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Chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream are a simple dessert recipe perfect for that cupcake craving, or to dress up easily for any occasion. Soft, tender, chocolatey cake made without buttermilk is an easy, fast recipe to throw together.
If you’re familiar with my other cupcake recipes like my pumpkin or spice cupcakes, you know when it comes to decorating I’m a fan of simple, 100%. These chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream are basically my ultimate simple recipe.
When I need a moist chocolate cupcake, these are it. When I need a frosting I can toss together, my simple vanilla frosting never fails. And since they’ve got a beautiful classic appearance, I can add sprinkles, marzipan, or color to the frosting to make them festive for any occasion.
And, since this is buttermilk free, requires no whipped egg whites, or anything else complicated, they come together in just 10 minutes.
The ingredients that go into making this are very similar to any other type of quick bread – because that’s really what it is! They’re leavened with baking powder and soda, and use really common ingredients to make a moist, tender chocolate cupcake.
- AP Flour – I haven’t tested this with cake flour or gluten free flour, if you do, let me know how it goes!
- Cocoa powder – you can use either dutch processed or natural cocoa powder. You can read more about them in my ‘cooking with chocolate guide’!
- White sugar – As much as I love brown sugar with chocolate (like my hot cocoa mix), it doesn’t give the best texture in this recipe. Cane sugar works well.
- Salt – A finely ground sea salt is perfect in this.
- Baking powder & soda – you need both to get the perfect rise and fluff.
- Eggs – 2 large ones!
- Vegetable oil – I tried this recipe with butter over and over, the moment I switched to oil, it was perfect. Go for a neutral flavored oil like canola, vegetable, or grapeseed.
- Greek yogurt – You could also use sour cream.
- Vanilla extract – if you aren’t already making your own, check out my post on how to make vanilla. (Save money and it tastes great!)
When it comes to the super simple vanilla buttercream frosting, it doesn’t get much easier than 3 ingredients – butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla.
How to Make Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream
It really doesn’t get much simpler. Here’s what you’ll need to do, ready?
Whisk together the dry ingredients except the sugar. Beat together the sugar and remaining ingredients. Fill your cupcake tin. Bake for up to 20 mins at 350°F.
Easy, am I right? Of course there are a few tips to getting them perfect that I’d love to share!
- Use a scale – I always recommend a kitchen scale for baking, even though I provide both weight and volume measurements. It’s the best way to be accurate every time.
- Don’t overfill your cupcake tin – This makes 12 exactly. If you have batter left in the bowl, find the ones that look shallow and add it in. If you’re missing one, they’re too full.
- Don’t let them cool in the pan – There’s a lot of differing advice out there, but I always find that the cupcake liners come away cleaner and the cupcakes keep a better texture when I pull them out of the tin and let them cool on a rack.
- Don’t frost until completely cool – I’m as impatient as the next person, but really, don’t do it. I usually pull my butter out when I start making these, and by the time it’s soft and ready to make into vanilla buttercream, the cupcakes are cooling/mostly cool.
- Store at room temperature – No need to refrigerate these, even after frosting. If you’re wanting to freeze them, do that unfrosted for up to 3 months.
How to Make Them Festive
These are my back pocket, plain-jane, any occasion cupcakes – especially because they’re easy to dress up!
Add some festive sprinkles or colored sanding sugar for a simple touch. Or, dye the frosting with high intensity dyes for a punch of color. If you’re handy with a piping tip, you can get creative with how you add that vanilla buttercream.
You can even change up the flavor, like I do for my mummy cupcakes where I opted for cream cheese frosting instead. You could even add a filling by hollowing out the middle. Strawberry jam or blueberry compote would be so yummy!
Either way, at the end of the day, not a soul will be upset to eat a perfectly simple, soft chocolate cupcake with a creamy, just sweet enough vanilla buttercream.
Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream
- 100 grams All-purpose flour 3/4-1 cup, 4 ounces
- 56 grams cocoa powder 1/2 cup
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 230 grams granulated sugar 1 1/4 cups
- 2 large eggs
- 4 ounces vegetable oil 1/2 cup
- 125 grams greek yogurt 1/2 cup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 ounces butter, unsalted and softened
- 12 ounces powdered sugar 3/4 of a pound
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat your oven to 350°F and line, or grease, a 12 cup muffin tin.
- Combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl and whisk to combine.
- Combine the sugar, eggs, oil, yogurt, and vanilla and whisk until smooth.
- Add the dry to the wet ingredients and fold until smooth.
- Scoop into muffin tins so they're each 3/4 full.
- Baked for 18-20 minutes, or until tops spring back when gently touched, or a toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove from pan to a cooling rack (be careful, the pan is hot!)
- Make buttercream by beating the butter, vanilla, and sugar together until smooth.
- When cupcakes are completely cool, frost with buttercream and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Nutrition information and cooking times are provided as a best estimate. Values may vary based upon ingredients and equipment.