Devil’s Food Cupcakes

18 Jun

Wrinkly feet. Constant sleeping. Even, open-mouthed breathing.

There is something magical about newborn babies. All you want to do is touch their perfect skin and smile at them. I got to hold my friend Tess’s baby girl this week, hence this pondering. And I’ve determined all is right in the world when you hold a tiny infant.

Or a kitten.

Or a puppy.

What is it about baby creatures that we can’t deny? For me it comes down to sweetness and cuteness. (The most important “ness-es,” probably.)

I like to think these cupcakes are sweet and cute. The chocolate cake is rich and oh-so-moist (thanks in part to the cocoa + boiling water and the buttermilk). The frosting flavor will remind you of ganache, and yet it’s thicker and velvety (thanks to the cream).

Whisk together the cocoa and boiling water. This makes the cake extra-rich.

This is what the batter should look like after the eggs are mixed in.

This is what the batter should look like after the flour and buttermilk have been added in.

Fill your muffin tins using a 1/3-cup scoop.

Bake until the cupcakes puff and the centers spring back when touched.

Frost your cupcakes.

Devil’s Food Cupcakes

Makes 24 cupcakes


For the cake:

1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
2 cups granulated sugar
10 Tbs. (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

For the chocolate frosting:

3 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream, or as needed


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two muffin tins with paper liners (or grease and flour). In a small bowl, whisk the cocoa powder into the boiling water, and mix until smooth. Set aside to cool. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the sugar and butter for 3 minutes until light in color. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating for about 30 seconds after each addition. Stir in the vanilla and cooled cocoa mixture. Set the mixer to low speed. In 3 additions add in the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk in 2 additions. Mix just until combined. After all of the flour and buttermilk has been added, beat the batter for an additional 15 seconds until smooth.

Using roughly a 1/3-cup scoop, portion the cake batter evenly into the muffin tins. Bake 20-25 minutes, until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when touched in the center. Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, stir together the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa in a large bowl. Add the softened butter in chunks, and mix until crumbly. Stir in the vanilla. Using a mixer on low speed, gradually add in enough of the cream to form a frosting. Beat on high until smooth and your desired thickness. (If you’re going to pipe the frosting, make it a little thinner so it comes out easier.)

Adapted from Comfort Food

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