Hot chocolate cupcakes with an amazing rich chocolate flavor and a festive snow cap top with a fluffy white frosting center. One bowl, vegan and gluten-free and with hidden veggies.
Hot Chocolate Cupcakes
Hot chocolate cupcakes are a hot chocolate in a cupcake. The recipe is healthier than traditional cupcakes because of pumpkin puree instead of eggs and oil. Yet the flavor tastes amazingly like a hot chocolate thanks especially to two ordinary ingredients, one is certainly in your pantry right now.
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These cupcakes are also easy to make, just toss ingredients in one bowl, bake and frost. They are moist with a soft tender crumb, and a deep chocolate flavor thanks to two special ingredients. And sweetened commercial cocoa powder is not one of them.
Yes, some hot chocolate cupcake recipes do use commercial cocoa powders but I wanted to create the flavor without using a processed powder full of sugar. Of course there is sugar in these cupcakes but a controlled amount and no preservatives. That's always my goal.
Before we dive into the recipe, I'd like to invite you to sign up for my free chocolate course. Five lessons hit your inbox with detail on how to create your own simple healthy chocolate desserts.
Okay, so back to this recipe...
How to Make Hot Chocolate Cupcakes Taste Like Hot Chocolate
There are two ingredients to make hot chocolate cupcakes taste like a rich hot chocolate.
2. Use triple the vanilla, and a quality brand that that. Rodelle or Nielsen-Massey are both incredibly strong in flavor. Admittedly both are more expensive, than main stream brands but they last for years so you can use them sporadically to make them last.
Both of these ingredients turn these ordinary chocolate cupcakes into hot chocolate cupcakes.
Ingredients in Hot Chocolate Cupcakes
Flour: I used all-purpose flour or a GF baking flour. Oat flour would also work, but use more, 1 ¾ cups.
Cocoa: The hot chocolate flavor depends heavily on the cocoa you choose. Choose the best quality you have access to, I highly remember using dutch process and my favorite brand for flavor is Valhrona.
Sugar: Organic cane sugar tastes much better than refined white sugar because it is much less processed, and is without exposure to pesticides. Being less processed, the sugar retains more nutrients, including essential amino acids, minerals and vitamins.
Pumpkin Puree & Apple Sauce: These two ingredients basically replace eggs and oil, although you can use more pumpkin puree instead of apple sauce.
Leaveners: baking powder and baking soda
Milk & Lemon Juice: My favorite way to provide lift to cakes
Other Essentials: salt and quality vanilla extract
One question I get often:
Can you use hot chocolate powder instead of cocoa powder for cupcakes?
The store bought hot cocoa mix is not a good choice for hot chocolate cupcakes because it contains too much sugar and not enough chocolate flavor to come out in a cupcake. Use unsweetened cocoa, and dutch cocoa at that, for the strongest hot chocolate flavor.
Tips to Make Healthier Cupcakes
1. Be sure to make your cupcakes from scratch. From scratch baking is easy, just combine ingredients, bake and eat. Just as easy as a box mix and far healthier because you can control the ingredients and vastly reduce processed additions.
2. Instead Use a vegetable puree such as pumpkin or sweet potato instead of processed oil. I also use aquafaba or apple sauce instead of eggs because I bake vegan always.
3. I keep sugar low in all my recipes, and I use organic cane sugar that has the fair trade seal which means workers who process and package the product are treated and paid fairly.
Steps To Bake Hot Chocolate Cupcakes
1. Preheat your oven to 350 F, Line a cupcake pan with 12 paper liners, and activate your milk by adding lemon juice to it and let it sit for 5 minutes.
2. To the large mixing bowl, add the wet ingredients and mix until smooth. Add the dry ingredients through a strainer. Add the dry to the wet mixture, and mix until combined, but don't overmix.
3. Add the batter about ¾ full to each cupcake liner using a medium cookie scoop.
Pro-tip: Scoop using a medium-sized ice cream scoop for the perfect amount per cupcake liner. That way you avoid adding too little which results in a dry cupcake, or too much which spills over and sticks to the pan.
4. Bake cupcakes for 18 minutes. Or until tester comes out clean.
5. Let cool for ten minutes, then put cupcakes on a cooling rack and allow to cool.
6. Make vanilla frosting while the cupcakes cool.
7. Cut a cone out of the center of each cooled cupcakes using the tip of knife held at an angle. Fill the space with frosting and allow a pillow to form on top, and top with the removed cone of cake.
8. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
How to Store Hot Chocolate Cupcakes
Once frosted, the cupcakes are fine at room temperature for about 3 days and then they begin to dry out. You freeze them once assembled and frosted, they seem to last about a month in a sealed container before developing freezer burn but that probably varies with each freezer.
Other Cupcakes & Cake Recipes To Try
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Hot Chocolate Cupcakes
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour or a GF baking flour
- ½ cup dutch process cocoa or unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder for a less sweet cupcake
- 1 cup organic cane sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ⅓ cup canned pumpkin puree (Or sweet potato puree)
- 3 tbsp unsweetened apple sauce or more pumpkin or sweet potato puree
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
Fluffy White Frosting:
- Preheat your oven to 350 F.
- Line cupcake pan with 12 paper liners.
- Activate your milk by adding lemon juice to it and let it sit for 5 minutes.
- To the large mixing bowl, add the wet ingredients and mix until smooth.
- Add the dry ingredients through a strainer.
- Add the dry to the wet mixture, and mix until combined, but don't overmix.
- Add the batter about ¾ full to each cupcake liner using a medium cookie scoop.
- Bake cupcakes for 18 minutes. Or until tester comes out clean.
- Let cool for ten minutes, then put cupcakes on a cooling rack and allow to cool before assembling (see instructions on how to cut out the center and cap below)
- Add sugar, butter and vanilla and just 1 tbsp of the milk to a large mixing bowl.
- Use a hand-mixer or an electric mixer to combine. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of milk gradually until you have a creamy consistency. You can add more or less milk, but be careful, it can turn too liquidy very fast.
- Add frosting to a frosting bag, cut the tip so the opening is about 1 inch wide or use a round tip.
Assemble the Cupcakes
- Cut a cone out of the center of each cooled cupcakes using the tip of knife held at an angle. Fill the space with frosting and allow a pillow to form on top, and top with the removed cone of cake.
- Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
- Once frosted, the cupcakes are fine at room temperature for about 3 days and then they begin to dry out.
- To store cupcakes long term, assemble them and then pack them in an air-tight container and freezer for a month.