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Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes lined up on a white tray

Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes

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 These Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes were moist and tender and the rich ganache and malted milk balls were the crowning glory.  Plus, they are portable, which makes them ideal for so many occasions!

It was the weekend before Nick’s birthday, so we loaded up the family and this Chocolate Cupcake Recipe and headed to his college campus. We took him and his buddies out for a steak dinner, but they all had room for dessert back at his apartment. The boys all seemed to have no trouble digging right in (they basically have bottomless pits for stomachs), and from Nick’s report, a dozen cupcakes disappeared quickly. 

Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes lined up on a white tray

Why These Cocoa Cupcakes Work

  • The addition of oil and melted butter makes these cupcakes super moist!
  • The double dose of chocolate is a dreamy, irresistible treat.
  • They’re perfect for birthday parties, picnics, or any time you need a portable or individual dessert.

It was a joy to spend time with the whole family plus Nick’s friends to celebrate his special day. I know as they grow older, we’ll have fewer and fewer opportunities to do so. I am grateful for all the time I get to spend with my children. So on this Mother’s Day, I was glad to share a recipe that reflects my mothering! Good food is one of the ways I show my family how much I love them. This chocolate cupcake recipe was no exception!

Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes - Terrific chocolate cupcakes with a swirl of decadent chocolate buttercream

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Make Chocolate Cupcakes?

If you’ve ever made a cake from scratch, you can make this easy chocolate cupcake recipe. Mix the batter as directed in the recipe, then fill a cupcake tin with paper liners about 3/4 full, and bake until a toothpick inserted into the cupcakes comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Cool, frost and enjoy!

Why Are My Cupcakes Dry?

First, it could be the recipe. Look at the ingredients when selecting which recipe to use. The addition of buttermilk or sour cream makes for moist and tender cupcakes. And oil and/or melted butter in the batter keeps them moist.

Also, avoid overbaking and keep them stored in an airtight container. Make sure you’re measuring precisesly. Dip your measuring cup into a bin of flour, then swipe across the top to level the flour even with the top of the cup. Too much flour or sugar can change the texture of the cupcakes.

How Do You Store Cupcakes?

Store them in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days. After that, keep them in the refrigerator. The dry, cold air in the refrigerator may dry them out a bit, but it will extend the life of the cupcakes.

They can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Freeze on a tray without covering for a couple of hours to firm up the frosting, then wrap individually in plastic prevent freezer burn. Note that even when frozen, the frosting and cupcakes can be compressed, so put in a freezer safe container for protection. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator in an airtight container after removing the plastic.

Tips for Making Cupcakes

  • Read through the recipe a couple of times to make sure you have all the ingredients and equipment on hand.
  • Note that this recipe uses Dutch-process cocoa in the frosting, which is different from regular cocoa powder.
  • Measure precisely. Dry measuring cups for dry ingredients and liquid (I use Pyrex brand) measuring cups for liquids. The dry ingredients must be leveled off evenly with the top of the cup or measuring spoon.
  • Have any refrigerated ingredients, like eggs, at room temperature for easy incorporation into the batter.
  • Cream the butter and sugar well to incorporate air (not pertinent to this recipe, but in general).
  • As soon as the batter is mixed and in the cupcake pan, place it into a preheated oven.
  • Bake on the middle shelf.
  • Rely on the oven light to check on the progress of your cupcakes. Do not open the door until it’s time to check for doneness.
  • Cool in the tins for 5-10 minutes to allow the exterior to gain stability, then remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling before frosting.

Mother’s Day Tribute

Like me, my mom had a huge recipe collection. From cookbooks to clippings, to recipe cards from her friends and family, they filled our family kitchen. I treasure those index cards with handwritten recipes she’d share after a visit. She was a marvelous cook, but I was always the baker in the family. So today, these luscious cupcakes are to honor my mom and her sweet tooth along with Nick on his 22nd birthday.

Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes - Terrific chocolate cupcakes with a swirl of decadent chocolate buttercream

More Cupcake Recipes You’ll Love:

Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes

The Recipe: Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes

The BEST chocolate cupcakes topped with outrageously delicious chocolate ganache frosting!

Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Yield 12 cupcakes


For cake:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For frosting:

  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 ounces milk chocolate, melted and cooled


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the vegetable oil and water over low heat.
  3. In a large bowl, sift the flour with the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add the melted butter mixture and beat with a handheld mixer at low speed until smooth.
  4. Add the egg and beat until incorporated, then add the buttermilk and vanilla and beat until smooth, scraping the bottom and side of the bowl.
  5. Pour the batter into the lined muffin tins, filling them about three-fourths full.
  6. Bake the cupcakes in the center of the oven for about 25 minutes, until springy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Let the cupcakes cool slightly, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.
  8. To make frosting, process the butter, sugar, cocoa and salt in a food processor till smooth, scraping the bowl as needed.
  9. Add the corn syrup and vanilla and process till combined. Add the chocolate and pulse till smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
  10. Pipe or spread a mound of frosting on each cupcake. Top with a piece of candy if desired.
  11. Makes a generous amount of frosting for 12 cupcakes.


Store at room temperature in a covered container for 3-4 days, then refrigerate. They may be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 408Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 186mgCarbohydrates: 65gFiber: 2gSugar: 52gProtein: 4g occasionally offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site. This information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased can change the nutritional information in any given recipe. Also, many recipes on recommend toppings, which may or may not be listed as optional and nutritional information for these added toppings is not listed. Other factors may change the nutritional information such as when the salt amount is listed “to taste,” it is not calculated into the recipe as the amount will vary. Also, different online calculators can provide different results. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in any given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information obtained is accurate.


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Mother’s Day Tribute

Like me, my mom had a huge recipe collection. From cookbooks to clippings, to recipe cards from her friends and family, they filled our family kitchen. I treasure those index cards with handwritten recipes she’d share after a visit. She was a marvelous cook, but I was always the baker in the family. So today, these luscious cupcakes are to honor my mom and her sweet tooth along with Nick on his 22nd birthday.

This is the first Mother’s Day without my beautiful, talented, giving mom. Bittersweet as I’m glad she is with her beloved parents, sister, and nephew, but sad for those of us she’s left behind. Cheers to you, Gretchen!

Mom and Katie

My mom with her only granddaughter, Katie.

Mom with me and my sister, Katie

My mom and me with my new little sister, another Katie!

Maddy's Baptism

Baptism of her fourth daughter, Madeleine.

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51 comments on “Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes”

  1. Happy Mother’s Day Liz. These cupcakes look and sound delightful, my bother adored malt balls as a kid, so I know he’d love these.

  2. Ahhh those cupcakes are gorgeous, Liz! That ganache looks so rich! I think these truly are the perfect chocolate cupcake! Lovely photos of your family. Hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day! : )

  3. It looks stunning Liz ! Nick must be very happy wiht this perfect cupcakes ! They are brillant and beautiful and I would like so much have one with my cofee 😉
    Lovely pictures, thanks for sharing and Have a nice mother’s day 🙂

  4. I love those old photos! Thank you for sharing them and this great cupcake recipe.

  5. Your cupcakes look amazing Liz, I’m sure they were a big hit! Happy Mother’s Day, take care:@)

  6. Today when I read your post dear I think in my mom too.
    she is ok now but she has 85 years. How difficult if you are so close of your mom like you and your.
    my mom loves cook too but know is difficult to her so she asked me when want something.
    lizzy Im sure your mom is always with you.
    these chocolate cupcakes are wonderful and perfect.
    A big hug my dear friend!

  7. I thought about you today as I saw families celebrating. The first year after my mother died was the toughest for me. I just didn’t want it to happen even though it was her choice.

    She would love your cupcakes!

  8. Yummy! These cupcakes really look perfect!

  9. What irresistible cupcakes, I love the ganache and malt ball topping

  10. Ahh, chocolate porn! Time to give ourselves a treat with these and have a dose of the happy hormone for a stress-free Sunday 🙂 Thanks a bunch, Liz!!

    Julie & Alesah
    Gourmet Getaways xx

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