Shortly after Thanksgiving, I stopped by the mailbox to collect our weekly Safeway circular and monthly Comcast bill, nearly bumping into my neighbor and his 8-year-old daughter as they pulled out their own pamphlets and brochures. We exchanged pleasantries as we strolled back towards our driveways, and as we parted, I overheard his little girl advise, “Daddy, you should wish for chocolate cake for after dinner!”
My chocoholic heart smiled.
An hour later, I knocked on their door with a plate of homemade gingerbread, apologizing that it wasn’t the chocolate cake she wanted. My neighbor chuckled a bit and replied, “It’s okay; the kids will be happy to eat it anyway!”
Then two days before Christmas Eve, I spotted the little girl standing beside their front lawn at the end of my afternoon walk. She waved, exclaiming, “Hi Amy!” I knelt down to talk, and she proudly modeled her new sparkly teal ballet flats from Target, purchased just that afternoon for her Christmas Day outfit.
To continue our conversation, I asked, “Are you excited for New Years too?”
“Oh yes,” she responded. “It’s my birthday next month!”
“What day?” I inquired.
“January 26th,” she replied.
When her mom beckoned her back inside, I immediately raced home and circled the date in bright red Sharpie on my calendar, as well as January 12th, giving me a 2-week reminder to develop a chocolate cupcake recipe. Yes, despite my self-proclaimed out-of-control chocoholism, I didn’t actually have a chocolate cake recipe to call my own—and that needed to change!
After tempting lots of you with Instagram pictures, I finally perfected my recipe for Double Dark Chocolate Cupcakes! They’re incredibly decadent and intensely chocolaty, topped with a generous layer of rich fudgy frosting. Despite their sinfully indulgent flavor, these cupcakes are secretly skinny—they clock in at less than 200 calories each!
Many luscious chocolate cake recipes require a few more steps—blooming cocoa powder, melting dark chocolate, creaming butter and sugar—but not this one! It’s about as easy as a box mix: just whisk the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another. No electric mixer required!
For the dry ingredients, you’ll actually use more cocoa powder than flour. Without any melted chocolate, the cocoa provides all of the chocolate flavor, so you’ll need 1 full cup. (Make sure you measure it correctly, just like with flour!)
I generally prefer my chocolate cakes on the denser side—but not as heavy or thick as brownies—so I added a little extra baking powder to ensure these cupcakes turned out densely airy… If that makes any sense. Not as light as angel food cake, just really moist with lots of teensy tiny air pockets inside.
These low-fat cupcakes only contain 2 tablespoons of oil! The rest of the moisture comes from Greek yogurt, one of my secret weapons in healthier baking. It keeps these cupcakes incredibly tender without adding excess calories. Greek yogurt tends to clump a bit when added to the wet ingredients, so make sure you whisk it in really well.
I mixed in 1 full tablespoon of vanilla extract, which is more than most recipes require. I know, I know… You’re probably scratching your head and thinking, “Amy’s gone crazy! I thought we were baking chocolate cupcakes… Not vanilla!” But the vanilla actually enhances the chocolate flavor, much like the tiny amount of coffee included in other recipes.
To finish the batter, alternate between stirring the dry ingredients and the milk into the egg mixture. This method prevents overworking the flour’s gluten strands. Overworked gluten results in tough, chewy cupcakes instead of the tender texture we want. Just use a fork or wooden spoon—no electric mixer needed!
I highly recommend baking the cupcakes in foil liners, like I used for my original recipe testing (seen in this Instagram picture.). I chose paper liners for these blog photographs, and they soaked up some of the moisture in the batter, leaving the cupcakes’ bottoms slightly drier than in my test batches. Either way, low-fat cupcakes almost always adhere to any kind of liner as if you superglued them together. So spray the liners with nonstick cooking spray—it prevents them from sticking!
I based this fudgy frosting off of my rich dark chocolate truffle recipes. You only need 4 ingredients: cocoa powder, vanilla, milk, and honey or agave. That’s right; no powdered sugar or electric mixer involved (so you won’t end up with that huge white mushroom cloud billowing out of your bowl)! Just stir those 4 things together with a fork until you reach the perfect fudgy consistency; then spread it on top of the cooled cupcakes. So simple!
From their tender texture to their thick fudgy frosting, these Double Dark Chocolate Cupcakes simply exude decadence. They’re a chocolate lover’s dream: every intense chocolaty bite melts in your mouth, drawing you back for more until you’ve polished off every moist crumb and luxurious swirl of frosting. With their sinfully rich flavor, nobody will believe these cupcakes are actually healthy!
I knocked on my neighbors’ door with a plate of these cupcakes on Monday, the day after their daughter’s celebration. (I didn’t want to steal the thunder from the cake on her real birthday!) When she saw the treats, her eyes widened and she shyly whispered, “Thank you!”
The entire time, her younger brother giddily jumped up and down beside their mom, finally asking, “Will you bake me chocolate cupcakes for my birthday? With sprinkles?”