Yield: 6 chocolate cupcakes // Total Time: 40 min. // Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links.
These small batch chocolate cupcakes are super easy to make, don’t require a mixer, and are oh-so chocolatey.
Small Batch Chocolate Cupcakes
It’s always a great time for cupcakes, but it’s not always a great time for a large batch of cupcakes. That’s where these small batch chocolate cupcakes come in to play! These chocolate cupcakes are so moist and chocolate-y and honestly taste like a brownie in cupcake form. Paired with a velvety chocolate buttercream and top with chocolate sprinkles for all of your chocolate desires!
Small batch chocolate cupcakes recipe tips
Weigh your ingredients
Weighing your ingredients is important for getting the recipe perfect and getting consistent results. Not weighing your ingredients can lead to adding too much or too little of an ingredient. In a small batch recipe it is especially important to get those correct measurements because there is less room for error. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend purchasing a kitchen scale. This one is super cheap and worked well for me when I was starting out!
Make your chocolate more chocolatey
Did you know there’s a way to get even more chocolate flavor out of your cocoa powder? This little trick is my favorite way to add more flavor to my chocolate recipes! The trick is to “bloom” your cocoa. Blooming the cocoa means you mix it with a hot liquid and let it sit before adding it to your baked goods. Doing so releases the cocoa powder particles from a very thin membrane on them, exposing cocoa solids and bringing out more flavor. If you want to know more about cocoa powder and the different types available, you can read my blog post all about it here.
Mix the batter carefully
It is super important to not overmix the cupcake batter. Overmixing the batter leads to more gluten development which will make the cupcakes super tough and chewy. Only mix just until the last bit of flour is incorporated.
Room temperature ingredients
It is important for the ingredients to be at room temperature so that they properly incorporate with each other. If you have ever had your batter look curdled, it is most likely due to the ingredients separating from being at different temperatures. Take out the egg and sour cream at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hr 30 min. before starting the recipe.
Try to not overbake the cupcakes
Cupcakes like to go from under-baked to over-baked super quickly so it is important to keep a close eye on them. Start checking at 15 minutes with a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out wet, check them again in 2 minutes and so on until only a few moist crumbs stick to the toothpick.
Ingredients and substitutions
For the chocolate cupcakes:
All purpose flour: the structure of the cupcakes
Baking powder: for leavening and giving that “cakey” texture
Salt: for balancing and bringing out the sweetness
Dutch process cocoa powder: I highly recommend using dutch process cocoa powder as it has a deeper chocolate flavor. You can substitute in natural cocoa powder, just note that the cupcakes will be lighter in color and less flavorful.
Espresso: a shot of hot espresso poured over the cocoa helps bring out that ultra chocolatey flavor. You can use freshly brewed espresso from a machine or instant espresso mixed with the appropriate amount of hot water. Hot coffee will also work well here too. If you are avoiding espresso or coffee, you can just use hot water in it’s place!
Vegetable oil: tenderizes the cupcakes. Any neutral oil, such as canola, will also work here.
Granulated sugar: sweetens the cupcakes and helps lock in the moisture.
Egg: contributes moisture to the cupcakes and helps bind the batter together
Sour cream: tenderizes and adds moisture to the cupcakes. I recommend using full-fat sour cream for the best texture.
For the chocolate buttercream:
Unsalted butter: the base of the buttercream. Feel free to use salted butter here, just be sure to omit the extra salt if using!
Salt: helps balance and bring out the sweetness of the buttercream
Powdered sugar: sweetens and thickens up the buttercream. If you are looking for more of a melt-in-your-mouth texture, use organic powdered sugar!
Dutch process cocoa powder: makes the buttercream into chocolate buttercream!
Heavy cream: helps thin out the frosting to a pipeable consistency
Small batch chocolate cupcakes Q & A
Do I need to use espresso in these cupcakes?
