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Chocolate cupcake with a bite taken.

High Altitude Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

Heather Smoke
An easy recipe for light and fluffy chocolate cupcakes, frosted with rich, creamy chocolate buttercream.

All recipes on Curly Girl Kitchen are developed for high altitude at 5,280 feet.

5 from 12 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 18 mins
Total Time 28 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings15 cupcakes


  • Stand Mixer with Paddle Attachment



  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • ¾ cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 6 tbsp unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp (scant) baking soda
  • ½ tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
  • 1 tsp espresso powder, optional
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract


  • 1 ½ cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 ¼ cups powdered sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • ½ tbsp meringue powder, optional
  • ¼ tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla
  • 2-3 tbsp milk or cream, only if needed



  • Preheat the oven to 350 F, and position a rack in the center of the oven. Line your cupcake/muffin pans with 15 paper liners.
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder.
  • Add the eggs, milk, sour cream, oil and vanilla, and whisk until well combined, about 30 seconds.
  • Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop the batter into the muffin pan, filling the cups about 2/3 - 3/4 full.  Bake the cupcakes on the center rack for about 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool several minutes in the pan, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.


  • In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until smooth.
  • With the mixer on low, gradually add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, meringue powder, salt and vanilla.  Increase speed to medium-high and whip for 4-5 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally, until very light and fluffy, adding the milk only as needed for desired piping consistency.
  • Pipe the buttercream onto the cooled cupcakes and decorate with mini chocolate chips, chocolate curls or chocolate squares.


These cupcakes can be baked 1 day in advance, and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and they will taste moist and fresh.  Bring to room temperature before serving.
Keyword Chocolate, Cupcakes, High Altitude
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