{My Favourite} Chocolate Party Cupcakes with Vanilla Swirl Frosting

Chocolate Party Cupcakes with Vanilla Swirl Frosting

While these cupcakes aren’t anything super-frilly or fancy, they are my best-loved and most-baked treat, so it seemed only natural to share them with you. This past weekend we celebrated my sweet cakelet Reese’s 7th birthday (how is this possible–didn’t she just turn 4 and decorate this Rainbow Doodle Cake?), and we had almost 20 little girls are her party. I made a really neat rainbow vanilla cake for the girls, but because Reese loves chocolate cake and cupcakes best, I made a few dozen of these rich, dark chocolaty cupcakes and topped them with fluffy, creamy swirls of blue-ish frosting and colourful quin sprinkles.

Aside from being perfectly party-pretty, the cupcakes are incredibly moist and not overly sweet, and the frosting is whipped to an airy consistency ideal for piping higher swirls (a denser sugary frosting with these generous swirls could be buttercream-overkill).

Chocolate Party Cupcakes with Vanilla Swirl Frosting

Reese and I thought it would be pretty to create a bit of pastel swirly effect with a mix of white, turquoise and a pastel shade of sky blue (kind of reminiscent of the Pastel Swirl Cake). To keep it easy, I simply divided the frosting into 3 parts, tinted 2 and left one the creamy white colour, and then scooped a bit of each colour into a large piping bag fitted with Ateco swirly decorating tip #887 for billowy swirls.  Really quick and easy, and even kid-friendly.

You can certainly use any array of colours you wish, but just note that because the frosting is doing a lot of blending during the piping process, you might want to stick with different shades and tones of the same hue for the most part, and maybe incorporate one other colour at the most (I love purple or bright pink with these colours).

Chocolate Party Cupcakes with Vanilla Swirl Frosting

Because the cupcakes are a one-bowl situation, they couldn’t be simpler. And to really get that enchanting dark-as-night chocolate colour, be sure to use a quality dark cocoa powder. I’ve also modified this recipe to include a very generous dose of the cocoa powder, ensuring an ultimate chocolate cupcake. For the frosting, well, it’s a version of the sweet frosting I’ve used many times here on the blog, but the secrets are using the best pure vanilla extract you can find, and the extensive whipping. You’ll get some air bubbles, but it’s worth it for the fluffy, dreamy texture. Simply use a rubber spatula to beat the frosting back-and-forth a bit to knock out of the bubbles, and it will be ready for piping swirls aplenty.

Chocolate Party Cupcakes with Vanilla Swirl Frosting

I think every baker needs a go-to chocolate cupcake and party frosting, and I don’t think I could live without this combination. My non cake-eating husband can’t even resist these, and neither can I (believe it or not, I’m actually really particular with the cake and cupcakes I’ll eat). So easy, so beloved. The recipe is for 12 cupcakes, but this recipe can easily be doubled or even tripled–you’ll thank me!

Chocolate Party Cupcakes with Vanilla Swirl Frosting

Cakelets and cupcakes. ♥

Chocolate Party Cupcakes with Vanilla Swirl Frosting


    For the cupcakes:
  • 3/4 cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) superfine sugar
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) dark Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) coffee, hot
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • For the frosting:
  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups (375 grams) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons (45 ml) milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Few drops AmeriColor gel paste food colour in Turquoise and Sky Blue
  • Sprinkles


    For the cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 360° F. Line a standard cupcake pan with your favourite cupcake liners.
  2. In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, coffee, oil, egg and vanilla.
  4. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Divide batter among the liners (about 3/4 full).
  5. Bake until a wooden pick inserted into the centre of the cupcake comes out with a only a few crumbs, about 18-20 minutes. Try not to over-bake. Let cupcakes cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and then turn onto rack to cool completely.
  6. For the frosting:
  7. In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until very light and fluffy, about 6 minutes.
  8. Add confectioners' sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt, and beat on low speed until well combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until very light and fluffy once again, about 6 more minutes.
  9. Decorate the cupcakes:
  10. Divide the frosting into 3 parts. Tint one part of the frosting bright turquoise using Turquoise, one part pastel blue using Sky Blue, and leave the remaining part white.
  11. Into a medium or large pastry bag fitted with a large closed star tip (or swirl tip, such as #887), add a spatula-full of each frosting colour. Twist the top of the bag and pipe a generous swirl on each cupcake, working in a circular motion from the outside in. Top with sprinkles.
  12. The cupcakes will keep at room temperature in a container with some airflow for up to 3 days.

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

Good luck & enjoy!


Share the Sweetness!


