The BEST Light & Fluffy Chocolate Cupcakes + Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

August 27, 2015
Everyone needs a go-to chocolate cupcake recipe.  Believe me, after just one bite ... you'll see why this light & fluffy Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting recipe is mine!
Light & Fluffy Chocolate Cupcakes with THE BEST Vanilla Frosting Image

These light & fluffy Chocolate Cupcakes with THE BEST Vanilla Buttercream Frosting {I kid you not, it's truly  the best} are one of our family-favorites.

When I think chocolate cupcakes, there is no other recipe for me.  We just love how light, fluffy, and tender these come out.

Adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, the mixing method for these cupcakes is a bit unconventional.  But believe me, it works!  It works very well indeed.

First off, this recipe uses much less sugar and much less butter than most of the cupcake recipes out there.  And then, you don't even cream this butter and sugar together as you usually do to get things started.

When I think chocolate cupcakes, there is no other recipe for me.  We just love how light, fluffy, and tender these come out.

Instead of using the traditional creaming method to start the batter-making process, you first combine all the dry ingredients with the butter and mix it until you get a bunch of little crumbs ... kind of like sand.  Then, you add the wet ingredients to the crumbs and mix everything together to form the batter.

I'm not quite sure exactly how this mixing method works to create such fabulous cupcakes, but the result is sure a good one.  The texture of the baked little cakes is fluffy, light, and tender.

The BEST Light & Fluffy Chocolate Cupcakes + Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Image

I made this particular batch of chocolate cupcakes for my niece's 18th birthday party a few months back.

Complete with chocolate sprinkles.

Because everyone loves sprinkles.  No matter how  old they are.  Right?

I know I sure do!  And apparently 18-year-olds do, too, because these chocolate cupcakes {with sprinkles} were gobbled up in a flash ... right along with the big ol' batch of scrumptious S'mores Cupcakes I made, too.

Okay, I've just got to say that I can hardly believe my 'little' niece is 18.  Not only that, in just a couple short weeks, she heads off to college.  Seriously folks, where on Earth does time go?

Now, my niece's celebratory batch of Chocolate Cupcakes was topped with my absolute-favorite, creamy-and-delicious vanilla frosting.

But for an alternative topping, I also love these light & fluffy cupcakes with 7-Minute Marshmallow Frosting.  

I just adore this frosting, which is saying a lot because I typically like the cake part of the cupcake much more than the frosting.

But with this  frosting?  I have to say it's a toss up as to which part I like best!

This version of vanilla frosting isn't as super-sweet as some frostings are.  You know how sometimes you take a bite of frosting and you feel like your teeth could literally fall out on the spot, it's so sweet??  Yeh, I hate that.

This vanilla frosting isn't like that.  This vanilla frosting, in my opinion, is just the right amount of sweet.  A pinch of salt does just the trick to balance out the flavors beautifully.

It's also whipped for several minutes, resulting in a lighter, fluffier frosting ... which I love.

But for an alternative topping, I also love these light & fluffy cupcakes with 7-Minute Marshmallow Frosting ...

7-Minute Marshmallow Frosting Image

Loading them up with  7-Minute Marshmallow Frosting is like spreading an ooey-gooey marshmallow on top of a little bite of chocolate cupcake heaven!

But whichever frosting you choose for your light & fluffy Chocolate Cupcakes, remember ~ Don't forget the sprinkles!

Because whether 18, 4, or 93 ... everyone loves sprinkles.  No matter how old they are.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting and Sprinkles Image
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The BEST Light & Fluffy Chocolate Cupcakes
Source:  Cupcakes adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
(Printable recipe)
  • 3/4 c. + 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 3 T. cocoa powder
  • A scant 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 c. whole milk (I also tried it with 2% milk, and it works fine)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Put the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter in mixing bowl. Beat on slow speed until everything is combined and you have a crumb mixture with a sandy consistency.
  2. Whisk together the milk, egg, and vanilla. Slowly pour about half the milk mixture into the flour mixture. Beat on low speed to combine. Turn the mixer up to high speed and beat for just a few seconds to remove any lumps.
  3. With the mixer back on low speed, pour in the remaining milk mixture. Beat until all ingredients are just incorporated.
  4. Beat for about another 30 seconds to one minute until the batter is smooth. Do not over mix.
  5. Spoon batter into muffin pan cups lined with paper cupcake liners, filling cups 1/2 full. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly touched.
  6. Cool slightly in the pan before removing cupcakes to a wire rack. Cool completely before frosting.
  7. Frost with vanilla frosting {recipe below} and sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles.

(NOTE: This recipe makes 12 cupcakes. And it really does make 12! Fill your cups only 1/2 full, as this batter rises quite a bit. When I divided the batter between only 10 muffin cups, I had several that rose over the sides of the cups way too much. If you're like me, you'll feel like there's not enough batter to stretch to 12 cupcakes ... but there really is.  Also, I know the mixing method seems a bit unconventional ... but trust me, it really works and creates a wonderful cupcake!  I talk about the mixing method in my The BEST Vanilla Cupcakes post.)

The BEST Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Frosting adapted from The Best Recipe by the editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine

  1. Beat butter in bowl of electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 1 minute. 
  2. Reduce speed to low and add sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating for about 15 seconds between each addition.  Increase speed to medium and beat until smooth, about 3 minutes. 
  3.  Add salt, vanilla and milk, beating on low speed to combine. Increase speed to medium and beat until fluffy, 3-4 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides once or twice.

Enjoy these other delicious cupcake creations from The Kitchen is My Playground ...

German Chocolate Cupcakes
German Chocolate Cupcakes

S'mores Cupcakes
S'mores Cupcakes

The BEST Vanilla Cupcakes + The BEST Vanilla Frosting

Pineapple Upside-Down Cupcakes
Pineapple Upside-Down Cupcakes

The BEST Light & Fluffy Chocolate Cupcakes + Vanilla Buttercream Frosting ~ my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe! #chocolatecupcakes #cupcakes #cupcakerecipes #vanillafrosting

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This post is linked with Weekend Potluck.


  1. I'm so excited to try this recipe. I am always slightly disappointed with the denseness of homemade cupcakes but hate using the box. I am hopeful that your unconventional mixing will give me the cupcake I so desire :) And tomorrow is my birthday so the timing is PERFECT!

  2. Aw these cupcakes look perfectly delicious! :) Just gorgeous! Pinned!

  3. Hi Tracey! I lobe your mouthwatering amazing recipes!! I would love fr you to share this over at Making Memories Mondays going on now! :-) I hope that you had a great summer!

  4. They look amazing!
    Thanks so much for sharing at AMAZE ME MONDAY!


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