If for any reason you don’t want to use espresso in these cupcakes, that is perfectly fine! Simply replace the hot espresso with an equal amount of hot water. The espresso flavor really is just there to compliment the chocolate and make these cupcakes taste more “chocolatey.” If you were worried about being able to taste the espresso, don’t worry because you really can’t tell that it’s there!
Can I double these small batch chocolate cupcakes?
Of course! Obviously they will not be small batch anymore but small batch isn’t always what we need! Simply double all of the ingredients in the recipe to make 12 delicious cupcakes. I even more strongly recommend measuring by weight if you are going to double the recipe for the best results.
Can I make these cupcakes ahead of time?
Definitely! I would recommend making the cupcakes no more than two days ahead of time. Store the unfrosted cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature. Store the chocolate buttercream in an airtight container in the fridge. When ready to frost, simply remove the buttercream for the fridge and let it sit at room temperature until it becomes soft. Whip it up for a few minutes, then transfer it to a piping bag and you’re good to go!
How to store small batch chocolate cupcakes
Like most baked goods, these chocolate cupcakes will definitely taste the best on the day that they are baked. You can store the frosted cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Why do you measure in grams?
My recipes are all written in grams because it is the most accurate way to bake. When you use a kitchen scale, you ensure that your baked goods turn out as close to the written recipe as possible. Plus, the cleanup is way easier when using a scale! I will provide standard cup measurements but please note that I have not tested the recipe using cup measurements and therefore can not guarantee your recipe will come out how mine did. Here is my favorite kitchen scale, and here’s an article about why I use a kitchen scale, and why you should too!
A note on oven temperature
Ovens vary and fluctuate in temperature. For example, I always have to set my oven to 330°F if I want it to bake at 350°F. If you love to bake like I do, I highly recommend getting an oven thermometer. They are super helpful for letting you know when your oven might be lying to you! I use this one.
Tools and Ingredients
Muffin pan: I absolutely love USA pan products because of their great quality. This is their muffin pan.
Cookie scoops: I have gone through a lot of cookie scoops in my baking journey, and these ones have lasted me the longest without breaking. Plus they are dishwasher safe! I love using cookie scoops to get an even amount of batter in to each muffin tin.
Kitchen scale: This is the kitchen scale I use every time I bake, I love it!
For a full list of tools, equipment and ingredients that I use and love, you can check out this page here.
Did you make these small batch chocolate cupcakes?
If you made these small batch chocolate cupcakes I would love to see them and know your thoughts! Please leave a comment and review down below, and tag me on Instagram @freshbeanbakery. If you have any questions about the recipe I will gladly do my best to answer them in the comments below!
Small Batch Chocolate Cupcakes
- 30 g dutch process cocoa powder (¼ c. + 1 tbsp.)
- 45 g hot espresso (3 tbsp.)
- 75 g vegetable oil (¼ c. + 2 tbsp.)
- 100 g granulated sugar (½ c.)
- 1 egg room temperature
- 75 g sour cream (¼ c. + 1 tbsp.) room temperature
- 90 g all purpose flour (¾ c.)
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ⅛ tsp. salt
- 70 g unsalted butter (5 tbsp.) room temperature
- ⅛ tsp. salt
- 120 g powdered sugar (1 c.)
- 2 tbsp. dutch process cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp. heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C. Line a muffin tin with 6 parchment liners.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the hot espresso and cocoa powder.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the vegetable oil, sugar, egg, sour cream, and cocoa-espresso mixture. Whisk the mixture together until well combined and smooth.
- Add in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together just until no flour streaks remain.
- Distribute the cupcake batter evenly between the six liners. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
- In a small bowl with a hand mixer, beat together the butter and salt for 1 minute.
- Slowly beat in all of the powdered sugar until combined.
- Add in the cocoa powder and heavy cream. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Once the cupcakes have cooled, transfer the buttercream to a piping bag fitted with your tip of choice. Frost the cupcakes, garnish as desired, serve and enjoy!