  1. says

    These cupcakes are so precious! While I may not agree with you about buttercream-overkill (could there be such a thing?), I do love those gorgeous swirls of fluffy frosting! Love the blue hues all swirled together, especially with those purple cupcake liners and all the sprinkles! So cute for a birthday party. :)

  2. Emily M says

    I have a really hard time shopping for cocoa powder in Northern Ontario, most of our grocery stores only sell natural cocoa powder.. If I were to purchase dark dutch cocoa powder online, do you have any suggestions in terms of brands and websites?

      • Becca says

        Oh yay! I really think you’ll be amazed. It is light, pipeable, less sweet than powdered sugar buttercream, and less buttery than French or Italian buttercream.

        It was the original frosting for red velvet cake actually. Cook’s Country has a great version with variations. The Baked cookbooks use it, too.

  3. says

    the cakelets grow and grow! mmmm i love a beautiful chocolate cupcake, my recipe is similar! to add even more richness i often use coconut milk too – makes them super moist! i also, like you, beat the HECK out of my buttercream! happy birthday reese! (cannot believe she’s 7!) xo

  4. Sabrina says

    I am sure they taste as good as they look. Rosie thanks for always being so thorough. I very much appreciate that you put every detail, speed, minutes and the grams version!!!
    Regards from Argentina!

    • says

      Thank you, Helene! Superfine sugar is also known as caster/castor sugar, and it’s just a finer variety of granulated sugar. You can use regular granulated sugar in its place, or you can pulse regular sugar in the food processor for about 1 minute to create superfine sugar. Hope that helps!

  5. says

    Your chocolate cupcakes are the best. I have already done several times. But never with vanilla swirl frosting. Definitely i’ll try. Thankyou sooo much!

  6. Angelina says

    Oh my! These cupcakes are simply stunning, love the contrast between the midnight-dark cupcake and the billowy cloud icing! I’ve been clicking on your blog every day religiously the last week or so, hoping for a new post, and I just squealed when I came home from school to see these cupcakes on your blog! I’d have to try these sometime, could you describe the texture and taste best as you can? Thanks! xo

  7. Rabiya Moin says

    Hi, I absolutely love these cupcakes! I am definitely gonna try these after my exams :D But could you please tell me the quantity for vanilla essence instead of vanilla extract? because I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to find it. Thanks.:)

  8. nosh says

    Your cakes are Amaziiing! Can you please share a fried donut recipe. I know it will be the best coming from you. Thanks

  9. Stephanie says

    I rarely leave comments. …but these cupcakes with the frosting turned out amazing! I loved them.
    I put some mint oil in for a little kick and it was very yummy. Thank you
    for my new go to chocolate cupcake recipe :)

  10. says

    Oh wow they look so rich and dark! But that’s Dutch Cocoa for you…absolutely THE best you can buy. Thanks for the recipe I will be baking these in the morning :) Shayne

  11. Madeleine says

    Gorgeous as always! Please tell me where you purchased your cake plate. It complements your chocolate cupcakes so perfectly!

  12. Katie says

    These look yummy! Can’t wait to make them this week! How many does it make? Wondering if I need to double the recipe?? Thanks so much!

  13. Caroline says

    Hi Rosie, I stumbled across your site when googling swiss meringue buttercream two weeks ago, and I haven’t been off since! I followed your instructions for the SMBC and they (your instructions

  14. Tamara says

    Hi Rosie,

    I love your website, everything I have tries so far has been amazing. I am planning on making this over the weekend, and I was wondering if the frosting can be made in advance and stored in the fridge? I live in the Caribbean so I am not sure if it would be too warm to store at room temperature? Thanks!

  15. says

    Hello Miss Rosie, I’m glad I’ve found your blog. I want to try this chocolate cupcakes this coming June 4 for My girlfriends birthday. I love baking and you have a lot of more recipes posted and I wanna try them all.. Thanks for all the posts.

  16. Diane says

    Just making these right now and a bit scared of the batter it is very runny. Where did I go wrong or is that how it should be?

      • Constance says

        Hi Rosie! As a follow up to the above comment, this is the first recipe of yours that didn’t turn out picture perfect and I’m not sure what I did wrong (and trust me, I know it’s gotta be my error!) :-( my batter was very runny and my finished product looked more like gooey brownie bowls. Any suggestions what I may have done wrong that I can do differently the second time around?

  17. Diane says

    OMG. Best chocolate cupcakes I have ever eaten. Was worried they would taste like coffee. You cannot even taste the coffee. Very moist and light. Real chocolate taste. Batter was very runny but excellent results. 5 star for sure. End of my search for perfect chocolate cupcakes. Thank you so much. I use a lot if your recipes. All have had great results

  18. Krystal says

    Found this recipe, ordered the brand of cocoa you use and made a batch with my daughter just now. I was a bit worried with the very runny batter but they baked beautifully and are so airy, moist and delicious! The frosting is sweet, smooth and in perfect balance with the rich chocolate. Reminds me of a whoopie pie cake I used to order in New Hampshire as a kid. This is going to be a family favorite here for a long time!.

