Quinoa-Chocolate Cupcakes With Mocha Frosting

black chocolate cupcake

The darkest possible cocoa gives these cupcakes a smoky, intense flavor, which is enhanced by the quinoa flour and set off sweetly with the mocha frosting. They're the one dessert my wife, Leslie, will request; of course I'm more than happy to make a batch that's ever so slightly larger than she can consume. You'll see why when you make these yourself.

Yield: 12 - 16 full-size cupcakes or 32 mini cupcakes
Time to make: 40 minutes active, 15 - 30 minutes oven dwell
Tools needed:  2 medium bowls. Measuring cups and spoons or/and kitchen scale. Microwave-proof small bowl. fork or whisk. Small spatula or stirring spoon. Cupcake pan with papers. Toothpick to test done-ness. Cooling rack. Electric mixer for frosting. Icing spatula or pastry bag.


1/3 cup dark bittersweet chocolate, 55% - 70% cocoa , in chips or coarsely chopped bars
1 cup (135 grams) quinoa flour
1/2 cup (65 grams) Dutch Process Cocoa (Black if possible - available at King Arthur Flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon decaffeinated coffee crystals
8 teaspoons canola oil - see note
8 teaspoons coconut oil - see note
1/3 cup full fat sour cream
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup (70 grams) tightly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting ingredients

1 2/3 cup confectioners sugar
2 Tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa, "Rouge" if available
3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
3 Tablespoons decaf espresso at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Note: you can use any cooking oil, or make a blend of oils. Do not use butter since it contains water which will throw off ingredient ratios.


1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Place 18 full-size or 36 mini cupcake papers into appropriate pans

2) Place the bittersweet chocolate into a microwave-proof container and "nuke" on high for about 2 minutes, or until well-softened.

3) As chocolate cools, place cocoa, flour, salt, coffee crystals, soda and baking powder into a large bowl and whisk to combine. If necessary, warm the coconut oil to melting and add it to the canola oil.

4) While stirring, add the following to the dry ingredients in the sequence listed: oils, sour cream, eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla and melted chocolate. Beat by hand until mixture is well-blended.

5) Pour batter into prepared papers and place cupcake pan on a middle oven rack. Bake 14 minutes for mini-cupcakes, 20 - 35 minutes for full-size cupcakes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out with just a few small crumbs.

6) Remove to a cooling rack. Allow cakes to cool at least 30 minutes before removing from the papers. Allow to cool at least an hour before frosting.

Procedure for frosting:

1) Place sugar and cocoa into a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

2) Place butter into a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream until butter is pale and fluffy. Turn mixer to low speed and gradually add sugar/cocoa. Raise speed slightly and blend until until mixture comes together. This may take a minute or two.

3) Add espresso and beat on medium-high until fluffy. Add vanilla and salt, and mix to combine. Allow frosting to stand 5 minutes, then whip until smooth, light, and fluffy. Spread onto cupcakes with a frosting knife or place into a pastry bag and squeeze onto cupcakes.