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Close up photo of best chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting in a blue cupcake liner

The Best Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

The richest, most decadent chocolate cupcakes ever! You'll never make another chocolate frosting again once you've had these.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword chocolate, cupcake
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Chill Time for Frosting 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 30 cupcakes
Calories 258kcal
Author Dorothy Kern
Cost $10


For the Cake

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt not kosher, just regular table salt
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons distilled vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the Frosting

  • 1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream do not substitute with anything else or it won’t set properly
  • 1/4 cup sour cream low-fat is fine
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Make the cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with liners (about 30).
  • Whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Combine water, oil, vinegar, instant coffee, and vanilla in a large mixing cup. Whisk to combine, then add to the dry ingredients and whisk just until the batter comes together. A few lumps are okay.
  • Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full and bake for about 12-15 minutes. (Mine baked in 14 minutes.) Cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting

  • While the cupcakes are in the oven, make the frosting. (There is cooling time involved.)
  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in sugar, cocoa, and salt. The mixture will be thick and grainy.
  • Whisk heavy cream, sour cream, vanilla and instant coffee in a large measuring cup. Slowly add the cream mixture into your saucepan and whisk until smooth. Cook over medium-low heat until the sugar has dissolved and is hot to the touch, between 4-8 minutes. (Mine cooked in about 4 minutes, but it could take longer.) Do not boil!
  • Transfer frosting to a bowl and let cool 2-3 hours until it’s spreadable. You can also chill it so it will set up faster. If it gets to hard to spread, microwave it on 20 second intervals, stirring in between, until it’s the desired consistency.
  • Frost top of cupcake with chocolate frosting. Store in refrigerator, let come to room temperature before serving.


  • Plan ahead! Since the frosting needs to be cooked and cooled, you will need extra time.
  • You can make the frosting before making the cupcakes since it needs a few hours to set up. By the time the cupcakes are baked and cooled, the frosting will be ready to use.
  • There isn’t a substitute for the heavy cream in the frosting – it’s critical for achieving the right texture and consistency.
  • When you cook the frosting, be sure to cook it long enough to dissolve the sugar. This is the secret for a smooth chocolate frosting that isn’t grainy. But don’t let it boil!


Serving: 1cupcake | Calories: 258kcal | Carbohydrates: 94g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 148mg | Fiber: 23g | Sugar: 2g