Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

I sincerely apologize for all of those crazy emails you received yesterday. I did an update on word press (still getting use to word press) and at the same time I was working on the draft to this post. For some strange reason the post then got published and thus the emails instantly went out to you all. I’m glad that my email notification is so efficient, but at the same time, it’s a bit too efficient.  The post was obviously not fit to be published, as it was in total draft form, but now at last it’s all ready, so here it is.

So, lets move away from the hassles of computers and technology and onto these cupcakes or should I say happy cakes.  Zoe used to call cupcakes happy cakes when she was little, and I really think it’s a fitting name, don’t you? Cupcakes make people happy, at least everyone I know. I can still her cute little raspy voice and see her big grin every time we went to a birthday party and she saw cupcakes.  She would jump and down saying, “happy cakes, happy cakes.”

These are the ideal party or celebration cupcakes. They’re moist and chock-full of rich chocolate flavor.  The cream cheese frosting is the perfect accompaniment to the cupcakes, making them not too sweet.  I took my family’s favorite chocolate cake recipe and transformed it into cupcakes.

Chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting

I initially made the cupcakes using the whole cake recipe and ended up with 24 cupcakes. Ummm, 24 cupcakes are perfect for a party or event, but a bit too much to pawn off on the family, so I decided to cut the recipe in half, and now it’s perfect. I was worried that the cupcakes would be a bit dry or loose some of their moistness (I know, I hate that word) being reduced down to cupcake size, but they didn’t loose either of those qualities. They honestly taste like mini versions of my cake.

This recipe is the halved version of my cake recipe which will make 12 cupcakes, if you have a hankering to make 24 cupcakes, then head on over to my chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting recipe, and use those quantities for both the cupcakes and cream cheese frosting.  I know the quantities below seem strange, (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of flour) but I cut the original recipe in half, and those are the quantities that I came up with.  Ok, lets make some cupcakes!  Whoo hoo!

Chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

cupcake recipe from Barefoot Contessa at Home: Everyday Recipes You’ll Make Over and Over Againir?t=marmamcoo 20&l=as2&o=1&a=1400054346Barefoot Contessa at home
makes 12 cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup cold buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup freshly brewed good quality hot coffee – Don’t be turned off by the coffee in the recipe, you honestly don’t taste it at all.  The coffee enhances the flavor of the cocoa powder, resulting in a more chocolaty cupcake, not a coffee-flavored one.
  • 12 cupcake liners

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a standard muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Muffin tin lined with papers

In a large bowl, whisk the following ingredients together until combined:

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour – make sure you level off the flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Chocolate cupcake dry ingredients

In a smaller bowl, whisk the following ingredients together until combined:

  • 1/2 cup cold buttermilk, make sure the buttermilk is well shaken
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate cupcake liquid ingredients

With either a hand-held mixer or an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, on low-speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.

This is what your batter will look like once the wet and dry ingredients are combined, and before you add the coffee.  The batter will be pretty thick, but chocolaty.

Chocolate cupcake batter

Now its time to add that freshly brewed coffee. I always use a good strong coffee like Peets.  I don’t know if that’s what makes the cake taste so rich, but I’m sure it has some small part to play in it.

Add the 1/2 cup coffee and mix until combined, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Below is what your mixture will look like. See how much thinner it is?

Adding coffee to chocolate cupcake batter

This batter is pretty thin, so I just pour the batter (make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl so you get all of the batter) into a large 4-cup measuring cup to make it easier for pouring into the cupcake liners.  You can use any large container with a pour spout.  If you don’t have a large pourable container, just pour the batter into a smaller container in batches or just use an ice cream scoop.

Chocolate cupcake batter in measuring cup

Pour the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them 3/4 full.

Pouring cupcake batter

Chocolate cupcakes ready to bake

Bake the cupcakes for 21-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Mine were done at exactly 21 minutes.

Baking tip:  Here’s a great tip to gage when a cake or cupcake/muffin is done.  Do the finger test.  Press your finger down gently in the middle of the cake.  If it’s done, it should puff back up automatically on its own.  If it stays dented, then the cake/cupcake is not ready to come out yet.

