These decadent Black Cocoa Cupcakes appear dramatic not only looks but in taste as well. Super moist cupcake and not a drop of food coloring used to get that dark black colour.
I’ve just recently discovered black cocoa. I can’t remember what spurred my curiosity but I suddenly wanted to try it out and I was on a quest to find it. I know I’ve seen it sold in a local grocery but alas they don’t seem to be carrying it anymore. Tougher to find than I thought.
I’ve checked online but I wanted it in hand ASAP so I tried my luck and visited my local Bulk Barn here in Canada. And woohoo they were selling it! In bulk even!
Let the black cocoa baking adventures begin!
So there are different kinds of cocoa powders available. There’s the natural cocoa, the most common, the kind that we find in the groceries. Hershey’s and Nestle are natural cocoa powders. The chocolate taste is what we are most familiar with.
Then there’s the kind that goes thru what is called Dutch process. Technically, it’s when the cocoa is treated to neutralize the acidity. This results in a darker cocoa powder and a slightly more bitter taste. Apparently, this kind is most common kind of cocoa powder in Europe. Valrhona is a Dutch processed cocoa powder.
And then there’s the black cocoa powder. So black cocoa powder is actually Dutch processed cocoa powder but on steroids. It’s super duper Dutched and hence the really dark color. The taste is quite different from the regular chocolate taste, it’s quite bitter, more complex. If you love dark chocolate (like me!) I think you will like this flavour as well. Think Oreo cookies which are made with black cocoa powder.
In the US, King Arthur carries black cocoa powder. Here in Canada, like I mentioned earlier I was able to get the powder in Bulk Barn. I have no idea what brand it was since it was sold in bulk.
Side note, when I was in Bulk Barn, I saw red cocoa powder also being sold there. I’ve never tried it before so that will be an experiment for another time as my curiosity is piqued!
Okay so while I was doing research on black cocoa, I stumbled on David Lebovitz’s very informative post on cocoa powders. He mentions about letting the cocoa powder “bloom” by adding hot liquids like boiling water or coffee to release and intensify the chocolate flavour.
So for this recipe, I let the black cocoa powder bloom by adding hot coffee for the cupcake part and melted hot butter for the frosting part. I believe letting it bloom made for an even darker result in colour.
powder – you can probably find the King Arthur brand in your grocery but if not
you can get it online in Amazon.
Hot coffee - I just use regular drip coffee but you can also use instant coffee with boiling water
Cake flour – I don’t usually interchange AP and cake flour BUT for this recipe you can replace cake flour with AP flour and the texture won’t suffer
Salt – fine iodized salt is best
Baking soda and Baking powder - using both for best texture
Sugar – regular granulated sugar
Vegetable oil – you can also use canola or any other unflavoured oils like safflower.
Vanilla – use extract or paste
Butter – I used unsalted butter for the frosting but you can also use salted as an option
Powdered sugar – also called confectioner or icing sugar.
This black cocoa cupcakes recipe is based from my super yummy Ultimate Chocolate Cake, I swapped the regular cocoa to black cocoa. I halved the original recipe. This makes about a dozen cupcakes. You can easily double the recipe if you need more.
Firstly, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
Mix the black cocoa powder with the hot coffee. Set aside.
In another bowl, sift the cake flour sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Mix in the milk, oil and coffee/cocoa mixture into the dry ingredients.
Add in the egg and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Batter is very liquid but don't worry, it's the way it should be.
Use 1/4 cup measure for each cupcake. Using a cup measure will give you nice uniform cupcakes.
Bake the cupcakes for 17-20 minutes. Every oven is different always check first for doneness.
The cupcake is ready when an inserted wooden skewer or cake tester comes out clean or when it springs back when lightly pressed with a finger.
Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting it.
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Turn off the heat when butter is completely melted. You can also microwave the butter until all melted.
Add in the black cocoa powder and whisk til there's no more lumps.
Alternately mix in the powdered sugar with the milk. So, first add the a third of the powdered sugar then half the milk. Then add in another third of the sugar then the milk again, and then finish with the last third of the sugar.
At this point, frosting may still be a bit warm and and too soft for piping. Let it cool at room temperature until thick enough to pipe. Make sure that it is completely covered either with plastic wrap or in an airtight container. This frosting will crust when exposed to air.
Finally, we can finish the cupcake!
Place a 1M pastry tip in a piping bag and add in your frosting in the bag.
Starting from the center of the cupcake, pipe going around until you get to almost the edge of the cupcake.
Pipe another level. Taper it to a point the higher you go.
Then another. Make it as high or as low as you like.
Go on, you can make it look like more frosting than the cupcake. I won't judge you.
Seriously, coz this frosting is dabomb.com.
See how dark that is inside? And not a drop of black colouring.
Yes of course! You can do it two ways.
You can make the cupcake and frosting ahead of time and freeze it separately. Place the cupcakes in a large airtight plastic container. You can place the frosting in an airtight container as well or in a plastic freezer bag (this saves space in the freezer). Cupcakes can stay up to 2 months in the freezer and frosting up to 6 months. When you are ready to use it, let the cupcakes and frosting first thaw out in the fridge then at room temperature.
Or you can make and finish the cupcakes and freeze it all frosted. Freezing time would be shorter, would keep maximum a month in the freezer. I like to keep it shorter, like 1 week, as the longer it stays in the freezer there is a certain freezer taste I find. Keep it in an airtight plastic container that has enough room for the frosted cupcake. When ready, let it thaw slowly in the fridge, then at room temperature.
Don't laugh but this was the most common question I got when I posted on social media when I made these black cocoa cupcakes.
The short is answer is no! Of course, just right after you bite into it, your teeth and mouth will like like you had soot on it so just a side note, it might not really be a good idea to eat it on a first date!
But as soon as your mouth is clear of any cupcakes, there is no lingering stain that is true of black cupcakes or frosting made with food colouring. Oh you know what I mean!
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