Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

I’ve been playing cupcake fairy all year long and I always love seeing what flavors my coworkers request.  I try not to influence their decisions too much since after all, it is their birthday, not mine.  I was positively thrilled when a recent birthday girl chose straight up chocolate cupcakes as her treat.  I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting for someone to ask me to go all chocolate crazy!  (You didn’t know I liked chocolate, right? ;))  I opted for a devil’s food chocolate cupcake, filled it with dark chocolate ganache, and frosted them with a chocolate sour cream frosting.  Ooohhhh my, they were amazing.  A chocolate lover’s dream for sure.  I brought them in to work at 7:30 am and was able to resist mine until about 9:15 am.  So much for will power where these are concerned!  This frosting is most definitely the best chocolate frosting I’ve ever tried.  Smooth, fudgy and über chocolatey.  I’m already looking for any excuse to make it again.  Maybe breakfast tomorrow?

Note: This recipe makes a huge amount of cupcakes and frosting.  Certainly not a bad thing, but if you don’t need 30+ cupcakes, you should probably cut the recipe in half.

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes
Printer-Friendly Version
Yield: about 32 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
¾ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
¾ cup hot water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1¼ tsp. coarse salt
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
2¼ cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature

For the ganache filling:
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. heavy cream
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature

For the frosting:
14 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
9 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
9 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
6 tbsp. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. sour cream

For the chocolate curls:
Large block of high-quality semi- or bittersweet chocolate

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line standard cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water until smooth.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the butter and the sugar over medium heat.  Heat, stirring occasionally to combine, until the butter is melted.  Remove the mixture from the heat and transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Beat on medium-low speed, 4-5 minutes, until the mixture is cooled.  Mix in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed and beating well after each addition.  Mix in the vanilla and then the cocoa mixture and beat until incorporated.  With the mixer on low speed add in the dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, beating just until combined.

Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling them about ¾ of the way full.  Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl.  Heat the cream in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, remove from the heat and pour over the chopped chocolate.  Let stand about 1 minute.  With a whisk, gently stir the chocolate and cream together in small circles.  When the ganache has become smooth, whisk in the butter 1 piece at a time until incorporated.  Transfer the bowl to the freezer or refrigerator to chill and thicken the ganache a bit.  Whisk every 5-10 minutes to help it cool evenly.  Once the mixture is slightly thickened and no longer runny, you are ready to fill the cupcakes.

To assemble the cupcakes, cut a cone out of the center of each cupcake with a small paring knife.  Cut off the pointed end of the cone and discard (or eat) so you are left with a cap of cake to cover the filling.  Drop a spoonful of ganache into the center of each cupcake and recover the hole with the cap.

To make the frosting, melt the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Set aside to cool until just barely warm.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.  Gradually mix in the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder and salt.  Beat in the melted and cooled chocolate and then the sour cream.  Continue beating until the mixture is smooth and well blended.  Frost cupcakes immediately.

To make the chocolate curls, warm the block of chocolate just slightly (heat in 5-second intervals in the microwave – be careful not to melt).  Use a vegetable peeler to create chocolate curls.  Top cupcakes with curls immediately.  Reheat chocolate as needed to keep it workable.

Source: cupcakes and frosting from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes, ganache from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

80 Responses

  1. this frosting looks so yummy!

  2. OMG! These look and and sound like a true chocoholic’s dream come true!!

  3. Those curls are no joke girl – beautiful job! The frosting sounds divine, can’t wait to find an excuse to make it myself.

  4. Wow! This recipe is getting saved for my birthday this summer! They look absolutely divine!!!

  5. Hi Annie

    Could I use this recipe as a layer cake, if so, do I have to cut down on the ingredients. What size cake pans and how long to bake it.

    • Hi Jackie,
      You can make any cupcake into a cake and vice versa. However, since I haven’t tried it with this recipe I can’t tell you what the best pan is or how long to bake it. You can use any size or shape pan you like, and that will determine the baking time.

