Super Easy, Super Moist Chocolate 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.

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


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



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.


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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  • barbara

    Elise I have made this before but never as cupcakes. What a great idea and I’m off to make some now. There is a link to NYT on my page which covers a little of the history of the cake. It was originally called Amazon Cake.

    Hi Barbara, love the NYT article on cocoa! Thanks for that. It appears that this cake has had several names. ~Elise

  • Anna

    I’ve made a similar cake (mixed right in the 9 x 13 inch pan with a dinner fork) from the classic Peg Bracken’s I Hate To Cook book ever since I was a school-kid in the 70s. I could never understand why people would bother with boxed mixes when it was so easy to make a delicious moist chocolate cake from scratch. It’s a family favorite and winner on all counts (not to mention very fast and cheap to make), except I don’t bake with wheat flour anymore so I haven’t made it for a few years ;-(.

    In later years I would slice the 9×13 inch cake down the middle with a long bread knife into two thin layers, gently remove the top layer, drizzle raspberry jam mixed with a little raspberry (or other flavor) liqueur of the bottom layer, gently replace the top layer, and cover the top or whole cake with whipped cream, garnished with fresh raspberries just before serving. I don’t think I ever made it into cupcakes, though.

  • kate C.

    This is one of my favorite chocolate cakes, though I’ve only made it with water, not coffee. I learned how from my Grandma. And when my mom was young and in 4-H in Illinois “4-H Funny Cake” as it was called, was one of the projects they had to do for the cooking project. Back then in 4-H (where she lived in IL anyway) everyone in their first year of taking the Food/cooking project would make this cake (I think this was the first year) the second-year kids would all make another type of dessert (snickerdoodle cookies?). I’m probably messing up the details a little!

    But the reason it was called 4-H funny cake was that you actually mixed the dry ingredients in the cake pan, then dug three wells in the dry stuff, one for the vinegar, one for the oil, the other for vanilla (maybe this was to make sure that the kids wouldn’t forget an important ingredient??). Then the water was poured over everything and it was mixed in the pan and baked! Easy and no extra dishes to wash!

    Very good cake! I used to make it with mint frosting with my grandma, but also sometimes peanut butter frosting, or most often, just with some powdered sugar sprinkled on top!

    Thanks for sharing this version – I’ll have to try with coffee. I bet that would be even better!

  • Jane2

    I’d forgotten all about this recipe! My mother called it “Wacky Cake” and said it was a recipe from the Depression.

    All the way back to then? Wow. It makes sense though, to be able to make a rich moist cake without expensive eggs or butter. ~Elise

  • Chad

    My mother made a similar cake. She used a bundt pan and a simple sugar glaze over the top. Here’s our recipe:

    3 cups flour
    2 cups sugar
    2/3 cup cocoa
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp salt

    Sift the above together in a large bowl. Make a small hole in the middle of the mixture and add the following:

    Mix together:
    1 tbsp vanilla
    1 tbsp white vinegar
    2/3 cup vegitable oil
    3 tsp instant coffee
    2 cups of boiling water

    Beat together and bake at 350 for ~30 mins.

    Simple, quick, and delicious.

    Thanks! ~Elise

  • Jackie

    I’ve been making this cake since the ’60s, it was always called “wacky cake” and traditionally mixed in the same pan it’s baked in, though mixing in a bowl results in a much better texture and is a must for making cupcakes. 1 tablespoon of baking soda is way too much and will make it taste like baking soda and bitter like barbara said. 1 teaspoon is the amount I’ve always used and what most recipes for “wacky cake” call for.

    Hi Jackie, isn’t funny the names some recipes get? This cake is wacky. I could hardly believe it when I first read the ingredients. Speaking of which, thank you, the baking soda amount I originally posted was a typo, the correct amount is as you say, 1 teaspoon. ~Elise

  • jjmcgaffey

    I encountered this as ‘depression cake’, a good many years ago (well, 20-30 – not as far back as the Great Depression). I was told it was made (and possibly invented) then, since butter and eggs were expensive. I’ve made a vanilla version – just skipped the cocoa (and made it with water, as I usually do, not coffee); it came out pretty well, and tasty.

    Oh, my recipe says a teaspoon of baking soda, too. Other than that it’s pretty close to yours (less cocoa, less vanilla, more oil).

    I’ve been thinking about trying a vanilla version with this method. Or some other set of spices. The idea that you can make a moist cake without butter or eggs opens all sorts of possibilities. ~Elise

  • Wietje

    This looks like my kind of cake. No need to worry about cholesterol from the butter–delicious as it is. I should try this soon. One question: do we have to oil/butter and flour the pan? Thank you, Elise.

