I’m all in favor of recipes that taste fancy but don’t require any special skills – and these cupcakes definitely fit the bill. Even though they start with your standard boxed chocolate cake mix, a few simple substitutions transform them into cupcakes that are so moist and rich, your friends will think you bought them at a local bakery.Jump to Recipe
It all stems from my favorite method of upgrading boxed chocolate cake mix. Most boxed cake mixes call for the addition of water, oil, and eggs prior to baking. Instead of water, I use a mixture of milk and strong coffee, which add depth to the cupcake’s chocolate flavor. In the place of oil, I substitute melted butter to give the cupcakes additional richness. And – the pièce de résistance – I throw in a small box of instant chocolate pudding mix, to make the batter exceptionally creamy and the cupcakes more moist than any you’ve ever made at home.
The other “extra” component in this recipe is the homemade raspberry sauce. Because we make it from scratch, we get to control its viscosity. I like to make it thin and drizzle-able (which comes in handy if you’re making these cupcakes for a Halloween-themed event). You could instead boil the sauce slightly longer and pipe it into the center of your cupcakes, producing a surprise, fruity zing, reminiscent of chocolate covered raspberries. However you use the raspberry sauce, it adds an important fruity flavor that balances out the high cocoa content of both the cupcakes and the frosting.
As with any process, we need to walk before we run – and we need to gather the ingredients before we bake.
For the cupcakes, you need a standard box of chocolate cake mix, a small box of instant chocolate pudding mix, 1 stick of butter, 1/2 cup of strong coffee, a cup of whole milk, and 3 eggs. The coffee is optional, and you can replace it with water if you don’t have any coffee on hand. It does, however, lend a significant depth of flavor to these cupcakes, and I would advise you use either instant coffee or leftover brewed coffee if you have that option.
For the chocolate frosting, you will need three sticks of room temperature butter, vanilla bean paste, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and a few tablespoons of whole milk.
For the raspberry drizzle, you will need 1 pint of fresh or frozen strawberries, plus granulated sugar, a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of each cornstarch and water.
When you’re putting this recipe together, I recommend making the cupcakes and raspberry drizzle a few hours before making the chocolate frosting; if either of the first two components are still warm during assembly, the frosting may melt and your kitchen will end up disappointingly messy.
Let’s start by making the cupcakes! Place your favorite cupcake wrappers in a cupcake tin and set aside. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the chocolate cake mix and instant chocolate pudding mix in a large bowl. Stir in whole milk, melted butter, and coffee, mixing until all lumps have been eliminated. Beat in the eggs one at a time, until the batter is smooth and creamy. Use a tablespoon or ice cream scoop to transfer the batter into your prepared cupcake wrappers. Fill each wrapper about 2/3 full.
Bake your cupcakes at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer your cupcakes onto a wire rack to cool completely and start preparing your raspberry sauce.
Combine your raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the raspberries have broken down completely and the sugar has dissolved. I generally use frozen raspberries for this recipe, as they are sometimes cheaper than the fresh variety (especially when berries are out of season). Either form will work well for this recipe.
Pour your seedy raspberry mixture through a mesh sieve into a heatproof bowl to remove all of the raspberry seeds. Return the strained mixture to your saucepan.
In a separate bowl, combine equal parts cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Mix this slurry into your de-seeded raspberry mixture. Bring your mixture to a boil and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes, until it has somewhat thickened. Transfer this thickened mixture to a heat proof container and allow to cool completely.
I recommend allowing your cupcakes and raspberry sauce to cool for a few hours before starting on your frosting – especially if it’s a hot day. When preparing my frosting, I’ll often wait to take it out of the refrigerator until after I’ve finished the above two components. Once the butter has softened to room temperature, you’ll be much closer to an acceptable assembly temperature for all of the different components of your dessert.
Cream together your softened butter and vanilla bean paste. Slowly beat in cocoa powder and powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time; any faster and you’ll end up with powdered sugar all over your kitchen!
Gradually beat in the whole milk, stopping once the frosting has reached your ideal texture and viscosity.
Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, transfer your frosting to a piping bag and ice all of your cupcakes. Drizzle the iced cupcakes with your raspberry sauce. (Alternately, prior to frosting, you could cut a hole in the center of each cupcake and fill with the raspberry sauce, for a fruity surprise.)
Regardless of how you assemble them, these cupcakes are sure to be a hit at your next gathering. Please tag photos of your finished product with @WhiskAversebaking, or leave a message in the comments below.
Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes
- Cupcake tin
- Stand or electric mixer
- 1 box chocolate cake mix
- 1 box instant chocolate pudding mix
- ⅓ cup butter melted
- ½ cup strong coffee
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 eggs
- 1 pint raspberries fresh or frozen
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon water
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- 1 ½ cups butter softened
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1-3 tablespoons whole milk
- Place cupcake wrappers in a cupcake tin and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Combine chocolate cake mix and instant chocolate pudding mix in a large bowl. Stir in whole milk, melted butter, and coffee, mixing until all lumps have been eliminated.
- Beat in eggs one at a time.
- Fill each cupcake wrapper approximately ⅔ full. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow cupcakes to cool completely.
- Combine raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the raspberries have broken down completely and the sugar has dissolved.
- Run the mixture through a mesh sieve to remove raspberry seeds, then return to saucepan.
- In a separate bowl, combine cornstarch and water to make a slurry.
- Mix slurry into de-seeded raspberry mixture. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes, until somewhat thickened.
- Transfer to a heat proof container and allow to cool completely.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- Cream together softened butter and vanilla bean paste.
- Slowly beat in cocoa powder and powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.
- Gradually beat in whole milk, stopping once the frosting has reached your ideal texture and viscosity.
- Once the cupcakes and raspberry drizzle have cooled completely, pipe or spread frosting on top. Drizzle with raspberry sauce before serving.