devil’s food cup-layer-cakes

by jenna on March 30, 2011

Remember a couple days ago when I told you I was craving chocolate cake? Well, I finally did something about it.

A real delicious something, if you ask me.

This whole chocolate cake craving thing actually started two weeks ago when I was in Austin. Adam and I enjoyed a lovely, lovely dinner at Perla’s with friends and then walked across the street to Hey Cupcake for a little dessert fix. Intrigued by the simple, yet mouth watering options, I ordered a “Michael Jackson with Botox” cupcake (seriously), which turned out to a chocolate cupcake with a shot of whipped cream inside and cream cheese frosting on top. Heaven.

I loved the combination of chocolate and cream cheese frosting so much that I had to re-create it at home as soon as possible! And what’s more fun than personal sized layer cakes?

Cup-layer-cakes mean more frosting for you! And that, friends, is a very good thing seeing as this cream cheese frosting is sort of the best idea ever. These cupcakes are perfect for a crowd or… dessert for one. Because we all need a frosting stuffed chocolate cupcake in our lives every once in awhile, right?

Not to turn all Alton Brown on you guys this morning, but did you know what makes devil’s food cakes different than regular plain ol’ chocolate cakes? Devil’s food cakes are more old fashioned and use boiling water as the main liquid and cocoa powder as the form of chocolate (instead of melting chocolate chips). The addition of baking soda in the cake forms a reaction with the cocoa powder to produce a really really deep, almost red, color. Crazy!

Devil’s Food Cup-Layer-Cakes

makes about 2 dozen cupcakes

adapted from Gourmet

Print this recipe!


1/2 cup boiling water

2/3 cup cocoa

1/4 cup milk

2 tsp vanilla

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 stick butter, softened

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

2 eggs

1 batch cream cheese frosting


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the boiling water and cocoa until it becomes a thick paste. Add milk and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Set aside.

In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.

Cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the eggs, beating after each addition. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and the chocolate mixture while the mixer is running. Beat until smooth.

Spoon batter into buttered and floured cupcake tins. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cupcakes start to pull away from sides of pan. Remove and let cool completely.

Once cool, gently cut each cupcake in half. Pipe a blob of frosting on the bottom and sandwich pieces together then adding more frosting on top.

If making these ahead of time, store in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before eating.


1 hour

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{ 72 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather (Heather's Dish) March 30, 2011 at 5:13 am

i’ll say you did something about it! these are so adorable, and i love how you made the little layers. perfect chocolate fix :)


Nikita March 30, 2011 at 5:18 am

Looks scrumptious! Its 7am and I’m craving chocolate! :)


jenna laughs March 30, 2011 at 5:20 am

My mouth is totally watering. I am getting married in 10 months and put myself on a super diet …. but chocolate is my weakness and these look irresistible!


megan @ whatmegansmaking March 30, 2011 at 5:30 am

beautiful! The more icing the better in my mind :) Instead of dollops of frosting inside and out, I could see these as more of actual layer cakes, with the frosting all spread out to look like a mini cake, served on a plate. How cute would that be??


Lauren at Keep It Sweet March 30, 2011 at 5:36 am

I am always disappointed in the balance of cake to icing when I get a cupcake, this definitely solves that issue!


jessica @ how sweet March 30, 2011 at 5:38 am

These would surely curb my chocolate craving!!


Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat March 30, 2011 at 5:39 am

Oh my goodness. LOVE the photos this morning… mad chocolate cravings over here!


chelsey @ clean eating chelsey March 30, 2011 at 5:43 am

Good Lord, that looks amazing. Frosting is the best part, so this makes my heart love you a little bit more. I never knew the difference between chocolate/devil’s food cake before!


amy walters, aDESIGNdock March 30, 2011 at 5:49 am

Awww these little cakes are so adorable and pack such a punch of chocolate. I like.


