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To-Die-For Chocolate Cupcakes

I will probably never make another chocolate-cupcake-mix-from-a-box in my life ever again.

They can’t compare with the rich, dense, perfection of this cupcake.

An outta-the-box cupcake I can eat in two bites.  And I feel mostly air.

This cupcake I savor in four bites (though my mouth wants to inhale it in two) and I get… well, NOT air.

The flower design is optional.  Any icing-style will do, just as long as the icing is cream cheese.  But of course, I’ll be showing you how to do the flowers, in case ya wanna try em’ yourself.  You’ll be the talk of the potluck!


Here’s the reason this cupcake is so. much. better.  Do you see any Crisco or Vegetable oil in this list?  No.  You see butter.  And cocoa.  And buttermilk… and sugar… (Adopt Bill Cosby’s reasoning here: Eggs?  Milk?  Sounds like a healthy breakfast.)

By the way, this is Pioneer Woman’s Chocolate Sheetcake recipe.  Minus the frosting.

You need:

-2 C. flour

-2 C. sugar

-1/4/ tsp. salt

-4 (heaping) T. cocoa powder

-2 sticks butter

-1 C. boiling water

-1/2 C. buttermilk

-2 whole beaten eggs

-1 tsp. baking soda

-1 tsp. vanilla


Now then… find some pretty cupcake liners and have them ready in 2 muffin tins (the kind that make 12 muffins each.)   WAIT on putting liners in the last two cups, though.  I always seem to find myself two cupcakes short of filling both pans but I’ve already sprayed the whole lot of them with Pam and end up wasting two cupcake liners and that makes me mad!  And I refuse to solve this problem by filling them up less.  So there.


Now whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a very large bowl.  (Oh and if you don’t like buying buttermilk, like me… you can buy it in powder form.  That would be whisked in here as well.)


In a separate (small) bowl, combine the 2 beaten eggs with the baking soda and vanilla, and buttermilk.  (Or if you’re using buttermilk powder, the plain milk.)


Melt the sticks of butter over the stove in a saucepan.  I’m making a recipe and a half here (for the baby shower) and would recommend you do the same… baby shower or no baby shower.  More for you!


When the butter’s about half-melted, get your 1 Cup of water on the stove as well.  You want it to have just started boiling when you’re ready to use it.


It’s go-time.  Heap 4 big ol’ Tablespoonfulls of cocoa powder into the butter and just remember that richer IS better.  Start whisking!


Quickly add your 1 Cup of boiling water, keep whisking, and let this mixture boil heartily for a good 30 seconds.


Now.  Slowwwwly pour it into the big bowl of powdered sin that awaits and mix it all up with the whisk.

Next comes the egg mixture.

Experts would tell you to add a cup of the hot mixture into the egg bowl so that the temperatures can slowly acclimate to one another, and then to go for the full-monty and dump the eggs into the chocolate.

I agree.  Do that.

Unless you’re really lazy like me and have decided to walk on the wild side.


But… if you ARE walking on the wild side… at least wait a minute or two for the chocolate to cool before you dump the eggs in.  There’s a difference between a little rebellion and playing Russian Roulette with the best cupcakes you’ll ever taste.


Let’s continue… shall we?   The finished batter will be VERY runny.  Attempting to spoon it into your cupcake tins will result in severe frustration.

Consider investing in a large measuring cup with a pour spout like this one.  And don’t spring for the glass… its way too heavy.  Plastic is perfect in this case.


Fill em’ up nice and high!  They puff up… but nothing compared to the air-filled box version.  I’d say a little over 3/4 full is great.


Bake in a 350 degree oven for 18-20 minutes.  These are perfect.  You can see a few that still have a moist little divot in the center.  I’m not worried about those AT ALL.  They’ll be completely rich and delicious, and the tops are all going to be covered anyway!


I’m a big proponent of giving these a day or two in the freezer.  It makes your job easier on the day you’re planning to serve them.  Plus, I truly believe it is a flavor-enhancer.


Goodnight my pretties.


A few days later, you should be refreshed and rejuvenated and not the least bit tired of being in the kitchen.  These are the circumstances you want when decorating baked goods.

Flowers are my favorite.  They are so elegant, so stunning, so impressive.

I don’t make my icing for these.  I buy cream cheese icing.  You do what you want… but I give you permission to buy icing.

Choose your desired color.

TIP:  The icing is already just the texture you want so you can’t let it get watered down.  I use gel food coloring and that allows me to use more without liquefying my icing.

OR you can do what I did for Emily’s baby shower and color your icing with… more icing!  This is an alternate solution to the watery-icing problem and offers a little bonus:  your flower petals end up with life-like color variations.  It’s beautiful!


I started things off pretty tame with the swirled icing.



But I cranked it up with food-coloring as I got braver.


I was a very big fan of the lavender-purple variation at the bottom right there.  It was just so delicate.


Anyway, flowers are very do-able.  They take a little practice and wrist control…  but try em’ sometime!  Have some friends over for a sleepover and do some experimenting!

Here’s a video tutorial for the actual flowers themselves.  Have fun!



8 Responses so far.

  1. jacque says:

    you are so very talented you need to open a shop. love to u both jacque

  2. whitney says:

    So of course the chocolate cake recipe sound fabulous, but I am even more impressed by your gift of flower making! WOW!

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  5. Torri says:

    I love your recipe and fun notes to go alone with it. Why on earth after all that work to use butter and better ingredients (not hydrogenated fats) would you use toxin filled canned frosting? It takes less time to make the frosting than the cupcakes and while they are cooking or cooling you can whip up the frosting. My favortie butter cream is http://allrecipes.com/recipe/best-buttercream-frosting/detail.aspx. Or use a simple decorator frosting to make the adorable tops on these cupcakes. :)

    • Hi Torri,

      I suppose it’s because I was being lazy! Haha! Since I’m usually never attempting to be “healthy” when eating a cupcake, I have no problem using canned frosting for convenience’s sake every now and then. However, nothing can beat a homemade buttercream! I’ll be sure and check yours out :) One of my favorites here on the blog is White Chocolate Buttercream, I make that when time permits and I’m going for superior taste (which should be always, but again, the laziness thing.)

      Thanks for stopping by!

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