Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

I have a secret that I’m about to blab. It’s about me. And it’s a doozie. It’s going to rock your world…

I don’t really like cake…


Can you believe it? It’s the truth. Hard to fathom, with all those cakes that I decorate. Now, don’t get me wrong. I will eat cake. But it pretty much ranks at the very, very bottom of the dessert hierarchy for me. Given options, I would choose pretty much anything over cake. Now, if you’re talking cheesecakes, flourless chocolate cakes, coffee cakes, crumb cakes, and things of that nature, well then that’s a whole different ballgame. But regular cake? Like birthday cake-cake? Meh. It’s just never really been my cup of tea. But what I do love is frosting. And phenomenal frosting can absolutely make my day. Peanut butter or cream cheese frosting? It may as well just be Christmas. As a result, I love cupcakes because I can pile them sky-high with dreamy frosting and enjoy each and every bite. These dark chocolate cupcakes are a dream come true for anyone who is a cake or frosting lover – they are truly the best of both worlds.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

These cupcakes are insanely rich and moist, and are made using the same type of method used for making brownies – melted chocolate is added to a whisked mixture of eggs and sugar, and then flour is stirred in. The resulting batter almost resembled a mousse; both thick and light. It creates incredibly moist cupcakes that also have a light and fluffy texture.

And the frosting. Oh the frosting. Bestill my heart. I have been using this recipe for a couple of years now (how has it never made it on here before?!), mostly as a filling for chocolate cakes. But on top of cupcakes? Where I purposefully try to create a 2:1 frosting to cupcake ratio? A-MAZING. I cannot make this without usually ending up with a stomach ache from nibbling out of the bowl one too many times. It’s irresistible. Sometimes I’m tempted to make it to just have. Smeared on toast? Used as a dipping vessel for bananas or apples? So many possibilities. The “secret ingredient” in this frosting, just as in the Easy Vanilla Bean Buttercream, is the heavy cream. It creates a smooth and fluffy frosting that is easy to slather or pipe on.

Note: To make the swirls of icing, I use a 1M icing tip. I just love the look that it gives the cupcakes; it reminds of a soft serve ice cream cone. Which is another one of my favorite things :)

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

One year ago: Sweet and Sour Chicken
Two years ago: Fresh Strawberry Tart

More chocolate & peanut butter deliciousness:

Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Crisp Squares
Marshmallow Crunch Brownie Bars
Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte
Peanut Butter-Fudge Cheesecake
No-Bake Cookies

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Prep Time: 30 minutes (active), 45 minutes (inactive)

Cook Time: 18-20 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes


For the Cupcakes:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
½ cup (1.5 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
¾ cup (3.75 ounces) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
¾ cup (5.25 ounces) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon table salt
½ cup (4 ounces) sour cream

For the Peanut Butter Frosting:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
⅓ cup heavy cream


1. To make the Cupcakes: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 350 degrees F. (If you are using a non-stick muffin pan, heat the oven to 325 degrees F.) Line standard-size muffin pan with baking cup liners.

2. Combine butter, chocolate, and cocoa in medium heatproof bowl. Set bowl over saucepan containing barely simmering water; heat mixture until butter and chocolate are melted and whisk until smooth and combined. (Alternately, you can microwave the mixture at 50% power, stirring every 30 seconds until completely melted.) Set aside to cool until just warm to the touch.

3. Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder in small bowl to combine.

4. Whisk eggs in second medium bowl to combine; add sugar, vanilla, and salt until fully incorporated. Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Sift about one-third of flour mixture over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined; whisk in sour cream until combined, then sift remaining flour mixture over and whisk until batter is homogeneous and thick.

5. Divide the batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Bake until skewer inserted into center of cupcakes comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes.

6. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before icing, about 30 minutes.

7. To make the Peanut Butter Frosting: Place the confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

(Dark Chocolate Cupcakes recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated, Peanut Butter Frosting recipe from Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten)

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492 Responses to “Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting”

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  1. Tiffany on January 17, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    Hi, I know this was from a while back but found your recipe on pinterest. I made these tonight and Holy Hell! De-licious. Will definitely be making these again:)


  2. Tonje on February 6, 2014 at 6:16 am

    I’m always searching the web for juicy, delicious recipes. Usually I just dribble over gorgeous pictures and imagine the smells and tastes, but never actually makes anything. (A bit lazy, but also not too much time as I am having a baby around..) But – I found your blog and these cupcakes, and I HAD to make them. I got a major craving! (Breast-feeding does that to you, apparently. Gives you cravings, that is.)
    Then, I’m Norwegian – so we don’t have the same stuff as you do (i.e. butter in sticks, different cocoa powder etc.) and my head doesn’t understand anything that isn’t metric, but after some googling I found more or less everything and got it all converted.
    In addition to this, my husband is allergic to gluten. And they came out just PERFECT! My blender-thingy didn’t manage to make the peanut butter all creamy, but I loved the bits of crunchiness (couldn’t make those beautiful swirls, though) .
    So: Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe!