Estela @ Weekly Bite March 30, 2011 at 5:49 am

WOW! These look like gourmet Little Debbie Snacks :)


Holly @ The Runny Egg March 30, 2011 at 5:51 am

I love the individual cakes — how adorable! Devils Food is definitely one my favorite cake flavors too!


Lucy @ The Sweet Touch March 30, 2011 at 5:53 am

Oh Alton, I actually love his little tidbits!

I think personal sized servings of anything up the cuteness factor!:)


Khushboo March 30, 2011 at 5:55 am

Wow do you deliver?? As much I don’t want to admit it, I cannot resist Betty Crocker devils food cake! Boxed or not, it always tastes like the jam!


Lesley Lifting Life March 30, 2011 at 5:57 am

These look way too good … my mouth is watering!!


Dishes of Mrs. Fish March 30, 2011 at 6:01 am

I’ll take one of these with a tall glass of milk for breakfast please!


Mary Catherine March 30, 2011 at 6:03 am

I LOVE that you ate at Perlas! It’s my absolute favorite restaurant here. I just love sitting on their big front porch on a beautiful evening with good friends, wine and food :)


mary (sisters running the kitchen) March 30, 2011 at 6:04 am

these look incredible!!! I love your idea of cup-layer-cakes….so cute!


brandi March 30, 2011 at 6:05 am

I think all cupcakes should have a middle layer of frosting. it’s a much better ratio!

these look great :)


Carrie March 30, 2011 at 6:10 am

Um, yum! The only thing that would make these even better is to sprinkle the top with coconut…there’s something about the combo of devil’s food cake, cream cheese frosting and coconut that is magic. I learned it from Sprinkles. 😉


The Blue-Eyed Bakers March 30, 2011 at 6:12 am

Oh wow, those look completely amazing and delicious and chocolately! We must make asap.


Shari @ Chicago Cuisine Critique March 30, 2011 at 6:12 am

I want these now! Yum!


kalli March 30, 2011 at 6:17 am

an opportunity for more frosting? yes please!


R @ Learning As I Chop March 30, 2011 at 6:29 am

Looks delicious and I am loving the photos


Heather March 30, 2011 at 6:35 am

I love devil’s food cake and never knew the difference! I have to make these, thanks for the recipe and Good Eats lesson!


Kelly March 30, 2011 at 6:38 am

I love Perla’s….it is one my favorite resturaunts in Austin. The atmosphere is wonderful and you can’t go to Austin and not eat on South Congress!


Baking 'n' Books March 30, 2011 at 6:42 am

I love the name – “Cup-Layers”. Cute :)

I was just thinking I want to want a good classic Cupcake with Frosting – just to look pretty and like yours. And to eat.

Therein lies the problem :)


Cara Craves... March 30, 2011 at 6:43 am

These are so fun!
Though I am more of a cake girl and less and icing girl, but I
may be swayed with these guys.


Amy March 30, 2011 at 6:46 am

So I just bought my first frosting bag & tips the other day … and have been hoping for a “Jenna- cupcake recipe” so that I can try them out :) You never fail me! So excited to try these… they look heavenly!


Stephanie Rose March 30, 2011 at 6:48 am

I loooovee cake but cupcakes don’t seem to have the same effect on me due to the uneven frosting distribution. I like frosting in ever bite! But this cupcake solves my problem! so cute. And I’ve been on the hunt for some piping tips. Do you have a preference for any kind, or are they all the same?


Lizz @ Leading the Good Life March 30, 2011 at 7:14 am

Bah, I love food with funny names!! “Michael Jackson with Botox” is pretty good!


staceyhealthylife March 30, 2011 at 7:22 am

That looks so good. That would make such a cute dinner party dessert.


Cara March 30, 2011 at 7:23 am

These are adorable and they look delicious! I love the idea of a cup-layer-cake, more icing is ALWAYS a good idea! :)


Katrina March 30, 2011 at 7:40 am

Beautiful! Love this recipe.


Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday March 30, 2011 at 7:42 am

They almost look like little whoopie pies!


Erin A March 30, 2011 at 7:45 am

SO cute and they look delish!!!! It’s a devils food kind of morning! My post involves using a devils food cake mix to make some awesome cookies! ha!

These are really gorgeous, I want them NOW!


Emily @ Savory and Savage March 30, 2011 at 7:50 am

Ok, you had me at cream cheese frosting :-)

Those cupcakes look incredible!

It makes me want to get some pastry bags and piping tips…


Maria March 30, 2011 at 7:50 am

I need a fork, like right now:)


Christie {Nourishing Eats} March 30, 2011 at 7:52 am

Very cute. And I like it when you “go all Alton Brown” I did not know that about Devil’s food cake and I am totally an Alton Brown fan.


Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels March 30, 2011 at 7:57 am

How cute are these cakes?! I love how they’re layered. I wish I had one (ok more like three) right now!


Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day March 30, 2011 at 7:58 am

I need that!


Amanda March 30, 2011 at 8:01 am

I love these pictures! I am wishing that I could reach through my computer screen at the moment :)


Moni'sMeals March 30, 2011 at 8:21 am

will hit the spot for sure, but too cute to eat, right!


Jenny March 30, 2011 at 8:23 am

I heart Alton Brown! He used to kind of creep me out, but now I find his show so interesting. Especially this one episode where he makes chewy, puffy, and crispy cookies and explains how a little addition of brown sugar or subtraction can make a huge difference, along with some other chemical reactions! crazy biochemistry in the kitchen :)


Stacy @ LoveDiscoveryGratitude March 30, 2011 at 8:25 am

oh those look cute and yummy!


Lindsay @ nourishnutrition March 30, 2011 at 8:33 am

I’m drooling! These look incredible.


Kristen @ Chocolate Covered Kristen March 30, 2011 at 8:51 am

Food Science Class flashback: The darker/redder a chocolate cake the more alkalized aka it has a higher pH. Lighter colored chocolate cakes are more acidic and have a lower pH.

PS – Your ‘hood isn’t too far from mine if you want to drive south with a few of those cakes 😉 Delish!


Michelle March 30, 2011 at 8:53 am

You can go Alton Brown on me anytime. I love your chocolate cravings. They’re inspirational.


Natalia - a side of simple March 30, 2011 at 9:30 am

Cake really is only a vehicle for frosting. Excellent plan of attack, Jenna 😉


Kelly March 30, 2011 at 9:53 am

Am I the only one who is slightly offended by the title of the cupcake? MJ has passed…and even if he was still with us, that would not be appropriate. I dunno, why ruin a fun thing like cupcakes with something so mean?


Erin March 30, 2011 at 10:11 am

Isn’t life easier if you have a sense of humor about such things and not take offense at something that doesn’t hurt anyone?

Jenna’s cupcakes look amazing, regardless of the name of the inspiration. Keep up the good work :)


jenna March 30, 2011 at 10:36 am

I don’t know–take it up with Hey Cupcake! I didn’t make the name up–promise!


Liz @ Tip Top Shape March 30, 2011 at 9:56 am

Ooohhh, these would be awesome to serve at a party!! Great recipe!!


Meghan @ StruggleMuffins March 30, 2011 at 10:04 am

I feel so enlightened now – I’ve actually always wondered how Devil’s Food is different from regular ole’ chocolate. When I eat cupcakes I usually break them in half and make a sammich out of them so the frosting is in the middle but this – this double dose of frosting – is pure culinary genius.


Ruth March 30, 2011 at 10:25 am

Ooooh! What a good idea. Perhaps it would also work with the red velvet recipe since that’s also devil’s food cake. How cute!


Nicole, RD March 30, 2011 at 11:33 am

I’m in an after lunch lul at work…I think I NEED one of those!


