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My money maker chocolate cupcake recipe

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One recipe, one million cupcakes.

Back in the early 2000’s at the very beginning of the cupcake shop boom, I opened a gourmet cupcake store. My concept was to feature 12 different flavors each day and always have them baked fresh daily. Today I am sharing the recipe that became my best selling cupcake!

My customers loved the variety and the freshness and I had a concept that worked. It worked so well in fact, that before too long I opened two more locations.

Over nine years, three cupcake stores and 100’s and 100’s of cupcake weddings I estimate that I’ve made and sold millions of cupcakes. Needless to say, I got pretty good at baking fluffy soft and delicious chocolate cupcakes.

Would you like to know how I did it?

After being open for about three weeks word got out that my cupcakes were the freshest and the softest and the variety couldn’t be beaten. Little did people know that I was a busy mom with four kids at home. Running a cupcake bakery was going to require a winning strategy. That’s when I became obsessed with efficiency.

If I was going to mix chocolate cake batter, I would do several day’s worth. As it turns out, the batter keeps very well. You simply scoop up what you need each day and kept waste to a minimum.

I started looking for other ways to save money. Creating multiple cupcake flavors for my menu that were all based around the same chocolate cake batter was key. Simply adding different ingredients ( some before baking, some after) changed the flavor profile!

We were able to offer 12 flavors that were all baked fresh daily, in three sizes. And… I was able to do all that baking in about 4 hours!

The custom-built cupcake display in my third store.

How I bake perfect cupcakes every time

Mix in bulk, bake only what you need

The way I made that possible was to mix my batter in bulk and scoop out only what I needed each day. Of course, before too long we were so busy that I was using up as much batter as I could mix, but on slow days I could mix up five gallons of batter and make it last a few days. In general, you should check with your local food safety guidelines, but for me, I could keep the batter on hand for 6 days after mixing. If you’re looking to add variety to your menu, or if you just want a few cupcakes at a time, this is the method for you.

Portion the batter like the pro’s.

Along with having chocolate only ovens, I had color-coded scoops. The “yellow handle scoop” as they were referred to, were specifically for chocolate. These things are also known as “dishers”. The yellow handle scoop holds exactly 2 oz. As long as you are leveling the scoop the same way each time, you’ll have perfectly portioned cupcakes!

Bake chocolate cake at a lower temperature.

The perfect chocolate cupcake should be fluffy and soft. The texture of the tops shouldn’t be crunchy or ” muffin topped”. I like to picture a Hostess cupcake. Although they are filled with preservatives and lack the flavor of a gourmet cupcake, they are super soft! I was able to achieve similar results by baking my chocolate cupcakes at a much cooler than normal 300°. When you bake cupcakes at a cooler temperature, you’ll need to fill them a little less. You can experiment with your fill level, so they do not overflow while baking. I found that in my convection ovens, 2 oz of batter bakes at 300° for 27 minutes. Of course, it does depend on how full your oven is, so you should always check your cupcakes and not rely solely on the bake time listed in a recipe.

How to create variety.

Now that we’ve discussed how to bake the perfect chocolate cupcake, let’s dive into making as many varieties as possible!

How can you turn one cake batter into a full variety of flavors? There are a few ways. You can add things to the batter before baking, or dip the cupcake in flavored syrups after baking. Here are some examples:

Mini chocolate chips

Chopped peanuts

Candy pieces


Ganache dip

Buttercream flavors


This chocolate batter can be baked into the following flavors:

  • Sprinkle mini chocolate chips into the scooped cupcake batter and have a double chocolate cupcake
  • Dip baked cupcake into coffee flavored syrup to create a mocha cupcake
  • Sprinkle chopped peanuts into the scooped cupcake batter and have a chocolate peanut cupcake
  • Scoop cheesecake batter into the scooped cupcake batter and have a black and white cupcake

All of the base flavors can then be enhanced even further with a signature buttercream topping. The possibilities really are endless!

My best selling cupcake, “Death by Chocolate”

These cupcakes are so deeply chocolaty and moist that you’ll never go back to boxed cake mix again! They are rich, easy and made from scratch. You can whip this batter up quickly and use it to make so many different flavors of cupcakes.

Print Recipe

Chocolate Cupcakes

Super moist and chocolaty
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Dessert
Servings 14


  • 1 cup All purpose flour
  • 1 cup Granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup Unsweetened cocoa powder extra dark
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 cup Buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable oil
  • 1 TSP Vanilla
  • 1/2 cup Hot water


  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment combine flour, baking soda, baking powder,salt ,cocoa powder and sugar.
  • Combine the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Set aside.
  • Combine water and oil in a large measuring cup and add to the mixer with the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed for 1-2 minutes. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl.
  • Add the egg and buttermilk mixture to the chocolate batter. Mix on low for 2-3 minutes until batter is free of lumps.
  • Pour batter into a container and use for up to 6 days.
  • To bake, line cupcake pan with paper liners. Portion batter into pan by using a 2 oz. scoop.
  • Bake cupcakes in a 325° oven for 25-28 minutes.
  • Allow to cool approximately 5 minutes before taking cupcakes out of pans.

more to come!

I hope you have found this article helpful. I’ll be writing more posts with similar information for buttercream and vanilla cupcakes as well.

If you try this recipe, please share! Use the hashtag #betterbakerclub on social media. I would love to see your baking adventures.

Thanks so much for stopping by and happy baking!