Star of the bake sale: fast fudge cupcakes

Don’t you love it when you find a recipe that does just exactly what you want it to?

I was looking for a good bake sale recipe recently. You know, something fast and easy, something “grab & go” (no wrapping required); something tasty, relatively inexpensive to make… and chocolate.

Many years of bake-saling have taught me that chocolate outsells everything else hands-down. And while chocolate whoopie pies are probably the bake sale VIP (very important purchase) of many folks, they’re a bit of a project to make.

Thus my great good cheer at successfully turning one of my favorite chocolate cake recipes into chocolate cupcakes.

Cupcakes, I might add, that are so moist and delicious they don’t even need frosting – score one for “fast and easy.”

And score another for “tasty” – between the Dutch-process cocoa, the chocolate chips, and the espresso powder, these cupcakes have everything going for them, flavor-wise.

Is there a bake sale in your future? Want to make 2 dozen ready-to-sell cupcakes in about 30 minutes flat?

Bake Sale Fudge Cupcakes, here we come!

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two standard 12-cup muffin pans with paper or silicone muffin cups; if you’re going to dress these cakes up for a special occasion, use pretty papers.

Place the following in a large mixing bowl:

1 cup Dutch-process cocoa
2 1/3 cups (10 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 2/3 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional but tasty
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons King Arthur Cake Enhancer, optional but good for texture and freshness
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

In a large measuring cup or medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the following:

3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Stir this mixture into the dry ingredients.

Add 1 tablespoon vinegar (cider or white)…

…and 1/2 cup melted butter.

Stir to combine.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pans; a muffin scoop works well here.

Fill the cups about 3/4 full, like this.

Bake the cupcakes for 23 to 25 minutes.

They’ll dome nicely. They’re done when a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the middle of one of the center cakes comes out clean.

Remove the cupcakes from the oven, and tilt them in the cups so their bottoms don’t steam.

As soon as you can handle them remove them from the pan, and transfer to a rack to cool.

Or enjoy warm; look at that lovely melting chocolate!

Success! Two dozen moist, delicious cupcakes, with fairly flat tops – perfect for decorating.

Or just stack ’em up, load into a carrier, and bring to your favorite bake sale or potluck. They’re so moist, they don’t even need frosting.

HOWEVER: If you have time on your hands, and want to try some fancy decorating – check out our blog post on fondant-topped cupcakes, perfect for special occasions.

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Bake Sale Fudge Cupcakes.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. KateKate

    i am so craving some chocolate cupcakes and then i see this post! i want to just dunk the tops of all of them in a yummy chocolate glaze (no i cannot spell the correct word that starts with a G, spell check tells me i am not even CLOSE!)
    oh who am i kidding? i want a giant mound of frosting on these cupcakes!!

    Ganache – perfect. Super-simple chocolate frosting – perfect. 7-minute icing – THAT’S what I’m topping them with for my mom next week! PJH

  2. vibeguy

    Cupcakes without frosting?

    *peers intently*

    Who are you, and what have you done to the REAL PJH?

    Wait till tomorrow… heh heh heh, who knows what evil lurks in the heat of THIS baker. PJH

  3. Carole

    How can you go wrong with chocolate? I mean really.

    The only thing I’d have to do is to upgrade the chocolate chips to a dark chocolate bar (88% say….).

    Oh, Carole… now THAT sounds good. Truly, they’d need no embellishment at all. Biggish chunks… oo-la-la! PJH

  4. Beth

    I noticed you have 2 pans of muffins in the oven at the same time. Do you do an exchange of the top tray to bottom, and front to back midway during the baking? I never seem to have a lot of lock baking 2 pans of cupcakes or muffins at the same time. One always comes out burned and/or flatter.

    Beth, they definitely come out better if you bake one pan at a time; and since these bake so quickly anyway, it wouldn’t have been a problem. But I was in a hurry… so yes, I did switch them top to bottom and front side to back side halfway through. PJH

  5. daphnewoman

    Ha Ha! That was what I was going to say! These would be fabulous just the way they are as long as they were still warm. After that, definitely FROSTING! Yum Yum They are on my list for tomorrow!

    They’re fabulous just as they are when cold, too – lovely and moist. Go for it! PJH

  6. Linh

    These sound great! Could I substitute the KA White whole wheat flour instead of the AP flour?

    Haven’t tried it, but I don’t see why not- PJH

  7. cp

    why do you add vinegar?

    My theory is vinegar works with the chemical leavening for some added “pop” in the oven – yielding a better rise. PJH

  8. Jessica

    Okay I consider myself a pretty good baker, but I am at a loss, what is the vinegar for? Thanks

    Vinegar works with the chemical leavening for some added “pop” in the oven – better rise. That’s my theory, anyway, and I’m stickin’ with it! PJH

  9. milkwithknives

    Oh, no way! Those are SO dark and chocolatey looking. Are they particularly sweet, would you say? I do have a neverending sweet tooth, but with dark chocolate cake I have found that I prefer a bit less sugar than I usually do, because then I can really taste the chocolate. And I absolutely love cake that doesn’t even need frosting.

