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Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla buttercream Frosting

If you’ve been on the lookout for a dessert that finds that sweet spot between simple and indulgent, search no more! Today, we’re diving right into the world of super yummy chocolate cupcakes, and each one gets a fancy upgrade with a swirl of creamy vanilla buttercream frosting on top.

And there’s more to this cupcake combo than meets the eye! Even though the chocolate-vanilla duo might sound like an everyday treat, these cupcakes are anything but ordinary. The chocolate cupcake is soft and moist, and the buttercream is the perfect balance between soft and creamy.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients you’ll need for these moist chocolate cupcakes

To make these you need simple ingredients, found in any big grocery store.

Chocolate Cupcakes:

  • Cake flour. Cake flour is your ticket to a tender and delicate crumb. Its lower protein content compared to all-purpose flour results in a finer texture, giving your cupcakes that melt-in-the-mouth feeling.
  • Cocoa powder. Cocoa powder isn’t just about flavor; it affects the cupcakes’ color and texture too. I suggest using Dutch-processed cocoa instead of natural cocoa powder, which has a neutral pH that intensifies the chocolate flavor and gives your cupcakes a rich, deep color. It also contributes to a smoother batter.
  • Baking powder. It’s a leavening agent that creates air bubbles when heated, causing the batter to rise and giving your cupcakes a light, airy structure.
  • Baking soda. Baking soda is an alkaline ingredient that reacts with the acid in other ingredients, like cocoa powder and sour cream. This reaction helps your cupcakes rise and become fluffy.
  • Salt. Salt is a flavor enhancer. Even in sweet recipes like cupcakes, a small amount of salt brings out and balances the chocolatey sweetness, creating a well-rounded taste.
  • Vegetable oil. The vegetable oil keeps your cupcakes moist and soft. It adds a subtle richness without overpowering the chocolate flavor.
  • Granulated sugar. Sugar does more than just sweeten; it also contributes to the cupcakes’ structure and tenderness.
  • Eggs. Eggs bind the ingredients together and provide structure. They also contribute moisture, richness, and a velvety texture to the cupcakes.
  • Vanilla extract. Vanilla extract doesn’t just enhance flavor; it adds complexity to the chocolate notes and makes the cupcakes more aromatic 
  • Sour cream. Sour cream is your secret weapon for a moist cupcake. It adds a creamy texture and a hint of acidity that complements the sweetness of the cupcakes.
  • Hot coffee. Hot coffee might sound unusual, but it intensifies the chocolate flavor and contributes to the cupcakes’ moistness. The heat also helps in blooming the cocoa powder, making sure its full flavor comes out.

Vanilla Buttercream frosting:

  • Unsalted butter. The butter serves as the base for your buttercream, and by using unsalted butter, you have complete control over the saltiness of the frosting,
  • Powdered sugar. Powdered sugar, also known as confectioners’ sugar, sweetens and thickens the frosting. Its fine texture ensures a smooth and velvety consistency.
  • Vanilla extract. Vanilla extract is like the secret ingredient that makes vanilla buttercream truly special. It adds a cozy and inviting smell that transforms plain buttercream into a deliciously scented frosting.
  • Salt. Salt may seem counterintuitive in a sweet frosting, but it’s essential for balance. A pinch of salt enhances the overall flavor profile by cutting through the sweetness and bringing out the richness of the butter 
  • Heavy cream. Heavy cream, sometimes called whipping cream, adds the magical touch of creaminess to your buttercream. It’s responsible for giving the frosting a lush, silky texture. The fat content in heavy cream makes the buttercream spreadable, while its liquid content helps achieve the desired consistency without making it too thick.

Take a look at the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full recipe.

Ingredient substitutions

  • You can substitute your cake flour for All-purpose flour. While cake flour gives a lighter texture, all-purpose flour works too. Just keep in mind that the cupcakes might be a touch denser.
  • Substitute Dutch-processed cocoa powder with unsweetened cocoa powder. While Dutch-processed cocoa adds depth, natural cocoa works fine. Your cupcakes might have a slightly different color and flavor, but they’ll still be delicious.
  • Substitute margarine for unsalted butter. While butter gives the best flavor, you’re able to substitute them. If using margarine, make sure it’s labeled for baking and without the added water content.
  • Use instant coffee instead of hot coffee. Dissolve the instant coffee or espresso powder in a cup of hot water and use as directed in the recipe.