  3. Erika on February 14, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    After reading all the reviews, I made a few adjustments. First I whipped my eggs,sugar,vanilla and salt in my KitchenAid. This made the batter very fluffy. I also added more flour. Probably 1 cup total. I think because I whipped my eggs with my KitchenAid it made my batter go farther. I had enough to make 10 additional mini cupcakes. The next huge adjustment….I cored the center out and put ganache in…oh sweet heaven did that just make the cupcake!!! Thank you for this recipe! These are my birthday cupcakes this year and I feel every year from now on :)


  4. Kelsey on February 15, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    I haven’t tried the cupcakes, but this is my go-to peanut butter frosting recipe. It’s got a wonderful peanut butter flavor but it’s so light and whippy. I always get compliments when I use this recipe. Thanks so much for sharing it!


  5. Rose on February 23, 2014 at 10:59 am

    I will try this one Dark Chocolate, it seems everyone is enjoying, happy eating,, ummmm yummy…


  6. Lisa on March 9, 2014 at 10:15 am

    Oh my, these are the best cupcakes, hands-down, ever. I made them to send to a sports fundraiser (which I did not attend), and heard from attendees that they were quite sought-after. My 17-year-old son said the one he ate “was the best cupcake he’s ever eaten,” and the kid doesn’t hand out food compliments all that readily. Since I couldn’t fit two dozen in the box to send, some stayed home. They are difficult to avoid. Wait, that’s not quite right–they are IMPOSSIBLE to avoid. In fact, I think I hear the last one calling to me now…

    Thanks for sharing this delectable recipe!


  7. bgale on March 10, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Is this recipe suited for high altitude?


    • Michelle on March 12th, 2014 at 3:41 pm

      Unfortunately, it is not. I bake at a pretty low altitude, so if you are at a high altitude, you should make appropriate adjustments.


  8. Bethany on March 21, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    I’m inspired by the rave reviews & making these for a party on Sunday. How far in advance could I make the frosting & store fridge?


  9. Erika on March 27, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Could I substitute bittersweet chocolate with semi-sweet chocolate? If I do would I have to reduce the amount of sugar, or would it not be that much of a difference? I don’t particularly like dark chocolate, so can I change it with semi-sweet chocolate, and it’ll still come out delicious?


    • Michelle on March 29th, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      Hi Erika, Yes, definitely! You don’t need to adjust the sugar.


      • Erika on March 29th, 2014 at 9:24 pm

        Great! Thank you! :)


  10. hojawile on April 5, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Was seeking an Italian dressing recipe.
    Your mom’s caught my eye. I was reading your blog about it, and found myself distracted by THIS recipe at the right of the screen. It’s like mandatory that I make chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting for my husband’s birthday. I recognized the tantalizing swirl of p.b. icing atop these cupcakes easily. I think I should do a practice run with this recipe…My husband’s birthday isn’t until November! Oh, but hey! Our anniversary is this week! How’s THAT for a good excuse?! AND I have chocolate…er…brown eyes too. : ) Great website, great recipes I’ve seen thus far. Thanks!


  11. sherly on May 6, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Hi. Can I substitute sour cream with yogurt? thanks a lot


    • Michelle on May 12th, 2014 at 10:40 am

      Hi Sherly, Yes, you can use plain yogurt.


  12. Sarah on May 26, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Would it be ok to sub the sour cream with buttermilk? :)


    • Michelle on May 26th, 2014 at 11:50 am

      Hi Sarah, If you need a substitution, I would recommend plain yogurt.


  13. HERMIEN on June 4, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    doubled recipe made a 2 layered cake with icing: 1Cup cream with 1 box choc. pudding and 1 Cup castor sugar Iced the cake and then topped with whipped orley whip devine love the cake best ever choc cake


  14. betsy on June 11, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    doubled the recipe and the are delicious! especially the frosting!


  15. Evelyn Hughes on June 12, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    Hi! I’m going to make these for Father’s Day and was wondering what temperature the butter should be at? Room temp or cold?
    Please answer back!


    • Evelyn Hughes on June 12th, 2014 at 11:24 pm

      Oh sorry just read the recipe directions! Whoops!


  16. Priyanka on June 20, 2014 at 3:41 am

    I tried the exact recipe only that I reduced all the ingredients to half as I have a muffin tray with capacity of 6 muffins. It turned out great….. The taste is awesome.. also the cupcakes came out moist n fluffy…

    Thanks… :)


  17. Ysabel on June 21, 2014 at 1:41 am

    Is it possible to make frosting without a mixer? I’m too afraid to try because the consistency of the frosting mixed by hand might not be the same… & I’m not sure my mom wants to buy a mixer


    • Michelle on June 21st, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      Hi Ysabel, I’ve honestly never made a frosting by hand, and I’m not sure how well the powdered sugar would be incorporated with just a whisk or wooden spoon.


  18. Linda on June 23, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Hi Michelle,
    Yay! I just discovered your blog.
    I’m planning to make the Dark chocolate cupcakes w/ PB frosting for July 4th!
    Please tell me, what brand PB do you use?
    My usual is “smart balance” it has oil separation & natural.
    Should I use a stable brand like jiffy! Or what?
    My muffin pan is non stick but I always use liners anyhow, what temp should I use?