    Also, I am an unrepentant batter/dough eater, and I wanted to take hold of that muffin scoop and just eat the whole dose of chocolate batter. I come here for the photos as much as anything. Splendid entry!

    Definitely not on the overly sweet side… more dark chocolate-y. Thanks for chiming in here, as always! PJH

  10. dolceraffa

    Thank you so much for sharing the recipe and the idea of the fondant hearts on top. Thank you also for the tip about tilting the cupcakes so the bottom doesnt sweat…I have never heard that before but now it makes sense.
    Why some cupcakes will have a dome and others will not. I know that the higher the temperature the more we are going to have a peak, but I still believe that is also the kind of recipe that makes a difference. For example I know that my vanilla cupcakes have a dome in the oven but once out they kind of flat out…the marble cupcakes have a good dome which stays high even outside the oven. My banana cupcakes remain flat and if I fill the liners too much they look like mushrooms….
    So, does anyone agrees with me that the peak is also obtained with specific recipes and is not just a temperature issue??
    I am going to try your recipe tomorrow! They look fabulous!


    Raffaella, here’s what Susan Reid, one of our test kitchen experts, says: “Has to do with hydration of the batter. Wetter doughs may peak in the oven, but also may not hold themselves up as well. When we need nice peaky tops, we add another 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup of flour to the batter. Gives more structure, and up they go.” PJH

    And here’s what our product development manager, Sue Gray, says:
    “Yes, temperature plus the recipe makes a difference. For a layer cake, you want the top to flatten out—you don’t want a large dome to cut off. Often adding a bit extra flour to a cake recipe will allow it to work as a cupcake recipe—if you want the dome—try just 2 tablespoons to start, as the cake texture will be drier. Or use cake flour if the recipe calls for all-purpose—cake flour sets its structure faster and often will dome. Each recipe has a different ratio of fat, flour, and sugar, so it is hard to give a rule that will give perfect results with all recipes. Another way to go about getting the dome is cutting the sugar by a small amount, and sometimes using an extra egg white will work….”

  11. juthurst

    One of my favorite things to do with cooled chocolate cupcakes is to defrost some leftover Vanilla Bean Italian Meringue buttercream from the freezer, whip it up, stick a sharp tip on a cake deco bag, stick it down into the top of the cupcake and fill that baby with frosting…
    Then, make warm ganache and put it into a plastic squeeze bottle (the kind used for making homemade chocolates) and squeeze a puddle of ganache on the top of each heavenly cake.
    So easy, and folks love the “surprise” in the middle…

    Well, now I know what I’m making this weekend ;P

    Whoa – sounds GREAT. Hostess cupcakes on steroids! 🙂 PJH

  12. karengaylin

    These cupcakes look terrific, but I’m interested in the cake recipe from which these were adapted. How do you adjust this recipe to make the cake version and could it be baked as a bundt or loaf cake?

    Karen, you could do either. It would fit two 9″ rounds; two or three 8″ rounds; a 9″ x 13″ pan; or a bundt-style pan. Not sure of the specific baking times, but you’d want to start checking the 8″ or 9″ rounds after about 25 minutes; the 9″ x 13″ after about 40 minutes; and the bundt, probably after around 50 minutes. Sorry I can’t be more specific; I developed this recipe long ago and don’t know where the original is. PJH

  13. Maggie

    Could you please double check the link for the ganache in your reply to the first comment? This is all that comes up: http:///


    All set, Maggie – thanks for alerting me to that broken link. PJH

  14. hshubin

    Instead of moving the pans around, how about using the Convection Bake setting on the oven? Would the fan move the hot air around well enough? And then you wouldn’t have to cool the oven by opening it while moving the pans around.

    Never used a convection oven – but if you have one and are used to using it, sounds like a plan… PJH

  15. Lois Titherington

    Made these cupcakes this afternoon in my new muffin tin from KAF and they were a total disaster! The oven at 400 is much too hot and they were totally burnt. Looking through all my cookbooks I found no recipe calling for such a hot oven. Just a warning that you will waste all your ingredients if you bake them at 400 degrees.

    Sorry, Lois, that you lost all of those ingredients. All I can say is, it worked fine for me several times. Do you have an independent thermometer in your oven, one that can verify your oven temperature? Perhaps your oven runs hot? Notice that most cupcake bake 30 minutes or so, these only 18 to 20. Did you pull them out after 18 minutes? Trying to figure out what might have gone wrong… PJH

  16. betharnold

    Can’t wait to make these tomorrow (but I will be a bit leery of the 400 degree oven; even muffins typically bake at only 375)! Question: why do you have these cooling sideways in the muffin pans? Why not just remove and put them on a cooling rack? Love your blog, ideas, and TLC to all of us out here baking!!!

