A few weeks ago I bought the current issue of Cooks Illustrated. I usually flip through the pages before buying to make sure I’m interested in enough recipes to make it worth it, but this purchase required no deliberation whatsoever solely for this one recipe – Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes. But I’ll admit, I bought it with skepticism thinking “Sure, CI…Ultimate. Whatever”. Well, CI was right. These are the ultimate, best-ever, no need to look for more, chocolate cupcakes.
Bread Flour in Cupcakes
It took me a while to make these because I kept forgetting to buy bread flour. It’s a key ingredient in the recipe. In the article you can read why bread flour is used as opposed to cake or all-purpose, but I can tell you that the cupcakes were soft, moist, and tender without being too crumbly or grainy. The chocolate flavor was also pretty intense, but I used Lindt 70% Intense Chocolate so that was no surprise and I’d definitely use that again.
Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes Ganache
I was worried the ganache would be overkill since there was already a rich, buttercream chocolate icing. It wasn’t. It tied everything together perfectly and the heft of the ganache combined with the lightness of the top layer of frosting just added more texture into the equation which always makes things better.
So look no further! This is the ultimate chocolate cupcake. It will vary depending on what brand of chocolate you use, what brand of cocoa and how accurately you measure your ingredients. But if you do all of the above with care, you’ll get great results.
The full recipe is available at CI’s website, but it’s been published on numerous blogs already including Amazon’s Al Dente so I’m going to go ahead and post my adaptation.
Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes
- 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate
- 4 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 tbsp powdered sugar
- 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate
- 5 tablespoons Dutch cocoa
- 3/4 cup hot coffee
- 3/4 cup bread flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 2 tsps vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Creamy Chocolate Frosting:
- 4 tablespoons plus 4 teaspoons sugar
- 2 large egg whites
- Small pinch salt
- 12 tbsp unsalted butter softened and cut into 1 tbsp pieces
- 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate melted and cooled
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Ganache Filling: Place chocolate, cream, and confectioners’ sugar in small microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high power until mixture is warm to touch, 10 to 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth; transfer to refrigerator and let stand until just chilled, no longer than 30 minutes.
- Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 standard size muffin cups with paper liners. Place chocolate and cocoa in a mixing bowl and pour the hot coffee over. Whisk until smooth then cool in refrigerator for about 15 min.
- In another bowl, mix the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda together, set aside.
- Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar and vanilla into the cooled chocolate mixture until smooth, then stir in the flour mixture. Divide batter between the baking cups and place 1 rounded spoon of ganache on top of each cupcake. Bake 17-19 minutes, until cupcakes are set and just firm to the touch. Cool completely on a rack before icing.
- Creamy Chocolate Frosting: Combine sugar, egg whites and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place the bowl over a small pot of boiling water and whisk gently and constantly until the mixture reaches 150 on a thermometer, about 2-3 minutes.
- Place bowl back in the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat at medium speed about 1-2 minutes. One piece at a time, add the butter, then the cooled melted chocolate and vanilla. Mix until combined, then increase speed to med-high and beat until light and fluffy. If your frosting doesn’t fluff up enough (which may be because ingredients weren’t at the exact right temperature), just throw the bowl into the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes or until it is very cold. Return to mixer stand and beat until fluffy.
For the chocolate I used Lindt 70% Intense Chocolate. It is indeed, intense. I wouldn’t go any higher than 70% with the chocolate. For the cocoa, I used Hershey Dark, which is the only Dutch process I had in the house and I used cider vinegar instead of white. The frosting is pretty easy to make even though you do have to use a candy thermometer and boil the egg sugar mixture, but it’s worth it.
I have made these cupcakes multiple times and they are the biggest hit of any cupcake ever. I am a CI fan and rarely come up with a recipe I don’t find to be completely as they said it would be and these cupcakes are no exception. I have made them in mini cupcakes for parties and dessert trays and they are beautiful and very popular.
I just frosted these. They just might be the best thing I’ve ever made!!!!
Anna, I printed this recipe when you posted it to save to make for my boss for her birthday. I baked a “test run” today and all I can say is OH MY GOD! They are to die for! I can not wait to make them again to take in to work.
THANK YOU!! Maybe now I will finally get a raise! 🙂
wow this looks so chocolately and yummy
These look amazing. Any one with a chocolate sweet tooth would love them. Thanks for sharing the recipe as well as the tips I think I going to give them a try.
ZOMG. Triple chocolate awesomeness right there. I’d say they are definitely looking like contenders for the best ever chocolate cupcake!
The front page photo was drool-worthy enough, but when I clicked through and saw that filling…ooohhhhhhhh. I always like a high frosting-to-cake ratio, and that seems like the way to satisfy it. Ultimate, indeed. Must make, and soon.
I saw these and approached with the same skepticism. And did you see the malted chocolate variety? I’ll have to try to make that for my dad.
I’m drooling… oh, those look wonderful!
Definitely want to try these soon! Your photo is great. A few months ago I made an old choc. cupcake recipe from CI (don’t remember the exact one; found it on their website), and it is the only recipe from them I’ve been disappointed with. They were crumbly and grainy, to quote you:), and I’m confident I didn’t screw up the procedure. I’m glad they developed another recipe that’s getting raves!
I also noticed those in the CI magazine. Now I really need to try them!!!
[email protected] Caramel Cookie
Whoa! Those look so good. I like the idea of having ganache for filling :).
I love these cupcakes, they’re worth the work. They’ve become my go-to chocolate cupcakes, when I have the time!
Oh, wow, those would cure any chocolate craving. Fabulous! Thanks for sharing your version of the recipe.
I have that issue of CI and I have to say I’ve had those cupcakes on the to-do list. I was thinking I’d save them for fall birthdays. I’m glad you made them and think they’re “ultimate”. 🙂
They certainly look “ultimate’! Great job!!
anna- you made 6 cupcakes right and the original recipe is for 12? right?
Wow, these really do look like “the ultimate” chocolate cupcakes – sinking your teeth into that filling and frosting must be something else!
Oh wow, these look amazing! I’m saving the recipe and will be making them for sure!
Louise, I made them this morning and think we’ll still have some more tomorrow. I’ll let you know how they taste on Day 2.
Awesome crosscut photo. I don’t care who around here doesn’t like cake, I want one of those. 😉
Those look fabulous!
Sure, you could leave the ganache out. About the coffee, you could just use hot water.
My husband LOVES chocolate cake. I’ll have to try these.
chocolate cupcakes, yum! but i have a few questions.. i don’t like ganache much, so i could just leave that part out, right? i don’t like to use coffee either; i assume just leaving it out would mess up the texture of the cupcake? so what should i use in place of it? thanks~
i trust CI for the best recipes. they never fail.
love that middle!!
Yum, ganache in the middle!
I was skeptical about the “ultimate” label too, just looking at the first photo before clicking the link. Then I saw the ganache filling inside and knew these had to be the “ultimate” for real! This recipe is a must try for me.
You only made six, so I guess you don’t know how they were the next day. 🙁
OMG, I want one now! They look so good. And not in that bakery “looks great, but tastes like crap” way…
The Blue-Eyed Bakers
Oh dear. These are impossible to resist…I mean, the chocolate with the ganache and the buttercream?! Chocolate happiness!
OMG These look like I should stop doing everything right now, which happens to be spraying lawn weeds, and go straight to the kitchen. I have everything on the ingredients list. 🙂