    If you are going to make a cake, do it in the usual way. We often use stick-free pans these days, so don’t need to grease those. But an aluminum pan, I would butter at least. Cupcakes don’t need any spray, just liners. ~Elise

  • Jenny

    Hi Elise,

    Would I need to double the recipe for a 2 9 inch layer cake? Thanks!

    Yes. ~Elise

  • anna

    I have a recipe in my arsenal (a.k.a. recpe box of handwritten recipes that was given to my by my grandma when I moved from my parents’ house) and this is indeed “wacky cake.”

  • Elizabeth B

    Ah yes — a version of this was very popular not just in the depression, but among cake-hungry expatriates in countries like Nigeria and Tanzania, back in the days when egg supplies there were erratic and butter was impossible to get.

  • Claudia

    This was perfect timing! We are having guests on short notice, and the cupcakes are sitting there, waiting for the friends to arrive. I can’t wait! The frosting is so delicious.

  • Carole

    When you say cups how much is that in ounzes please.

    Hi Carole, well that completely depends upon what you are measuring. I haven’t made this recipe using metric measurements, but perhaps if another reader has, they can post their conversions in the comments. ~Elise

  • George

    Actually this is very similar to a cake recipe i posted a few days ago. Similar concept. Long time ago both eggs and butter were hard to find. Someone had to find a work around.

  • Lou Grubaugh

    Two questions: your recipe calls for 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla in the frosting. Is that correct, or should it be 1 teaspoon?

    Also — I have a half-size bundt pan — 6 cup rather than the usual 10 cup size. Would the recipe work for that pan, or would it also need to be doubled as for two layer pans?

    Thank you — sounds great, however it is presented!

    Hi Lou! I think the Hershey’s recipe I found called for only 1 or 2 teaspoons of vanilla. I like vanilla so I added more. When you get to the end of the additions as you make the frosting, you sort of add ingredients based on the consistency of frosting you want, so the measurements are approximate. ~Elise

  • Sara

    I have this recipe from the Moosewood Cooks at Home cookbook, it’s a winner everytime. Made these to take into work for my birthday, they were a major hit :) If you come up with other flavor variations on this recipe (as you posted in the comments), please post them here, I’d love to try this in different styles. So nice to have such an easy and low-ingredient requiring cake recipe on hand.

  • Heather

    I gave up consuming animal products a few weeks ago and am now thankful I won’t have to give up cake ;) I’m also trying to cut oil out of my diet. Do you think replacing the oil in the recipe with apple sauce would work?

    You could try it, and the cupcakes or cake might be moist right out of the oven, but I’m guessing they wouldn’t stay moist long. ~Elise

  • Cheryl H.

    I have been making this cake for 48 years! We call it “No No Cake” (no eggs, no milk, no butter). I top it with a boiled chocolate fudge frosting. It is our go to chocolate cake. Will definitely try it as cupcakes. Thanks.

  • Christina Bollinger

    Hi Elise,

    Sorry if you’ve answered this question, but do you know if this would work in a mini-muffin pan – and if so what the adjustments might be?


    Hi Christina, I haven’t made these in a mini muffin pan, but don’t see why they wouldn’t work. You would just have to reduce the time. Your guess is as good as mine on the timing. ~Elise

  • Teresa F.

    I had no idea that this recipe has been around for so long! I have been searching for an eggless cake recipe for my egg-allergic nephew. I came across a variation on this recipe a few months ago and now this blog! My variation on the recipe used several Tablespoons of coffee and the remainder of the cup of liquid consisted of coconut milk. You can’t taste the coconut at all, but I’ll guess it would lend a bit of richness to the cupcakes. They are delicious. I’m looking forward to trying it as a layer cake. Thanks for sharing this recipe and sparking the discussion.

  • Susan

    I’ve made this cake using the recipe from Cuisine at Home. It is amazing! The frosting recipe that was included is also very good. It’s really shiny and dark with deep chocolate flavor. The recipe for both can be found online. I’ve also wondered about making a yellow cake by omitting the cocoa, but I’ve been afraid to try it thinking that the cocoa solids must do something to absorb some of the liquid or something of that nature. Thanks for the adaptation for the cupcakes.

  • Alyce

    Thanks for this. I have an egg allergic kid and am always looking for egg-free recipes. This sounds delish! And i saw in the comments someone had tried a white version.

