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Vanilla Buttercream Topped Cocoa Cupcakes on a silver tray

Vanilla Buttercream Topped Cocoa Cupcakes

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These extremely moist and tender Vanilla Buttercream Topped Cocoa Cupcakes were gobbled up by the whole family! 10 thumbs up. They had the perfect amount of chocolate flavor and crowned with a generous swirl of buttercream!

Most of you know I have a couple of picky eaters at my house. The hubby is a huge chocolate fanatic (as long as no funny stuff is involved like nuts, mint or coconut) and the daughter often complains that my desserts are “too chocolaty.” What’s a girl to do?? I compromised with this chocolate cupcake recipe that has the perfect  amount of chocolate without overwhelming the palate. Plus the vanilla buttercream helped to balance out any chance of chocolate overload.

Vanilla Buttercream Topped Cocoa Cupcakes on a silver tray

Vanilla Buttercream Topped Cocoa Cupcakes

For those that don’t have a home full of chocoholics, but still yearn for chocolate desserts, these chocolate cupcakes are the perfect compromise. The boys in the family got their chocolate fix, and Katie didn’t complain one bit as the buttercream softened the hit of chocolate.

There is nothing difficult about these cocoa cupcakes unless you are a food blogger who stinks at piping frosting. Thank goodness I had 14 chances to get one photogenic swirl. If you’re so inclined, just pile on the icing with a knife. They’ll taste amazing either way!

Overhead view of Vanilla Buttercream Topped Cocoa Cupcakes on a silver tray

Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

Have you ever sliced a sliver of a layer cake for “just a sample?” That’s my M.O. But usually, I go back for another taste, and then another. I would have been better off taking a normal-sized slice! At least with a cupcake, I know when to stop! So when I signed up to host this month’s Progressive Eats, I chose the theme of making a dish in a muffin tin.

I went the obvious route with these cocoa cupcakes, though mini bacon-wrapped meatloaves were a strong contender. I use my muffin tins for the obvious sweet treats, but I’ve also made mini quiches and now I want to try some of the terrific dishes my blogger buddies have shared today. Scroll down and check them out. Have you ever created anything out of the ordinary in your muffin tin?

Vanilla Buttercream Topped Cocoa Cupcakes in blue ramekins

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My family adores chocolate desserts like these Cocoa Cupcakes with Ganache Filling, Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Cupcakes, Cream Filled Chocolate Cupcakes, and Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes. Check out these Chocolate Recipes, too.

Progressive Eats 

Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month we’re featuring dishes made in a muffin tin ranging from individual desserts to savory entrees and/or appetizers. Our event is hosted by Liz Berg who blogs at That Skinny Chick Can Bake.  With built-in portion control, these recipes are perfect, lighter fare for your summer dining. You’ll certainly find a delicious recipe, like these cocoa cupcakes, to add to your repertoire!


If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.

Progressive Eats


Vanilla Buttercream Topped Cocoa Cupcakes

Vanilla Buttercream Topped Cocoa Cupcakes

Moist and decadent chocolate cupcakes with a mound of vanilla buttercream frosting. Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Yield 14 cupcakes



  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coffee extract (may add more vanilla if you don't have coffee extract)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

Vanilla Buttercream:

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
  • 4 1/2-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350º. This recipe makes approximately 14 cupcakes. Line two muffin tins with 14 liners or line one muffin tin with12 liners and two ramekins with liners. Set aside.
  2. Make the cupcakes: Whisk the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl till combined. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, oil,and extracts. Whisk about ⅓ of the dry ingredients into the egg mixture, then half the buttermilk, another ⅓ of the flour mixture, the rest of the buttermilk, then the rest of the flour mixture. Whisk after each addition, but don't overmix. Fill paper liners only about ½ full and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for about 10 minutes then remove to wire rack to finish cooling.
  3. To make the frosting, beat the butter with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer or a hand mixer till fluffy. Add 4 and ½ cups powdered sugar, cream, and vanilla extract with the mixer running on low till combined. Then increase the mixer's speed to high and beat a couple more minutes. Adjust texture by adding up to another ½ cup of powdered sugar or a touch more cream.
  4. When cupcakes are completely cooled, frost as desired. You can pipe on swirls or just smear a good amount of frosting on the tops with a knife.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 cupcake

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 969 Total Fat: 21g Saturated Fat: 10g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 9g Cholesterol: 67mg Sodium: 247mg Carbohydrates: 198g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 187g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 3g
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38 comments on “Vanilla Buttercream Topped Cocoa Cupcakes”

  1. Cocoa cupcakes looks beautiful Liz and I am sure it tastes amazing too 🙂 I have made a few chicken pies,quiches and chocolate lava cakes using a muffin tin… I think its so versatile.

