocolate notes. And no, don't worry, this cake does not taste like coffee. But, if you WANT it to taste like coffee, it would be heavenly if you added a little extra espresso powder to the frosting.
What espresso powder do I use?
Not all instant coffee is created equal. You can use whatever you can find in the store, but there is a difference between instant coffee and instant espresso. There is a bitterness in espresso powder that instant coffee lacks. My favorite is Cafe Bustelo's Instant Espresso Coffee. It has an amazing flavor, adds the perfect depth of color, and it doesn't make my frosting or cake grainy. Plus, it's available at most grocery stores, so I'm always guaranteed to find it.
What if I don't have instant espresso/coffee?
If you don't have it on hand and don't want to make a special purchase, then just brew a cup of STRONG regular coffee. Instead of adding a cup of hot water, you'll add a cup of boiling hot brewed coffee. I do not, however, recommend adding an entire cup of brewed espresso. That would be VERY strong, and you would end up tasting the coffee flavor. But, maybe that's what you're going for. Either way, just make sure you have a cup of piping hot liquid (albeit coffee or water) to help "open up" the cocoa powder before you begin baking.
But, seriously, these are the best dark chocolate cupcakes I've ever had. I can't rave enough about them. If you want to see how I make them into cake form, check out my Dark Chocolate Cake with Roasted Strawberry Buttercream.
Best Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
Dark Chocolate Cake
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 1 ½ cups AP flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoon espresso powder
- 3 large eggs
- ⅔ cup canola oil
- 2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup boiling water
Dark Chocolate Frosting
- ½ cup butter
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- Preheat oven to 350F. Add baking cups to 2 12-count cupcake pans.
- Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk until fully combined. Mix in eggs, oil, and vanilla. While stirring, pour in 1 cup of hot water. Continue to mix until fully combined and shiny.
- Fill baking cups ⅔ of the way full. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool.
- Whip butter on high for 5 minutes. Slowly add in sweetened condense milk. Continue beating for 2 more minutes.
- Add in cocoa powder and espresso powder. Beat an additional 5 minutes. Stir vigorously to knock out extra air bubbles.
- Decorate the cupcakes and enjoy!