  • michelle

    Happy Canadian Thanksgiving. We are thankful for the new family tradition started with this very recipe selection. This is such a simple and kid friendly recipe that my 5 year old son and 3 year old daughter were able to help out with every step (until the first 2 cupcakes were frosted. Then every form of helping stopped to be replaced by consuming :). Really enjoyed the time together and the delicious outcomes. Once again, a new go-to recipe.

  • Nancy

    I’ve made a version of this cake for nearly 50 years, only we called it “Chocolate Dump Cake” since all the ingredients are just dumped together. Try using water that has peppermint extract in it, or crushed peppermint (can be sugar free if you like). I’ve also used Splenda instead of sugar. All of our generations of children have loved this cake. Letting it sit for a couple of days just makes it more moist and delicious.

  • amanda

    these. were. amazing. i cant believe i never had heard of these before, particularly when i was actually vegan! so incredibly easy and delicious that its actually quite dangerous. i didnt catch your correction of the baking soda, so i actually used a full TABLESPOON instead of a TEASPOON, and could definitely taste it, but whatever- ate them all anyway and no one was complaining. and now i have a reason to try them again. thanks, elise!

  • Margie

    I have the “Wacky Cacky Cake” recipe from my husbands family. It has turned out to be my husband and son’s favorite cake. I make a peanut butter frosting with cream cheese that they also love on it.

  • Bronwyn

    Went down a treat at teacher only day at school. Made ’em without the coffee for our non-coffee liking colleague. They all want recipe as we all have egg/dairy sensitive kids in our classes.

    And they are even yummier the next day. MMM.
    Thanks heaps :)

  • Mymy

    Tried this recipe today. Love the texture. Beautifully soft. Very easy to put together and bake. Had a few issues though. The cupcakes were not as moist as I would like them to be. And they tasted like there was no dairy in the cupcake. Do you think using milk in the coffee and replacing the oil with butter would help with that? Or would that totally mess up the batter? And the cupcakes stuck to the liners a lot. How can I remedy that?

    Sounds to me like they may have stayed in the oven just a little bit too long (for your particular oven/muffin tin). They should have been moist, in addition to being soft. No idea about sticking to the liners, we didn’t have that problem. As for subbing with butter, I would do an Internet search for the appropriate ratio for subbing, it’s not 1:1. ~Elise

  • Christina

    I was pretty skeptical about making these, but they were delicious and the frosting was excellent. I’d never made frosting before so I was stoked that it came out so tasty. Thanks Elise!

  • Valérie ( France )

    Olala nous somme tous fan de chocolat, mais là, je fonds de plaisir
    Je te souhaite une très bonne soirée

    Chère Valérie, Merci beaucoup pour votre comment. Le plaisir est pour moi de te faire fondre de plaisir avec ma recette des cupcakes. Bon appétit! ~Elise

  • Mary Wallace

    WOW! Does ‘exactly what it says on the tin’! Such a quick and easy recipe. My three sons think I’m just wonderful the way it whipped up so quickly. I have to say SimplyRecipes is a brilliant resource. Always my first port of call if I’m looking for a new recipe.Being from Ireland I find your recipes travel very well. It helps that I have a set of measuring cups which my mother-in-law brought for me fro the States.Thanks guys

  • Chrissy

    Just a question…could I use apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar or would that change the taste or texture dramatically? Or even skip the vinegar?

    You could easily use cider vinegar. Just don’t skip the vinegar or you won’t get any rise. ~Elise

  • Bethany

    This is like a recipe I have called “President Roosevelt’s Birthday Cake”. I’ve used it for birthday cakes before and it’s wonderful! I’ll have to try this one and compare them :)

  • Mary

    During the war in England this was a well used cake recipe (not just chocolate) because eggs and butter were rationed. My mother – and others – wanted our birthdays to be celebrated with a cake even if we had it at no other time. No English mother was going to have children’s birthdays spoiled by Mr Hitler – or any man.

  • Judy

    My grandmother also made this cake when I was a child. I’ve made it many times since, in both cake and cupcake versions. For those who would prefer using a healthier oil, virgin coconut oil works very well in this recipe. We like the cupcakes frosted with dark chocolate frosting to which I sometimes add a little Vietnamese cinnamon. This is a very versatile recipe!

  • Jay

    This cake was our family BD cake during the war & my childhood onward sans the coffee addition. It also became my childrens favorite chocolate cake,and is now my 8 grandchildren ages 5-21 yrs, favorite chocolate cake.

    The cake recipe in my family, came from my mother’s ration cookbooklet circa WWII. I don’t have my Mother’s ration cookbooklet alas, but do still have her 1943-44 clothing ration book.

