Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes with Nutella Cloud Frosting


Classic (One-Bowl) Chocolate Cupcakes

Yield: 12 standard cupcakes


3/4 cup (90 grams/3 ounces) all-purpose flour

3/4 cup (150 grams/5 ounces) white sugar

1/4 cup (30 grams/1 ounce) dark cocoa powder (I use Cacao Barry Extra Brute)

3/4 teaspoon (2.5 grams) baking soda

3/4 teaspoon (2.5 grams) baking powder

3/4 teaspoon (2.5 grams) cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) salt

1/3 cup (70 mL) buttermilk

1/4 cup (60 mL) brewed coffee or espresso, hot

3 tablespoons (45 mL) vegetable oil

1 egg, room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) pure vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey)


1. Preheat oven to 350° F and line a muffin/cupcake pan with your favourite cupcake liners.

2. In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift all dry ingredients.

3. Add all remaining ingredients to bowl with the dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed (you may need the plastic splashguard that comes with mixer) and pour into prepared cupcake pan until 2/3 full (or just less). I always use a 50mm cookie scoop for this step. *Batter will be liquidy, and cupcakes will rise.

4. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until toothpick or skewer comes out with a few crumbs. Try not to overbake. Carefully remove cupcakes from the pan immediately (it's hot!), and place them on a wire rack until completely cool.

Sweetapolita's Notes

  • For evenly-sized cupcakes, I always use a 50mm cookie scoop (it's a bit trickier with this runnier batter, but it's worth it).
  • You can substitute the Cacao Barry Extra Brute cocoa powder, but be sure to use a quality cocoa powder (Dutch-processed).
  • To see the baking ingredients, equipment and tools that I used for this recipe, check out my shop.
  • Even if you dislike coffee with a passion, please trust me--it simply enhances the rich chocolate flavour!
  • For tips for baking better cakes, check out this previous post.
  • This recipe is easily doubled or tripled.
  • Unlike vanilla cupcakes, these stay incredibly moist for several days, so I often bake them a day before I need them (unfrosted) and frost on the day I am serving them, but you can also frost them and keep them in an airtight container for up to 3 days, for convenience (if they last that long!).

Nutella Cloud Frosting

Yield: Enough to generously frost 12 cupcakes


1 cup unsalted butter (227 grams/8 ounces/2 sticks), softened, but cool

1 1/2 cups (190 grams/7 ounces) icing sugar (confectioners’ or powdered)

2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey)

3/4 cup (125 grams/4 ounces) premium bittersweet chocolate (I use Callebaut Callets) chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

1/3 cup (100 grams/3.5 ounces) Nutella

1 tablespoon (15 mL) milk

pinch of salt


1. In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the icing sugar and butter and beat on low speed (I use #2 on my KitchenAid mixer) for about 1 minute.

2. Add vanilla, and beat on low speed until well combined. Add the melted and slightly cooled chocolate and beat on medium speed (I use #4 on my KitchenAid mixer) until smooth (about 2 minutes).

3. Add the Nutella, milk and pinch of salt, and beat on med-high speed for another minute.

4. Brace yourself.

Sweetapolita's Notes

  • For the purest at heart, you can make your own Nutella by following Stella's Homemade Nutella recipe.
  • You can omit the Nutella and you have an incredible "classic chocolate cloud frosting."
  • It's ideal to make this frosting right before you need it, because you'll find it's an ideal consistency for piping and decorating, but once it's on the cake or cupcakes, it stays perfectly smooth and fluffy for up to 3 days.
  • You can add small increments of more milk, if too thick, and blend until smooth.
  • If you find the frosting starts to get air bubbles while sitting (during the decorating process), use a rubber spatula to knock the air out of it, by stirring it with a back and forth paddling motion.
  • To frost the cupcakes in the photo, I inserted a large, plain round icing tip into an 18" pastry bag and filled it with the frosting. I piped a large swirl starting from the outside of the cupcake, and, moving in a slow circular motion, worked my way to the center, and gently pulling the bag up and away from the cupcake. Then, using the underside of a small spoon (I used a baby spoon), I put slight pressure on the very top of the swirl and pull the spoon up and away. This creates a well for the sprinkles and gives the cupcake a classic but not-so-perfect look. Top with confetti quins or sprinkles for a fun birthday finish!