This recipe for Chocolate Cupcakes is a top secret bakery recipe – tested over 100,000 times! Simple, easy, moist and delicious – the ultimate foolproof bake.
If there’s one thing that we all need in life.. It is a quick, simple, easy 30 minute chocolate cupcake recipe.
Dramatic? Moi? 😆
If you don’t agree, I’m sorry. We cannot be friends any more.
But really though, chocolate cupcake recipe = a classic right? I can’t believe I’ve never posted this recipe before.
Here’s why I love it:
✅ Ready in under 30 minutes.
✅ All store cupboard ingredients – no butter required.
✅ By some magic, manages to be moist AND light and fluffy!
First things first..
How the heck are YOU qualified to say it’s THE BEST Easy Chocolate Cupcake recipe?
In a former life, approximately one million years ago (well, 8 years ago) I ran a business baking wedding cupcakes and then later, a cookery school teaching people to bake cupcakes and other cakes.
Over the 6 years I ran that business for, I (and later my lovely little team) baked over 100,000 CUPCAKES.
I’d like to think I know a bit about what works and what doesn’t with cupcake recipes – so, this recipe is the result of all of those years of practise.
I hope it works for you as well for you as it did for us!
So, how do you make the chocolate cupcake bases?
This isn’t your standard cupcake recipe! It’s so simple as you don’t need to do any creaming of butter and sugar (as in most UK recipes).
Start by mixing the sugar, flour and cocoa powder in a mixer (or mix by hand).
In a separate jug, mix together the egg, oil, milk and vanilla.
Combine everything until smooth and there you have it, your cake batter!
How do you bake the chocolate cupcakes?
Scoop the batter into muffin cases in a muffin tin (I use an ice cream scoop to do this, which is super useful as this is a very runny batter).
Pop into a preheated oven (180C) and bake for 17 – 19 minutes or until the tops are domed and springy.
How do you make the chocolate icing?
While the cupcakes are cooking, make the icing. Beat together the sugar and butter until combined. (This may take a while and look grainy at first, carry on!)
Mix the cocoa with a little boiling water in a mug, just enough water to make a thick paste. Mix it until smooth and there are no lumps.
Beat the cocoa mixture into the icing.
If you want your icing to be most soft, fluffy and pipeable, add a teaspoon of boiling water at a time until it’s the texture that you want.
How do you pipe the chocolate icing?
When the cupcakes are cool, pop a star nozzle (I almost always use a Wilton 1M nozzle, available on Amazon) in your piping bag and fill the bag with the freshly beaten icing.
Pipe a circle around the edge of the cupcake, continue with another circle on top, slightly smaller, and a finally tiny circle on top.
Give the bag a squeeze, stop squeezing and pull the bag away quickly.
What you need for the cakes:
Caster Sugar – Be sure to use caster sugar for the chocolate muffins, not granulated. It melts and reacts differently as the grains are larger.
Self Raising Flour – This flour contains raising agent so no need for baking powder.
Cocoa – I feel that one non negotiable to make these cupcakes amazing, is VERY good quality cocoa powder. I use Green & Blacks cocoa which I love.
Pinch of Salt – This is optional but I love it to add a little extra something to the chocolate cupcakes. If you like a little crunch of salt, use flakes, or if not, use fine table salt. I always use this brand, available on Amazon.
Milk – Full fat or semi skimmed is fine, do not use skimmed milk as your cupcakes will be very dry.
Oil – Any flavourless oil is fine, like vegetable oil or sunflower oil.
Egg – Free range and medium or large sized please!
Vanilla – Any vanilla EXTRACT, not ESSENCE is good. I like this one available on Amazon (it’s a large bottle but lasts me a while).
Muffin Tray – It’s really important to bake these cupcakes in a deep muffin tray like this one: Cupcake Baking Pan (available on Amazon).
Muffin Cases – Having tested HUNDREDS of muffin cases (cupcake cases) I like these: Dr Oetker American Style White Cupcake cases which are available at most supermarkets or Brown Cupcake Cases. (I know – the white ones are a surprise! But I genuinely find them really good value and very sturdy.)
Ice Cream Scoop – I ALWAYS use a scoop for these cupcakes as the batter is quite running. I’d suggest buying these: Set of Ice Cream Scoops as they are good value and then you’ll have other sizes for things like making cookies. SO useful.
What you need for the chocolate icing:
Butter – I use unsalted, room temperature butter for the icing. Do not even THINK about using margarine! It tastes grim and just doesn’t behave in the same way.
Icing Sugar – I find that a freshly opened bag of icing sugar gives the best results, so make sure you always seal your icing sugar bags well. Sieving it gives the best result but honestly? I don’t usually bother as I never have time!
Cocoa – As above, I feel that one non negotiable to make this icing amazing, is VERY good quality cocoa powder. I use Green & Blacks cocoa which I love.
Piping Bags – I still tend to use disposable piping bags sadly, as of course, these are not great for the environment. But using reusable bags takes so much detergent to get them clean, I’m honestly not sure of the best option so I’m still with these at the moment.
Piping Nozzle – I almost always use a Wilton 1M nozzle, available on Amazon.
How do you keep chocolate cupcakes moist?
Almost always, dry cupcakes are down to overbaking. Test your oven with an oven thermometer to check it isn’t TOO hot.
Also, cupcakes will always become dry if they aren’t fresh. If you’re eating them on day 5 they probably will be dry.
Can chocolate cupcakes be frozen?