Perfectly baked chocolate cupcakes

Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pan, making sure to gently detach the tops from the pan if they’re sticking a bit. Set them on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Chocolate cupcakes

Once the cupcakes have cooled, its time to make the frosting!

Cream cheese frosting

Cream cheese frosting

makes enough frosting for 12 cupcakes

  • approximately 1-2 cups unsifted confectioners sugar – this is to taste – You will then sift the confectioners sugar so there are no lumps in the frosting
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter, at room temperature
  • 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Cream cheese frosting ingredients

Pour 1-2 cups unsifted confectioners sugar into a sifter and sift the sugar into a large bowl and set aside. Sifting the sugar helps to ensure you don’t have lumpy frosting.

Sifting powder sugar

Put your softened butter, cream cheese and vanilla into a bowl and get your handy dandy mixer out.

I prefer to use my hand-held mixer with small frosting batches such as this because it’s just easier to manipulate, but you can use your standing mixer with the whisk attachment.  Beat the butter, cream cheese and vanilla together on medium speed until well blended.

Mixing cream cheese frosting

Slowly add the sifted confectioners sugar to taste.  At first, pour in 1/2 of the sifted amount, mix it and give it taste, and keep adding small amounts till you get it to the taste you like.  You want it to be sweet but not too sweet.

NOTE: If you add too much confectioner’s sugar, the frosting will be really sweet and you won’t really get that cream cheese flavor.  Just keep adding the sugar and tasting the frosting until it reaches a flavor you like.  How do I know when it’s right? You want taste a bit of the cream cheese, but you also want it to be sweet at the same time, almost like a perfect balance of the two.

Honestly my frosting comes out best when the kids are around because they are the BEST testers and always get it right! Below is what your finished product will look like. It should be smooth and creamy looking.  The color will vary from white to creamy white.

Cream cheese frosting

Now comes the fun part, frosting the cupcakes. Take your frosting knife and throw a big dollop on top.

Frosting chocolate cupcakes

Gently press and move the frosting around so it evenly tops the cupcake. It doesn’t have to be perfect.  Sometimes imperfectly frosted cupcakes are the prettiest! You can tell that they’re homemade and made from the heart.

Frosting chocolate cupcake

Throw on some colored sprinkles, because come on, they just look great and add a pop of color.

Chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

These are truly the perfect party cupcakes. I surprised my girlfriends recently and brought these to a birthday lunch!  It was the perfect surprise and meant a lot because they were made from the heart with love.  It’s all about love baby!

Chocolate cupcake with cream cheese frosting

Store the cupcakes in an airtight container.

Go ahead and make someone’s day and make them these cupcakes.

Valentine’s day is coming up, what a perfect excuse to make a batch of these!

With love Jackie

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

0 from 0 votes
Recipe by Jackie

    Ingredients

    • Cupcakes
    • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

    • 1 cup sugar

    • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

    • 1 teaspoon baking soda

    • ½ teaspoon baking powder

    • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

    • ½ cup cold buttermilk, shaken

    • ¼ cup vegetable oil

    • 1 extra-large egg, at room temperature

    • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    • ½ cup freshly brewed good quality hot coffee - Don't be turned off by the coffee in the recipe, you honestly don't taste it at all. The coffee enhances the flavor of the cocoa powder, resulting in a more chocolaty cupcake, not a coffee-flavored one.

    • 12 cupcake liners

    • Cream cheese frosting
    • approximately 1-2 cups unsifted confectioners sugar - this is to taste -You will then sift the confectioners sugar so there are no lumps in the frosting

    • 1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter, at room temperature

    • 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, at room temperature

    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    Directions

    • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard muffin tin with cupcake liners.

    • In a large bowl, whisk the following ingredients together until combined, ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, (make sure you level off the flour) 1 cup sugar, ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder,1 teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon baking powder and ½ teaspoon kosher salt.

    • In a smaller bowl, whisk the following ingredients together until combined, ½ cup cold buttermilk, make sure the buttermilk is well shaken,1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1 egg and ½ teaspoon vanilla.

    • With either a hand-held mixer or an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.