  6. Gorgeous! This may seem like a silly question but what sort of pan/container/carrier do you use to transport your cupcakes to work to insure they remain intact?

    • Nikki,
      A lot of the time I have been using the cardboard cake boxes. I use a drop of melted chocolate to hold each cupcake in place in the box. Lately though, I’ve just been putting them all on a rimmed cookie sheet and covering them with plastic wrap. It seems less wasteful than a disposable box every time.

  7. Oh my these look rich! They have to be good with all of that butter and chocolate:) Very pretty too!

  8. These cupcakes are beautiful and are totally appealing to my not-so-secret inner chocoholic!

    I don’t know if I’ve commented before, but I’ve been loving your blog with your well-thought out recipes and beautiful photos. 🙂

  9. Holy Moly! These look incredible!

  10. Holy smokes. These should be called Quadruple Chocolate Cupcakes for those beautiful chocolate curls on top!

  11. Annie what beautiful cupcakes! I love the chocolate swirls on top of the frosting. You have very lucky coworkers 🙂 I bring in my baked goods to work also (there’s no way my husband and I can finish it on our own) but mine don’t look nearly as yummy as yours!

  12. Annie, this could not have come at a better time. My friend’s birthday is tomorrow, so I’m going to make these cupcakes this weekend (and bring them in to work next week). Woo hoo! Two questions though: 1) Is there a difference between regular Hershey’s cocoa and the special dark/dutch processed kind (in the results)? I assume you use it because of the taste, but I figured I’d ask! 2) Would salt out of a grinder count the same as coarse salt? Thanks! Happy Friday!

    • Brie,
      I think in this case if you use the Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder or some other version that is a blend of natural and Dutch-process, you would be fine. David Lebovitz has a great post about the differences, when and how to substitute, etc. And yes, I think salt from the grinder would be fine for coarse salt. (I’m sure table salt would work fine too.)

  13. Chocolate!! Hooray for chocolate! And 3 kinds of chocolate? Please excuse me while I spend some quality time with these photos 🙂 They look amazing!

  14. Oh wow, these look so rich and decadent and amazing! I love the chocolate curls on top too and just saved the recipe 🙂

  15. Wow, umlauts and everything!

    I was sort of hoping this was going to be the recipe that Cooks Illustrated had in their recent issue. I guess someone else will have to review that one…hm, I totally need to come up with an excuse to make chocolate cupcakes apparently!

    • Bridget,
      Yeah, I saw that recipe in CI but it just didn’t really tempt me as much as this. I’ve had these in my mind for a while, just waiting for someone to ask for them!

      • Annie, I’m pretty sure you’re using a 1M tip. It’s the classic pretty cupcake star tip. 🙂

        So, I think I thought of a reason to make the CI chocolate cupcake recipe. And, if I have time, I’m thinking…a comparison? We’ll see. I’m not really bringing them to an event with people who I feel comfortable asking for comparing opinions. (Um…both of my bosses? Hmm.)

      • Bridget,
        It’s hard to say since the tip I use doesn’t have a label on it. But, that certainly is my most FAQ (and I think the most annoying one).

    • Hey Bridget, I actually blogged the CI ones last week if you’re interested!

  16. I tweeted THIS to my tweeples. Just sickola.

  17. I’ve been searching for something extra chocolately to make for my mom for Mother’s Day. I think this recipe fits the bill! Thanks!

  18. drooool! do you deliver to DC?? 😉

  19. WOW! These are seriously the best chocolate cupcakes I have ever seen!!


  20. Mmmm, these look divine! You have some very lucky coworkers 😉

  21. Wow… Wow! These look awesome! Quick question… where does one find a “large block” of good quality chocolate? Would a flat chocolate bar work?

    • A lot of stores carry them. My regular grocery store does. Trader Joes does as well. A thin bar wouldn’t really work logistically, that’s why I indicated a large bar.

  22. what do you use to make the icing all swirly on the cupcakes?

  23. Can you post a picture of the tips you use to pipe your frosting onto your cupcakes. I always think i have the right tip, but they never look like yours!

