Cakes Holidays

our favorite birthday cupcakes

We are enamored with these little beauties, and they grace our table at almost every birthday celebration for my littles. Deep, chocolate flavor and sweet but not-too-sweet buttercream make these a perfect choice. Their frosting tops can stand as high and as colorful as you’d like, but they are also beautiful when left alone; the buttery white and dark cocoa becoming a glorious bite of day and night.
Chocolate Cupcakes

adapted from Orangette

These cupcakes are wonderful – moist and oh so chocolate-y. The frosting is sweet, but not too sweet, and is perfect for decorating, if desired. We serve these at almost all our birthday parties, and they are always greeted with smiles.
The first couple times making cupcakes from this recipe I had trouble with them not rising well in the oven, but they tasted so delicious I kept trying them. I realized that if I bumped up the oven temperature from 300 to 350, and chilled the batter for at least 30 minutes, I would get beautiful cupcakes with a perfectly round top. This makes a lot of cupcakes – almost 32. The batter can be chilled overnight, if needed.
3 oz fine-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1 ½ cups hot brewed coffee [or cold press, heated]
3 cups sugar
2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder [not Dutch process]
2 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp baking powder
1 ¼ tsp salt
3 large eggs
¾ cup canola oil
1 ½ cups well-shaken buttermilk
¾ tsp pure vanilla extract
Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer until thickened slightly and lemon-colored [about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer]. Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed, until just combined well. Chill batter for 30 minutes.*
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the wells of your pans with fluted paper liners.
Divide batter between pans, filling about 3/4 full. Bake in middle of oven 20 to 25 minutes, until a tester inserted in center comes out almost clean, with just a teensy bit of crumb attached.
Cool cupcakes completely in pans on racks. Remove and frost.
easy buttercream

This buttercream makes enough icing for about 24 cupcakes. The cake batter makes about 30ish cupcakes, so you may have to double this, unless you put a very thin layer of frosting on each cupcake. 

3 sticks unsalted butter, cut into chunks and softened
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, or 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups powdered sugar
food coloring, if desired
Beat the butter, cream, vanilla, [or vanilla bean seeds] and salt together in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium high speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes.
Reduce the speed to medium low, slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until incorporated and smooth, 4-6 minutes. Add food coloring a few drops at a time, if using, until desired color is reached.  Increase the mixer speed to medium high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, 5-10 minutes.
  • Reply
    Elizabeth Felix
    Monday, May 23, 2022 at 10:17 pm

    Cupcakes are Awesome, rich, dark chocolate flavor, so moist a fork works best! They did turn out flat for me as well yet the frosting I used from another recipe was best applied on a flat surface anyway so all worked out. Made these for a baby shower, topped with chocolate hearts and raspberries, a big hit! Love all your recipes I have made so far Sarah, thank you for sharing your craft!

  • Reply
    Didi Alley
    Saturday, April 17, 2021 at 2:17 am

    I just made these tonight. I tried to follow recipe to a “T”. They are delicious with a capital “D”, but FLAT. The one thing I did that MAY have affected the outcome was baking them in a 24 cupcake pan/batch. I did bake the remaining six cupcakes separately in a smaller pan but they were flat too. Any tips,suggestions, ideas about what to focus on to bake them into a dome like yours?

  • Reply
    Maimoona Abdullah
    Friday, November 9, 2012 at 10:24 am

    350 centigrade?

  • Reply
    julia christine
    Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    I made these and loved them! So did everybody at work:) do you have a comparable vanilla cupcake?

  • Reply
    Russell van Kraayenburg
    Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Super cute post and yummy cupcakes! Yay birthdays!

  • Reply
    Monday, August 6, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    I love adding coffee to chocolate cake – just a little bit brings out the flavour without making them overly tasting of coffee. And buttermilk makes them beautifully moist so can imagine these are the perfect birthday staple. Yum.

  • Reply
    Saturday, August 4, 2012 at 1:53 am

    They’re adorable! 300 is definitely too low, especially with a lot of those weighty ingredients, but with all that chocolate flavor (you can just tell from the ingredient list that these are going to be good), I’m glad you kept at them and shared them with us.

  • Reply
    Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    thanks for bringing this to miss a’s party. they simply melt in your mouth. best cupcake i have ever had. hands down.

  • Reply
    Jenny @ BAKE
    Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    these look like the epitome of birthday cupcakes, they’re just perfect! and your photos are so sweet!

  • Reply
    Local Milk
    Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    These make me regret that I am not in birthday season here! Not that that’s ever stopped me from making cupcakes… Are those candles Herriot Grace? Either way, I love them and the photos… always so calm, and dreamy.

  • Reply
    lisa heaner
    Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    They’re the best cupcakes. Ever. Even better on day two!

  • Reply
    la domestique
    Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Oh, you’re little one is so sweet! The cupcakes look great too- chocolate is my fav.

  • Reply
    london bakes
    Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    These could happily grace any birthday table (including my own). I struggle to find a cupcake recipe that I like so I will give this one a try, your recipes never let me down!

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