Dark chocolate cupcakes made from scratch (using real dark chocolate and special dark cocoa powder!) and topped with the silky smooth peanut butter frosting that I shared last week! Recipe includes options for other frostings as well.
Today’s post is yet another addition to my series of love letters to peanut butter and chocolate. I mean, is there even a better flavor combination than peanut butter and chocolate (if you can think of one, I want to know what it is!)?
I think the last time I combined the two was when I shared my peanut butter blossoms, so we’re about due for a new recipe.
Today’s dark chocolate cupcakes take the obsession to a whole new level. They’re soft and fluffy, but deeply darkly colored, rich and just ever so slightly bitter, as good dark chocolate ought to be. If you’re a dark chocolate fan I think you’re going to love these cupcakes.
And while I usually find the frosting on top of a cupcake to be a bit too much, too sweet, too sugary, I think that a nice sweet frosting (like Friday’s peanut butter frosting) is the perfect complement to a good dark chocolate cupcake.
I already have a chocolate cupcake recipe on the blog, but after a few recipe trials I realized that it required a few more changes than just swapping out the cocoa powder for dark cocoa powder.
After plenty of test runs, I finally ended up with a winning recipe, and it’s good, guys!
These dark chocolate cupcakes use special dark cocoa powder for their midnight color, and I also added 4 oz of real dark chocolate. The 75% variety is my preference, I would recommend anywhere between 55-75%, anything higher may make the cupcakes a bit too bitter.
You’ll want to chop the chocolate as fine as you can manage (ideally the pieces will be smaller than mini chocolate chips). I roughly chopped my chocolate bar into pieces and then used a large knife to mince it as if I were mincing garlic, it worked nicely.
If you don’t chop your chocolate finely enough, it will likely be too heavy for the thin cupcake batter and will sink to the bottom of your cupcakes. This isn’t the worst thing that could happen (I certainly wouldn’t complain about a dark chocolate bonus at the bottom of my cupcake) but ideally you want the chocolate pieces to melt into your cupcake batter.
As I mentioned, we’ll also be using dark cocoa powder. I do not recommend substituting natural or dutch processed cocoa powder as you won’t get the rich dark color or taste of dark chocolate, and that’s the whole point with today’s recipe.
I use Hershey’s brand, as that’s what’s available in my grocery store.
Tips for Making Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
- This recipe calls for hot coffee, but if you don’t have hot coffee on hand, you can substitute hot water instead. However, if you have it, definitely use the coffee. It won’t make your cupcakes taste like coffee, but it will help enhance the chocolate flavor.
- It’s important that the coffee (or water, if using that instead) be very hot when you add it to your batter. If your sink doesn’t make produce very hot water (my hot sink water is literally scalding, so that’s what I use) you can heat the water in a saucepan on the stove before adding to your batter. The liquid needs to be hot because it will cause your cocoa powder to bloom — which means you will get a much richer chocolate flavor. It will also help to melt your finely chopped dark chocolate into the batter.
- Speaking of which, make sure your dark chocolate bar is chopped into extremely fine pieces. As I just mentioned, the goal is that it will mostly melt once you add the hot liquid.
- Don’t fill your cupcake liners higher than ⅔ of the way full with batter. If over-filled, your cupcakes will spread over the top of your cupcake pans.
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
- 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour (215g)
- 1 cup light brown sugar tightly packed (200g)
- 1 cup sugar (200g)
- ¾ cup dark cocoa powder (75g) (see note)
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted (113g)
- ½ cup canola oil may substitute vegetable oil (118ml)
- 2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk room temperature preferred
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 4 oz dark chocolate very finely chopped, I use 75% (113g)
- ½ cup hot coffee* or 1 teaspoon instant coffee dissolved into ½ cup hot water (118ml)
- 1 batch peanut butter frosting or your favorite frosting
- Preheat your oven to 350F (175C) and line 2 12-count muffin tins with paper liners. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whisk together flour, sugars, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add melted butter and oil, stir well.
- Add eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Pause occasionally to scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl.
- Stir in vanilla extract. Gradually add buttermilk and stir well, then stir in chopped chocolate.
- Add hot coffee, stirring until ingredients are well-combined (be sure to scrape sides and bottom of bowl again).
- Evenly divide batter into prepared muffin tins. Do not fill muffin tins higher than ⅔ of the way full or the batter will spread out over the top of the pan and you'll have awkward and unappealing flat-topped cupcakes.
- Bake on 350F (175C) for 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center should come out with moist crumbs (not wet batter).
- Allow to cool completely in the muffin tins before removing and decorating with your favorite frosting. I recommend using my peanut butter frosting.
Cocoa PowderA few people noted that Hershey's has changed their cocoa powder from the one shown in my post. As of August 2021 I have tested the recipe with their new formula and it still works great here with no issues!
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.