Super Easy, Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

Easy to make, unusually moist chocolate cupcakes and no mixer required! No eggs either, the recipe uses a combo of baking soda and vinegar for leavening.
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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Have you ever encountered a chocolate cake recipe that used neither eggs nor butter, but relied on vinegar and baking soda for leavening?

Apparently, the recipe has been around for ages. We first discovered a version of it in a magazine called Cuisine at Home, but you can find other versions at Epicurious and other places online.

The thing about this cake recipe is not only is it incredibly easy to make, with ingredients that you likely already have in your pantry, but it produces a surprisingly moist and delicious cake (and cupcakes).

All without eggs or butter. (There’s butter in the frosting I’m using, but we’re talking about the cake.) I even tried adding an egg to the recipe and it wasn’t nearly as good as the batch without it.

Over the last week I’ve made several batches of cupcakes following this method, including a couple for my mom’s book club. (Waving hi to mom’s friends!)

I used a frosting recipe from Hershey’s, and instead of loading the cupcakes with frosting, decided instead to just simply drizzle frosting in patterns on the top.

But do what you will with the frosting. I think the cupcakes are perfectly delicious without any frosting at all.

Super Easy, Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 12 cupcakes

The coffee (and the salt) help intensify the flavor of the chocolate. If you don't have or don't want to use coffee, just skip it and use water instead. If you do use coffee, just use what would be considered regular strength coffee (or slightly weak coffee) in America, not something super concentrated like espresso. If caffeine is an issue, use decaf.

If you want to make a cake instead of cupcakes, double the recipe and use two 8-inch round cake pans and cook for 35-40 minutes.

Ingredients

Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup brewed coffee (or 1 cup of warm water mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons of espresso powder or instant coffee granules)
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 Tbsp (1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp) olive oil

Frosting:

  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Method

Cupcakes:

1 Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Prepare a muffin tin with cupcake liners.

2 In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt until there are no visible clumps (cocoa tends to clump up).

3 In a separate bowl, mix together the coffee (or water plus coffee granules), vinegar, vanilla extract, and olive oil.

4 Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir only until they just come together. The mixture should be thin and rather lumpy.

5 Ladle the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about two-thirds of the way full. Place in oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a bamboo skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

6 Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool on a rack. Once cool, you can eat plain, sprinkle with powdered sugar, or drizzle or coat with frosting.

Frosting:

While the cupcakes are cooking, make the frosting. Melt butter in a small saucepan and remove from heat. Stir in the cocoa until smooth. Sprinkle in about a third of the powdered sugar, stir, then sprinkle in about a half of the milk. Keep alternating with the powdered sugar and either milk or vanilla, stirring after each addition, until the frosting is the consistency you want, and smooth. If it's too runny, add more powdered sugar. If too stiff, add a little more milk or vanilla extract.

To pipe in a decorative pattern, scoop the frosting into the corner of a ziplock freezer bag. Use scissors to cut away 1/4-inch or so from the tip of the corner. Then just squeeze the frosting out of the bag onto the cupcakes in any design you like.

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Super Easy Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

Showing 4 of 175 Comments

  • Angelica

    Hi Elise,

    I’ve been craving for chocolate cake for a couple of days now, so I decided to just bake some at home. Too bad I ran out of eggs, which was actually a good thing ’cause it led me to your egg-less recipe. I’m so happy your recipe yielded excellent cupcakes at first attempt! Fluffy like pillows! :D

    Angelica

  • KB

    No no no–these are vegan! I spaced out and made these thinking the reviewers knew what they were talking about. You cannot make decent cupcakes without eggs! They are not fluffy but stodgy. I grew up baking and should have known better–next time I wil use the tradiational recipe with eggs. This is fine if you are vegan…

  • Art Carreon

    I tried this recipe as my first trial on my new oven. It turned out moist and super delicious. Will try it again as cake for the upcoming mother’s day. This recipe is super recommended. Thanks for sharing :)
    Can you recommend some frosting recipe that will be perfectly partnered with this when I make a cake?

    Thank You!

  • jan

    i made these as my first baked treat from scratch. though i used vegetable oil, pungent vinegar, iodized salt and low quality cocoa powder, they still turned moist as promised! i didn’t expect much since this recipe was eggless and my batter smelt vinegar-y. i added chopped dark chocolate to my batter. i also topped some with a marshmallow and put it back to the oven to melt. i even topped some with nutella and some with just powdered sugar. my mom and grandma said they tasted like they were from a popular local bake shop and my uncle thought it was made from a betty crocker mix. to me, these were nothing groundbreaking, but for the number of ingredients that were readily available, (plus a very inexperienced baker) these were pretty tasty.

  • Kizhi

    Hi Elise….tried this recipe for 8″ cake and it turned out absolute yummmmmm…..being egg less I never expected it turn out so good. Just loved the texture, loved the taste, loved everything about the cake.
    DO u have any egg less recipe for vanilla cake as well or should this recipe work fine if we replace the cocoa with same amount of flour and omit the coffee and just keep the warm water ? I am a vanilla cake challenged person :(

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