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The best Chocolate Cupcakes are a moist double chocolate cake, filled with German chocolate ganache, and topped with a fluffy and intensely dark chocolate buttercream. Pure chocolate paradise!

Two chocolate cupcakes with a forkfful of one of them showing a smooth ganache center.

Rich, tender, double chocolate cupcakes with a silky German chocolate ganache in the center and a divine dark chocolate buttercream on top. All that chocolate is further highlighted by nuanced notes of espresso, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. A harmony of textures, this buttercream is almost as light as my Chocolate Mousse Recipe! I can’t wait to get into all the chocolate-y details with you!

Now that I know you love chocolate as much as I do, my Double Chocolate Cupcakes with Cherry Mascarpone Frosting and Double Chocolate Lemon Surprise Cupcakes are also ready and waiting for you.

Why this is the best chocolate cupcake recipe:

  • Big, BOLD chocolate taste. Chocolate cupcakes, filled with chocolate ganache, topped with chocolate buttercream! I couldn’t make these more ‘chocolatey’ if I tried!
  • Soft, light cupcake crumb. Carefully creaming the butter and sugar and mixing until ingredients are only just combined, make these cupcakes soft, luscious, and unforgettable.
  • A perfectly balanced dessert by a pastry pro. When you’re dealing with this much chocolate, having a professional pastry chef in your corner is essential. I’ll give you all the tips and tricks along the way!

Professional Tips for Chocolate Filled Cupcakes

  • Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full. Unlike muffins, which you want tall and rounded, you want flat cupcake tops or just a slight mound in the center. The only way to achieve this and eliminate overflow, is by not overfilling the liners.
  • Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack. Remove the cooked cupcake immediately from the cupcake tins and cool on a wire rack. This will stop the cooking process and also keep them from getting soggy. It also helps keep them from sticking to the liners! You want your cupcakes cooled properly so you can fill them with the ganache.
  • The key to beautiful, professional cupcake frosting is using a large piping tip. Use the largest tip you own. I love Ateco 888, Ateco 849 (closed star), and the Ateco 869 (French star), or use the Ateco 809 for a plain round tip. I used a Wilton 2D tip for these pictures!
Two chocolate cupcakes with fluffy chocolate buttercream.
These Caramel Apple Cupcakes are a moist cinnamon cake filled with a spiced apple compote and are frosted with an easy salted caramel buttercream!
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Ingredients

  • All Purpose Flour
  • Cocoa Powder: Droste cocoa powder is my cocoa powder of choice. It is darker than a lot of other Dutch processed cocoa powders. This is what gives my cupcakes that rich chocolate color and flavor. Use the best Dutch processed cocoa powder you can lay your hands on!
  • Espresso Powder: Espresso powder amplifies the chocolate flavor in this recipe. You can omit it, if desired. I only use Medaglia D’Oro instant espresso
  • Kosher Salt: Kosher salt heightens the flavor of the cocoa and will keep your cupcakes from tasting dull or flat.
  • Baking Powder & Baking Soda
  • Unsalted butter
  • Granulated Sugar: Sugar is here for sweetness but also to add leavening. When beaten with the eggs, it helps to create a soft, tender, light texture.
  • Whole Eggs: Whole eggs add fat, moisture and leavening when beaten into the creamed butter and sugar. They also emulsify the batter, which helps create a tender texture.
  • Sour Cream: Just as in my Double Salted Caramel Cupcakes, sour cream has the ideal amount of moisture to hydrate the flour and fat to inhibit the gluten formation. It is acidic and its job is also to react with the baking powder for the perfect rise. 
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels: These would also be delicious in some thick chocolate chip cookies!
  • Baker’s German Chocolate: Baker’s German chocolate has just the right flavor profile for this ganache complement to the cake and buttercream. Use bittersweet chocolate instead.
  • Half and Half: You could substitute heavy cream with very little change.
  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate
  • Dark Cocoa Powder: I like to use Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder in this buttercream  because it has a potent dark chocolate flavor. You can use the same as the cupcakes if that is easier.
  • Confectioner’s Sugar

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

Variations

How to Make Chocolate Cupcakes at Home

Further details and measurements can be found in the recipe card below!

Make the cupcakes:

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F (standard) or 325°F (convection). Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners, this recipe makes 18.

If using flimsy cupcake liners, I like to double up for the insurance.

Step 2: In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Step 3: In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high for 1 minute. Let it stand for 2 minutes, and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue beating for 2 more minutes or until the mixture is light in color. 

Though I sometimes forget, leaving your butter on the counter to get to room temperature works wonders for creaming it with the sugar.

Step 4: Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla in with the last egg.

Step 5: Reduce the mixer speed to low, and alternately add the flour mixture and sour cream. I find that it is best to begin and end with the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. I did this in three additions. Stop mixing as soon as the last of the flour has incorporated.

Step 6: Mix in the chocolate chips on low speed just until distributed. You can do this by hand with a spatula or spoon if you wish.

Step 7: Scoop the batter into the prepared cupcake tins. The liners should be about ¾ full.

I use an ice cream scoop to make my portioning process more easily even. 

Step 8: Bake in the  preheated oven for 12 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few clinging crumbs. After 2 minutes in the tin, remove to a wire rack and let cool completely before filling and frosting.

You can also test your cupcakes for doneness by touch. Gently touch the center, which should spring back and you should feel some resistance.

Prepare the ganache filling:

Step 9: Microwave half and half and chocolate together just until the milk is hot and the chocolate begins to melt. Stir with a spatula until all chocolate is melted and incorporated.

Step 10: Add the butter and continue to stir until smooth and glossy. Let cool until it is easy to spoon into the cupcakes.

You don’t want to stir too much or too vigorously because it will actually whip air into the ganache. We want a nice, thick filling!

Make the dark chocolate buttercream:

Step 11: In the microwave, melt chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl in 15 second intervals. Stir after each interval, being careful not to overheat it. Add the large pinch of salt and cocoa powder and stir to mix. Set aside to cool slightly.

Step 12: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Begin with the mixer on a low speed, and add the half and half and beat until mixture is light and fluffy.

Be sure to start the mixer on a low speed before you add the half and half. You don’t want to splatter milk everywhere!

Step 13: Add all the melted chocolate mixture at once and then beat for about 3 minutes. It will start to turn a lighter brown color, and you will be able to see that the texture has become more airy. Add the vanilla and beat to incorporate.

Step 14: In half cup increments, add your powdered sugar. Beat well to incorporate, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat your buttercream until it is as light as you would like it.

The buttercream will firm up as the cupcakes sit at room temperature. However, it will not harden unless you refrigerate them. If the consistency is too loose, add a bit more sifted powdered sugar. Do this about a tablespoon at a time, beating to incorporate. If it is too stiff you can add more half and half but only in 1 teaspoon increments.

Assemble the cupcakes: 

Step 15: Cut out the center of each cupcake and reserve the removed cake. Spoon about a teaspoon of the ganache into each hole and replace the cut out cake. 

Don’t press down, because you want your filling to remain in one place!

Step 16: Fit a piping bag with your favorite tip and fill with buttercream. Frost and enjoy! 

Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip

Stop mixing your cupcake batter as soon as the last of the flour mixture has disappeared so you don’t over-develop the gluten in your cupcakes! In the same vein, I typically fold in my chocolate chips by hand.

Two chocolate cupcakes on a light blue surface.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you store chocolate cupcakes?

Store unfrosted, unfilled cupcakes well-wrapped at room temperature or in the freezer. Unfrosted, unfilled cupcakes will keep at room temperature for 3 days, refrigerated for a week or frozen for up to two months! Store unused frosting and ganache in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Once frosted and filled, cupcakes can be kept at room temperature for up to three days.

How do you fill the center of cupcakes?