    The cake was known as War Cake when we lived in England, but in Canada where my family is now, the chocolate cake is known as Wacky cake.

    War Cake in our area, was Canadian War Cake. It was not a chocolate cake, but rather a dense spicy cake made with raisins. It was also a ration cake recipe as eggs, butter & milk were not required.

    I do recall Irma Bombeck having the Chocolate War/Wacky cake recipe in one of her very popular books, but the recipe itself goes even further back.

  • Cooking in Mexico

    Great recipe, thanks. I used coconut oil instead of olive oil, and sprinkled dried coconut shreds on the frosting — muy delicioso! Gracias.

  • Julie

    My grandmother always made this cake for my birthday. She had the recipe since the Depression. Her recipe didn’t have coffee in it, though. She called it Wacky Cake, and it’s great. My other grandmother had a different Depression era chocolate cake made with mayonnaise that was also a favorite.

  • wendyb964

    I call this a “wacky cake.” The recipe I use is probably similar to yours. It’s the basis for THE best black bottom cupcakes a small place in town has made for 20+ yr, way before they became a staple in many “coffee” shops.” For the filling I use 8oz. lowfat cream cheese, an egg, a dab of sugar, and chocolate minichips. The fairly wet batter is poured into foil cupcake liners (keeps moist) and a heaping spoonful of feeling is put on the top making sure not to touch the sides of the batter. Everyone wants the recipe, and they’ve become a staple with several of our families. When my sons got married, this was one of the recipes they wanted in their individual cookbooks. Thanks for reminding me: easy to make, little cleanup, and the rewards far outweigh the prep/baking. I also use the filling sans choc chips for pumpkin muffins/cupcakes.

  • Shawn

    This recipe has been passed through my family for years and there is a decadent frosting that goes with it. I have made cupcakes using this recipe and filled them with the frosting because together they taste just like the original Hostess cupcakes.

    Before starting the cake start the first part of the frosting.
    in small sauce pan mix 1 cup milk with 1/4 cup flour and bring to boil until thickened. Cover with plastic wrap touching the top of the mixture to keep skin from forming, and place in refrigerator to chill.

    Now set aside the rest of the ingredients until they reach room temp while cake is baking.

    1 stick butter or margarine
    1/2 cup shortening
    1 cup sugar
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    bake cake…

    while cake cools beat butter, shortening sugar and vanilla until creamy, add flour/milk mixture and beat again until it appears almost like whipped cream, approximately 3 minutes.

    Frost your cake or stuff your cupcakes…lol just don’t blame me when your bottom thanks you by growing two sizes.

  • Mehernaaz

    I’m from Mumbai, India where we have a predominantly vegetarian population (for religious reasons) with their huge demand for “eggless’ cakes. Therefore the recipe and the lack of eggs n butter come as no surprise. But the moisture of this version was beautiful. Here unless the eggless cakes are bought from expensive stores, they tend to be dry. Now with your recipe i shall dazzle my vegetarian friends. Thank you.

  • laura

    This is a great recipe!! I can’t wait to try it.
    I’m though wondering about the olive oil… I really like it, but won’t it give the cupcakes a.. weird flavor? I wouldn’t mind trying it however! Just in case, could it be replaced by some other vegetable oil?


    Olive oil is often used for a substitute for butter in baking. No, it doesn’t give the cupcakes a weird flavor. You could use canola oil instead if you want. Just make sure whatever oil you use is fresh and not rancid. ~Elise

  • Amna

    I’d like to ask you is that white vinegar is the transparent one? Or it is really white colored? And is it really the maple syrup is the substitute of vanilla extract?.thanks alot

    White vinegar looks like water, it’s transparent. I wouldn’t recommend substituting maple syrup for the vanilla extract. Vanilla extract is strongly flavored, while the same amount of maple syrup is not. ~Elise

  • tori

    Brilliant idea to do it as cupcakes, Elise. After chatting with you about the recipe last week, I did a little research, as you know, and the recipe is indeed from a Depression-era cake called Wacky Cake and in the ’70s it was called Crazy Cake everywhere. If people want to look into it, they can read about it on, but I warn all: the entry is LOOOOOOOOOONG.

  • amykate

    My family has been making a similar cake recipe for years, called Poor Man’s Cake. We use a Richmond frosting (probably similar to what someone else called a boiled frosting) on top, and we call it Poor Man’s Cake with Rich Man’s Frosting. ;)

    Rich Man’s Frosting:
    ½ cups Sugar
    1-½ Tablespoon Cornstarch
    3 Tablespoons Cocoa
    ¼ teaspoons Salt
    ½ cups Water
    2-½ Tablespoons Butter Or Margarine
    ½ teaspoons Vanilla

    Mix all ingredients except butter and vanilla in a small glass bowl or large glass measuring cup. Microwave 3-4 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until it thickens. (Microwave longer if necessary.) Add butter and vanilla and stir. If frosting becomes too runny after adding these ingredients, microwave a little longer.

  • Val

    I made these cupcakes this afternoon and they turned out great!! Thanks! My biggest problem now is keeping the kids away from them so I have some left for lunch boxes tomorrow.

    Next time I will double the recipe as one batch is just not enough!

  • Sally

    I just made these and couldn’t wait for them to cool completely before I tasted. They are delicious!

    I see a couple of people have asked about different flavors for this cake. When Homesick Texan posted a recipe for Texas Sheet Cake, one of the people who commented said she used that basic recipe for all of her cakes. If she wanted a yellow cake, she left out the cocoa; if she wanted white, she left out the egg yolks; if she wanted spice cake, she added them.

    I HAVE NOT TRIED THIS, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work with this recipe. For a white cake, use water and omit cocoa; for a spice cake, use water, omit cocoa and add spices (substituting brown sugar for part of the white would probably be good, too). Yellow cake might be somewhat problematic, since the yellow comes from the egg yolks.

  • Deb in Indiana

    I’m pretty sure that Peg Bracken called it Wacky Cake in the I Hate To Cook book, too (this is a fun cookbook, btw, in a Mad Men kind of way).

    We’ve loved this cake for birthdays for 40 years or so — boiled icing is great with it (theme here being cheap but delicious).

    And what could be more fun than mixing it up in the pan?

  • Jaysh

    Hi, i tried this recipe with lemon juice instead of vinegar(didnt have it in the pantry)…and it came out just as the headline says…super moist chocolate cake! Thanks! This is à keeper…

  • Julia

    I made these twice over the weekend, and judging by the fact that they were gone in a day, I’m guessing the others really loved these cup cakes too! Great recipe Elise- this one is definitely a keeper :)

  • Cathy

    I’ve made this wonderful recipe many times but always as a cake in a 9×13 pan. It was taught to me by my grandmother who called it a “Three Holer Cake” for the three holes in the dry ingredients made right in the pan for the oil, coffee or water and vinegar. I learned to make it in the late Fifties and the recipe was old then. I’ve enjoyed reading all the variations and I’m so happy to see this old war horse is still alive and kicking! THANK YOU ALL!

  • gabby

    OMG is all I can say. A chocolate cake that’s both good AND moist. I rarely eat chocolate cake and never make it because it’s almost always too dry. This cake is so flip flappin’ good. I made spider cupcakes for a Halloween party and used this recipe, including the frosting. I can now make and eat chocolate cake. Way better than the modern versions!

  • momofeggallergykid

    thank you for unearthing another option for my egg allergic son. i am always looking for ways to introduce baked goods to him, as i feel he is missing out on so much by not being able to eat eggs. love your website, can’t wait to try this one!

  • Amy

    I made this over the weekend with a 3 year old and a 4.5 year old. We used decaf, and they were not at all bothered by a “coffee flavor” (which I was worried about). Next time I hope to be less distracted, as this time I left out the vanilla! Oops. The results were still fantastic.

    Oh, and the frosting designs were a great way to get them to eat less frosting! We mad smiley faces, flowers, and “nests” (a fancy way to describe squiggles stacked up high!).


  • Maureen

    Thank you, I’m not a baker, but planning to try this at the weekend. Reading through, it looks more like making pancake batter than cake mix!

    Sally mentioned missing out the cocoa for a plain cake, but said she hadn’t tried it – wondered if anyone else had yet?

  • Michele

    Should the frosting be applied while still warm or should it cool down and harden more? If not serving until a day or two later, should the cupcakes be refrigerated if they already have the frosting on them, or should the frosting only be refrigerated and then applied to the room-temp cupcakes prior to serving? I made these-my first cupcakes ever-and they were so delicious! You had me at ‘super easy’ and ‘moist.’

    The cupcakes should cool to room temperature first, before frosting them. As for refrigerating them, we didn’t find that necessary. We did however wrap them in plastic wrap. Lasted several days. ~Elise

  • keara

    i made this for my fathers 50th birthday and he loved it! it has a great taste and im looking forward to making this again

  • Emily

    I was just looking for a chocolate cupcake recipe when I checked here. I’m so glad I did! I can’t wait to make them for my mom’s birthday tomorrow. As I read through the comments, I was reminded of a cake recipe my grandma gave me that I had never made. It’s the same recipe, with the “3 holes” method and hers is called Screwball Cake. Now I can make it for my mom and remember my grandma (her mother) too!

