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

Cocoa Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

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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

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

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


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:

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57 comments on “Cocoa Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream”

  1. Followed u at BlogLovin & would love to have u follow me too, dear! Strangely, when I checked your blog posts under blogger reading list, last post was 4 mths ago :<

    These bakes look like some wonderful x'mas treats!

  2. Busy days ahead , Lizzy πŸ˜€ Those cupcakes look pretty ! For me , the thicker the frosting the better !

  3. They look lovely πŸ˜€

    Have a wonderful Sunday! πŸ˜€

  4. I have no doubt the cupcakes were a big hit! Have a great Memorial Day:@)

  5. Yummmy! There is something about buttermilk that makes cake so extra delicious. And I agree with Anne, when it comes to frosting, the thicker the better =)

    So cute that your son has mastered the PB sandwich…Might be a smart strategy tho’ As long as he doesn’t cook, he can enjoy Mom’s catering service and marvelous meals =)

  6. Beautiful cupcakes! Chocolate cakes go down well at any time with me! Happy #SundaySupper!

  7. Mmmm – I can imagine how much those were appreciated by teenage boys or anyone!!! They look so lovely. Happy Memorial Day to you and yours.

  8. One of the down sides of living overseas is not being about to bake and cook for my girls and I miss that terribly. What a blessing for Nick that you are able to bring him sweet treats and be there to celebrate his birthday. Those cupcakes are just perfect for a chocolately rich celebration!

  9. Love these little goodies!! And my daughter pointed to the computer screen and said “Giffy’s” Which she calls Giraffe’s πŸ™‚ Now I need to make them! GL making some amazing dishes for your son and his roomies next semester Momma!

  10. You set my heart at odds with your story. While I dread the day that Dudette leaves the house for college, I also can’t wait to bring her and her friends treats and meals! Happy birthday to Nick!

  11. There is no such thing as overly generous with buttercream or any frosting. They look perfect to me. I’ve had the air holes problem when I use the whisk on my stand mixer. I switched to using a hand mixer and like the texture better. I need to try the paddle attachment next time and see how it does.

  12. have a safe weekend and I would love to have one of these adorable cupcakes!

  13. What fun and classic cupcakes! Yum!

  14. These are delectable Liz, and how can college boys not throw themselves at them?! Those jiraffes are so cute!

  15. Oooooh, love the tip on the icing! And these look fabulous!

  16. Love your gorgeous cupcakes and that frosting looks delicious Liz!!Perfect for everyone πŸ™‚

  17. Liz, these cupcakes are so adorable! Who could ever resist the chocolate buttercream! The swirls are so pretty.

  18. Umm exsqueeeze me but those little giraffes are the cutest thing ever!!!!! These look so beautiful I don’t think I’d want to eat them.

  19. It’s so nice of you to bake and cook for your son! I would think college is a very hard adjustment and there’s enough to do without having to worry about what to eat. I bet those cupcakes were gone in the blink of an eye!

  20. Those giraffes are totally cute! I just love them! πŸ™‚ yummy cupcakes!

  21. I’m another fan of the giraffes! Great looking cupcakes. When I was in college I could have eaten the entire batch by myself (and not gained an ounce). Now? I’ll have two, please. And let’s not even think of those extra ounces!

  22. These are gorgeous, Liz. They wouldn’t last long here either. And maybe we need a peanut butter sandwich theme one #SundaySupper for Nick. Then he’ll have a ton of things to do with them πŸ™‚

  23. Cupcakes are a hit with me anytime. Buttercream icing? Oh yeah!

  24. These are so pretty, and sound delicious! I still have the old Hershey’s recipe book, and all their recipes are awesome! Great tip on the paddle attachment for air holes. Thanks for posting!!

  25. There is something about Coke that says summer to me! I love baking with it, too and love these cupcakes!

  26. Lizzie – I LOVE this recipe!!! I want these now πŸ™‚

  27. My husband spent the afternoon watching the Indy 500. Pretty sure the cupcakes were perfect study food for his finals. They look fantastic; of course they were a welcomed treat.

  28. Who’s the cupcake queen? These are so fun Lizzy and sound fabulous. At least your Nick shares. I found out that one time when I took a huge pound cake to my Nick when he was in college, HE HID IT from the other boys. Lindsay, his wife (girlfriend at the time) said he did share with her, but only slivers πŸ™‚ That rascal!

