A nice and easy but totally perfect batch of chocolate cupcakes with classic buttercream frosting that you can easily dress up for any occasion. Trust me.
Hello from possibly the only person on earth who grew into a love of buttercream at the age of 38. Sometimes I’m disappointed when I feel like no one gets me, but in this case you’re all free to give me the WTF face without even trying to hide it. Lord knows I saw it first in the mirror.
These days, even though I tend to opt for the ghost/French exit/Irish goodbye after a few bites, I love buttercream for its simple flavor profile and endless adaptability. Buttercream helps you turn delicious cupcakes into gently themed bake sale contributions and party favors without too much effort, creativity or fondant. Just stir in a few dabs of gel icing color and buy or quickly make a little topper or two, and you’ll have achieved the ultimate ratio of impressiveness (good enough) to effort (doable after dinner the night before).
I made the cupcakes pictured above for the intermission bake sale at our middle school’s production of Peter Panic, a made-for-tweens musical about theater kids fighting an evil football coach for enough funding to perform Peter Pan. (Whew!) Below is the same cupcake with the same frosting, but restyled for Easter by said tween and me.
As for the cake: For years I’ve oscillated between searching for the perfect chocolate cupcake recipe and avoiding baking chocolate cupcakes at all. I already have a favorite chocolate cake, but I’m not in love with the way it translates to cupcakes.
In anticipation of Peter Panic, I tested the recipe below, originally created by Two Peas and Their Pod. I’ve finally found the chocolate cupcake batter I’ve been looking for, and since then I’ve been making up for lost time by churning these babies out for any and all occasions. It’s the best, because the recipe quickly becomes an old standby, but the cupcakes clean up real nice and look totally different every time. Next up, this weekend’s piano recital. I think we’ll keep the frosting its natural ivory color (I mean, come on) and jazz up the tops — pun totally intended — with some sheet music-adorned toothpicks. We shall see.
I hope this pair of recipes will help simplify your life in the same rewarding way they’ve done for mine. Have fun, and see you next time.
P.S. Affiliate links follow.
P.P.S. Update: here are those piano recital cupcakes! Cute, right? And seriously easy.
Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes
These tender cupcakes have a deep chocolate flavor and the perfect cupcake texture -- light, springy, and happy to let go of the wrapper. I've adapted them from the fabulous Maria at Two Peas and their Pod.
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water
Classic Buttercream Frosting
This adaptable frosting can be used as-is or dyed any color you like. You can pipe, spread or schmear it onto cupcakes as desired. Adjust the consistency by adding a touch more or less milk. Generously frosts one batch of Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes.
- 24 tablespoons good butter*
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons milk, give or take
- Gel icing color of choice**