  • BlushingBaker

    I just made these, they turned out great!

    To make the frosting vegan friendly I followed Elise’s recipe but subbed coconut oil for the butter and coconut milk for the regular milk. You end up with a frosting that is rich and has a hint of coconut flavor that plays well off the cupcake. I also chilled the frosting in the fridge until it was stiff then whipped it and piped it on, either way, runny or whipped it great!

    Thank you for yet again another wonderful recipe Elise!

  • Jodi on MI

    These cupcakes are amazing! I made them yesterday and everything you said about them is true. I topped them with a dollop of chocolate ganache and they were at hit with all ages. Thank you for sharing!

  • Maureen

    Well, I tried them, and as a non-baker, I got fab results! And the girls at work loved them!

    If you make them without a muffin tin to keep the cases upright, they flatten out and give a richer, almost brownie-like consistency. In fact, I’m tempted to get an all-edge brownie pan to try cooking the mix in, too!

  • Lori

    This is the first time I’ve commented on your site, even though I come here ALL THE TIME for dinner ideas. I made this a couple of weekends ago for my mom’s birthday cake – I doubled it and made it as a layer cake. We LOVED IT!! I love how the cake is not overly sweet, and how the frosting has a really intense chocolate flavor. This is my new go-to cake recipe because it’s as easy as making muffins, but way better. Thank you so much for posting so many great recipes.

  • Nishil NAIR

    This was wonderful!!! Depression cake, war cake, wacky it what you want. Its superb! My other cakes with egg and butter eventually crack, but this one didn’t and moist..yes that’s the right word. What’s the mechanics of this? How come butter and egg cake turns out drier than this?

  • Susana

    I just made this recipe. It was so easy, simple and delicious. I was very surprised that it didn’t call for eggs, and I was curious to see the outcome. The result was great!! Thank you :)

  • Nitza

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I made this for my son’s class which some of the kids have egg and milk allergies. It was a hit. I made another for me and I added coffee and Kalua and served it with strawberries in a balsamic reduction. Making another one this weekend.

  • Kate

    Just made this cake for my boyfriend’s birthday and it was great! I was skeptical of the vegan-ness, but even my carnivore boyfriend loved it. I made it with marshmallow fluff frosting, and it tasted like whoopie pies! Here is the recipe for those interested. It makes enough for an entire cake, so half for cupcakes would be good.

    Mix together:
    -1 c butter
    -1 c powdered sugar
    -1 t vanilla
    -1 c marshmallow fluff

  • Mia

    I’ve just made this cupcakes. Very very poor taste. So disappointing…

  • Brenda-Sue

    This recipe is extremely similar to my mother’s chocolate cake recipe simply called, “Eggless Chocolate Cake.” This is the chocolate cake I grew up on, and is in fact the first thing I ever baked by myself at the ripe old age of six. Mom gave me the stained notecard upon which the recipe was written and said, ‘Just clean up behind yourself.’ I’ve been cooking ever since.

    My favorite way to eat this is to bake it in a round cake pan, cut it into layers and fill and frost it with Whoopie Pie filling (for those of you who aren’t from New England, it’s a very light, white, whipped frosting, nothing so sweet as a traditional frosting… somewhere between frosting and cool whip.)

    It’s also fabulous with raspberry filling, or as my brother loves, simply frosted with peanut butter frosting.


  • MmeRussell

    Made this, but used veg oil instead of olive oil (which can have a strong flavour if using extra virgin). Also, used my favourite chocolate icing recipe:
    Crunchy Chocolate Icing
    1/4 c flour
    1/2 c brown sugar
    2 T cocoa pwdr
    1 t baking powder
    2 T butter
    1 t vanilla
    2-3 T milk or cream
    Beat with a mixer all ingredients but the milk; will be oatmealy consistency. Add 2T milk and beat with mixer, if desired add up to 1T more milk until desired consistency for icing is met.

    I know it seems weird, but it works like a charm.

  • Ellen C.

    The texture was fabulous. These came out extremely moist! However, I do wish they were a bit more chocolatey. Any ideas?

  • Trisha

    Hey! just wondering, can i use any kind of ziplog bag to make the frosting? because i dont have freezer ziplog bags at home.

    Yes, any kind of culinary ziplock bag will do. ~Elise

  • Margaret O.

