When you have a serious chocolate craving, not just any chocolate cupcake is going to fit the bill. A batch of these Dark Chocolate Cupcakes is what you need when that kind of craving strikes. These cupcakes remind me of brownies, with their intense dark chocolate flavor. They also develop a slightly crackly top during baking, like brownies. Unlike brownies, the cupcakes are not dense and fudgy. They have a very tight and tender crumb that almost seems to melt in your mouth when you take a bite.
This is definitely a go-to recipe when I’m looking for a really rich chocolate cupcake. The flavor comes from a generous amount of dark chocolate that has been melted into the batter. I typically use a dark chocolate that is around 70 or 72% cacao, but the recipe will still work with a slightly more or less dark chocolate. You’ll get a lot of chocolate flavor in the cupcakes, so be sure to use a good quality chocolate in this recipe.
These cupcakes are very versatile and can be topped off with any kind of frosting you like. Instead of sticking with chocolate or vanilla, I opted for a more fall-flavored pumpkin frosting here. Pumpkin puree by itself doesn’t necessarily have that strong of a pumpkin flavor (not strong enough that a small amount will be enough for a whole batch of frosting), so simply adding pumpkin puree to a buttercream wasn’t going to produce the flavor that I was looking for. Pumpkin puree can be a bit coarse, as well, and needs to be processed very finely or pushed through a sieve to get a silky texture. Pumpkin butter – a very smooth, sweet and intensely flavored pumpkin preserve – was the answer to my flavoring problem. A small amount of pumpkin butter packs a lot of pumpkin flavor and was the perfect way to introduce a pumpkin element to an otherwise vanilla frosting. Pumpkin butter is available at many stores around Halloween and Thanksgiving, and you can always make your own. If you can’t find it, you can use pumpkin puree that has been strained, but you will also want to add a bit of extra spice to your frosting for extra fall flavor.
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup butter
3 large eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a medium sized, microwave safe bowl, melt together butter and dark chocolate until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and brown sugar until well combined. Whisk in vanilla extract. Stir in cooled chocolate mixture followed by the flour mixture. Stir just until no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Divide evenly into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 21-24 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached.
Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
Pumpkin Buttercream Frosting
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup pumpkin butter
1 tsp ground pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
approx 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
In a large bowl, beat room temperature butter until very smooth. Beat in pumpkin butter, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar, adding more until the frosting reaches a thick, fluffy consistency.
Spread on cooled cupcakes.