Just about everyone has seen vanilla cream-filled snack cakes on store shelves over the years. There are a couple of brands that make them, and there are many recipes for homemade versions out there, too. The balance of chocolate cake and vanilla cream filling in these types of cakes can be a great thing, but there are times when you just want a little bit more chocolate. For those occasions, ditch the vanilla filling and make a batch of Chocolate Cream-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes.
These cupcakes deliver a lot of chocolate in every bite. The moist cupcakes are made with a very generous amount of cocoa powder, which gives them a strong chocolate flavor and a tender texture. I usually add coffee to the cake batter to amplify some of the bitter notes in the cocoa powder, although the recipe can also be made with water if you prefer to skip the coffee.
Dark chocolate frosting is used both for the frosting and filling on these cupcakes. It is made using dark chocolate and cocoa powder, so it has a strong chocolate flavor, but has a lighter color because of all the air that is whipped in while making the frosting. Add the confectioners’ sugar in gradually so that you can keep an eye on the consistency of the frosting while you work. I like the frosting to be on the softer side, simply because I prefer to have a very creamy filling in my cupcakes. If you want to pipe more detailed designs on the top of the cupcakes, you’ll probably want to make your frosting a bit stiffer.
To fill the cupcakes, I used the cone method. This takes slightly longer than sticking a pastry bag into the middle of a cupcake and trying to force some filling in, but it is well worth it because you can get a lot more filling inside. You also get to much on the scraps while you work!
These cupcakes will keep well for several days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature. The cake by itself is moist, but the chocolate filling also helps to keep them moist and tender even a few days after baking.
Chocolate Cream-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup coffee (or water), room temperature
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Place liners in 12 cup muffin tins.
In a large bowl, sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, coffee (or water), buttermilk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Pour coffee mixture into flour mixture and whisk until all of the ingredients are mixed in and no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Divide prepared batter even into muffin cups.
Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, or with only a few moist crumbs attached.
Turn cupcakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Dark Chocolate Frosting
3 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp cocoa powder
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
3 tbsp milk, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 – 3 cups (approx) confectioners’ sugar
In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt the dark chocolate in the microwave. Heat it for 30-50 second intervals, stirring inbetween, to ensure that the chocolate melts smoothly. Stir in cocoa powder and allow mixture to cool slightly so it is near room temperature.
In a large bowl, beat together butter, milk and vanilla. Add in cooled chocolate mixture and beat until well combined. Gradually blend in the confectioners’ sugar, mixing at high speed, until frosting is thick and smooth.
(A photo how-to of the assembly method can be found here.) Take a cooled cupcake and, using a small pairing knife, cut a cone of cake (1-inch across by 1-inch deep) out of the top. Trim off the pointy end of the cone, leaving a flat circle of cake. Set aside and repeat this process for all the cupcakes.
Put your frosting/filling into a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off.
Squeeze a tablespoon or so of frosting into each cupcake cavity, filling the hole up to the top with filling. Top off with a flat circle of cake to plug the hole and keep the filling in place.
Repeat with remaining cupcakes, then pipe the rest of the frosting on top of the cupcakes to finish them off.
Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.