  19. Frode says

    Hi. Just tried making these today, and they just oozed out of the forms like lava. Where did I go wrong? I thought maybe there was too much baking soda/powder, but I followed the recipe to the letter. Could it be as simple as overfilling the forms?

    • Laura says

      You probably overfilled. These cupcakes really rise and I’ve had the same problem. Fill the forms a little less than 2/3rd and they’re perfect.

  20. Fran says

    Made these in miniature for a pot luck—-delish…although much of the cupcake seems to have stuck to the wrapper.. Maybe that’s just because they’re minis…

  21. Christine says

    These sound amazing! But I’m wondering how it does as a cake? Debating between this recipe and your Chocolate Birthday Cake for my son’s 2nd birthday this weekend. I’m doing a 6″ tier on top of a 9″ tier. Thanks!

  22. Julie says

    I’m about to bake 3 dozens chocolate cupcakes for my daughter’s 7th birthday (wood fairies and elfs is the theme!). I was planning to use the Devil’s food layer cake recipe from your Inside-Out Neapolitan Layer cake, which I already did many times and we absolutely adore, but I just saw this recipe. Now I don’t know what to do! How would you say those 2 recipes compare? Why would I try this one instead of the perfect mayo-based version?

  23. Khilna says

    Hi! I just baked these beautiful cupcakes but they all have a dome and the top crust is quite hard & crunchy even though i baked for 18-20 mins at 180c. what would have gone wrong? they are soft in the inside though.

  24. Jane says

    Hi Rosie!

    I tried several chocolate cupcake recipes, and they’re very tasty. The only problem I always encounter is the buttercream frosting. How come I always get a grainy texture? I tried A LOT of procedures but I still get the same outcome. What am I doing wrong? TIA!

  25. says

    Hi Rosie,
    being a long time follower and make of your amazing recipes, I noticed you have changed your chocolate cupcake recipe a big. I had a copy of the original printed that I’ve made over and over again, but couldn’t find it this morning. So, I logged on to refresh my memory and saw that the ingredients are all the same, but different amount. I always made the recipe that makes 3 layers or 24 cupcakes, so if I double this recipe above, the sugar and flour are less,but cocoa powder is more. I was thinking maybe this recipe made slightly puffier cupcakes? That would be the only think I would do differently, as the old recipe is not super puffy, but taste and texture amazing, so it is my go to recipe always. Please advise, I am making these for a wedding and wondering if I should use the “old” recipe or this newer version. I am making 6 doz. so i think would double the recipe and make it 3 times.

  26. Krissa says


    I just attempted at your nutella chocolate cloud cupcake recipe and they came out flatter than I would’ve liked… It was probably a mistake on my part. But then I saw this recipe and it seems to be exactly the same with some adaptations… Is this the one you might recommend with the slight changes? I’m trying to make birthday cupcakes for my husband who loves a puffy chocolate cupcake and am having some difficulty! Would the 360 degrees make a difference in the amount of dome the cupcake has? Any tips would help! THANK YOU!

      • Jess says

        Hi Rosie. Stumbled upon your website a few days ago and I love it. I am dying to try this cupcake recipe, and will do tomorrow. Please can I ask: in the cake recipe, 80 ml of hot coffee- how much coffee are we talking?
        Thank you!

  27. Valerie says

    Hi there- these cupcakes look too perfect to eat

    I’m looking to make red velvet cupcakes, could I use this recipe and just add red food coloring?


    • Ashley says

      Rosie has a great red velvet cake recipe on here. She does it on here as a layer cake “Red Velvet & Raspberry Supreme Cake” but it bakes up beautifully as cupcakes as well. This recipe has too much cocoa powder in it to be a red velvet. Hope that helps!

  28. Michelle says

    I have always admired the skill you have Rosie, you’re cakes are amazing! I longed to make some of your recipes but was very wary since I am at 4500 feet!

    I love these cupcakes, and in case any of my high elevation friends are wondering about adjustments, I reduce the sugar by 30% to be 105 grams and the leavening as well. I only used 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1/4 tsp baking powder in these cupcakes. For high elevation baking changes I found that these two changes along with increasing the oven temperature to 375 degrees F works wonders. These cupcakes came out perfectly domed and with a great crumb!

    Also I do not drink coffee or use any coffee products and was wondering about a coffee substitution, but just ended up using water. It still makes delicious tasting cupcakes in case anyone is worried about diluting the flavor too much.

    Thank you so much!!!


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