First thing’s first, make sure your cupcakes are cool before you fill them. You wait for them to cool so you don’t accidentally compress their crumb or melt the filling. In order to cut a portion out of your cupcake, you can use a cupcake corer or a knife. Create a pocket in the center of the cupcake by cutting from the top down. I like to do this in a cone shape, add the filling, and replace the top. You can fill this pocket with chocolate ganache, fruit compote, chocolate mousse…the sky’s the limit! I use a piping bag or a spoon to inject my filling, but I’ve seen people use a plastic squeeze bottle. You can hide the incision mark with heaps of frosting!

What do you do if your cupcake batter is too dry?

If your cupcake batter is too dry, there’s a good chance you overmixed it or your ingredients ratio is off. The easiest way to get accurate measurements is to use a kitchen scale! Only mix your ingredients until they are just incorporated.

If you tried this recipe and loved it please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it goes in the comments below. I love hearing from you; your comments make my day!

Two chocolate cupcakes with spare chocolate chips on the counter.
5 from 2 ratings

Chocolate Cupcakes

The best Chocolate Cupcakes are a moist double chocolate cake, filled with German chocolate ganache, and topped with a fluffy and intensely dark chocolate buttercream. Pure chocolate paradise!
Prep: 1 hour
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 18 people

Ingredients 
 

For the Cupcakes:

For the Ganache

For the Dark Chocolate Buttercream:

Instructions 

Make the cupcakes:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (standard) or 325°F (convection). Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners, this recipe makes 18.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high for 1 minute. Let it stand for 2 minutes, and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue beating for 2 more minutes or until the mixture is light in color.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla in with the last egg.
  • Reduce the mixer speed to low, and alternately add the flour mixture and sour cream. I find that it is best to begin and end with the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. I did this in three additions. Stop mixing as soon as the last of the flour has incorporated.
  • Mix in the chocolate chips on low speed just until distributed. You can do this by hand with a spatula or spoon if you wish.
  • Scoop the batter into the prepared cupcake tins. The liners should be about ¾ full.
  • Bake in the  preheated oven for 12 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few clinging crumbs. After 2 minutes in the tin, remove to a wire rack and let cool completely before filling and frosting.

Prepare the ganache filling:

  • Microwave half and half and chocolate together just until the milk is hot and the chocolate begins to melt. Stir with a spatula until all chocolate is melted and incorporated.
  • Add the butter and continue to stir until smooth and glossy. Let cool until it is easy to spoon into the cupcakes.

Make the dark chocolate buttercream:

  • In the microwave, melt chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl in 15 second intervals. Stir after each interval, being careful not to overheat it. Add the large pinch of salt and cocoa powder and stir to mix. Set aside to cool slightly.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Begin with the mixer on a low speed, and add the half and half and beat until mixture is light and fluffy.
  • Add all the melted chocolate mixture at once and then beat for about 3 minutes. It will start to turn a lighter brown color, and you will be able to see that the texture has become more airy. Add the vanilla and beat to incorporate.
  • In half cup increments, add your powdered sugar. Beat well to incorporate, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat your buttercream until it is as light as you would like it.

Assemble the cupcakes:

  • Cut out the center of each cupcake and reserve the removed cake. Spoon about a teaspoon of the ganache into each hole and replace the cut out cake.
  • Fit a piping bag with your favorite tip and fill with buttercream. Frost and enjoy!

Notes

Yield – 18 cupcakes
Technique – Stop mixing as soon as the last of the flour mixture has disappeared so you don’t over-develop the gluten in your cupcakes! 
Variations Use a different filling. Consider filling the center with cherry preserves, peach preserves, or an easy apple compote
Storage – Store unfrosted, unfilled cupcakes well-wrapped at room temperature or freeze them! Unfrosted, unfilled cupcakes will keep at room temperature for 3 days, refrigerated for a week or frozen for up to two months! Store unused frosting and ganache in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Once frosted and filled, cupcakes can be kept at room temperature for up to three days.

Nutrition

Calories: 680kcal | Carbohydrates: 70g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 43g | Saturated Fat: 26g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 119mg | Sodium: 223mg | Potassium: 264mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 51g | Vitamin A: 996IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 4mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Calories: 680
Like this? Leave a comment below!