    Great cake. Surprisingly soft and tender even though I used wheat and oat flour. Can I double the receipe? How many teaspoons of baking soda do I use if I were to double it? Also, can I use honey instead of sugar?

    Your guess is as good as mine on these questions. Good luck! ~Elise

  • Francheska

    I doubled the recipe and baked in two 9 inch pans and filled with strawberries and topped with the chocolate glaze, just on top no frosting on the sides and my god no one in my family can get enough of it, it’s what they all want for their birthdays!

    We’re coffee lovers here in Puerto Rico so I brew Pilon coffee on my espresso machine and use that in the batter yum!

  • Sara Stocking

    I’m 13 and i made this cake for my homeroom teacher’s maternity leave party, and I was so nervous that it wouldn’t turn out. So nervous that I added 3 eggs to insure that it would rise. My class loved it and I would highly reccomend it to anyone who prefers a fluffy cake. I know its not the origional “wackey cake”, but you should give it a try.

  • Ana

    Hi, wonderful recipe, i made it today. I was wondering if i want to add chocolate chips do i have to change something on the recipe. Thank you

    I haven’t tried adding chocolate chips to this recipe, but don’t see why you couldn’t. Just put some in with the batter before putting the batter into the cups. ~Elise

  • Melissa

    I was just looking for a chocolate cupcake recipe too for my partners 30th. This would be awesome, because we have one little boy coming who is allergic to eggs. I am going to make a test batch this weekend to see how they turn out, if all good, I’ll be using the recipe next weekend to make 60 of them!

  • Missy

    I did not see this question although it may be here, but should the coffee be hot or cold? I have never made a cake with coffee, so this will be new for me. Thanks.

    Great question, cold, warm, or room temp are all okay, but not hot. ~Elise

  • marcia

    if you skip the coffee and use water, should the water be warm or cold?

    Lukewarm, or cold. Just not hot. ~Elise

  • Leigh Purtill

    Amazing recipe! I used whole wheat flour which gave them a nutty flavor and more texture. I also used Mexican sugar which is coarser than regular white sugar. Thank you! They were perfect for my husband’s birthday!

  • AGS

    This is absolutely wonderful. So easy to make; loved the texture and the best part is that it can be eaten guilt-free with no eggs and butter!

    Thanks a lot for sharing this recipe.

  • Tails

    I dont use van extract cos its expensive here in South Africa so I used vanilla essence. We also dont have baking soda so I used bicarbonate of soda (same qties).

    This is my new chocolate cake recipe!! Cheaper to make cos no eggs and butter, so quick and simple, and so, so tasty! It was light, fluffy and moist!

    I made a mocha buttercream and filled the center with canned caramel and risked it all and made it for mine and my fiance’s 8 yr anniversary and yuuuuummy!

    Thank you thank you thank you!

  • Jenny

    Over the last few months I have tried many cupcake recipes. This one is by far the best! Very moist even the day after. Simple and moist! This recipe is a definitely a keeper. Thanks for sharing.

  • Tikvah

    I made these cupcakes and filled them with Coconut Cream & topped them with Chocolate Avocado frosting. Decadent & delicious!

  • Tina

    I have been using this recipe for years and LOVE it. It is my “go to” chocolate cake recipe and is ALWAYS a huge hit – so simple and flavorful! I have found that you need to be sure to use olive oil in the recipe as it really makes a difference in taste. I also use a good quality dark chocolate.

  • Patrick

    Hi Elise

    I made them for a friend’s birthday because she loves chocolate anything. While the cupcakes are a breeze, the frosting took some efforts as I made it all by hand. I baked the cupcakes the night before and only frosted them the next morning. I used a warm water bath to soften it (I had popped it into the fridge the night before) before using. This is correct?

    Also, how many days can it lasts if refrigerated?

  • Jono

    I’ve made these before, but was disappointed by the lack of chocolate flavor. I’m not a frosting person, so was hoping to eat these naked.

    Would increasing the cocoa and sugar (to compensate for bitterness) wreck the recipe?

    • Elise

      The salt and the coffee should heighten the flavor of the chocolate, so be sure not to leave them out. Especially do not leave out the salt. You could try adding more cocoa and sugar to the recipe. If you do, please let us know how it turns out for you!

      • atb

        I’ve made These with extra cocoa… and it works great! i use 1/2 instead of 1/4 Cup. no extra sugar needed in my opinion :) . i also prefer to not use olive oil, since i find it has a pretty strong flavor of it’s own. i usually use sunflower oil.
        delicious and easy recipe, perfect for a last Minute bring-along to any social Event!

