Cupcakes are the perfect dessert for any big event. I like to put them out at holidays along with cookies and other pastry or candy. They keep well, you can make them a few days ahead, and everyone seems to like them. Of all the cupcakes I make, these Mocha Chocolate Chip Cupcakes are probably my favorites for the holiday season. They’re moist, they pack a lot of flavor, and kids and grown-ups alike seem to love them.
I adapted this recipe from my The One Bowl Chocolate Cake recipe. With a few tweaks and some extra flavor punch from the buttermilk and espresso powder, this recipe is more about the sponge itself than it is the frosting. I generally make a simple vanilla frosting, but this is one of those recipes that goes well with an incredible range of frosting flavors. Sometimes I even just top it with a dollop of whipped cream. You could top it with a mocha or peanut butter buttercream, or try a chocolate ganache — and I would think a caramel frosting of almost any kind would be delicious. And if you don’t feel like frosting it, just a dusting of powdered sugar would be more than enough to make these little beauties party-ready.
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Buttermilk really adds a nice tang to this cake, enhances the chocolate flavor well, and makes for a fluffier finished product. You can substitute regular whole milk for the buttermilk, but you will need to adjust the amounts of baking powder and baking soda as I’ve explained in the notes. Baking is more science than art and should be treated accordingly!
I will freely admit that I have never made the move to silicone baking pans. I don’t even use the silicone baking sheet liners (I know they would make my life easier, I know!) I am aware that there are silicone muffin tins available and that some of my readers may use them in place of the ancient metal muffin tins I’m used to. Silicone baking pans have different baking times than metal, and I will leave it to your best judgement to determine when your cupcakes actually finished.
If you’ve ever baked a cake, you’ve probably heard of the toothpick method. Basically, a toothpick is inserted in the middle of the cake and then removed. If a toothpick pulls out with batter or bits stuck to it, the cake is simply not finished yet and needs to bake a bit more. This is probably the best way to determine doneness for most recipes — and it’s certainly true with this one.