Michelle March 30, 2011 at 11:43 am

Those look AMAZING!!!!


Holly March 30, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Looks pretty yummy!

Although, I thought the reaction between the baking soda and cacoa powder was how you make red velvet cake (contrary to popular belief and my personal tastes, it’s not a TON of red food coloring that creates the beautiful dark red shade). Is this in line with what you learned in pastry school?


jenna March 30, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Actually, no. Sorry! To make red velvet cake you just add red food coloring to chocolate cake. 😉 I’ve never seen a recipe without food coloring because you really can’t get the cake red enough by just counting on the acids to neutralize.


Justeen @ Blissful Baking March 30, 2011 at 12:08 pm

So cute, and I bet even more delicious! :)


Heather @ Get Healthy with Heather March 30, 2011 at 12:15 pm

I just love how cute these little treats are! They would impress anyone for sure. I’m all about chocolate and cream cheese.


French Heart March 30, 2011 at 12:21 pm

This is why women crack-me up.

This AM rec’d an email from a woman writer/photographer in India (amazing photos and publishes pieces everywhere including the Wall Street Journal, etc) asking if I knew how to contact Peter Mayle in south of France. Am researching a piece on Marseilles, starting with what inspired the Greek civilization to go there (Goddess Artemis) and then proceed through history to wind up in bouillabaisse. Then stop by fave bloggers sites…one featuring Goldens, yours today layer cup cakes. Which all has the same weight to me. Stock market, lost socks, what’s the dif?

Off for walk and will nab a cupcake at Pastries and Petals. Their owner/baker thanks you. 😉


Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) March 30, 2011 at 12:33 pm

I love the Alton Brown trivia! Things like that are so much more interesting to read about on someone’s blog than what their split time in mile 7 of their run was this morning :)

As for the cupcakes…holy yum!!

They remind me a bit of your whoopie pies (the stacking + frosting in the middle) that you did for the Foobbuzz challenge last fall.

YUM to both!


Kati @ Living Well March 30, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Another chocolate recipe…brilliant! I made the salted fudge brownies last night *finally* and they are so. good.


Lola March 30, 2011 at 12:36 pm

I thought I saw a split pea soup recipe here somewhere and I cant find it !! :(


Amanda March 30, 2011 at 1:09 pm

I can’t think of a better recipe to have been posted on my birthday! Chocolate?! Cream cheese frosting?! Happy Birthday to me! Thanks, Jenna!


Helena March 30, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Is it okay if I make just the cream cheese frosting? 😀


Kristin March 30, 2011 at 1:21 pm

LOVE your recipes!! I’ll have to put these on the list for sure!


Mellie March 30, 2011 at 2:16 pm

I don’t even like devil’s food that much, but I kind of want one of these… mostly for the icing, I guess. =)


Dorry March 30, 2011 at 3:11 pm

I’m so glad you got to dine at Perla’s! That’s my friend Larry’s restaurant. I wonder if you’ve been to his other restaurant, Lambert’s…if not, try it next time you’re in Austin. :)


Pure2raw twins March 30, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Love Alton! He is brillant! And these layer cakes look heavenly!!! And I agree love personalized layered cakes :) YUM


Happy When Not Hungry March 30, 2011 at 3:59 pm

These little layer cakes look amazing! I love the little Alton Brown tid bit too since I didn’t know that about devil’s food cake. Thanks for sharing!


jenna k April 20, 2011 at 6:50 pm

i made these today for my senior pledge class in my sorority. everyone loved them! i just did them as regular (though small) cupcakes, no layers. they’re so rich and wonderful, and the frosting is the best cream cheese frosting i’ve tried making- and i’ve tried several recipes because it’s my favorite. thanks so much for both recipes!!

just a couple notes for anyone else wanting to make them: definitely make them small so that you actually stretch the recipe out to 2 dozen, because they’re very rich. and be sure to watch them bake, because mine only took about 18-20 minutes.


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