  • sylvia

    So so great for late night chocolate snack attacks! Made it according to recipe and it was deep in flavor because of the coffee. Tonight I could not find coffee so I added more cocoa powder and some brown sugar. Still tasty :)

  • Anna

    This post has been here a while but I just found it. I made these yesterday as 1-bite mini-muffins and they were awesome! I think I cooked them around 15 minutes. I made the following changes: I used hazelnut coffee instead of regular, I added hazelnut extract (also used the vanilla), I added vegan mini-chocolate chips to the batter, and once they were in the pan, I sprinkled crushed hazelnuts on top. Results: good, although not super-sweet, which was fine…I didn’t use frosting. I had planned to glaze them with a vegan glaze but ran out of time and they were still good. I was hoping for a strong coffee hazelnut flavor but it didn’t really come through (seems like that would be a plus for the non-coffee-liking people) Next time I might try an espresso and more hazelnut. I’m looking forward to trying the coconut milk/oil substitutions and trying the “white” cake version!

  • Mariia

    Once I made these cupcakes with some orange peel ( not sure how you call it in English ) and it was delicious! Very fresh and still very chocolate! Thank ypu for sharing this recipe:-)

  • Eve

    I’ve baked a cake with vinegar before and It was overly moist. I don’t want a dry cake or anything but If I decreased the vinegar a little, do you know whether it would make the cake just a tad less moist? Hope you can help!

    • Elise

      Hi Eve, the vinegar is there to react with the baking soda to provide leavening in these cupcakes. If you lessen the vinegar, you’ll have less leavening and too much baking soda which can leave a metallic taste in the cake. If it is too moist, I would either add a bit more flour, or cook it longer.

  • amber

    Hi I was just wondering if the coffee would give the cupcakes a funny taste and if it would I was wondering if I could replace it with plain water instead of the coffee


    • Elise

      Hi Amber, the coffee will not give the cupcakes a funny taste. It will only intensify the taste of the chocolate.

  • amber

    Hi I don’t have any vanilla extract for the cupcakes so I was wondering if I could skip it?


  • Teresa

    Tried this recipe for the first time and the cupcakes turned out great! Soft like a cloud and they were so delicious I didnt even bother icing them. Though they did turn out pretty oily on the base, don’t know why.

  • Deepay

    what did i do wrong the cup caked have deflated in the middle.?

  • Ruthie

    I love this recipe and how moist the cupcakes are! My only concern is that I think the vinegar taste is too strong, especially when I put sweet icing on them! I realize the vinegar is necessary for rising, but do you have any suggestions for disguising the bitter taste?

  • Veronica

    I’ve just made this cupcakes and they are really chocolate and moist! Thank you for such receipe с:

  • Rita warah

    Hi Elise
    Thanks for this amazing recipe…just replaced vinegar with lemon juice …
    served d cupcakes to my grown kids n could literally see d appraisal with each bite !!!!! They were so soft n delicious !!!!

  • Aparna

    Being new to baking, I just landed to your page by chance and it’s quite useful! I tried this cupcake and as its titled the cupcakes were soft and moist. Thank you!

  • Shirley

    Hi, Elise!
    Can I use unbleached cake flour for this recipe? I have a box sitting in my cupboard right now. Thanks!

    • Elise

      Hi Shirley, I don’t see why not. Your guess is as good as mine. If you make it with the unbleached cake flour, please let us know how it turns out for you!

  • Shirley

    Hi, Elise! I’m making my third batch right now as of this writing. My cupcakes turned out really well- moist, tender and fluffy! The changes I made are instead of 2 tsps vanilla I just did one and 1/3 cup canola oil. Thanks so much!

  • Grace

    Hi!..I’ve been making these cupcakes and they turn out great each time. I was wondering if I could add some dried cherries into the batter, just to give it a different twist. Since the cherries are dried, I’m concerned that they might absorb the moisture and result is dry cupcakes. Any advice/tips you can share would be highly appreciated.

  • jen

    could i leave out the cocoa and use water instead of coffee to make vanilla cupcakes with this recipe?? I loved how the chocolate ones turned out!

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Jen, I’ve thought about doing the same thing and haven’t tried yet. If you do, please let us know how they turn out!

  • Allison

    My son and i love these cupcakes…i was wondering if you have a suggestion on turning this into a whole cake recipe?

  • Michele

    Im planning on making chocolate cupcakes for children this Easter. What would I substitute the coffee with? Don’t want them to be even more hyper than the sugar will make them, especially because they are not my kids! ;)

  • Divi

    Hi can i do this recipe wth self-raising flour ??plse help me … Im exicited to do .