    You an try baking these at whatever time/temperature you’re comfortable with – they should work with other oven temps/times. When I take them out of the oven, they’re so hot that I can stand to touch them for less than a second – just enough time to grab and tip – not enough to pick them up and place them on a rack. After about 5 minutes, I move them to a rack. Thanks for your kind comments… PJH

  17. "Jen @eatswimshop"

    These look amazing! I had never thought to tip the cupcakes before — I usually just let them cool in the pans for a minute or two (until they have cooled enough to handle) and then put them on a wire rack. Tipping them is a great idea!

  18. Aaron Frank

    Beautiful… And adding ganache… Have you ever tried substituting frozen pieces of ganache for some of the chocolate chips? Sort of like bits of truffle?
    Is your baking powder double acting? The recipe doesn’t say but then the vinegar would react with the baking soda in the baking powder for extra lift. Think first grade, science fair volcanoe!



    Yes, Aaron, pretty much all commercially available baking powder is double-acting these days. So the vinegar would indeed react with the baking powder, as well. And sure, I’d think chips of frozen ganache would work well; depending on how big the chip they might totally disappear into the baking cake, but you don’t know till you try, right? Sounds like a yummy experiment… PJH

  19. MC-Cakes

    Wow! These look delicious!!! I can’t wait to try them. I made dark chocolate ganach (sp?) cupcakes today for a luncheon, and they went very fast, but these look great, so I must try them! Thanks

  20. daphnewoman

    Made these today for my granddaughter’s birthday. They were okay but a little on the solid side for my taste. The guaranteed chocolate frosting that is recommended on the printable recipe was really REALLY the BEST EVER!!!! It’s a very different process; makes a lot and is (according to the birthday girl) super magnificently deliciously scrumptious! We’ll definitely do the frosting again and again!

    Glad the frosting was able to save the cupcakes, dw… Thanks for connecting here and sharing your results. PJH

  21. kathyfromkansas

    I make a lot of chocolate cupcakes around here, very simple recipe but everyone loves them. When I saw this recipe I said to myself “Self, these look great”. So I tried them last week. I am afraid they were just awful. Heavy, dry and way too chocolatey. The family revolted, which hardly every happens and I dumped the whole lot. I am still in a quandary as to why; the list of ingredients looked so good. I had to make some cupcakes the “old” way so the natives were pacified.

    Kathy, I’m SO sorry these didn’t turn out well for you!! 🙁 I guess they’re not to everyone’s taste; glad you have a “tried and true” you can count on. PJH

  22. Cheryl in Texas

    These look great, and I can’t imagine any such thing as “too chocolatey” but I have a question: don’t the chocolate chips need to be melted? How do they get blended in?

    Maybe it’s using a stand mixer, does that pulverize them? Since I only have a medium-powered hand mixer, I worry that they won’t melt and I’ll have chocolate chip cupcakes, which isn’t what I want.
    The chips do not need to be melted in this recipe and will not be pulverized by the mixer. They chips will melt in the oven as they would in a cookie or muffin, but become solid again when at room temperature. The cupcakes will have a chocolate chip texture, however if you wish not to have this end result, you can easily omit the chips. ~Amy @KAF

  23. ebenezer94

    I would disagree with PJ’s response to Cheryl in Texas. I made these last week and the chocolate chips were clearly chippy in there–especially down toward the bottom. I think I would prefer mini chips instead.

    My batch didn’t come out with gently rounded tops like the ones in the photos. Mine were more akin to the alps. In a muffin that’s generally a sign over over-beating. I wonder at the instructions to mix the milk mixture into the dry ingredients first and then stir in the vinegar and then stir in the melted butter. How do you add the liquids separately like this and not over beat?

    Hmmm… Well, now, I guess I’d best make these again. Worked fine for me as written, but there are enough people commenting on various issues that I’ll see if I can tweak to address them. Thanks for your input – news at 11! (Well, more like afternoon…) PJH

    OK, I made the cupcakes again. First, it takes so little time to stir in the liquid ingredients, I think it’s fine to add the milk and eggs, stirring until JUST combined (some streaks of dry are fine); then add the vinegar and melted butter; THEN stir again, just until combined. I do agree with some other commenters, though, that 400°F was a bit much; so I lowered the temperature to 350°F, and let them bake for 23 to 25 minutes. Another thing I discovered – they dome nicely with cupcake papers; if you don’t use papers, they tend to either peak, or mushroom. The papers provide just enough insulation that the edges don’t set way before the center. Finally, yeah, some of the chips do solidify in the cakes. If you don’t like chocolate chips in your cupcakes – just don’t add them. Thanks for y our feedback. it takes a village to write a recipe! 🙂 PJH

  24. ebenezer94

    Ah, PJ, that’s an interesting observation of them peaking when you bake without cupcake papers. I baked them in a single layer of el cheapo supermarket cupcake paper, which I’m sure aren’t as heavy as your cupcake papers. I bet that contributed to my peaks (not that they weren’t very tasty and well received anyway–and you couldn’t really tell about the peaks once the frosting was on).