  24. Now, this is just food porn, Annie! Not fair. Must….stop…..licking…..screen

  25. I agree with Maggie, pure food porn! These look incredible!

  26. I can’t resist ONE chocolate, much less 3! Yum!

  27. This looks so good it should be against the law! Seriously mouth watering delicious! I loved your tips on the pizza crust too. I will definitely be trying those and putting them to use. You always have the best tips! I just love your blog and get so much inspiration from you…plus your pictures are so gorgeous!

  28. Oh my goodness…those look amazing! This is the first time I’ve visited your site, love it. Off to add you to my reader and then explore some more!

  29. hi Annie! it looks so yummy. may i know what number is the star tip you used? can’t wait to make this yummy looking cupcake.

  30. These look incredible! Now all I want for lunch are chocolate cupcakes! 😆

  31. you have a wonderful site here with a ton of awesome recipes… bookmarking your site…

  32. These look absolutely up my alley.
    I will think of not only making these…I may just have to replace the caffeine I get in my coffee with a great big kick from your cupcake!!!
    Would not want to be accused of being overly hyper so early in the morning;0)
    In the last few months…I’ve had a chance to also have a quick look at what you do…conclusion…you seem to be terribly talented…congrats on all your great work.

  33. WOW, those look perfect!

  34. I just discovered your blog today after seeing the post Bobbi+Mike posted of you on their blog. My name is Annie too and I love cooking as well and I can’t WAIT to try some of your recipes. Your blog is just beautiful!

  35. That chocolate frosting is calling my name! I can’t wait to try it. Thanks for all your great recipes!

  36. Annie-
    If I pre-make these cupcakes and ice them…should I put them in the fridge or are they okay sitting out at room temp for a day?

  37. what is not to love about cupcakes….yours look amazing, I bet they taste even better!!

  38. thanks Annie. by the way i love you site , am an avid follower. will be making this cupcake for my brother’s wedding this coming may 6 . . . wish me luck. am from the Philippines. have a nice day ; )

  39. These are truly tripple. I love the way you decorated them. Beautiful!

  40. Wow, those are gorgeous! 🙂 They look absolutely delicious, too! YUM


  41. These look so good!! I am a huge chocolate fan! I can’t wait to try these out!

  42. Hi Annie – I can’t wait to make these for my husbands B-day 🙂 I have a question…I am not really experience with homemade frosting…Is it easier to work with the frosting if you refridgerate it for a while (or a few hours) first?

    • Hi Amanda,
      No, it’s easier to work with it immediately, especially in this case because it contains melted chocolate. If you refrigerate it, the chocolate will solidify a bit and it would not be good for piping.

  43. LOVE the cupcakes! Can you tell what size tip you use to pipe the frosting? Thanks!

  44. Annie, I made these and they are SO good. However, I let my coworkers ice the cupcakes themselves. They hardly used any icing, so now I’m going to make cake balls and use the extra icing. If anyone else has a lot of leftover icing (and the guts of the cupcakes), these are awesome: Enjoy!

  45. I am thinking these divine cupcakes would make a wonderful Mother’s Day gift for my mother-in-law. Thanks for the inspiration!!! :]

  46. OMG!! We should read all the questions before we ask one…she has answered the “what size tip” question about 6 times so far!! LOL Poor girl!

  47. They look amazing. How many cupcakes does the recipe make? Thank you (-:

  48. Annie, I made these today and they are BRILLIANT! The frosting especially is to die for and a dream to pipe into swirls. I came across your site yesterday and these are the first thing I made. Your recipe worked!!

  49. Hi Annie! I made these cupcakes yesterday and by far were the BEST cupcakes i made (the frosting was YUMMY!). however, my frosting initially was way too runny to be piped. Do you have any tips to make my frosting more solid so that it can be piped without having to refrigerate? 🙂


    • Anne,
      You just needed to let the chocolate cool longer before mixing it into the frosting. It was too warm, so the whole mixture was melty. I didn’t have to refrigerate mine at all before use.

