Ultra Moist Chocolate Cupcake Recipe with Amaretto Pastry Cream & Almond Pralines
This Chocolate Cupcake Recipe begins with my absolute all-time favorite chocolate cake recipe. Of course it does. If I’m going to make chocolate cupcakes, why not start with the recipe that’s known around my house as THAT chocolate cake?
But that’s just where this chocolate cupcake recipe begins…
These chocolate cupcakes are filled with Amaretto Pastry Cream, frosted with whipped chocolate ganache and topped with almond pralines. Because if you’re going to eat a cupcake, it should be an amazing cupcake. Eating a cupcake, even for no other reason except that it’s Wednesday, should feel like a celebration. Otherwise, what’s the point?
I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of my time rushing. There’s just a lot that needs doing in a day. But, eating these chocolate cupcakes is not an experience that should not be rushed. These cupcakes are not something you shove in your mouth because you forgot to eat lunch and you’re starving.
These chocolate cupcakes demand to be savored. Get out a plate and a fork. Sit still, close your eyes and savor the tender chocolate cake, silky amaretto cream, rich chocolate ganache and salty sweet crunch of almond praline.
I’ve been working my way through The Chef’s Table series on Netflix. I LOVE this series. If you are into cooking, fascinated with interesting people, inspired by people who pursue their passions with an all consuming level of intensity, or interested in stories of people who’ve truly mastered their craft, than I think you’ll like it too.
After a long week, and a super fun night out with friends on Saturday that was not super fun on Sunday, I swallowed some tylenol and tucked myself into bed at, oh… around 5pm and turned on The Chef’s Table. Even in a slightly (ok. totally) hungover state (I am too old for this), I have a difficult time just sitting and watching television without doing anything else.
Except sleeping. I am really, really good at falling asleep in the middle of a television show. Just ask my poor husband. “Do you want to watch another episode?” “Totally. I love this show. It’s so…. Zzzzzzzzzz.” Yeah. I’m that girl.
Anyhoo… I’m watching amazing chefs and trying to just do nothing for a few hours except watch amazing chefs. But amazing people are just so damn inspiring. So before long, I was on my laptop planning new recipes and thinking about new uses for old favorites.
One of the best things about writing a blog is that the result is a record of whatever it is you’ve decided to write about. Children, grandchildren, politics, books, design, education, engineering, architecture, cupcakes … whatever your passion, a blog offers the platform to record your thoughts, experiences and expertise. No matter what else comes from writing a blog (if anything), you always have that. It’s one of the many reasons I love blogging.
For example, I have a tendency to never make the same thing the same way twice. That’s all fine and good, except when I want to recreate it and can’t remember what the heck I did that one time when it was SO good. Or, when someone asks me for the recipe. But, I have this blog. I LOVE writing a food blog for so very many reasons, but one of the biggest perks is that I have a record of my favorite recipes.
This chocolate cake is one of my all-time favorite recipes, and Sunday night I was inspired to share it. Not just here, but with the people in my life I was scheduled to see on Monday. I set my alarm for 5am so that I would have enough time to bake chocolate cupcakes to take with me to a variety of afternoon meetings and appointments. (I love being the person who shows up to weekday appointments with treats.)
I am happy to report that these chocolate cupcakes were well received. I brought some to my hair salon. Because my hair dresser and his staff rock and they all deserve a cupcake. I brought some to a client meeting. Because my clients rock and they all deserve a cupcake.
And so do you. You deserve a cupcake.
This Chocolate Cupcake Recipe is simple, unbelievably moist, and super versatile.
As I said earlier – it’s that chocolate cake. Fill it, don’t fill it, frost it, don’t frost it, fill it with whatever, frost it with whatever…. it’s all good. If you’re making this Chocolate Cupcake Recipe as pictured here (my Monday appointment people highly recommend it!), there are a few things you might want to make ahead:
1. The filling for these chocolate cupcakes is simply my favorite pastry cream flavored with Amaretto. Use whatever liquor you like, or none at all. Rum is delightful. Frangelico is decadent. Cognac, Kahlúa… whatever your craving, it will be delicious. Just note that the pastry cream needs to chill out in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, so plan accordingly. You can also make the pastry cream a couple of days in advance.
2. The whipped chocolate ganache frosting also needs to cool down for a while, but you’ve got some options here as well. Cooled to room temperature, this frosting is gorgeous and glossy. Here’s what it looks like on my favorite Chocolate Cake. But if you want any kind of a “swirl” to your cupcake frosting, like the cupcakes pictured here, you’re going to want to whip it, which requires it to be cold. Again, plan accordingly and to your advantage. The frosting can be made up to 5 days ahead of time.
3. The almond pralines take about 15 minutes and will keep in an airtight container for months – if you don’t eat them all before then. You have been warned.
There is, in fact, no component of this chocolate cupcake recipe that can not be made ahead. If you are limited on time, just spread the process over a few days. The cake itself is really, super easy and whipping up the batter only takes about 15 minutes. Once baked, the cupcakes can be stored in an air tight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Likewise, the pastry cream filling and chocolate ganache frosting only takes about 20 minutes and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If you don’t have an entire morning or afternoon to bake, just spread the love over a few days.
Just be sure to make enough to share.
A few of my other all-time favorite cake recipes:
- Strawberry Mojito Cupcakes
- German Chocolate Cupcakes
- The BEST Vanilla Cake Recipe
- Carrot Cake Recipe with Caramel Rum Sauce
- Tripple Layer Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Buttercream
For even more delicious cake recipes, follow my Cake Recipes board on Pinterest.
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- 1½ tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk
- ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1 cup sour cream - OR plain, unsweetened full-fat greek yogurt
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- ¾ tsp cinnamon
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1½ tbsp corn syrup
- 1½ cup heavy cream
- 9 oz (about 1½ cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 12 tbsp butter, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 3 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 recipe Pastry Cream, chilled for at least 3 hours
- ¼ cup Amaretto (or more, to taste)
- 1 cup whole almonds, roughly chopped into large pieces
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoons butter
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tins with paper liners.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the sugars, flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Mix on low speed to combine.
- Add the eggs and egg yolk, oil and sour cream. Mix on low just to combine, and then increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes.
- Reduce the speed to low and mix in the boiling water. Mix in the vanilla just until combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pans. Bake jumbo size cupcakes for 30 - 35 minutes, or regular size cupcakes for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in one of the cupcakes comes out mostly clean.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack before lifting the cupcakes out of the pan to cool completely.
- In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, cream, salt, and cinnamon and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often. Reduce the heat and simmer for 6 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and butter and stir until melted. Pour into a bowl, stir in the vanilla, cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to 3 days.
- When ready to frost the cupcakes, whip the frosting with an electric mixer until lightened and fluffy. Scoop frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a decorators tip and swirl onto the cupcakes, or spread onto the cupcakes with a spatula or knife.
- Stir Amaretto into chilled pastry cream. Taste and add more if desired.
- Scoop pastry cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip. Insert the tip into the center of each cupcake, pushing it into the center. Gently squeeze the decorating bag, pulling upwards until cupcake swells slightly and the filling comes to the top.
- Heat almonds, sugar, cinnamon, butter and salt in a heavy skillet over medium heat.
- Cook, stirring constantly, until almonds are toasted and sugar is completely melted and golden brown, about 15 minutes.
- Spread on aluminum foil or parchment paper and let cool completely. Break into chunks and add to the tops frosted cupcakes.