How to make these easy chocolate cupcakes

Simple Chocolate Cupcakes:

Start by pre-heating your oven to 400 F. Line your cupcake tins with cupcake liners and set aside.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Over a large bowl with the paddle attachment, beat oil and sugar for 1 minute, at medium speed. Add eggs, one by one, beating after each addition. Add vanilla and sour cream and beat until just combined.

Include the hot coffee and the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients, alternating them. Start and finish with the dry ingredients and beat until just combined, scraping the bottom of the bowl. Do not overbeat.

Divide batter into the paper liners, filling them 2/3 full. Use an ice cream scoop or cookie scoop for evenly sized cupcakes.

Bake for 5 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 F and bake for an additional 7-10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let the cupcakes cool for 1 minute in the cupcake tin, then place the unfrosted cupcakes over a wire rack to cool completely.

Vanilla Buttercream frosting:

Over a large mixing bowl and using the whisk attachment, cream butter for 1.5 minutes on medium-high speed, or until light and fluffy.

Sift your powdered sugar. Turn to low speed and gradually add your sifted icing sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and heavy cream until just combined. Turn the speed to high and beat for an additional minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure all of the ingredients are well-mixed. Frosting should look light and fluffy.

Fill a piping bag with a 1M piping tip with your frosting, pipe a swirl on top of your completely cooled cupcakes, and top with sprinkles or chocolate chips.

Expert tips for making the best chocolate cupcakes

  1. Measure ingredients correctly: Baking is a science, so accuracy matters. Spoon and level your dry ingredients like flour, cocoa powder, and sugar. For liquids, use a liquid measuring cup and check at eye level for precise amounts.
  2. Room Temperature Ingredients: Allow your ingredients, like eggs and sour cream, to come to room temperature before using them. Room-temperature ingredients blend more evenly, creating a smoother batter and helping cupcakes rise uniformly.
  3. Ideal Butter Consistency: When making the vanilla buttercream, ensure your butter is at room temperature, but not too soft. It should leave a dent when pressed with a finger but still hold its shape. 
  4. Don’t overbeat the batter: Once you start mixing your cupcake batter, be mindful not to overbeat. Over-mixing can lead to tough cupcakes. Mix until the ingredients are just combined.
  5. Use quality ingredients: Opt for high-quality cocoa powder, butter,  and real vanilla extract. These ingredients directly influence the flavor of both the cupcakes and the frosting. The better the quality, the better the taste.
  6. Consistent cupcake sizes: To ensure even baking, use a scoop or spoon to portion out the cupcake batter. This helps maintain consistent sizes, leading to uniform baking times.
  7. Preheat your oven: Always preheat your oven to the specified temperature before putting in your cupcakes. This ensures they start baking correctly from the get-go.
  8. Cool completely: Allow your cupcakes to cool completely before frosting. If they’re still warm, the buttercream could melt or slide off.
Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make the cupcakes ahead of time?

Absolutely! Bake the cupcakes, let them cool, and then store them in an airtight container. Frost them closer to serving to keep the frosting fresh.

How do I prevent my cupcakes from sinking in the middle?

Avoid over-mixing the batter, which can cause sinking. Also, ensure your leavening agents (baking powder and baking soda) are fresh and properly measured.

How do I make the frosting less sweet?

Gradually add powdered sugar to the buttercream until it’s at your preferred sweetness level, (careful with the consistency! removing too much powdered sugar could end up in a too-soft frosting). You can also add a pinch more salt to balance the flavors.

How long can I store these cupcakes?

Cupcakes can be stored at room temperature for a day or two in an airtight container. If it’s hot out, consider refrigerating them to keep the frosting from getting too soft.

Can I freeze the cupcakes for later?

Absolutely! Just make sure they’re well-wrapped to prevent freezer burn. When ready to enjoy, thaw them in the fridge and then bring them to room temperature.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Don’t miss out! Click this link to watch the video of this Classic Chocolate Cupcake with Vanilla Buttercream frosting  up-close.

