Chocolate Cupcakes with a Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Chocolate cupcakesIt was my littlest fourth birthday this week. He asked for cake as his birthday dinner and chocolate cupcakes for afterwards. After finally convincing him that we needed more than cake to eat, (what was I thinking??) he decided he wanted cheese pizza.  For the dessert, I made these delicious chocolate cupcakes with a swiss meringue buttercream and caramel drizzle.. They were a huge hit and he loved blowing out the candle after we sang Happy Birthday to him.

I tend to make cupcakes for the boy’s actual birthdays and then a fancy cake for their party. In the past, I have even halved this recipe so that we aren’t eating cupcakes followed by the party cake all week long.


chocolate cupcakes

This cupcake recipe is inspired and adapted from the recipe book Sticky, Chewy, Messy,  Gooey written by Jill O’Connor. The first time I made them, I neglected to tell the husband that there was mayonnaise in the recipe. He tends to judge food based on the ingredients before he tastes it. He loved these cupcakes. The mayonnaise gives them the perfect amount of moisture.


  1. I actually find that these chocolate cupcakes taste better the next day, after being chilled in the fridge for the night.
  2. They are even more moist and chocolatey after being frozen. There is a great discussion on cake central about how freezing chocolate cakes makes the cake’s flavor amazing.


For the frosting, I decided to use my swiss meringue buttercream, which is my favorite frosting to decorate with. This frosting is so smooth and velvety. It is a little bit more work than traditional American buttercream, but it is not so overbearingly sweet. It is also great for piping as it holds its form very well and unlike cream cheese icing (my other favorite), it doesn’t loose its shape in a warm room.

swiss meringue buttercream

This recipe is inspired by the Martha Stewart swiss meringue buttercream recipe. I use a little less sugar than her recipe, but if you find the recipe too mild, you can add 2-5 Tbsp more.


  1. Heating the egg whites to 160 degrees reduces the risk of salmonella.
  2. The egg/sugar mixture will froth a little as you are heating it and then will feel slippery to the touch.
  3. Before adding the butter, I feel the mixer bowl to make sure that the fluffy egg whites are near room temperature.
  4. Step 3 is my boys favorite part, adding the butter 1 Tbsp at a time. I use slightly chilled butter. After adding about 3/4 of the butter, it might look like it is curdling like in the third picture above. It will smooth out with more additions of butter. Or change to the paddle attachment of your mixer to smooth out the frosting.
  5. I usually add vanilla extract, but you can use any flavoring.
  6. This frosting is easy to color using gel colors like Wilton or Americolor.
  7. For these cupcakes, I just drizzled a store bought caramel sauce on top, but it isn’t that hard to make your own.
  8. Serve your cake/cupcakes with this frosting at room temperature.

This frosting can be flavored with extract, by adding melted chocolate, or a fruit jam. If adding a jam, add a little at a time as it can cause the frosting to separate. I was tempted to use a different recipe that uses less butter and blackcurrant cassis jam as described on The Tough Cookie blog. However, the birthday boy vetoed the pink color. I will just have to make this frosting for my own birthday, if I can wait that long.


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