    • The batter will be pretty thick at this point, but chocolaty.

    • Now its time to add that freshly brewed coffee. I always use a good strong coffee like Peets. I don't know if that's what makes the cake taste so rich, but I'm sure it has some small part to play in it.

    • Add the ½ cup coffee and mix until combined, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Your batter will be much thinner after you add the coffee.

    • This batter is pretty thin, so I just pour the batter (make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl so you get all of the batter) into a large 4-cup measuring cup to make it easier for pouring into the cupcake liners. You can use any large container with a pour spout. If you don't have a large pourable container, just pour the batter into a smaller container in batches or just use an ice cream scoop.

    • Pour the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them ¾ full.

    • Bake the cupcakes for 21-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Mine were done at exactly 21 minutes.

    • Baking tip: Here's a great tip to gage when a cake or cupcake/muffin is done. Do the finger test. Press your finger down gently in the middle of the cake. If it's done, it should puff back up automatically on its own. If it stays dented, then the cake/cupcake is not ready to come out yet.

    • Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pan, making sure to gently detach the tops from the pan if they're sticking a bit. Set them on a cooling rack to cool completely.

    • Once the cupcakes have cooled, its time to make the frosting!

    • Pour 1-2 cups unsifted confectioners sugar into a sifter and sift the sugar into a large bowl and set aside. Sifting the sugar helps to ensure you don't have lumpy frosting.

    • Put your softened butter, cream cheese and vanilla into a bowl and get your handy dandy mixer out.

    • I prefer to use my hand held mixer with small frosting batches such as this because it's just easier to manipulate, but you can use your standing mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat the butter, cream cheese and vanilla together on medium speed until well blended.

    • Slowly add the sifted confectioners sugar to taste. At first, pour in ½ of the sifted amount, mix it and give it taste, and keep adding small amounts till you get it to the taste you like. You want it to be sweet but not too sweet.

    • NOTE: If you add too much confectioner's sugar, the frosting will be really sweet and you won't really get that cream cheese flavor. Just keep adding the sugar and tasting the frosting until it reaches a flavor you like. How do I know when it's right? You want taste a bit of the cream cheese, but you also want it to be sweet at the same time, almost like a perfect balance of the two.

    • NOTE: If you add too much confectioner's sugar, the frosting will be really sweet and you won't really get that cream cheese flavor. Just keep adding the sugar and tasting the frosting until it reaches a flavor you like. How do I know when it's right? You want taste a bit of the cream cheese, but you also want it to be sweet at the same time, almost like a perfect balance of the two.

    • Now comes the fun part, frosting the cupcakes. Take your frosting knife and throw a big dollop on top.

    • Gently press and move the frosting around so it evenly tops the cupcake.

    • Throw on some colored sprinkles, because come on, they just look great and add a pop of color.

    • Store the cupcakes in an airtight container.

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      40 thoughts on “Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting”

      1. Happy cakes! That is the sweetest name for these, I love that! They look delicious and the pictures are wonderful. I’m pinning these all over the place!
        Ahh the computer – love it and hate it. Rick is my technical IT guy since he works in computers and there have actually been days that I’ve called him when my computer was acting up and ask for my personal help desk, ha! He doesn’t do anything with the blogging stuff though so if those things pop up, it’s like detective work trying to figure that stuff out for myself. Glad it got worked out and no worries about the extra emails, those things happen! Have a great day girlfriend! xoxo, Sharon

        1. I saw your pins girl and you are too sweet. I think both boys in your house would approve of these cupcakes, but they probably have manly appetites, so why not just make the cake, right? John is the techy guy as well, and I have called him on many occasions with computer or blogging disasters. He’s great because he will stop in the middle of what he’s doing and help out. I also call my HTML goddess Wendy (also my workout buddy) and she’s right on the case. She’s amazing. Luckily, I didn’t get any negative emails from anyone wondering what was up. It seems I have easy going and happy readers. Have a great weekend Sharon!
          xoxo, Jackie

          1. Oh now there you go, just make the whole cake! They’d like that.

            How great that you have a HTML goddess! I’ll take one of those!

