Devil’s Mini-Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

I made these little cakes for my son’s school birthday party. We’d been arguing for a while if they should (or should not) have colored sprinkles on their tops. Tim kept saying that the sprinkles could significantly increase the cupcakes’ popularity. Well, I had my own counterarguments, and I won after all. They were very well received nevertheless. The cupcake batter is a famous Flo Braker’s devil’s food cake; the one that Alice Medrich tried to improve but couldn’t make it any better. It is delicious, moist and tender, very American, but without so commonly excessive overalkalized cocoa flavor.

Makes 48 mini-cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

  • 2 cups (7 oz) sifted (before measuring) cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup sifted natural cocoa powder
  • ½ cup lukewarm water
  • ½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 8 tbsp (1 stick, 113 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup fine granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar

For the frosting:

  • 1 lb cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 8 tbsp (1 stick, 113 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup sour cream, cold, right from the fridge
  • 2 cups icing sugar, sifted

Zest of 1 large lemon

  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp pure lemon extract

Make the cupcakes:

Fit parchment mini-cupcake liners into 48 mini-cupcake molds. Spray the liners lightly with oil spray (the cupcakes are tiny, you don’t want to waste anything that sticks to the liners).

Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350F.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt, then sift onto a sheet of parchment paper or into another bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa and lukewarm water; set aside to cool. In a glass measure, combine the buttermilk. The remaining water, and the vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs briefly to combine the whites and yolks.

In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer for a few seconds, until creamy. Gradually add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy, 6 to 7 minutes. With the mixer on medium, slowly add the eggs, taking about 2 minutes in all. Continue to beat, scraping the bowl as necessary, until the mixture is fluffy and velvety.

Stop the mixer and scrape in the cocoa mixture, then beat on medium speed just until combined, Stop the mixer, add one-third of the flour mixture, and beat on low speed only until no flour is visible. Stop the mixer and add half of the buttermilk mixture, and beat only until the liquid is absorbed.
Repeat with half of the remaining flour, then all of the remaining buttermilk, and finally the remaining flour. Scrape the bowl as necessary, and beat only enough to incorporate the ingredients after each addition.

Transfer the cake batter into a large pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip and pipe the batter into the prepared molds filling them about ¾-full. This is the easiest way to equally divide the batter between so many mini-muffin molds. Although you also can use a spoon.

Bake the cupcakes for about 14-15 minutes, until puffed and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes for 5 minutes on a cooling rack, then unmold and completely on the rack before frosting.

Make the frosting:

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with electric beaters until smooth and lump-free. Beat in the butter, mix until well combined. Then beat in the sour cream, icing sugar, zest, and extracts. Continue mixing until combined and light in texture, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.

Transfer the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe a rosette over the top of  each cupcake. Refrigerate to firm up the frosting. Remove the cupcakes from the fridge 30 minutes  prior the serving time. The cupcakes can be made a day in advance and kept in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.

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39 Responses to “Devil’s Mini-Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. What pretty cupcakes! They look very tempting!



  2. I know I love your mini cupcakes, as I make them all the time ;) So, this one is a must try for me :)

  3. They look (and no doubts they are) great! :)

  4. Those are some adorable tasty looking cupcakes! Great job

  5. Hello Vera. I’m new to the blogging world and I’m trying to network a little to make some friends. Your site is gorgeous. I’m glad I stumbled upon you because I will definitely be visiting again.
    These little cakes look so moist! I bet they keep well too.

  6. Your son is soo cute!! Adding sprinkles would increase the popularity?? He sounds like he’s going to become a marketing executive some day!! Gorgeous cupcakes!!

  7. WOW! Absolutely, absolutely gorgeous!!!!

  8. i do love the miniatures–they’re so easy to eat. your choice of a lemon frosting is lovely!

  9. Very cute cupcakes, Vera. I’ve recently “discovered” Flo Braker (I know, I’m very embarrassed!). I made her blueberry muffins. Absolutely moist and delicious and not overly sweet. These cupcakes also look moist and delicious. Love your idea of the lemony contrast against the chocolate. And thanks for showing a picture of the cupcake’s inside :o)

  10. Devilishly divine Vera…very very pretty!

  11. Hi Vera- Well I think you have read my mind. I’m currently in the middle of a cupcake baking binge as I’m going to be doing the cupcakes for a friend’s wedding this summer. She’s coming next month and we’re going to have a little tasting so I will have to make these cupcakes as she has requested chocolate cake and lemon/cream cheese frosting.

  12. What adorable little teeny tiny cupcakes!

  13. Hi Vera. Now that I’ve gotten over my initial excitement at your recipe being exactly what I’ve been looking for, I have a few questions for you, if you don’t mind.

    You recommend lightly spraying the liners with oil. When I have done that in the past they have released themselves from the finished cupcakes and fanned out, does that not happen with this cake recipe?

    If the cupcakes are well chilled, could they sit at a warm room temperature for a few hours?

    What number tip did you use to pipe the frosting? It looks so pretty.

    Thanks for your help, I really appreciate it.

  14. How cute and delicious these cupcakes look. I would eat one after the other :)

  15. Hi Vera,

    You know, you are so good at the styling om your photos, that I feel I could just reach in and grab one of these little beauties.


  16. Aww, so sweet that you made these for your son’s little party. The photo is stellar, very lovely.

  17. I have to try this devil’s food recipe – these look so good.

  18. Thank you all for your lovely comments! I am truly touched!

    Jen, I didn’t have this problem with my liners (they were very ordinary pure white liners). But if you plan to make a small trial batch anyway, try to spray some of the liners and leave some of them unsprayed, just to be sure.
    The cupcakes will be fine for a few hours at room temperature, don’t worry.
    The tip I used was Ateco 826 open star.

  19. Wow these look amazing! I can’t wait to try them! How long do they keep for? Will they stay soft for a few days or is it best to only make one day in advance? Thanks Vera!

  20. I love the taste of chocolate and lemon together. These sound amazing.

  21. You are very creative Vera.. it’s not easy balancing a career, hobby and family.. now your balancing cup cakes on lemons too?! :)

  22. What a great birthday treat. These cupcakes look delicious! And I love the color contrast between the frosting and the cake! Yay for winning the sprinkles argument :)

  23. Nessie, thank you! If you keep them airtight in the fridge, they’ll stay moist, soft and quite fresh for up to 3-4 days.

    Dragon, thank you!

    Laurie, thank you very much :)

    Elyse, thanks a lot! I’m very good in arguing :)

  24. I would have argued against adding sprinkles as well. Looks much more elegant that way, doesn’t it? :)

  25. