Moist chocolate cupcakes topped with a strawberry buttercream frosting and chocolate covered strawberries! These Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes are the ultimate Valentine’s Day dessert.
*Recipe and photos updated January 2019*
Valentine’s Day is less than a month away and if you’re looking for an impressive dessert, these cupcakes are exactly what you need.
I originally posted the recipe for these chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes back in 2016. But I’ve revamped the recipe with a lighter chocolate cupcake and an even better strawberry frosting. These cupcakes are chocolatey, the frosting is full of strawberry flavor and naturally colored thanks to a secret ingredient, and they’re all topped with a chocolate covered strawberry.
If you’ve ever been intimidated when it comes to making beautiful cupcakes, don’t worry, I’m sharing tons of information on how to make these look absolutely perfect!
How To Make Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes
To assemble these cupcakes you’ll need to make three different components: chocolate cupcakes, strawberry frosting, and chocolate covered strawberries. Let’s break down each one.
How To Make The Cupcakes
The great thing about the chocolate cupcake batter is that you can mix it all together in one bowl. You’ll start by whisking in your dry ingredients:
- Flour: I use all-purpose flour for these cupcakes, just make sure you spoon & level your flour so that they’re soft and light.
- Cocoa Powder: You’ll be using natural unsweetened cocoa powder for these cupcakes.
- Baking Powder, Baking Soda, & Salt: The baking powder and soda help the cupcakes rise and keep them soft and light.
- Sugar: I typically mix sugar in with the wet ingredients, but I find it works best in this recipe to whisk it in with the dry ingredients. There’s a mix of granulated sugar and brown sugar in these cupcakes, the brown sugar adds moisture and flavor.
Then you’ll whisk in the wet ingredients:
- Buttermilk: This helps to keep the cupcakes moist and tender. If you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, then you can use my homemade buttermilk substitute.
- Oil: There’s no butter in these cupcakes, just oil! It provides incredible moisture since cocoa powder can sometimes dry out baked goods.
- Egg & Vanilla: You’ll be using one egg and a little pure vanilla extract.
- Boiling Water & Espresso Powder: When it comes to the boiling water, make sure to set a pot of water on the stovetop before you even get started making these cupcakes. I also like to use espresso powder because it enhances the chocolate flavor in the cupcakes. I really love King Arthur Espresso Powder, a little goes a long way and you can use it in other baked goods too. If you don’t have espresso powder, you can use instant coffee granules or replace the water with 1/2 cup of strongly brewed hot coffee.
Once the cupcake batter is ready, you’ll pour it into 16 cupcake liners and bake the cupcakes.
How To Make The Frosting
As the cupcakes are cooling you can prepare the strawberry buttercream frosting. If you’ve never prepared buttercream before I have an easy tutorial on how to make it here.
In the original recipe that I posted, I used strawberry jam, but I find that it really makes the frosting thinner and doesn’t hold up as well with the strawberries on top. The solution? Freeze-dried strawberries! They add tons of strawberry flavor to the frosting and add that beautiful pink color so you don’t even have to add food coloring.
You can typically find freeze-dried strawberries near the fruit or by the dried fruit at the grocery store. Just make sure to blend them up really well until they’re powdery before adding them to the frosting.
How To Make The Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Okay, so you can leave these off if you want to but who can resist dessert on top of a dessert? I suggest looking for strawberries that are uniform in size and red. Strawberries do not ripen any more once they’ve been picked so the redder the strawberries the better!
You’ll also need 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate to dip the strawberries in. I really like Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate bars, but Ghiradelli is a great option too. You can place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate them so the chocolate hardens up faster.
The final step is to assemble your cupcakes. I have another tutorial here for how to frost cupcakes and I show you exactly how to get that beautiful tall bakery style swirl.
What’s the best piping tip for these cupcakes?
How can I prepare these cupcakes ahead of time?
The chocolate cupcakes can be prepared 2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. The frosting may also be prepared 2-3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to frost the cupcakes just set the frosting on the counter to bring to room temperature and mix well before using it. You can prep the chocolate covered strawberries up to one day in advance, I would suggest storing them in the refrigerator until you assemble the cupcakes.
- When measuring your flour, don’t scoop it out of the container with the measuring cup. Instead, stir the flour around, spoon it into your measuring cup, and level it off with the back of a knife.
- If you don’t have instant espresso powder you can either use instant coffee granules or replace the 1/2 cup of boiling water and espresso powder with 1/2 cup of strongly brewed hot coffee.
- When preparing the frosting, make sure to blend the freeze-dried strawberries until they’re powdery. You can strain them through a fine mesh strainer to remove any larger pieces, but I typically skip this step.
- I use a full one-ounce bag of freeze-dried strawberries for the frosting. If you want a light strawberry flavor for the frosting, you can start with half and then add more as needed.
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes
- 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (32 grams) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) light brown sugar lightly packed
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) canola or vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) boiling water
- 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
Strawberry Buttercream Frosting:
- 1 cup (230 grams) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 3 cups (360 grams) powdered sugar
- 1 (1-ounce) bag freeze-dried strawberries
- 2-3 tablespoons (30-45 ml) heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
Chocolate Covered Strawberries:
- 16 medium sized strawberries
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate chopped
To make the chocolate cupcakes:
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two 12-count muffin pans with 16 cupcake liners and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk in the brown sugar and granulated sugar until well combined. Then whisk in the oil, buttermilk, egg, and vanilla extract and mix until just combined.
- Add the instant espresso powder to the 1/2 cup boiling water and mix until fully dissolved. Add to the mixing bowl and mix until everything is just combined. The batter will be thin, this is okay.
- Evenly distribute the batter between all 16 cupcake liners, making sure to fill each one a little over halfway full. Bake in separate batches at 350°F (177°C) for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and carefully remove the cupcakes from the pans, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the strawberry buttercream frosting:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar one cup at a time, making sure to mix in each addition until fully combined.
- Add the freeze-dried strawberries to a blender or food processor and blend until powdery. Then, mix the freeze-dried strawberry powder into the frosting.
- Mix in the heavy whipping cream, vanilla extract, and salt until fully combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
To make the chocolate covered strawberries:
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Add the chocolate to a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 20-second increments, stirring well after each increment, until melted and smooth.
- Dip each strawberry into the chocolate one at a time and place on the prepared baking sheet. Transfer to the refrigerator until the chocolate has hardened.
To assemble the cupcakes:
- Frost the cooled cupcakes as desired. Top each cupcake with one of the chocolate covered strawberries.