            We had a nice weekend, now heading into a busy week. It’s all good though. Talk again soon. xoxo, Sharon

      2. “If it’s done, it should puff back up automatically on its own. If it stays dented, then the cake/cupcake is not ready to come out yet.= that’s a great tip – rather than sticking toothpicks into them.

        And great job on reducing your cake to cupcakes and noting that it didnt make them dry. I always wonder about that.

        And I also like that you didn’t pipe the frosting on (too much wasted to the pastry bag and too fussy for an everyday cupcake IMO) and thanks for keeping it just dolloped on.

        Great job, Jackie!

        1. Thanks so much Averie. Hearing compliments from a baking pro like you, makes my day! I believe cupcakes and cakes look better and more real when they are just frosted normally. My kids don’t like the looks of those heavy piped cupcakes, I think they think the frosting is fake or something. I’m also lazy and it’s just easier to throw the frosting on top and mash it down! xoxo, Jackie

        1. Hi Rachel! I tend to do the same thing. I find a brownie or cake recipe that I love and I stick to it. I’m a creature of habit! It is always fun to try new recipes though. I’ll definitely have to check out your favorite cupcake recipe 🙂

      3. hahaha you know i too get so UGH with technology….my boys love to lick the frosting off the top of cupcakes…so the boys eat the frosting off and mommy gets the cake part and then we are just one big happy family 🙂 i agree with averie- love that you just dolloped the frosting on…as much as piped frosting looks so pretty and perfect…that is just not my style with cupcakes.

        1. Hi Angela! The frosting is the best part to me, and with cupcakes and cake I have to have the two together. They compliment each other so well. I agree with you both and think that piped cupcakes are beautiful for an event, bridal or wedding shower, but for everyday cupcake eating, dolloped frosting looks the most real. Have a great Friday sister! xoxo, Jackie

      4. Ahh – Happy Cakes!! :). Im acutally not much of a cupcake gilr myself (I know right?! Its always cookies and cheesecake and ICE CREAM that has called my name). However these do look super tempting and your photos are so gorgeous. Plus Im so happy that I now have a job where I can make all the sweet things in the world and I have somewhere to put them (other than my tummy!). Your kids are so good though right?! I remember you saying how Zoe only ever has one treat per day which, in my opinion, is the perfect amount (no more, no less) and it so impressive that she is already doing so at her age. Healthy mama role model! xoxox

        1. It’s funny how some of us are cupcake and cake people while others are ice-cream people. John is an ice-cream guy as well and would take a bowl of vanilla bean over a slice of cake any day. The kids and I are cake and cookie fans though. Yes, Zoe and ELi both know their sweet limits. They will have more than one sweet a day if the sweet is on the small side, but typically they both don’t go overboard. They’re such good kids 🙂

      5. I made the cake version of this, this past weekend and I can’t imagine EVER making a different chocolate cake! It was amazing!!!! I had been looking for a chocolate cake recipe that actually tastes like chocolate (go figure…) without being overly sweet. This was perfect! I’m a bit sad that it’s done :o) I did a different frosting though- it’s one from Cook’s Illustrated that uses cream cheese & whipping cream. Amazing! Thanks for the great recipe- enjoy your weekend!

        1. Hi Kathy! I’m so glad that has become your new favorite cake. I feel the same way, once I discovered that recipe, I haven’t made another cake since, and it has become the birthday and all around celebration cake in our house. It’s truly the coffee that brings out the chocolate flavor and makes it so moist. I’ll have to look at that frosting recipe, it sounds great. Have a great weekend 🙂 xoxo, Jackie

          1. It’s the frosting for their Strawberry Cream Cake (which is quite tasty as well :o) If you can’t find it I’ll be glad to send it to you. XO Kathy

      6. Oh dear, what a happy day it is: happy cupcakes! They came out of the oven perfectly leveled, great job! Those colored sprinkles do make them look happy and bring a smile on my face. What a surprise it was for your friends, homemade with love. 🙂

        1. Hi Marina. Thanks for the sweet compliment. This is a barefoot recipe, and I find that all of her recipes turn out great. Yes, cupcakes do make a happy day. I think Zoe’s name, happy cakes is pure genius. 🙂

      7. Hello! Im a new baker (just started mid January) and came across your chocolate cake recipe a while back and have been using it to make cake or cupcakes from scratch. I bought some to the office one time and my colleagues LOVE the cake. Its true. Its so moist and yummy. Everybody has been asking me for the recipe and I just point them to your blog. Nice to see you have cupcake portion recipe now. Just actually came from a baking get together today with my officemates and guess what, we used your choco cake recipe. Everybody loves it. Thanks so much!

