I’m not usually a recipe dedicator, but I wanted to give a big shout out with this recipe to my friends Monica and Eric who just tied the knot this weekend. Their wedding gift from me was a super-cool cupcake carrier, and I’m pretty sure these would be the perfect cupcakes to fill it. ;)
But instead of talking about these yummy cupcakes today, I would really love to share with you about my friend. Can I tell you a story?
Monica (right) and me (left), circa 2005, belting out a duet at her senior recital.
I met Monica in the music department in college, where we were both classic vocal performance majors. (Yes, little known fact about me — I majored in opera!) But I really got to know her when she joined our worship band, where we loaded up our 15-passenger vans and hit the road nearly every weekend to go lead worship in churches all across the region. You know how they say that you really get to know someone well when you travel together? Um, try two years on the road together. Done!
When we weren’t rocking out to loud “contemporary” music, Monica was also one of my crossover classical music friends. I think we would both say that one of our favorite memories was doing our senior recitals together. We were in the same class, but I graduated early so we lucked out and got to do two senior recitals together. She sang at mine, and I came back after graduation to sing at hers. We duet-ed everything from Puccini, to Wicked, to Mozart, but our trademark song was this Italian operatic cat-fight where the only word we were allowed to sing was miau (“meow”). I know, total music nerd stuff, but it was really fun!
Monica and me, circa 2004, at my senior recital with our vocal professor. (In case you noticed, yes, the strap broke on my dress…thankfully not until the finale!)
After graduation, we both took music ministry jobs in churches a few hours apart and stayed in touch, keeping up on life, church work, music, and more.
But about two years ago, my heart caught in my chest when I received the devastating phone call that both Monica’s mom and dad had been killed in a car wreck. All of our friends were stunned and couldn’t begin to wrap our minds around the news. But when we arrived at the double funeral and played Monica’s favorite hymns as she and her younger brothers — all in their twenties — walked down the aisle together, it was one of those moments when life gets real. But even through their deep deep grief, she and her brothers spoke again and again about their fierce belief in hope. And their belief that somehow, someway, they trusted that God would be faithful to help pull them through. It has not been an easy road, but through the months and years after, and through all of the ups and downs of grief, they have taught me a lot about what it looks like to persevere and cling to that hope.
The cool news is that, a few years later, all of those people gathered together again this weekend for a very different occasion — Monica’s wedding!!! My sweet 30-year-old friend (who I should note had never really dated) is now the wife of one of the kindest, gentlest men I could have imagined for her. I was supposed to be playing piano but was a total (happy) wreck when I saw her walking down the aisle, escorted on both arms by her two younger brothers, smiling ear to ear ready to marry this man for whom she had also held out faithful hope for so long. It was definitely a happy ending to these past few years, and of course, the beginning of a great new adventure for them to come. I’m so happy for her!
But as was discussed in the bridesmaid’s toast, while Monica is an incredible singer, she’s still a little new to the cooking game. :-)
So for her or any of you who might be wanting a foolproof delicious chocolate cupcake recipe to try, I’m excited to introduce these salted dark chocolate cupcakes. These are kind of the ultimate in chocolate cupcakes.
The dark chocolate cupcakes themselves are made with my favorite dark chocolate cocoa powder (or you can use regular unsweetened cocoa powder). And they are really easy to make, nice and moist, and full of rich chocolate flavor.
And then since it’s kind of a special occasion with the wedding, I went ahead and indulged and made a dark chocolate ganache as the frosting.
And then sprinkled the tops with sea salt.
Now you know me — I’m one of the biggest believers in all things in moderation with sweets. But when you want to indulge, trust me that every bite of these cupcakes will be worth it.
So today I offer a big cheers to Monica and Eric and love and HOPE. And of course, cheers to salted dark chocolate cupcakes. :)
These salted dark chocolate cupcakes are rich, moist, and crazy good.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder (or any unsweetened cocoa powder)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup coffee, lukewarm (you can use decaf coffee if desired!)
chocolate ganache frosting
coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
Chocolate Ganache Frosting Ingredients:
18 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
To Make The Cupcakes:
In the bowl of stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in vanilla.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt until combined. Then in an additional separate bowl, stir together buttermilk and coffee. Add dry ingredients to creamed butter mixture alternately with buttermilk and coffee, beating well after each addition.