Before You Go

I hope you enjoyed this professional chef tested recipe. Check out our other delicious, chef-developed cupcake recipes! Or, head straight to my Peach Crisp Cupcakes with Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream next!

These are really The BEST Death by Chocolate Cupcakes! Double chocolate cake filled with German's chocolate ganache all topped with a silky dark chocolate buttercream!
These are really The BEST Death by Chocolate Cupcakes! Double chocolate cake filled with German's chocolate ganache all topped with a silky dark chocolate buttercream!

Hi, I’m Chef Lindsey!

I am the baker, recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Chef Lindsey Farr. I believe in delicious homemade food and the power of dessert!

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67 Comments

  1. These look amazing- I am such a chocoholic too! I’m a little shocked at the amount of butter in the buttercream though- does this recipe ice more than a single batch, or is it really 4 sticks of butter for 18 cupcakes?

    1. Hi Rebecca! That is correct! They don’t call it “butter”cream for nothing! It also depends on how much frosting you put on your cupcakes. You could probably get away with making a half recipe but they won’t look like the pictures 🙂

    1. Hi Amanda, I’m sorry that happened. Cupcakes are supposed to be flat on top so that you can frost them. It sounds like you over-filled the cups. There is 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of flour.

    2. I had the same issue on my first batch. They all spilled over and joined forced into one giant muffintop! (Still delicious, but they were no longer individual cupcakes.) For the second batch, I made them into 24 cupcakes instead of 18, and they came out great – no spill-over!

      1. Hi Kayla! I’m glad you were able to trouble-shoot the second batch! The difference is probably as small as a difference in our cupcake liners! Some of mine are larger and some are smaller than others. Hope you enjoyed the whole cupcake once finished! Happy baking!

  2. Hi lindsay! I made these cupcakes for ‘friends giving’ a while back.. And they were amazing! And It was that buttercream!!!! People could not stop eating it. And then next day I would find myself eating it out of the piping bag next to the fridge!
    Anyway, I had a question, when i was eating just frosting, it almost resembled a fudge consistancy. now I have a Christmas party to go to, would you alter your buttercream recipe so it firms up like fudge in the fridge overnight?

    1. Hi Hayli! I am so glad you liked these cupcakes! That frosting is to die for! If you want it to be more dense and fudgy when refrigerated, just beat it less when you are mixing it. The less air, the more dense! If you just want a different frosting recipe that is super fudgy, this one that I put on yellow cake is more like fudge when refrigerated.

  3. These look simply divine…and your style of cooking is great!!! No “low-fat” there’re not good anyway! Can’t wait to try!…thanks

  4. Hi – I’m assuming the Bakers Germans chocolate called for is the sweetened variety (as opposed to semi sweet or unsweetened) since there’s no sugar in the ganache?

    1. Hi Danette, Germans chocolate is always sweetened. If you can’t find that particular type, I would substitute semi-sweet. Germans chocolate is somewhere between milk chocolate and semi-sweet. Hope that helps!

  5. Hi, I plan on making these cupcakes tomorrow and I’m just wondering about the half and half. I have heavy cream, could I use that instead? What would the results be if I do (if you know)? 🙂

    1. Hey Scarlette! You can absolutely use heavy cream for the buttercream instead of half and half. It will just be a little thicker but it will still be rich and creamy and delicious!

    2. Also if you have milk in addition to your heavy cream, you can mix them and make your own half and half! 50% milk, 50% cream.

      1. Thanks for this info! Where I live, half and half is not easy available so knowing I can make my own is awesome!

  6. We made these cupcakes this weekend and they were soooo good! We were fighting over who got to eat the last ones! These are definitely going in my recipe box for later!

  7. I made these today and if this doesn’t hit the spot for a chocolate craving, I don’t know what does! The flavors are sooo perfect together! I’d like to have one every day for the rest of my life! The ones I made are almost gone!!