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Salted Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

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Salted Dark Chocolate Cupcakes |

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 and me, circa 2005, belting out a duet at her senior recital.

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 & me |

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!

Salted Dark Chocolate Cupcakes |

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.

Salted Dark 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.

Salted Dark Chocolate Cupcakes |

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.

Salted Dark Chocolate Cupcakes |

And then sprinkled the tops with sea salt.

Salted Dark Chocolate Cupcakes |

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.

Salted Dark Chocolate Cupcakes |

So today I offer a big cheers to Monica and Eric and love and HOPE. And of course, cheers to salted dark chocolate cupcakes. :)

Salted Dark Chocolate Cupcakes |

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Salted Dark Chocolate Cupcakes |

Salted Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 24 cupcakes 1x


These salted dark chocolate cupcakes are rich, moist, and crazy good.



Cupcake Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Top with chocolate ganache frosting, then sprinkle with sea salt.

To Make The Ganache Frosting:

  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a small heat-proof bowl.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.


Cupcake recipe slightly adapted from Taste of Home.

Salted Dark Chocolate Cupcakes |

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143 comments on “Salted Dark Chocolate Cupcakes”

  1. Such a sweet post Ali! All the best to your friend :) These cupcakes definitely look like they’d be worth indulging in, they’re gorgeous! And I’m always down for salty and sweet treats.

  2. Aww what a sweet story. These cupcakes are gorgeous and definitely worth a little binge!

  3. Oh my… I’m seriously starting to love sweet/salty stuff. These cupcakes are amazing.

  4. These look heavenly! I love all the chocolate!

  5. What a sweet post, this is so wonderful! Glad you had a great celebration this weekend! And these cupcakes – stunning!

  6. This is one of the prettiest chocolate cupcakes ever! Love the sea salt sprinkle – I can see myself indulging in quite a few of these ;)

  7. What a sweet story! These cupcakes are gorgeous, love everything about them!

  8. Awesome story and STUNNING cakes, my lady. Prettiest pictures ever. I need you to teach me some tricks. ;)

    And then maybe we can sing. Maybe.

  9. hands down, the BEST looking chocolate cupcake I have ever seen. You truly outdid yourself here Ali! I got goosebumps reading this story. She is so strong and deserves all the best in life.

  10. Love this sweet story! Oh, and I wanna jump through the screen and eat a million of these cupcakes!

  11. Oh how lovely, it must have been such a special occasion for everyone there and I’m so glad she’s found happiness (and that she has a friend who will give her recipes for these amazing looking cupcakes!)

  12. thanks for the sweet tribute, great “old” pics and the sweet treats.

  13. Thanks for sharing that story. Such a great reminder of God’s love! :) And these cupcakes look delicious!

  14. Doesn’t get any better than a happy wedding and salted dark chocolate :)

  15. wow, Ali! Look at you! You’ve got a set of lungs! These cupcakes are drop dead gorgeous! I love those huge flakes of salt scattered throughout the photo and the frosting is piped perfectly!!

  16. everything about this post is beautiful. its really a blessing to have wonderful friends in life and be part of their big day. I could indulge in this cupcakes any time of the day :)

  17. Love the old picture! And congrats to Monica! So sorry about her parents.

    But these cupcakes – wow! So when I get married, can you make these for me? :)

  18. Ohh my, these look just incredible!! :)

  19. oo wow. The dark chocolate cupcakes with the perfect swirl and the salt. They look and sound splendid!

  20. You’re amazing, as is your friend. Trials are essential for growth in this life and what an example they set in handling theirs with such grace. I love it. And these cupcakes. And the photos. Beautiful

  21. What a sad and sweet story, all at the same time. These cupcakes are AMAZING!

  22. Beautiful photos and a beautiful story!

  23. What an incredible story and testimony! I’m drooling over these cupcakes – every shot is perfect!

  24. Since I am usually nearly 3 hours from all of this food, I generally just look with pride and hunger at my daughter’s baking. However, I had the good fortune to visit on this baking day and indulged in full, messy-mouth delight. …very delicious!!
    I also have the honor of knowing Monica and one of her brothers, Matt. …They are even sweeter than chocolate ganache!
    Congratulations Monica!

  25. What an amazing tribute to a beautiful, kind, amazing, inspiring person! These cupcakes look amazing Ali!

  26. Love the story, and can’t wait to make the cupcakes!

  27. I love this post, Ali! So fun to read, and of course the cupcakes look fabulous! Another singing sister! Yay!

  28. These cupcakes are beautiful, what a perfect way to indulge ;)

  29. You know, if music and cooking and photography and food styling and all of the things you’re good at somehow don’t work out, you ought to try making a living at writing, because you’re really good at that, too. (Oh, that’s right–you already do.) Great story-telling.

  30. Amazing cupcakes and even better story. Gave me goosebumps!

  31. Truly a bitter sweet story! Thanks for sharing. When I make these I will think of your friend.

  32. I think I could dive right into that frosting and I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t look pretty :) beautiful cupcakes and story.

  33. Thanks for sharing your story, bitter sweet on all fronts but we can only look forward and to the times we all still have…grab em’ and enjoy every second :) Love the pics!

  34. Wow, What a beautiful story! And absolutely beautiful cupcakes.I love the sea salt. Cheers to your friends!

  35. I’m so glad Monica’s story had a happy ending. These cupcakes look ridiculously yummy!

  36. I came for the cupcakes, but stayed for the story. Soooo sweet! Both. ;)

  37. What a sweet story! I love that you majored in opera! I bet you’ve got quite the voice.

  38. What an absolutely sweet story!!! I loved learning a few new facts about you too…it seems we have more than sweets in common :-) My husband is our worship pastor at our church and I sing on our praise band!! Now these cupcakes…girl, those are absolutely incredible looking! I seriously want to grab a spoon and go to town on that frosting!!!

  39. What a wonderful story, Ali — and I’m totally dying for one of these cupcakes right now!

  40. This could not have been lovelier. All the best to Monica and Eric, and thank you, Ali!

  41. Wow – these look so phenomenal. The photos are gorgeous, and that frosting looks to die for. I love the sprinkling of sea salt too. Definitely need to try these! Pinned.

  42. What a sweet post! All the best to Monica and Eric. I’m happy that everyone was able to get together for the wedding!

    And the cupcakes look so decadent and beautiful as always. :)

  43. These are beautiful photographs and I bet the cupcakes taste delicious as well. Thanks for sharing your story and glad to see it has a happy ending. I had a vocal scholarship in college, but somehow business won out as my major. It’s a long story with a winding journey, but that’s how life is sometimes. But singing and music is a gift that can carry you through even the toughest of times. I hope that was the case for your friend. Best wishes to you!

  44. GORGEOUS photos! Those cupcakes look so delicious!

  45. what a touching story about hope–thank you for sharing! and wow, the cupcakes!!

  46. Wow, these look amazing! What kind of cocoa powder did you use? I’m exploring cocoa powders at the moment and would love to know!

  47. Cheers, indeed! What a wonderful, wonderful story. (I want to actually “hear” you belting it out, though!!) Gorgeous cupcakes, that ganache frosting looks extra fabulous.