          1. Hi Tors! I’m so happy you love that cake recipe and that your co-workers do as well. Thanks for the shout out as well 🙂 I think it’s awesome and so fun that you all have baking get togethers and it’s especially cool that you made the chocolate cake. I see you already have the cupcake recipe down, so you’re one step ahead of the game 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by and letting me know how much you love the cake. I hope you find some other recipes on the blog to make as well and if you do, let me know! Have a great day. xoxo, Jackie

      8. Our grand-boys came over this past week end. We played Risk, watched a movie and ate Happy Cakes! Oh, my they were wonderful! Can you tell Zoe that we followed her plan and called called them Happy too. 🙂 I made them look just like yours sprinkles and all. So Happy!

        1. Hi Shari! I love that you made the cupcakes and also that you called them happy cakes. I will be sure to tell Zoe when she gets home from school. Hey, who knows, maybe happy cakes will be the new word for cupcakes.
          It sounds like you all had a fun filled and happy weekend! I love hearing stories like that. Have a great day Shari:) xoxo, Jackie

      9. Hi! First of all, baking in Colorado is so challenging so when I came across your deeeelicious recipe, I must say that I love it I love it I love it! It works on high altitude. It’s incredibly moist and just delicious. Thank you thank you!

        1. Awesome news! I’m psyched to hear that the cupcakes work in high altitude baking and that they turned out amazing for you! Yaay! 🙂

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      11. Absolutely Yum!! Such a success!! 🙂 Tummy and Crowd Pleasers! 🙂 Thank
        Just need to know for next time…i think my frosting turned out a little runny the same day and then the next day it was thick. Is that normal or did i do something wrong?

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      13. Made these the other day for baking Tuesday (i bake every Tuesday for my father’s work) and they got many enthusiastic thumbs up from lads who liked to pretend they were too manly for cupcakes 😉 this recipes fantastic and i’ll end up using it again, even if it is fairly hard to get buttermilk in the UK

        1. Hi Tai! Awesome! I’m glad these cupcakes turned out awesome for you, and that everyone at your father’s work enjoyed them. I LOVE cupcakes and think that they’re really the perfect dessert! There are recipes for homemade buttermilk, though I haven’t tried any yet, but maybe since it’s so hard to find where you are, you could try making some! Thanks for letting me know how the cupcakes turned out for you!

          xoxo, Jacquelyn

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      15. Hi, your cream cheese frosting recipe was great! Just what I was looking for when I was making a pair of giant cupcakes last month. I included a link to your post in my cupcake write up afterwards. Thanks!

        1. Thanks Dave! I’m happy to hear that you loved the cream cheese frosting. It’s still one of our all-time favorite frostings! 🙂 xoxo, Jacquelyn

      16. Best. Chocolate cupcakes. EVER. I substituted coconut oil for vegetable oil, used organic cacao powder, and used Tim Horton’s coffee straight from the Kuerig. I will never use another chocolate cake recipe.

        1. Hi Jessica! AWESOME! I’m so happy to hear that this is going to be your go-to cake recipe going forward! It’s from the Barefoot, so you can’t go wrong! I’m also psyched to hear that you substituted the vegetable oil with coconut oil! I’ve always wanted to try that, but was afraid it would change the flavor. Did you use refined or unrefined (virgin) coconut oil? Yippee! xoxo, Jacquelyn 🙂

      17. WOW! Just wow! I just baked these and this is THE BEST CUPCAKE I have ever had! moist, light, and fluffy!! Just the right amount of sweetness and the buttercream complimented the cupcake perfectly! THank you for sharing!

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