  29. Perfect for a picnic, especially if you own one of the cupcake carriers like you said. Love the cute little cups they are in!!

  30. Can’t ever go wrong with cupcakes. And chocolate is always my dessert of choice!

  31. So good and look super cute.

  32. Ahh college life. The dining food was actually decent during the week but on the weekends when most of the stations were closed? Pizza, hamburgers, grilled cheese, or cereal. Uh yum? I hope Nick attempts to cook some meals! It’s mainly when I learned how to cook everything (and I don’t mean ramen soup and grilled cheese).

    Anyway, I’m sure he won’t complain if you show up with more of these cupcakes. Thanks to you and Jenni for that frosting tip!

  33. You are such a sweet Mom!! Your cupcakes are adorable and I can imagine the boys at the dorm, must of went crazy for them. Happy Memorial Day!!!

  34. Nothing beats chocolate on top of chocolate!

  35. These would have been a massive hit, they look too delicious!

    Choc Chip Uru

  36. Happy birthday to your boy. If my son was living away from home I would be doing exactly as you are doing – providing meals on wheels. When my husband was at uni and his parents left him to live overseas he lived off peanut butter too. Only he must have been slightly more kitchen savvy than your son because he actually went to the trouble of toasting his bread xx

  37. What’s not to love about double chocolate cakes? I wanna come to your picnic!

  38. Awww, I love those little giraffes! And yep, I totally remember being a college kid, and my parents bringing me a birthday cake. It was gone in mere seconds once my dorm neighbors found out. haha.

  39. Im pretty sure these cupcakes could not be any cuter! I love your recipe and the butter cream! Yum!!

  40. O M G. Love this recipe. It makes me want one NOW!

  41. They looks simply divine, Liz!!! As everything that you make…

  42. Love your double chocolate cupcakes, especially that luscious buttercream!

  43. What cute and tastyyyy cupcakes! Love em!

  44. I have to applaud your photography skills, for of all – the photos are just gorgeous.

    I love these cupcakes, they are just adorable – the colors are so scrumptious, I just want a bite. I love chocolate so this is perfect for me. And these giraffes.. so cute! πŸ™‚

  45. Nick is the luckiest guy in the world – I’d give my right arm to get special deliveries from you, Liz! Especially when they’re as delicious and adorable as these cupcakes. I can’t get over how incredible these look. I love the little giraffe flags on top – they are too cute!

  46. Lizzy,
    The cupcakes look adorable. I’m sure the frosting tasted great regardless of any air bubbles.

  47. What an incredible array of recipes but your cupcakes do stand out. College boys are great for making you feel your cooking skils are supreme. Both Dario and Adriano are bottomless pits. I sometimes wonder if they actually taste the food – it goes down so quickly.

  48. These cupcakes look fantastic Liz! Anybody would be happy to have these for their birthday! Love Hershey’s Chocolate cake recipe, it’s a definite crowd pleaser around here too. And the icing just puts these over the top delicious! Love the cupcake toppers – they are so adorable!

  49. What a lucky duck. You’re welcome to drive to Baltimore at any time to deliver cupcakes πŸ˜‰ These look wonderful. I’d love to swipe fome of that frosting for a lick. Yum!

  50. These are totally coming on my next picnic. So beautiful and chocolate, you just can’t go wrong with anything chocolate. Period. :0)

  51. These cupcakes are beautiful and look absolutely delicious! My boys would devour these in an instant.

  52. You must be the favorite mom on campus! Can’t say no to chocolate on chocolate!

  53. Will try this recipe soon. Gabbi loves chocolate cupcakes.

  54. Don’t you just love it when you can bake and give away sweet treats and they get gobbled up immediately?! I do. . these cupcakes look so delicious! I love your piping job with the frosting. . this is one thing I have not mastered . . the frosting! Yours looks fabulous!
    And yes! I use a paddle attachment when making frosting too! works like a charm!

  55. Those little giraffes on top are so cute! And the cupcakes really do look delicious! I’m all for anything with double chocolate!

  56. These are some beautiful cupcakes… I could eat that frosting alone. πŸ™‚

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