  50. Annie,
    Maybe by now you have figured out that I am a “stalker” of your blog! Your recipes have inspired me. I bought a new stand mixer for myself for Mother’s Day. I made these cupcakes to share with all the Mothers and children in our family and everyone is over the moon that I now follow your blog! We had the fajita chicken for dinner yesterday-I left the chicken breasts whole and made extra marinade for after they were cooked-along with the grilled veggies and garlic smashed potatoes. It was a perfect Mother’s Day dinner. I am so glad I follow Bobbi and Mike and connected with you. Thanks for taking the time to do this. Next is the homemade pitas!!

  51. I love your cupcake decorating skills! All of the recipes I’ve browsed through have fantastic pictures. Piping is much harder than it looks. Great recipes!!

  52. I made these cupcakes (kinda) for a birthday party this weekend and they were a hit! That frosting is to die for! My husband was in heaven with chocolate and cream cheese. Yum.

    I did skip the ganache filling so my cupcakes were only Double Chocolate Cupcakes. I was making 8 dozen total cupcakes (3 different kinds) so I opted for simple, the ganache was purposely left out to save some time. I bet they would have been over the top if I had made it! Thanks for a great recipe.

  53. Hey Annie! I made your recipe and it was unbelievable!!!!!! The cake was so soft, the ganache rich and delicious and the frosting was absolutely out of this world. My husband is not a chocolate lover but he ate one of the cupcakes last night and he said… this is incredible… is this Annie’s recipe? I so proudly said, sure it is! I’ll post it in my blog and come back with the link so you can see the final result and your well deserved credit for it! The only thing I wasn’t able to conquer were the chocolate curls. They ended up most likely chocolate shavings… oh well! Do you use the vegetables peeler that is shaped like a Y or the one that looks more like a pen? also, do you use the regular bittersweet bars (the 4 oz thin ones) or do you use the real deal bittersweet chocolate? I thought that probably any if these options would have affected the result. Thanks for sharing your gifts!!!!!

    • Mohana,
      I use the straight (non-Y) vegetable peeler, though either should work. I think the key is having a large chocolate block to start with. I use a big block of Callebaut.

  54. Hi Annie,

    I follow your blog for a very long time and some of your recipes are my family’s favorite!

    I would like to ask you about the texture of the cupcake batter – are they moist, or they are dry and the frosting and filling makes them so tempting?
    I have already tried your recipe about the chocolate peanut butter cupcakes and they turned really moist and fluffy – just amazing!

    And since I plan on making cupcakes (but without frosting and filling, they would be decorated with chocolate clay flowers) I want them to be moist, not dry 🙂

    I would be happy if you could give me an advice – whether to make these cupcakes, the chocolate peanut butter or something else?

    Best wishes,

    • These are moist. I would never willingly post a dry cupcake – ick. Only you can decide which flavor you want to try. Enjoy whatever you choose!

  55. Thanks Annie,

    I would then try these ones!

    I was wondering, would it be okey if I replace the dark chocolate with white chocolate, to omit the cocoa powder and add some food coloring?
    Have you tried something like this?

    • No, I would not recommend that. If you want white chocolate cupcakes you should look for a white chocolate cupcake recipe. White chocolate is not actually chocolate at all, and has very different properties than real chocolate.

  56. I made these for my sister’s birthday and they were awesome. Easy to make, even with the extra cooking steps, and everyone loved them. My Mom froze some extras and said the defrosted just fine.

  57. Hi Annie,

    I want to use the frosting of this amazing cupcakes, to make a three-layer cake and I was wondering whether the quality would be enough or I should double it?

    Thanks! 🙂

    • Honestly, I’m not sure. It might be enough but you might need more. Sorry, I’ve only used it for cupcakes so far.

  58. I made these for my husband and some friends, and we both loved them. He’s been begging me to make them again. More than one person who tried them said that they’re the best cupcakes they’ve ever had.

  59. Can I use normal cocoa powder and not dutch powder, as I am having a hard time finding it in the store?

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