The Best Chocolate Cupcakes with Cheesecake Pudding Filling

*Both the filling and frosting recipes have cooling/chilling time involved.  Make sure to plan ahead.

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. sugar

1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 c. hot water

1/4 c. + 2 Tbl. vegetable oil

1 Tbl. distilled vinegar

1 1/2 tsp. instant coffee granules

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Cheesecake Filling:

1 (3.4 oz.) pkg. Cheesecake instant pudding mix

2 c. milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Chocolate Frosting:

1/4 c. (4 Tbl.) unsalted butter

3/4 c. sugar

1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

pinch of salt

1 tsp. instant coffee granules

1/2 c. + 2 Tbl. heavy whipping cream (do not substitute with anything else or the frosting won't set up properly)

2 Tbl. sour cream (I used light)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a muffin tin with paper liners and spray with cooking spray.  For the cupcakes: In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  In a separate bowl, combine hot water, oil, vinegar, instant coffee and vanilla; stir together and add to dry ingredients.  Stir until just combined.  A few lumps are okay.  Divide between muffin cups, filling 2/3 full with batter.  Bake for 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and top springs back when lightly touched.  Makes around 12-14 cupcakes.  Allow to cool completely.

For the Filling:  In a medium bowl, combine pudding mix, milk and vanilla and whisk together until combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.

For the Frosting:  Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.  Stir in the sugar, cocoa and instant coffee.  Combine whipping cream, sour cream and vanilla and stir into sugar mixture.  Stir until smooth and creamy (mine had a few small lumps that I couldn't get out).  Continue heating until sugar is dissolved.  Do not boil.  Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool for several hours or until it's thick and fudgy looking.  It will happen, just be patient.

To Prepare:  Use a paring knife and cut a small chunk out of the top center of each cupcake.  Slice off the very top of the chunk, so it's flat (see steps 4, 7, 8 and 9 of this post for a picture tutorial of this process - it's really easy).  Fill cupcake with cheesecake filling and replace top.  Spread chocolate frosting over the top.  Garnish with colorful sprinkles, if desired.  Store cupcakes in the refrigerator.      

adapted from: Crazy For Crust