Best Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes and Failure

For a while now, I have been hesitating to post my chocolate cupcake recipe because it wasn't absolutely perfect.  When it comes to chocolate cupcakes, my standards are pretty high. 

Mary's Requirements for Chocolate Cupcakes:

1. They must have a winning chocolate taste.  As a chocoholic, taste is the first and most important requirement. All ingredients must bow to the chocolatey taste as their primary goal.

2. They must be super moist.  No dry, crumbly chocolate cupcakes for me. 

3. They must be fluffy without being too light.  As far the texture is concerned, as Goldilocks would say, they have to be "just right." 

4. They must dome up, having a slightly rounded tops.  Flat top cupcakes are unattractive, and cupcakes that dome up too much are just trying too hard.  This requirement has no bearing on the taste.  This is an issue of aesthetics.  I know a cute little frosting swirl will cover the flat top, but a perfect chocolate cupcake needs the cute domed top.

I found a recipe that fulfilled the first three requirements beautifully, but try as I might, the fourth requirement was a hit or miss.  Sometimes, no matter how much they would puff up in the oven, as soon as I would take them out, they would flatten out.  I tweaked and I adjusted but still couldn't pull off a fool-proof dome.  I've tried filling the cupcake tins halfway, two-thirds, three-fourths, and (as I did this time) almost completely full, but the perfect shape continues to be elusive.  And so, I considered it unworthy of blogging.  But, the fact of the matter is that even though they aren't perfect, this is the best chocolate cupcake recipe I have.

My mother often says, "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing wrong," meaning if there is something you need to do, don't worry about getting it perfect, just get it done.  But I worry about getting things perfect.  I worry that my efforts aren't going be the best.  Maybe someone will taste my best chocolate chip cookies and think "Eh, I've eaten better."  Maybe someone will hear me sing one of my favorite jazz tunes and think "She sings this too slow."  Maybe I need to wait until my efforts are without question the most perfect I can put forth.  I am afraid of failing, and so sometimes I don't try.

My mother is right.  Maybe my cupcakes, my cookies, my songs, or my apologies aren't perfect, but fail or not, these things are important, and so they are worth doing, even if they are done poorly.  Instead of being afraid of failure, I should learn to embrace it.  Keep trying, keep failing, but keep going.  It's a hard lesson to remember, but an important one.

And so here they are.  My best chocolate cupcakes topped with a dark chocolate frosting recipe I found on Beantown Baker.  They may not  keep their cute little rounded tops after you take them out of the oven.  But in my humble opinion, the taste is absolutely unbeatable.  And Beantown Baker's dark chocolate frosting truly is an amazing addition.  You will love these chocolately babies as much as I do.  

Mary's Dark Chocolate Cupcakes 
(a.k.a., Hershey's Especially Dark Chocolate Cake, tweaked and adapted by me)

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water


1. Heat oven to 350.  Prepare cupcake tins with liners.

2.  Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer for 2 minutes.  Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).  Pour batter into prepared cupcake tins.

3.  Bake 22 to 26 minutes or until tops spring back at touch.  Cool 5 minutes in pan; remove from pans to wire racks.  Cool completely.

Dark Chocolate Frosting
Adapted from Beantown Baker, who adapted it from My Baking Heart
(The original recipe wasn't enough, so I expanded it a bit)

8 Tbsp butter

2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup dark cocoa powder
½ cup milk

Cream butter and vanilla.   In a separate bowl, combine powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture. Slowly add milk until frosting reaches desired consistency, then beat another 5 minutes until creamy.


  1. I've had these cupcakes, and dome or no dome, they are hands down the best chocolate cupcakes I have ever eaten!

  2. Nothing, and I mean nothing, surpasses these cupcakes.

  3. To get the dome to puff up (and stay), set your oven temperature to 400 to preheat. Bake at 400 for pretty close to exactly 5 minutes (I set my oven timer so I'm not tempted to rush it or forget). If it doesn't dome the first time, try the second batch at 6 minutes.

    Then reduce it down to 350 and bake for the rest of the time (usually about 15 minutes).

    Some batters are a little fussier than others, and maybe after preheating the first batch needs 6 minutes, but the 2nd and later batches only need 5 minutes each (because the oven is fully heated after baking a batch). A little trial and error will sort it out.

    This is how caterers and "pro" bakers get their cupcakes to dome. :D.

  4. How many cupcakes does this recipe make?


Post a Comment