  2. The breakfast of champions! I wouldn’t mind a portion or two right now:@)

  3. They look perfect and cute!
    Have a nice day

  4. Portion control is so why I love cupcakes. Plus they are cute! I would be glad to participate in gobbling these right up!

  5. Liz, these are the perfect way to please your picky eaters or anybody!

  6. They look gorgeous with that beautifully piped frosting!

  7. Another stunning dessert Liz! Wish we lived next door – I sure could use some lessons in cake decorating. Thanks for hosting a really fun theme for #ProgressiveEats! Loved it and all the recipes! Can’t wait to make these cupcakes!

  8. these would be perfect for a wedding!

  9. It’s hard to beat the classic chocolate-vanilla combo! Yellow cake with chocolate icing or the revers, I’m all in! Thanks so much for hosting this month, Liz!

  10. I would need 1400 to get piping good enough to publish!! I totally stink at piping, which is putting it mildly. Yours look lovely, and I want them all! Thanks so much for hosting us this week!

  11. look perfect Lizzy, absolutely amazing !! Love them. Many times I dont make cupcakes, love these !

  12. Liz, the cupcakes rock!I Very delicious.
    Progressive dinners are fun and a great way to enjoy the neighborhood.


  13. They look so elegant Liz! I love the little pearls!

  14. Your cupcakes are perfect, your girl and your hubby can’t complain this time, it’s just so nice. Love the idea of progressive eats, I would like to make te same thing here, it must be very fun and also a nice way to taste differents recipes. Have a nice day Liz 😉 x

  15. Thanks so much for hosting Progressive Eats this month Liz! Your cupcakes are beautifully frosted! I’m horrible at decorating cakes and cupcakes – I think I just don’t have the patience 😉

  16. I have some picky eaters, too! It’s hard sometimes to make a treat everyone will love. I’m sure everybody would go crazy over these cupcakes though – they’re gorgeous 🙂

  17. Totally agree about cupcakes and portion control. So important! I’ll often cut another tiny slice of cake. And then another. But eating another whole cupcake? Usually doesn’t happen. Anyway, this looks terrific — perfect for picky eaters! Or the rest of us. 🙂

  18. So gorgeous! I can’t wait to try these!

  19. I bet the balance on these is just a perfect marriage of vanilla and chocolate!

  20. you make me want to make a better cupcake. so pretty!!!

  21. These are the prettiest little cupcakes ever! I need piping lessons from you! I love the idea of a progressive dinner! So fun!

  22. Give me a bowl of that vanilla buttercream… I will dig in with my face!

  23. What dreamy cupcakes, I love that vanilla buttercream!

  24. Yes, portion control…but these look so good…that I might have a hard time controlling it…so elegant!

  25. Looks like you have created a detente cupcake for your family =) Appreciate your POV about cupcakes, Liz. There is also the POV that oh, well, I just had a small portion of cake so I can go back for seconds! Tee hee =)

  26. I think you chose a good one, Liz! I do egg dishes and hash browns and frozen fruit cups all in muffin tins. They are perfect and handy for single servings!

  27. Gorgeous and just perfect.And you are right about portion control! With cakes I never stop at one serving because I don’t take the whole slice in one go. Love the theme this month!!

  28. these cupcakes are beeeautiful-and they look SO tasty!

  29. Sooooooo pretty and so mouth-watering 🙂
    These cupcakes really look perfect

  30. These are classic Liz and look beautiful…your swirling practice made for perfect!

  31. These came out perfectly! THANK YOU!

  32. You definitely got those perfect swirls! My girls love these, and I love desserts that they can help me make!

  33. The rich cupcake and that sweet buttercream are the perfect pair!

  34. Such a delicious recipe! I love each aspect on its own, as well as together. You’ve created a classic here!

  35. My buttercream frosting turned out amazing! Can’t wait to try it on other cakes!

  36. These were really amazing! Perfect cupcakes for any occasion!

  37. This buttercream is such a splurge. Perfect for any occasion.

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