Fill paper-lined baking cups two-thirds full. Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
Top with chocolate ganache frosting, then sprinkle with sea salt.
To Make The Ganache Frosting:
Place the chopped chocolate in a small heat-proof bowl.
Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it just reaches a boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour over the chocolate. Stir slowly until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Let it cool until it reaches room temperature, about 1-2 hours. It will continue to thicken the longer it sets.
Spoon or pipe the ganache onto the cupcakes. If the ganache is too thin for piping, you can transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat it on medium-high for 3-5 minutes until it reaches a better consistency for piping.
What a great story! These cupcakes look amazing. Your photos are absolutely stunning!
It is one good story. And this cupcakes look perfect. Simply beautiful.
Thank you for sharing that story, I hope your friend has a really happy married lift. Your cupcakes look absolutely gorgeous too!
These cupcakes look great. But, where is the coffee in the recipe? I’m assuming the coffee goes in stead of the water, but wanted to check. Also,the taste of home link at the bottom does not work. Just wanted to let you know!
Salty and sweet with dark chocolate. Are you reading my mind? Love the story of your friend. I bet you’re over the moon for her.
That was a beautiful story of love, hope, and friendship, thank you for sharing. Best wishes for Monica!
I will definitely make these!
Now, is there a video of those recitals?
It says to mix dry ingredients with buttermilk and “water” is that correct ? I don’t see any amount of water in the list of ingredients.
Hi Ali! I came across this adorable blog when I googled ‘dark chocolate cupcakes’. And then I saw ‘salted caramel’ and I had to click it right away! These look amazing and are so perfect and pretty! My MIL is THE definition of a chocoholic. Her picture is next to it; i’m positive.
I will be making these for her upcoming birthday. So thank you!
I’m also so sorry about your friends’ families news. This story gave me chills and was so touching. I will be coming by again in the very near future.
I attempted your cupcakes today with the hope of covering them with salted caramel. No idea what I did wrong as looking back at the measurements they were correct but I ended up with a large concave area in the middle of my cupcakes. Super sad and no time to make corrections.
These cupcakes look delicious and I’m excited to try them!
I came to this post via Pinterest for the recipe, however, as I began reading I got intrigued because you were an opera major! I was a church music major (voice concentration) in college myself. And for my senior recital I also had a few duets, including songs from Wicked and “the cat song” as well! So fun!
You made really gorgeous cupcakes, perfect for your dear friend and her special day.
I’ve featured this recipe on my blog, hoping that you don’t mind, but if you do, please contact me and I’ll remove it. All the best.
You’ve made some dark chocolate fanatics in my house very happy! Thank you – these were delicious!
Yum, these sound amazing! I’ve been craving lots of chocolate lately, so just might be making these very soon!
Hello. I was concerned about making these because the only post that commented on making these said that the centers fell. I made this recipe and they cupcakes came out nice and fine. They were light as I like my cupcakes. I did not have dark chocolate powder so I used regular. I baked them at 350 degrees for about 18 minutes. This recipe was flawless and easy! I gave one cupcake to my mom and not only did she say it was good rather “freaking good and the best cupcake I have made”! I love this recipe and will definitely save for future use! Never used ganache as a frosting but I love that option as it is light and fluffy. Thanks for this great recipe!
These cupcakes look really amazing! what kind of dark chocolate did you use? 60%, 70% or what? thank you, Im gonna make them on weekend but with chilli instead of salt :)
I used 70%, but you can use whichever you have. :)
I made these a couple of weeks ago and everyone who tasted them said they were the best they EVER had! I have been requested to make them again for an upcoming gathering. Thanks so much for posting this.
These cupcakes are delicious!!!! My 22 yr. old daughter has made these twice for large parties we have thrown this summer and people moan when they eat them. The dark chocolate ganache and the salt?? MMMMMMM I am not even a dark chocolate fan but these are irrisistible.
This is by far the best chocolate cupcake recipe I’ve ever made! They are chocolatey, light and fluffy, and they aren’t even frosted yet! I’m so glad I came across this recipe tonight!
