One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes

I think everyone has that imaginary version of themselves they like to trot out from time to time. I, for instance, like to pretend I’m the type of person who can whimsically whisk cupcakes together at a moment’s notice, sans recipe, perhaps while competing on Master Chef. No recipe, needed, thanks, I know 17 cupcake recipes by heart.

PLEASE HOLD YOUR SHOCK, I don’t actually know 17 cupcakes recipes by heart. I do think, however, this one-bowl chocolate cupcake recipe takes me one step closer to Imaginary Allison. It’s really simple. It’s the type of recipe that becomes a staple, the one you turn to when you need to bring a dessert and you want something tried-and-true, with no crazy ingredients.

One bowl, people. You mix the dry ingredients together, then whisk in the wet. No creaming of butter necessary, simply melt it in the microwave. I believe the one thing that sets these apart is the buttermilk, which adds a lightness to the cupcake.

Be warned before you melt your butter – this recipe makes more than twelve cupcakes.  Twenty-four, in fact. If you plan to cut this recipe in half, plan it out now. I melted my butter prior to realizing this, and ended up making three batches of cupcakes. SPOILER ALERT, it turned out ok! I survived and had an extra dozen cupcakes. I’ve managed to eat them, bravely.

I topped these with my all-butter version of the classic Wilton’s Buttercream recipe. No imaginary Allison needed for this one, I could pretty much make it in my sleep. This is the best icing, guys.

I realize it looks fancy-ish, but I promise it’s actually easier to pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes than to try to smear it on with a spatula. I used a disposable plastic decorating bag and tip #2D. Start piping on the outside and twirl the cupcake until you get to the middle. If you make cupcakes even semi often, I really recommend getting a few decorating tips and bags. It’s honestly easier, and you’ll be slightly closer to the imaginary version of yourself that makes the fanciest cupcakes in the land.

One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes 

From Martha Stewart’s Cooking School


  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons table salt
  • 2 large whole eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled.
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  1. Prepare oven and tins. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two standard muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.
  2. Combine ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in eggs, yolk, water, buttermilk, butter, and vanilla until smooth and combined, about 3 minutes.
  3. Bake. Dive batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about halfway. Bake cupcakes, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
  4. Cool and frost. Transfer to wire rack; cool 10 minutes, then turn out cupcakes onto rack. Let cool completely before frosting. Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container, up to 3 days at room temperature or frozen up to 1 month.


Classic Buttercream Icing

Adapted from Wilton’s recipe.


  • The meringue powder will help the icing maintain its shape after you pipe it. It’s nice but optional.
  • I’ve doubled the recipe below to match the amount needed for the cupcakes.
  • If you cut the recipe in half, I REALLY recommend buying the one pound box of powdered sugar. It’s much easier than measuring, since powdered sugar shifts so much.


  • 2 cups unsalted butter (four sticks), softened to room temperature.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  • 4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons water
  • 2 lbs pure cane confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Meringue powder
  • Two pinches of salt.


  1. Measure out the water in a small bowl, then dissolve the salt in the water.
  2. Cream butter, vanilla extract, and salted water until butter is fluffy.
  3. Add dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until thoroughly mixed. Blend and additional minute or so until creamy. Be careful not to overwhip, this will form large bubbles in your icing that looks odd when piped.

Honey Bourbon Sea Salt Caramels

honey bourbon sea salt caramel

Have you ever made candy before? It’s actually shockingly easy, even though it can sound intimidating.

Like baking, candy making is extremely precise. You’ll want to have a candy thermometer (I have some random one I picked up at Giant, but it’s basically this one.) and make sure to keep a careful eye on the temperature. Too high, and you’ll have hard, brittle candy (which is great if you want peanut brittle, bad if you want gooey caramel). Too low and you’ll have a caramel sauce. Luckily, most candy thermometers have markings telling you which temperature equals which stage of candy making. A quick rundown of the stages:

  • 230 F  – “Thread.” Sauce.
  • 235-240°F – “Soft Ball.”  Soft caramel, fudge, pralines, and fondant.
  •  242-250°F – “Firm Ball.” Caramel, marshmallows, gummies.
  • 250- 265°F – “Hard Ball.” Nougat, rock candy.
  • 270-290°F – “Soft Crack.” Saltwater Taffy, Butterscotch.
  • 300-310°F –  “Hard Crack.” Toffee, PEANUT BRITTLE, and lollipops.

The other thing I recommend having for candy success is a three-quart saucepan. Candy has a tendency to bubble sharply, and what is a sticky disaster in a two quart pan is merely bubbles with a three quart saucepan.

“This sounds very messy,” you may be thinking to yourself. Here’s the best part of candy making – if you soak your pot, candy thermometer, and any utensils used for about an hour, the sugar just melts away.

SO, gather your candy thermometer and let’s blow our minds with these caramels.

The basic recipe for these is from Bon Appétit.  Let me tell you, I’ve made vanilla caramel before. These are way better. Partly because of the direction to cook the caramel to a dark amber, partly the sweetened condensed milk, and partly the Honey Bourbon, these have a luxurious undertone that makes all other caramels seem bland in comparison.

One last thing to keep in mind about candymaking is you can spend a lot of time waiting for the sugar to melt, but the final stages usually move VERY quickly, with a lot of stirring. I recommend prepping all your ingredients ahead of time and keeping them handy.

So gather your candy thermometers, think very hard about the shades of amber, and make these caramels. The most difficult part of this candy recipe will be waiting for it to cool.

Honey Bourbon Sea Salt Caramels

(Only a little bit adapted from this Bon Appétit recipe)


  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray, such as Pam
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons honey bourbon (I used Wild Turkey Honey Bourbon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Flaky sea salt (optional. Christopher HATES sea salt crunching on things so I skipped it.)


  1. Spray an 8″x8″ or equivalent baking pan with the nonstick spray. Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang of about 2″ on 2 sides. Spray the parchment paper with nonstick spray.
  2. Bring sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water  to boil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture turns a deep amber color, approximately 8 to 10 minutes. You don’t need a candy thermometer for this step.
  3. Remove pan from heat and whisk in sweetened condensed milk and butter. Everything will bubble aggressively, DO NOT BE ALARMED. Instead be thankful you used a 3-quart pan.
  4. Attach the candy thermometer and return to a medium-low heat. Continue to whisk constantly while watching the thermometer, until the thermometer registers 240 degrees.
  5. Remove from heat and whisk in bourbon and kosher salt.
  6. Pour into prepared pan; wait impatiently to cool.