Chocolate Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting

This recipe has been sitting in my head for months. Way back when my oven first broke I was flooded with the urge to bake a billion things (mostly because I knew that I couldn’t) and I became obsessed with this idea of decadent, dark chocolate cupcakes. I imagined something super chocolate-y that was really rich and moist and the frosting! Dark chocolate for sure – thick and creamy. These are those cupcakes. I am quite pleased with how well this recipe ended up matching the idea in my head and I’m so excited to finally be sharing it with all of you.

These are the kind of cupcakes that appeal to adults and kids alike; they’re cupcakes so kids automatically love them, but they’re not so sugary sweet. The dark chocolate keeps the frosting just a liiiiittle bitter and the secret ingredient in the cake (spoiler: it’s coffee) offsets the sweetness in a really nice way. So bake them for your kids, bake them for your friends, bake them for yourself. Everyone is sure to love them and you, if you bring cupcakes. That’s just a given.

While the cupcakes themselves are good (okay, they’re amazing) what I’m most excited about is this frosting. I’ve been dreaming of a way to get that super thick and rich ganache flavour but with a lighter, whipped texture that is so classic for cupcakes. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I think I nailed it. Obviously the key here is dark chocolate (or as Ina Garten would say “Really good dark chocolate. But whatever you have is fine.”) but there were surprisingly few ingredients involved and while it is a little time consuming, it’s fairly easy.

You could just as easily pipe the frosting and get that perfect fancy swirl but to me there’s something so charming about cupcakes that are frosted with a spatula. It reminds me of when my mom would bake cupcakes when I was little, for birthdays and bake sales and things. The trick to getting them to look polished instead of harried is to plop a spoonful of frosting on the cupcake and then smooth around the sides (instead of the top) so that they get a lot of height but still stay kind of sleek. Or you can just smother it on there if you’re in a rush or, you know, have better things to do than spend an hour frosting cupcakes.

(cake recipe adapted from here)


For the cake:
1 C granulated white sugar
3/4 C plus 2 tbsp  all-purpose flour
1/4 C plus 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, room temperature
1/3 C sour cream, room temperature
1/4 C canola oil

1/2 cup hot coffee/espresso

For the frosting:
1 C plus 1/4 C heavy cream
8 oz dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 C powdered sugar
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted


For the cake:
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients. Add the egg, sour cream, and oil. Mix together until it’s combined (no flour sitting at the bottom of the bowl). Carefully pour in the hot coffee and slowly mix it together until it’s totally combined. You could also use hot water but I find that the coffee really brings out the chocolate flavour in the cake (you can’t even taste the coffee once it’s baked). You’ll end up with a really runny batter but this is what you want; this will ensure a super moist cake.
3. Pour the batter evenly in to the lined muffin tin so that they are a little more (just slightly!) than halfway. You should be able to get about 15 or so cupcakes this way. If you wanted to make it an even 12 you could potentially fill them a little more, just know that they won’t be as pretty because the tops will be super wide and flat.
4. Bake for approx. 20 minutes (it depends on your oven) or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting (so that the frosting doesn’t melt!).
For the frosting:
1. Start by making the ganache. You may want to start this before the actual cupcakes as it takes time to set. Place the chopped chocolate in to a bowl and bring 1 C of cream to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and add the salt. Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes (or until most of the chocolate appears melted) and then whisk it together very well. Allow the ganache to cool for 40-45 minutes, whisking frequently to keep the ganache from breaking up.
2. Once cool, whip the ganache until it’s light and smooth in texture. Add the remaining cream, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder and continue mixing until everything is whipped together (the powdered sugar sweetens the frosting, the cocoa powder helps it to keep it’s dark chocolate-y colour, and the cream helps blend it all together).Use immediately (it will harden slightly if left sitting).

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