Have any of you ever wondered why a moist chocolate cake is called a devil’s food cake?

I have always wondered, but always thought it basically referred to a chocolate based cupcake with a rich chocolate ganache. But curiosity got the better of me recently, as I was looking through tons of devil’s food cupcake recipes and wanted to know exactly what that meant. I wikied it and lo and behold, I realized that the devil’s food cake is like the ‘opposite’ to an angel food cake. For those who don’t know, an angel food cake is a very light cake made only of egg whites, much like a chiffon cake. Apparently, the older recipes for devil’s food cakes only used egg whites and not whole eggs!Wiki also says that the devil’s food cake is more moist and airy than other chocolate cakes, and is usually made with cocoa and not chocolate. The use of hot boiling water as the liquid, as opposed to milk, is a distinguishing factor too.


Well, based on the description above, I will have to say that the recipe I’m going to share with you is most definitely not an authentic devil’s food cake, but then again, how many chocolate cake recipes which are named “devil’s food cake” are actually authentic? Anyway, this recipe uses whole eggs, and I’ve snuck substituted half of the boiling water for milk, although I must say that I have tried all water and there was very little discernible difference in the end product. One main reason why I love this recipe is because it uses only cocoa powder, which I have in abundance, and because I hate having to melt chocolate AND sift cocoa powder. This is also the reason why I use this recipe the most when I’m baking chocolate based cupcakes for big orders.


I have also tried making this recipe with oil, that is, substituting the butter for oil and basically just making this into a one-bowl recipe whereby you dump all the ingredients in at one go. The recipe works still, but I find that it gives you a flatter cupcake which is not as fluffy. The creaming method tends to give you more tender crumbs and a domed cupcake.

The chocolate ganache that I’ve used here is super rich and definitely very sinful – for those who prefer a slight ‘kick’ to their cupcakes, add a few sprinkles of sea salt (I used Murray River pink sea flakes here), and the salt will tone down the sweetness and cloyingness of the cupcake and ganache.


So anyway, you might realize that the pictures for this post look slightly different because I’ve been trying out the “chiaroscuro” style of photography, which is what most people know as ‘dark and moody’ photography. It actually is an art term for strong contrasts, and is typical of Renaissance painters such as Rembrandt and Caravaggio, as well as the Belgian/Dutch artists. Just think of people or objects against a dark background, with their features lit by a single source of light emanating from an unknown source. I still haven’t got my hand on it because most of the photographs I took turned out far too noisy and blurry, but do expect more of such photographs in the future, because I do love this style of photography and since I often make chocolate cakes etc, they are the perfect subjects for chiaroscuro.


Very Chocolatey Cupcakes, or Devil's Food Cupcakes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 12-15 cupcakes
5.0 from 1 reviews
  • For the cupcakes
  • 60g butter
  • 120g white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 125g all purpose flour
  • 35g cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla (optional)
  • 120g fresh milk
  • 100g hot boiling water + ½ tsp instant coffee granules
  • For the ganache
  • 100g 55% bittersweet chocolate
  • 100g 72% bittersweet chocolate
  • 120g cream (at least 35% fat)
  • 50g butter
  • 75g icing sugar
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 60g milk
  1. For the cupcakes: In a large mixing bowl, beat butter for about 1 minute. Add in sugar and cream sugar with butter for about 3 minutes, or until the butter becomes light in colour and fluffy. Add in egg and beat for a further minute, or until the egg is well incorporated. In a separate mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a measuring jug, add in the coffee granules into the hot water and mix well. Add in fresh milk and vanilla. Into the large mixing bowl, pour in half of the flour mixture, gently mixing until incorporated, then pour in half of the milk mixture, making sure all the liquid is well incorporated as well. Repeat with a quarter of the flour mixture and the remaining milk mixture. Finish with the final quarter of flour mixture. Once no traces of flour remain, stop mixing. The batter will be very watery. Pour the batter into the measuring jug. Fill the individual cupcake liners to about two-third to three-quarter full. Bake the cupcakes at 170 degree celsius for 20 minutes, or until the tops are dry to touch and a skewer comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow the cupcakes to cool completely before piping ganache.
  2. For the ganache: While the cupcakes are baking, prepare the ganache. In a small saucepan, heat the cream until it bubbles, and pour it over the chopped chocolate. Mix well, ensuring that all the chocolate is melted. Stir in butter into the mixture, followed by milk and sifted icing sugar. Set aside to cool. You may put it in the refrigerator to speed up the cooling process. Once cooled, beat the ganache with a mixer until its colour lightens and it becomes fluffy. Spoon the ganache into a piping bag to pipe onto the cooled cupcakes.






  1. Amelia says:

    Hi Janine, lovely chocolate cake, look superb. I love the topping.
    I like this kind of photography, look gorgeous and beautiful. Keep up the good work. 2 thumbs up for you.

    Best regards.

  2. Lois says:

    tried out this recipe, and i dare say its better than the dozen cuppies on sale. good luck with the competition!

  3. […] can try these devil’s food chocolate cupcakes or these one-bowl chocolate […]

  4. Melissa says:

    Hi, just like to check, if I can leave the frosting overnight in the fridge? and pipe say the next day?

    • Janine says:

      Hi Melissa! You can leave the frosting overnight, but I would recommend that you beat the ganache after you refrigerate it overnight instead of beating then refrigerating. This will ensure that the frosting is fluffy and not as dense.

  5. melissa says:

    Thanks. This its really a very tasty chocolate cup cake. Thumbs up.

  6. Thank you for sharing this lovely recipe. When my kid dipped her spoon into the cupcake she exclaimed “so soft!” 🙂 Have enjoyed reading your blog. Keep up the good work & keep sharing delicious recipes 🙂

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