Wow, thanks Jamiee, what a nice compliment! So glad you enjoyed them. : )
What a sweet story! You two were adorable. Small world, I majored in classical music performance in college, also! I miss those days…life was so much simpler back then. As for these cupcakes, I stumbled upon them while researching a good chocolate base recipe, and I’m in love with this! I’ve never thought to use chocolate ganache as the icing on my cupcakes! What a great idea! Ganache is absolutely my thang. Love your blog, Ali, and I love being a part of this food blog world! <3
Hi there =D going to make 100 of these babies for a 50th! Just wanted to know, how many tsps of coffee did you put in the half cup of lukewarm water?
I just brewed a regular-strength pot of coffee, and used 1/2 cup of that. Enjoy the cupcakes! :)
I used the cupcakes for my sister’s wedding once. I would like to do it on for a party.
That’s very cool, Zida, I hope everyone enjoyed them!
These cupcakes are so good. This would be my to go recipe for chocolate cupcakes. I posted some pics of it on my blog
Thank you so much, Tania! We’re so glad to hear you enjoyed the cupcakes! Cute blog, and we love the pics you took — thanks for linking back! : )
Thank you for sharing! This recipe is fantastic! I used it on my blog (Adventures of a Pinner, I take Pinterest ideas and show if I nail/fail the project). Your recipe was sent to me as a guest request and it turned out great. Here is my blog post if you are interested!
Thank you Cait, and thank you for sharing – they look so great! And we totally love the concept and name of your blog btw! :)
Looks amazing! Is there a substitute I can use for buttermilk? I REALLY don’t want to run out to the store :) BUT if I must, I will. These look too good to not make.
Thanks Jessica! And yes, you can just use regular milk and/or add some lemon juice or white vinegar. Just FYI, for every cup of buttermilk, combine 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (or white vinegar, if you don’t have any lemons), and let it sit for about 10 minutes, or until it has noticeably curdled. We hope that helps, and that you enjoy these!
i’m not a scientist when it comes to the science behind baking cupcakes, but shouldn’t there be baking powder when there is baking soda to cancel out the baking soda soapy-taste?
Hi Kay! We promise there’s absolutely no baking soda/soapy taste in these. :)
Hi! Can we just normal dark chocolate or it has to be cooking/baking dark chocolate? ☺️☺️ Thank you!
Hi, good question! You’ll want to use semisweet or bittersweet chocolate for the frosting, since there’s no other sugar. We hope you e enjoy these! :)
I usually don’t write comments and have decided to start. I base on whether I make a recipe on the ingredients, description but also the comments. My first comment is I love your recipe! I made mini ones and they turned out so moist and the ganache and salt was perfect with it. Since I made minis and I don’t make the icing as large, I had more then enough that I froze the unused ganache. Everyone loved the cupcakes! I am thinking of making a whole bunch later and freezing them for the perfect bite(s) of dessert with a glass or two of wine! Thanks so much for sharing.
Thanks so much for sharing Suzanne, we’re so happy you liked these! And we totally agree with you, these go excellently with red wine! :)
These are the BEST chocolate cupcakes! A serious hit of chocolate.
Thanks Krirsti, we’re glad you love them! :)
Do you have half of the recipe that will make only just 12? Thank you
Hi! Yes, half the recipe should make 12. We hope you enjoy them!
Hello, is this frosting stiff enough to pipe flowers with. Thank you!
Hi Crystal! We think you would want to make a little extra for piping.
Made the recipe tonight, and it was a huge success! Thanks for sharing.
We’re so glad to hear that, Jessica!
Hi! I am needing to do most of the prep work for these on Thursday, to serve on Saturday. I was planning on making both the cupcakes and ganache but refrigerating separately, and frost them Saturday. How would the cupcakes hold up if covered and refrigerated, as well as the ganache? Or would the batter hold up if refrigerated? Would love suggestions! Thanks :)
Hello Quinn! We wouldn’t recommend refrigerating the batter, but the baked cupcakes will definitely hold up covered and refrigerated. We would leave the ganache out at room temp though. We hope you enjoy! :)
Obrigada por compartilhar a história e a receita de cupcakes. Amei!
Usted es muy bienvenido, estamos felices de disfrutar de la receta!
I love the way the frosting looks…What do you use to pipe the frosting?
These look SO yummy, and I LOVE ganache!!! Thanks for another great recipe! :)
How many cupcakes does this recipe make? Thanks Heather
Hi! I love your recipes! I’m really hoping to make this ganache, but don’t have any heavy cream. Is there anything I can do to substitute for heavy cream?
I don’t get why people put avocado in their breads? Why?