Yes. Freeze them, before icing, well wrapped.
Let them defrost at room temperature.
You may find that if they have been frozen and defrosted, the cupcake cases come away a little from the cakes. This won’t affect the taste.
How long do chocolate cupcakes last?
Answer = in this house, not very long! Really though, you can make these chocolate cupcakes ahead of time.
Because they are so moist, they should last 3 – 4 days in an airtight tin (although they are better when they are fresh, most people wouldn’t notice the difference.)
You may find that if you store them on a hot day or in a plastic container, the cupcake cases come away a little from the cakes. This won’t affect the taste.
Can I serve these cupcakes as wedding cupcakes?
Yes! Wedding cupcakes were my main business and so these were well tested for that purpose. I hope the bride and groom love them!
Where did this chocolate cupcakes recipe come from?
Having tested about 30 different chocolate cupcakes recipes over the course of 10 years (!) I tried the Mary Berry Chocolate Cupcake recipe, the Nigella Chocolate Cupcake recipe, Primrose Bakery and SO many others.
This was a tweaked and developed version of the recipe, based the Hummingbird Bakery Chocolate Cupcake recipe.
It uses oil instead of butter now to make it a little simpler and quicker.
Can I have this recipe in cups please?
No, I’m really sorry I can’t give these measurements.
For general recipes, I try to provide imperial (cups) measurements, but for baking, the science is so exact, I really feel that a small investment in a set of digital scales is SO WORTH IT.
Using the weight of ingredients, rather than volume is SO much more reliable.
(Of course, you can always use Google to convert is you prefer, but I can’t guarantee the results!)
Some more top secret bakery cupcake tips!
Peeling cases? I’ve always found that cupcakes can peel for a number of reasons. Avoid these, and you’ll be good to go:
- A recipe v high in butter/fat (not so with this recipe).
- Cupcakes stores in plastic containers.
- Certain cupcake cases (I like these and have found they don’t peel: White Cupcake Cases or Brown Cupcake Cases)
- In more traditional recipes, overbeating the mixture can cause this as the sponge contracts and pulls away from the cases.
Cupcakes not rising?
- Be sure that your flour isn’t out of date (so the raising agent is still working).
- Test your oven with an oven thermometer to check it really is as hot as the gauge says.
- Do not open the oven before 17 minutes.
- Check that your eggs are medium or large size. Not enough egg can cause cakes to rise less.
- 9 times out of 10 this is down to overbaking. As above, test your oven with an oven thermometer to check it isn’t TOO hot.
- Cupcakes will always become dry if they aren’t fresh. If you’re eating them on day 5 they probably will be dry!
How do you make light, fluffy frosting?
- Best tip EVER – add a teaspoon at a time of boiling hot water and beat in until light and fluffy.
- If you leave the icing for a while, press cling film down onto the surface so that it doesn’t dry out and then beat very well again before using. Adding a little extra water if necessary.
How do you store the cupcakes?
- Store in an airtight container that ISN’T plastic.
- Store somewhere cool (so usually dark too) but not a fridge.
- The buttercream icing has butter in, but if you’re old school (like my granny and I!) you’ll always leave your real butter out of the fridge anyway when in use.
Fancy some more cupcake recipes?
Hope you enjoy this recipe. I’d love to know how you got on and what you thought of it if you make this recipe.
Please rate the recipe using the ⭐️ below!
Also, if you fancy showing me a photo by tagging me on Instagram (@tamingtwins) I LOVE to see your creations and try and share as many of them as I can.
Easy Chocolate Cupcakes
- 150 g Caster sugar
- 120 g Self raising flour
- 25 g Cocoa
- Pinch of salt Optional
- 1 Egg Free range, medium or large
- 50 ml Oil
- 125 ml Milk
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
For the icing
- 300 g Icing sugar
- 150 g Unsalted butter
- 30 g Cocoa powder
- Boiling water
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl.
- Beat the wet ingredients in another bowl.
- Combine, by adding about two thirds of the wet ingredients and beating until smooth. Then add the rest of the wet ingredients and beat until smooth again.
- Scoop into muffin cases in a muffin tin and bake for between 17 and 19 minutes or until domed and springy on top.
To make the icing
- While the cupcakes are cooking, make the icing. Beat together the sugar and butter until combined. (This may take a while and look grainy at first, carry on!)
- Mix the cocoa with a little boiling water in a mug, just enough water to make a thick paste. Mix it until smooth and there are no lumps.
- Beat the cocoa mixture into the icing.
- If you want your icing to be most soft, fluffy and pipeable, add a teaspoon of boiling water at a time until it's the texture that you want.
- To decorate, when the cupcakes are cool, put the icing into a piping bag fitted with a star piping nozzle (see notes).
- Pipe a circle around the edge of the cupcake, continue with another circle on top, slightly smaller, and a finally tiny circle on top. Give the bag a squeeze, stop squeezing and pull the bag away quickly.
- Add sprinkles!
Lea-Ann Reid says
Great recipe, worked perfectly
Baker #1 says
Added extra cocoa after reading the last comment. Turned out quite good though I think normal chocolate would work a bit better. I think I added a bit too much water to the buttercream as the icing melted really quickly. Great otherwise!
Hi, if I wanted to make, say, 24 cupcakes, would I just double up the recipe or would that not work?
Hi can I use melted chocolate instead of cocoa powder?
Sarah Barnes says
I’ve never tried that as the recipe is how I make them 🙂