Homemade Small Batch Chocolate Cupcakes are moist and delicious chocolate cupcakes from scratch without a cake mix. Top them with peanut butter or chocolate frosting.
Since I posted my Small Batch Yellow Cupcakes, it’s only fair to also post my Small Batch Chocolate Cupcakes.
This simple chocolate cupcake recipe is based off of my Small Chocolate Cake For Two.
First time I made this recipe I made 8 cupcakes and overfilled the liners, causing the cupcakes to overflow then sink.
I adjusted the ingredient amounts to make less batter, but then they ended up being too dry because I was reducing the liquid down a little too much.
Then it dawned on me – if I went back to my first test batch and divided the batter into 9 cupcakes, they would fill the liners without overflowing.
Ding ding ding – we have a winner!
Super chocolatey and super moist, even after a few days. Pair them with peanut butter or chocolate frosting and now you have the best chocolate cupcakes ever.
I was hesitant on whether 9 cupcakes count as small batch, but to me anything under 1 dozen is considered small batch.
This recipe may not exactly be dessert for two, but you’re not stuck with 2 dozen cupcakes either.
And if you really don’t want that many at once, chocolate cupcakes do freeze well after baking.
How To Make Small Batch Chocolate Cupcakes From Scratch
To make chocolate cupcakes without cake mix, first you cream together your butter and sugars.
Next, beat in your egg and vanilla. Then beat in melted chocolate.
To finish the cupcake batter, add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk and coffee, adding the flour in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions (begin and end with dry ingredients).
Fill 9 paper liners with the batter then bake at 350F for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs (but not wet batter).
How To Make Moist Chocolate Cupcakes
Nothing is sadder than dry chocolate cupcakes, so this recipe is super moist and intense.
Coffee is my secret ingredient for making chocolate cupcakes cake richer and chocolately than your average cupcake.
You can’t actually taste the coffee, so even if you don’t drink it, promise you’ll still love this cake.
Of course if you absolutely refuse to use coffee, you can substitute hot water. They won’t be as chocolatey, but they’ll still be moist and delicious.
Brown sugar and buttermilk also help contribute to a moist cupcake batter.
How To Substitute For Buttermilk
My store sells a pint of buttermilk, so I didn’t have to worry about wasting it.
However, if you do find yourself with a quart, check out my leftover buttermilk recipes.
But if you really don’t want to buy buttermilk, you can substitute whole milk with 1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar. Let it sit for 5 minutes or until the milk looks curdled.
Why are my cupcakes overflowing?
The most challenging part about baking cupcakes is making sure you don’t overfill (or underfill) the paper liners before baking.
Too much batter and the cupcakes will overflow, flatten, and sometimes even sink in the middle after cooling.
Too little batter and they won’t rise to the top of the liner.
I find with this chocolate cupcake recipe, you want to fill the liners about halfway full.
What I do is measure a one big scoop into the bottom of 9 liners then I go back and finish filling each one with the remaining batter.
This helps me distribute the batter more evenly so the last cupcake has just as much batter at the first. I hate when you get to the end and realize you don’t have enough batter left.
What is the best frosting for chocolate cupcakes?
In my mind, the perfect pairing is chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. You really can’t go wrong that classic duo!
However, I also love double chocolate with Small Batch Chocolate Frosting.
Both recipes make enough to decorate your cupcakes without having leftovers.
Still looking for another flavor? Check out my Small Batch Frosting Recipes guide.
How To Store Cupcakes
To store cupcakes, place them in an airtight container (deep enough so you don’t mess up the frosting). Let them sit at room temperature for up to 1 week.
You don’t need to refrigerate chocolate cupcakes unless it’s really warm and your frosting starts to melt or you want them to last longer.
Let sit at room temperature for about 15-30 minutes before serving to get rid of the chill.
Can you freeze chocolate cupcakes?
Like with most cakes, yes you can freeze chocolate cupcakes.
To freeze unfrosted cupcakes, place them on a cookie sheet and freeze for an hour. Once firm, wrap each one in plastic wrap then stick in a freeze-safe plastic bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.
If you’re worried they’ll get squashed in the freezer, you can put the plastic bag in a container to maintain their shape.
How To Freeze Frosted Cupcakes
Although I recommend freezing unfrosted cupcakes, you can also freeze frosted cupcakes.
Use a buttercream frosting as that type of frosting freezes best. Cream cheese frosting can become grainy after freezing, although it’ll still be edible.
To freeze frosted cupcakes, place them on a cookie sheet and freeze for an hour. Once firm, place each one in a deep enough container that won’t squash the frosting. Freeze for up to 3 months.
How To Thaw Frozen Cupcakes
To thaw frozen cupcakes, place them on a wire rack and let them come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
The wire rack helps keep the cupcake bottoms dry as they thaw.
More Small Batch Cupcake Recipes
Love to bake cupcakes? Here are more recipes for small batch cupcakes:
- Small Batch Carrot Cake Cupcakes
- Small Batch Strawberry Cupcakes
- Small Batch Angel Food Cupcakes
- Small Batch Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes
For a full list of recipes, check out my Small Batch Cupcake Recipes guide.
- 1 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces or 4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup buttermilk or whole milk with 1 teaspoon lemon juice added, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons hot coffee or water
- Peanut Butter Frosting (get recipe here) or Chocolate Frosting (get recipe here)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line a cupcake pan with 9 paper liners.
- Add about an inch of water to a pan and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat and place a heatproof bowl over top. Add the chopped chocolate and melt until smooth. Remove from the heat and cool 10 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and cocoa then stir in the baking soda, espresso powder, and salt.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and sugar until light and creamy, about 1-2 minutes.
- Beat in the egg and vanilla then beat in the melted chocolate.
- Mix together the buttermilk and coffee.
- Add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk mixture, adding the flour in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions (begin and end with dry ingredients).
- Transfer the batter to the cupcake liners, filling them halfway full. Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few crumbs (no wet batter). Cool for about 15 minutes then transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to finish cooling.
- Top with peanut butter or chocolate frosting.