Manly Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

The Culinary Enthusiast and I visited his brother a couple weeks ago to celebrate his birthday.  As we were planning our day, the CE casually mentioned that he usually went to a bakery for some cupcakes to take along as part of the festivities. Talk about throwing down the gauntlet!

As you might imagine, I immediately quashed the idea of going to a bakery (hmmpff!) and declared that I would make cupcakes, thank you very much. The CE agreed to this offer with such alacrity that I suspected some manipulation might have been at play. Never mind, I was on a mission. I needed to make some delicious, but not dainty, cupcakes for this birthday celebration. I wanted them to be, well, manly — no bling, no delicate rosebuds of icing, just big flavour.

After some  consultation as to his brother’s favourite flavour for the cupcakes (chocolate!) and the frosting (more chocolate!), I set about finding a recipe.

The first recipe I found on the internet was rather unusual; it includes neither eggs nor butter. I looked around, but kept coming back to this one. I trusted the source, the Canadian Living website, and decided to use it. I’m glad I did. The resulting cupcakes were very moist, rose quite nicely and had a good chocolate flavour with a coffee undertone. They weren’t overly rich, which was just fine given the chocolatey sweetness of the frosting.

The cupcakes went over very well. The Birthday Man was happy to receive his half dozen, and he and the CE both wolfed theirs down. The CE raved about his ecstatically, making me wonder who exactly I made these for in the first place, but no matter. I dropped the rest of the batch by my daughter’s place where they were also well-received and short-lived.

In addition to finding a quick and easy chocolate cupcake recipe that really delivers in the flavour and moistness departments, I’ve also discovered that the secret to food blogging without undue expansion is to give food away. I’ve also discovered that when you call someone and ask if it’s okay that you stop by with some cupcakes, the answer is always a resounding ‘yes’!

Easy Chocolate Cupcakes

By Rheanna Kish and the Canadian Living Test Kitchen, here. I divided their original recipe in half, and provided it below for your convenience, with some of my wording for the method. Makes 12 cupcakes.

Pre-heat oven to 350º and place 12 cupcake liners in a muffin tin.

  • 1-1/2 cup (375 ml) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (250 ml) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (75 ml) cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt
  • 1 cup (250 ml) cold coffee or water [I used coffee]
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla
  • 1-1/2 tbsp (21 ml) cider vinegar

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk in the coffee, oil and vanilla. Stir in the vinegar. Spoon into paper-lined muffin cups. Bake 20 to 22 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the pan and let cool on a rack. (To make ahead, store in an airtight container for up to 24 hours.)

Chocolate Buttercream

This is the basic buttercream that I’ve developed, this time in a chocolate variation.

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 2 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 – 2 tsp meringue powder, to achieve desired consistency
  • 4 oz melted semi-sweet chocolate, cooled to room temperature

Whip the butter and shortening until well incorporated. Add half the icing sugar and mix on low until combined. Add the remaining sugar, vanilla, 1 tsp of the meringue powder and melted chocolate, and mix slowly until everything is well-combined. Turn the speed up a bit and whip until smooth. Test the consistency, and add more meringue powder if you think you need it to help the frosting maintain its shape. Mix well again until well-mixed and smooth.

Insert a piping tip into a pastry bag, fill the bag with frosting, roll down the top and pipe onto the cupcakes in the design of your choosing.


  1. Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting. Oh, boy. You very well may have been played by your CE but look to what end! I would be very happy to receive one of these on my birthday. Oh, who am I kidding? I’d want the dozen!

    • And to think that the original recipe made 24 but I cut it in half. What was I thinking?!

      I think I’ll be getting requests to bring these to lots of birthday parties!

    • Thank you, I’m flattered! Now I want cupcakes for breakfast too. But I’m behaving and eating oatmeal with peaches. It’s good, but not tower-of-chocolate-icing good!

    • Thank you, Karen. I’m going to start trying some different frosting recipes and techniques … I think I’m getting in a buttercream tower rut, if you know what I mean.

    • You can’t go wrong with a good chocolate cupcake! My actual name For these is Manly Chocolate Cupcakes; I made these for man’s birthday and didn’t want anything too cute!

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