    Baking is a never-ending process of discovery… If you’re at all curious, the fun just never ends! Glad the frosting “tamed” those peaks… PJH

  25. Ruhina

    Hi, could u please clarify for dummies like me – when it says, melted butter does it mean I measure half a cup and melt it? Or does it mean I melt lots of butter and just take half a cup of that in melted state? I never know how to read this…

    Measure, then melt. Here’s why. Butter is about 80% fat and 20% water & milk solids. These components separate during melting, fat floating to the top. If you melted a mass, you’d end up measuring out all fat, this would throw the recipe ratios off. Frank @ KAF.

  26. GirlG

    I can’t decide what to take to the soccer potluck,but these will one of my choices!

    Want to make something that’ll disappear off that potluck table even before the lasagna and garlic bread? Top the cupcakes with Super Simple Chocolate Frosting, the best chocolate frosting EVER! 🙂 PJH

  27. Evarey

    I’m going to try these beauties this weekend! Let’s hope the result is a favourable one… Never had any luck with cupcakes before. Wish me luck. Will try and report it back here… 🙂
    It is Monday. Hope it went well! Elisabeth

  28. kalcantara

    I used this recipe yesterday for my daughter’s beach bash and to say they are the best chocolate cupcakes I’ve ever baked is an understatement! I followed both the recipe and the instructions with only one small difference (I don’t have the cake enhancer in my kitchen, now it is in my shopping cart 😉 ). I set my oven temperature @ 350 and let them bake for 18 minutes and… voila! One thing I have to say is that I use El Rey brand of chocolate 70% cocoa both in the cupcakes and the chocolate frosting and the taste is heavenly well at least for a chocoholic like myself. Thanks KAF for always always been there for me!!! You rock!

    And thanks so much for sharing your enthusiasm here – rock on! PJH

  29. Kathy H.

    Fan-tab-u-lous! Wish I had read the blog instead of just the recipe… definitely needed more than 22 minutes (24 was better). Results were out of this world. Slipped out of the pan quite easily, even though cups were more full than ‘usual’ (and also more than 3/4 full). Tried both powdered sugar and a white glaze on top… survey says the powdered sugar was better. I would recommend, when combining the dry ingredients (especially if by hand), whisk together everything *except* the chips, then stir in the chips. Also, I used dark chocolate chips, which seemed to be larger than regular morsels, and may have been the reason for needing a longer bake time.

  30. "Kelev Tov"

    Great great recipe! Simple and delicious. I didn’t have any muffin liners on hand so I used cooking spray in the muffin tin and they did fine. No stick and easy to remove. 20 minutes in convection bake at 350F.

    I didn’t have espresso powder so I substituted 1/4 cup strong dark brewed coffee for 1/4 cup of the milk. We bake non-dairy so I used vanilla soy milk. I did not have any cake enhancer and they still are moist and lovely.

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Great to hear your substitutions and tweaks all worked fine – great information for those wanting to do something similar. Thanks for sharing, and glad you enjoyed them! PJH

    2. "Kelev Tov"

      Great great recipe! Simple and delicious. I didn’t have any muffin liners on hand so I used cooking spray in the muffin tin and they did fine. No stick and easy to remove. 20 minutes in convection bake at 350F.

      I didn’t have espresso powder so I substituted 1/4 cup strong dark brewed coffee for 1/4 cup of the milk. We bake non-dairy so I used vanilla soy milk. I did not have any cake enhancer and they still are moist and lovely.

      Oh, and I substituted coconut oil in place of the butter.

  31. Kathy H.

    True story: I’ve made these several times, and love them… the flavor and the simplicity. Few weeks ago I made an extra-complicated chocolate cupcake recipe that was fantastic, but… teenager ate the last few (not camouflaged well enough). And I was SO looking forward to one for dessert. Anyway, as a consolation, I rushed into a batch of these without checking my ingredient stocks. Turns out, I was short about 1/3 cup of cocoa. Now what? Too late to go to the store. So, I substituted an equal amount of instant hot chocolate mix (with marshmallows!) for the cocoa shortage, and reduced the sugar by the same amount. I was worried about the volume, but, hey, they turned out just fine! (Almost one of those ‘April Fool’ entries, but too late for the deadline!)


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