Whip up some classic Cocoa Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream when you’re dying for some old-fashioned comfort food! Perfect for a special snack, a birthday treat or just a chocolate craving that won’t go away!

Cocoa Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream in floral paper wrappers with a giraffe topper

Cocoa Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

Nick drew a short straw when it came to his birthday this year. It landed on a Monday…the first day of his college finals. Insert pouty face. I reminded him that he had to eat dinner, so we planned to drive down treat him to a meal at the restaurant of his choice on Sunday night (no fine dining required). I whipped up a batch of Cocoa Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream for him to share with the other hooligans on his dorm floor. Apparently they didn’t last long. Teenage boys do like cake. Especially when it’s not from the campus cafeteria…I think even the dreaded meatloaf of his childhood was a step up from the entrees he faced each night for dinner.

I was overly generous with the buttercream…and the boys gave them rave reviews…especially the icing. Nick is moving into an apartment with 3 friends next year. I have a feeling I’ll be taking full meals down to them…all Nick has mastered so far is the peanut butter sandwich.

When the picnic theme was announced for this week’s Sunday Supper, I knew these delectable cupcakes would be perfect. I had just purchased a cupcake carrier, and could see arriving with a couple dozen of these to a Memorial Day gathering. Around here, we have the Indy 500…and the city is just hopping with festivities. And I always bring a dessert unless otherwise assigned…and typically something chocolate. Scroll down to see all the the extraordinary treats my friends are bringing to the picnic…and I hope some of them will inspire you to create a special treat for the holiday.

PRO-Tip: My baking friend, Jenni,  of Pastry Chef Online, offered me a solution for the air holes in my buttercream frosting. She suggested using the paddle attachment instead of the whisk. Too late this time, but it will be my new technique!

Cocoa Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream on a small white tray

Check out these other recipes for your chocolate cravings:

My No-Fail Chocolate Fudge is a family favorite, this Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova is elegant and delicious, and this Chocolate Souffle Cake is flourless and a beauty topped with cream and berries!

Cocoa Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream in floral paper wrappers with a giraffe topper

Cocoa Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Yield 24 cupcakes

Old-fashioned frosted cocoa cupcakes that are perfect for any occasion!


For cupcakes:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk or sour milk (put one tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup and fill with milk to the one cup mark. Let sit a few minutes before using)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For buttercream:

  • 1 cup butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate (melted and cooled)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line two 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients in large bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, water, oil and vanilla. Beat with mixer for about 2 minutes on medium speed, scraping down sides of bowl. Batter will be thin. Fill each liner 2/3-3/4 full with batter.
  3. Bake 15 minutes or till toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes in tins, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.
  4. To make buttercream, put butter and shortening in the bowl of your stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, whip on medium-high till light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  5. Reduce speed to low and slowly add in powdered sugar. When the sugar is incorporated, mix in vanilla, then the chocolate. Increase mixer speed to medium high and beat till light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  6. Ice cupcakes as desired.
  7. Yield: 24-30 cupcakes
  8. Total time: about 1 1/2 hours

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 cupcake

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 444Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 307mgCarbohydrates: 55gFiber: 1gSugar: 45gProtein: 3g


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Cocoa Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream on a multi tiered dessert stand

A Few More Picnic Recipes You’ll Love: