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).
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).
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.
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!
Cakelets and 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
- 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
- Preheat oven to 360° F. Line a standard cupcake pan with your favourite cupcake liners.
- In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, coffee, oil, egg and vanilla.
- Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Divide batter among the liners (about 3/4 full).
- 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.
- In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until very light and fluffy, about 6 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The cupcakes will keep at room temperature in a container with some airflow for up to 3 days.
- For my chocolate cakes and cupcakes, I use Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder – Extra Brute. It’s just amazing–so dark, so intensely chocolate.
- For the cupcake liners I used these pretty Purple Baking Cups.
- To tint the frosting, I used AmeriColor gel paste colours in Turquoise and Sky Blue (2 of my most frequently used shades).
- For the swirly frosting, I used Ateco Swirl Decorating Tip #887.
Good luck & enjoy!