When birthdays roll around at our house, it’s almost a given that some sort of chocolate dessert is needed for the celebration. These Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Cupcakes are a perennial favorite for any special occasion!

This Chocolate Cupcake Recipe is always a hit. The cupcakes are moist and tender plus the ganache-based Chocolate Frosting Recipe is to die for!

Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Cupcakes on a square white plate with chocolate chips

Why You Must Bake these Chocolate Cupcakes

  • This is my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe. The cupcakes are bakery-worthy and the frosting, made with melted chocolate, is rich, glossy and delectable!
  • You need to portion control since they’re so tasty! One cupcake is perfect for dessert.
  • These are much easier to make than a chocolate layer cake and they’re portable!
  • No mixer is needed!

One of my favorite souvenirs from a glorious summer vacation to San Francisco was The Ghirardelli Chocolate Cookbook. I wanted to bake my way through all the recipes but got stalled on a couple of delectable cupcakes, which I’ve now made numerous times. The dark chocolate cupcakes have never disappointed! I’m also partial to their Vanilla Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Do Chocolate Cupcakes Bake?

Typically cupcakes take about 15-25 minutes to cook depending on the recipe. But every oven bakes differently, so it’s best to use the toothpick test or bounce test to check that they’re baked thoroughly.

How Do You Test Cupcakes to See if They're Done?

Either insert a toothpick into the middle of a couple of the cupcakes to see if any batter is coating the toothpick when it’s removed. If you see batter, they’re not done baking. Leave them in a few minutes longer, then check again.

Another method, the bounce method, is using your finger to tap the middle of the cupcake. If the cake bounces back up, the cupcakes are done. If an indentation remains, they will need a few more minutes to bake.

What Frosting Goes with Chocolate Cupcakes?

We love a chocolate buttercream frosting or this chocolate ganache frosting paired with chocolate cupcakes. But vanilla buttercream, cream cheese frosting, or even peanut butter frosting all taste amazing with chocolate, too.

How Do You Make Chocolate Frosting?

This chocolate frosting is super easy. A ganache is made by melting chocolate with butter and cream and mixing until smooth. This ganache needs to cool until it’s spreading or piping consistency before frosting. I like using an open star tip to make swirls of frosting.

Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Cupcakes on a white tray

How to Make the Best Chocolate Cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven and line the muffin tin with cupcake liners for easy removal.
  2. Whisk together the dry ingredients.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together egg, brown sugar, and white sugar, then the milk, coffee, and melted butter.
  4. Whisk in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until combined.
  5. Divide batter into 12 spots in the muffin tins (fill about ¾ full).
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool before frosting.
  7. Make the frosting, then let it rest until it reaches spreading or piping consistency.
  8. Ice the cupcakes and sprinkle with chocolate chips.

Tips for Making Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

There are a few tricks for making perfect cupcakes, starting with measuring and ending with making sure they are not over bakes. Here are some of my tips.

  • Baking is a science so make sure you measure each ingredient properly. Use dry measuring cups for dry ingredients and liquid measuring cups for liquid ingredients.
  • Have your refrigerated ingredients at room temperature. If you need to hurry along your eggs, place them in a bowl of very warm, but not boiling water.
  • Many times, a mixer is not used so the gluten is not over-activated. Just a whisk is used in this recipe. Dried ingredients should be mixed in just until combined. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl so everything is incorporated.
  • Fill the cupcake liners only 3/4 full so they don’t overflow. I like using a large scoop to evenly distribute the batter.
  • All ovens bake a little differently. Start checking your cupcakes for doneness a couple of minutes early. I like using a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake to check. If it comes out clean or with just a moist crumb or two, they’re done.
  • Once you start smelling the aroma of the cupcakes, you’ll know you’re getting close. I also will tap my finger on top of one cupcake. If the indentation remains, they’ll need a few more minutes. If the indentation springs back up, they’re done. I hope you’ll try these magnificent dark chocolate cupcakes!
3 kids in front of the Golden Gate Bridge
Family trip to San Francisco in 2010.

More of the Best Cupcake Recipes:

Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Cupcakes | Sublime Cocoa cupcakes with a chocolate ganache frosting!

Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Yield 12 cupcakes

Sublime Cocoa cupcakes with a chocolate ganache frosting!



  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/3 cup strong coffee or espresso
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted


  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips, to garnish, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350 º. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  2. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together in small bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg, brown sugar, and white sugar. Whisk in the milk, coffee, and melted butter. Whisk in the dry ingredients. Divide batter into 12 spots in the muffin tins (fill about ¾ full).
  3. Bake for 15 minutes (mine took 21 minutes) or till tester inserted in middle of cupcake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and continue cooling on wire rack.
  4. For frosting: melt the chocolate gently in the microwave, stirring at 15-30 second intervals till smooth.
  5. Heat the cream till hot, then mix with the chocolate. Let cool till just warm. Whisk in butter till smooth. Let sit till reaches spreading consistency. Ice the cupcakes and sprinkle with chocolate chips.


Adapted from The Ghirardelli Chocolate Cookbook

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 cupcake

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 320Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 285mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 1gSugar: 26gProtein: 3g


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