Chocolate Cupcakes

Decadent Chocolate Cupcakes with Velvety Smooth Italian Buttercream


Decadent and moist, these Chocolate Cupcakes with Italian Buttercream are velvety smooth and so very delicious!

I made these for my daughter’s birthday and the kids decorated their cupcakes with M&M’s and sprinkles. They had a ball! I decorated mine with crystallized ginger. My husband had his plain. You can do so much with these cupcakes that are a blank canvas for your creations.

Chocolate Cupcakes
Chocolate Cupcakes decorated with M&M’s and Sprinkles.

Chocolate Cupcakes

These chocolate cupcakes have an intense, strong, sweet chocolate flavor. It has a tight crumb and moist, dark brown appearance, with an even rise and a domed center. Buy the best cocoa powder for making these cupcakes like
Ghirardelli Chocolate Unsweetened Cocoa Pouch, 8 Ounce or Valrhona Pure Cocoa Powder, 8.8 oz. The butter and eggs should be at room temperature for best results.

The cupcakes can be decorated with anything you choose. You can use cocoa nobs, desiccated coconut (I would toast them first), chopped nuts, sprinkles, even fresh raspberries.  Dip the cupcakes in ganache (any flavor, though I love coffee flavored chocolate ganache) or jams like my Strawberry Jam, to add another dimension to these delectable beauties.

Italian Buttercream

Crème au Beurre or buttercream is a light, smooth icing that we use often in pastry kitchens. I learned how to make buttercream at my culinary school – International Culinary Center. Buttercreams taste heavenly.

There are many variations of the basic formula of the buttercream. The well known are, French (made with egg yolks), Swiss and Italian (made with meringue) and Crème Mousseline. The Italian Buttercream is made by whipping meringue and butter, then drizzling in sugar syrup into it. This buttercream is lighter than the yolk-based buttercream and white in color. The finished buttercream should be shiny and easy to spread, smooth with no lumps from the butter or sugar crystals. And should have no visible air pockets.

Chocolate Cupcakes
Chocolate Cupcakes with Crystallized Ginger.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Itali

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Passive Time 12 Cupcakes and 1.5pounds of Buttercream

Decadent, moist chocolate cupcakes with exquisite, smooth, delicious Italian buttercream.


    For the Cupcakes
  • 225g or 1.5Cups Sugar
  • 200g or 1Cup Cake Flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 80g or 6 Tablespoons Butter
  • 80g or 1/3Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 65g or 2/3Cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1 large Egg at room temperature
  • 1 large Egg Yolk at room temperature
  • 175g or 3/4Cup Buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon pure Vanilla Extract
  • For the Italian Buttercream
  • 1 1/2 cups or 300g granulated Sugar
  • 65g or 1/3Cup granulated Sugar (for the meringue)
  • 2/3Cup or 150ml water
  • 150g or 5 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2Cups or 455g unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature


    For Cupcakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  3. Sift together sugar, flour, baking soda and salt
  4. Combine cocoa powder, vegetable oil and 3/4Cup (175g) water in a medium saucepan. Cook on medium-low heat till the butter has melted, whisking constantly. Take care not to get it too hot or the it will cook the eggs when added to the batter.
  5. Pour the cocoa-butter mixture over the dry ingredients. Stir to blend.
  6. Add buttermilk and vanilla to the mixture.
  7. Lightly beat the egg and egg yolk separately and add to the cocoa mixture. Mix just to combine. Don't over mix or the cupcakes will be tough.
  8. Spoon in the batter equally into the muffin cups.
  9. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean and the top springs back when gently touched.
  10. Unmold the cupcakes and cool to room temperature on wire racks. They can now be stored, covered in the refrigerator for 2 days or frozen for a month.
  11. For the Italian Buttercream
  12. Combine 225g sugar and 150ml water in a medium-sized saucepan. Stir with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is the consistency of wet sand.
  13. Use a wet pastry brush, clean all the sugar crystals from the sides of the pan to prevent the sugar from crystallizing.
  14. Heat over medium heat, undisturbed until the syrup reaches soft ball stage, around 240°F (when you drop some syrup into a cup of room temperature water, you should be able to roll it into a ball)
  15. Meanwhile, place egg whites in a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment, beat to aerate. Add 65g of sugar and beat till soft peaks form.
  16. As soon the syrup reaches the sift ball stage, slowly drizzle the hot syrup down the side of the bowl with the motor running. Take care not to pour the syrup onto the whip, or the syrup may splatter.
  17. Once all the syrup has been added, keep mixing until the bottom of the bowl feels cool to the touch and the meringue has cooled down to body temperature.
  18. Remove the Whip attachment and replace with Paddle attachment. IMPORTANT!
  19. Add butter one cube at a time, beating well after each addition until all the butter has been incorporated and is very smooth.
  20. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks or in the freezer for up to one month. To use buttercream that has either been refrigerated or frozen, first allow to come to room temperature then beat until smooth and spreadable again.
  21. Finishing the Cupcakes
  22. Pipe the buttercream on the cooled cupcakes in the desired pattern. The cupcakes will keep at room temperature for 2 days.
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