The combination of raspberry, chocolate, and Nutella is absolutely magnificent. Any chocoholic will be in heaven! But the best part about this recipe?
Surprising whoever takes that first bite with the hidden Nutella filling. YUM. If you don’t like Nutella (what’s wrong with you?! just kidding… sorta) then feel free to fill with more raspberry preserves from the frosting.
Cupcake Baking Tips
Although this recipe is pretty straight-forward, there’s some tips I’d like to highlight.
How to Make MOIST Chocolate Cupcakes
When it comes to baking, one of the most important things is knowing how to measure correctly. It’s super easy to accidentally compact way too much flour and even cocoa powder into your measuring cup. When this happens, it leads to dry and dense cake.
To ensure this never happens, I recommend using a digital kitchen scale to weigh your ingredients. At the very least, use the spoon and level method to measure your flour and cocoa. For more measuring tips and a shocking side-by-side comparison of the different measuring techniques, check out this post.
This chocolate cupcake recipe calls for Dutch Process cocoa powder, which can be found at some grocery stores (like Whole Foods) or most speciality or gourmet food stores (Williams-Sonoma, Sur la Table, etc.) I find the best value is this big tub of the stuff from Amazon!
If we’re talking about the science of baking (one of my favorite topics!), Dutch cocoa powder works differently in a recipe than regular cocoa powder. That’s why you want to be sure to use the right kind, because the recipe may not work properly otherwise. If you’d like to learn more, I have a full detailed post all about the differences between Dutch and regular cocoa powders.
You might be wondering how we get away with using Dutch cocoa + baking soda in this recipe? Well it’s all thanks to the vinegar at the bottom of the ingredient list. Don’t skip it!
Yes, it may seem strange that a cake recipe calls for bread flour. If you’ve ever made chocolate cupcakes or cakes that sank in the middle, then you might be able to guess why this ingredient works well here. Chocolate cakes are often so rich and moist that the structure of the cake can’t hold up.
That’s where bread flour comes into play with its higher percentage of protein than AP flour. It helps to develop more gluten to create a firmer structure. Don’t worry, these cupcakes still remain perfectly tender and rich!
If you don’t have bread flour, feel free to use all-purpose flour instead.
Why Use Hot Coffee in Chocolate Cake Batter?
Hot liquid helps to “bloom” the cocoa powder. This essentially means it intensifies the chocolate flavor and helps the cocoa incorporate into the batter without becoming chunky or chalky.
If you don’t have coffee on hand, feel free to substitute with plain hot water. Or, use a combination of plain hot water + 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder. The coffee simply enhances the chocolate flavor, you don’t actually taste it!
Filling with Nutella
Possibly the best part of this recipe, filling with Nutella is made quick and easy with two tools: an apple corer and a ziptop baggie. Use the corer to evenly remove the center of each cupcake (this is also a great way to sample the cake to make sure it turned out nicely…). Then spoon the Nutella into the baggie, snip a hole about the diameter of the corer, and squeeze the Nutella into each cavity.
Raspberry Buttercream Tips
The raspberry buttercream in this recipe is really simple. I suggest following the recipe exactly. I’ve found that using seedless raspberry preserves gives the smoothest texture that’s sturdy enough to pipe. You can also really taste the raspberry flavor this way. Fresh raspberries can be too watery, and raspberry jam with seeds adds an undesirable texture (at least in my opinion).
The raspberry preserves give a faint pink hue to the frosting. If you want a bolder color, use a very small amount of red gel food coloring.
If you want ALL of my buttercream tips and more flavor variations, check out this Best Buttercream post.