    • Michelle on June 26th, 2014 at 10:48 am

      Hi Linda, I use Skippy brand peanut butter for baking. Using natural peanut butters for baking is not a good idea, as the excess oil can affect the final result. As for temperature, if your non-stick pan is dark, then reduce the temperature by 25 degrees.


  19. Linda on June 24, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    I absolutely love the way your “frosted” PB cupcake looks, it’s the perfect professional finish. Please share tips on how to achieve it. Maybe a tutorial? ;)
    I will purchase the recommended tip & bag to frost.


  20. Linda on June 26, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Michelle thanks so much for your direct reply.
    Please explain/ clarify on the type & size of frosting tip you used.
    I’m about to shop for tips, a first for me, and want be sure to buy exactly what you’ve used since it looks gorgeous!
    No where on youtube tutorials did I hear mention of a 1M frosting tip??
    What brand, type, and size is yours??
    Have a great day & thanks!


    • Michelle on June 26th, 2014 at 10:10 pm

      Hi Linda, The decorating tip is a Wilton 1M tip.


  21. Dave on June 29, 2014 at 8:37 am

    sounds so good was what i was looking for as a flavor profile, could this be done as a sheet cake of some size? what size pan would i use?


    • Michelle on June 29th, 2014 at 10:28 pm

      Hi Dave, If you double the recipe, you could bake this in a 9×13-inch pan.


  22. Charlotte on July 2, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    My boyfriend is a coffee lover so I made these for this birthday a few weeks ago. They were a huge success … especially with me! I couldn’t stop thinking about them, not until the last one was eaten.


  23. Karla on July 17, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    If I want to make 24 cupcakes can i double the ingredients or should I stick to the original measurements and make 2 separate mixtures


    • Michelle on July 17th, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      Hi Karla, You can double the ingredients. Enjoy!


  24. Lynne on August 6, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    I always read the reviews on a recipe before I try it! There are usually some helpful tips, however when I was reading through this recipes reviews I was concerned that most of them were praising the frosting and making no mention of the cupcakes. (There was someone that commented that the cupcakes were too bitter) but, because my cousin had sent the recipe, I decided to give it a try… What was everyone thinking??? These are the best chocolate cupcakes I have ever tasted! Wow, they are so moist and flavorful, they don’t even need frosting! And putting peanut butter frosting on them… Ingenious! Thank you in advance from all of my Mothers Bingo group! They are going to LOVE them…


  25. Melanee on August 7, 2014 at 11:03 am

    I used this icing between cookies — the soft chocolate ones — and it was a hit and the icing was awesome. Followed the recipe and it was great! Thanks!!


  26. Sam on September 1, 2014 at 7:35 am

    Would the frosting turn bad if I leave these out? Like not put them in the fridge I mean. I was going to bring these to a gathering and I’m making it a day before but I’m afraid that if I put it in the fridge after making these, when I take it out the frosting will melt if I leave it out for too long. What should I do?


    • Michelle on September 2nd, 2014 at 2:56 pm

      Hi Sam, As long as your house is temperature controlled and not too hot or humid, these will be fine at room temperature (up to about 72 degrees F). Enjoy!


  27. Maggie on September 16, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Hi Michelle

    I did send you an email question but thought I had better ask here as it is a recipe question Please just ignore email question. :)

    Can I use Self-raising flour as I don’t want to purchase in all purpose and self-raising as they will go bad before using both. I am making something else for my birthday as well as these cupcakes.

    I will obviously leave out baking powder and salt but leave in the baking soda as it starts working at a lower temperature.

    Many thanks!!


    • Michelle on September 17th, 2014 at 9:20 am

      Hi Maggie, I would not recommend using self-rising flour. Flour typically does not go bad for a long, long time and you can store it in the freezer to increase its longevity.


  28. Astrid on September 18, 2014 at 6:12 am

    I finaly have time to make these for a special occasion. But i want to make this recipe into mini cupcakes is that possible?
    Thank you best regards Astrid


    • Michelle on September 20th, 2014 at 5:02 pm

      Hi Astrid, Yes, it will make double the number of mini cupcakes, and you will need to reduce the baking time.


  29. Jenny on September 23, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Hi Michelle, I brought these to work for a co-worker’s birthday and they were a huge hit! The frosting is just right, not too sweet. For the co-worker’s birthday, I wanted to try a new cupcake recipe, but everyone is demanding this one again!
    Question for you: Do you always use all-purpose flour in your cupcakes? Do you ever use cake flour?


    • Michelle on September 23rd, 2014 at 2:26 pm

      Hi Jenny, I don’t typically use cake flour because it tends to make them too light and crumbly.


  30. Jeannie on October 5, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    The cupcakes are soooooooooo dry!!!


  31. Jessica on October 30, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Omg loved these too! i used ww pastry flour and added a 1t of instant coffee to the chocolate and that just bumped it up that much more!


  32. Corine on November 24, 2014 at 11:25 pm


    I baked these and substitute sour cream with greek yogurt. It comes out dry. I am wondering if it was because of the substitution?


    • Michelle on November 27th, 2014 at 9:45 am

      Hi Corine, Yes, absolutely.


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