Take a look at this link for more Cupcake recipes, or the links below for other recipes you might like:

Homemade Nutella Cupcakes with Nutella filling

Mini Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe

Brownie Cupcakes Recipe (with Fudge frosting)

Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling

Banana Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche filling

If you make this recipe, please be sure to give it a star rating and leave a comment below!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla buttercream Frosting

If you've been on the lookout for a dessert that finds that sweet spot between simple and indulgent, search no more! Today, we're diving right into the world of super yummy chocolate cupcakes, and each one gets a fancy upgrade with a swirl of creamy vanilla buttercream on top.
Prep Time30 minutes
Baking time15 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Course: Cupcakes, Muffins & Donuts
Cuisine: American
Keyword: best chocolate cupcake recipe with vanilla buttercream, chocolate cupcake recipe with vanilla frosting, chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting, easy chocolate cupcake with classic buttercream, sweet fix baker
Servings: 24 cupcakes

Equipment

  • 1 Electric mixer
  • 2 cupcake tins
  • 1 piping bag
  • 1 1M piping tip

Ingredients

Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour spooned and leveled
  • 3/4 cup dutch process cocoa powder spooned and leveled
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream room temperature
  • 1 cup freshly brewed strong coffee

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 6 1/4 cups powdered sugar spooned and leveled
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sprinkles optional

Instructions

Chocolate Cupcakes

  • Start by pre-heating your oven to 400 F. Line your cupcake tins with cupcake liners and set aside.
  • Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
    2 1/2 cups cake flour, 3/4 cup dutch process cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Over a large bowl with the paddle attachment, beat oil and sugar for 1 minute, at medium speed. Add eggs, one by one, beating after each addition. Add vanilla and sour cream and beat until just combined.
    1 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 3 large eggs, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Add the hot coffee and the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, alternating them. Start and finish with the dry ingredients and beat until just combined, scraping the bottom of the bowl. Do not overbeat.
    1 cup freshly brewed strong coffee
  • Divide batter into the paper liners, filling them 2/3 full. Use an ice cream scoop or cookie scoop for evenly sized cupcakes.
  • Bake for 5 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 F and bake for an additional 7-10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Let the cupcakes cool for 1 minute in the cupcake tin, then place the unfrosted cupcakes over a wire rack to cool completely.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  • Over a large mixing bowl and using the whisk attachment, cream butter for 1.5 minutes on medium-high speed, or until light and fluffy.
    1 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • Sift your powdered sugar.
    Turn to low speed and gradually add it along with the vanilla extract, salt, and heavy cream until just combined. Turn the speed to high and beat for an additional minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure all of the ingredients are well-mixed. Frosting should look light and fluffy.
    6 1/4 cups powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Fill a piping bag with your frosting, pipe a swirl on top of your completely cooled cupcakes, and top with sprinkles or chocolate chips.
    1/4 cup sprinkles

Video

Notes

Expert tips for the best chocolate cupcakes
  1. Measure ingredients correctly: Baking is a science, so accuracy matters. Spoon and level your dry ingredients like flour, cocoa powder, and sugar. For liquids, use a liquid measuring cup and check at eye level for precise amounts.
  2. Room Temperature Ingredients: Allow your ingredients, like eggs and sour cream, to come to room temperature before using them. Room-temperature ingredients blend more evenly, creating a smoother batter and helping cupcakes rise uniformly.
  3. Ideal Butter Consistency: When making the vanilla buttercream, ensure your butter is at room temperature, but not too soft. It should leave a dent when pressed with a finger but still hold its shape. 
  4. Don’t overbeat the batter: Once you start mixing your cupcake batter, be mindful not to overbeat. Over-mixing can lead to tough cupcakes. Mix until the ingredients are just combined.
  5. Use quality ingredients: Opt for high-quality cocoa powder, butter,  and real vanilla extract. These ingredients directly influence the flavor of both the cupcakes and the frosting. The better the quality, the better the taste.
  6. Consistent cupcake sizes: To ensure even baking, use a scoop or spoon to portion out the cupcake batter. This helps maintain consistent sizes, leading to uniform baking times.
  7. Preheat your oven: Always preheat your oven to the specified temperature before putting in your cupcakes. This ensures they start baking correctly from the get-go.
  8. Cool completely: Allow your cupcakes to cool completely before frosting. If they’re still warm, the buttercream could melt or slide off.

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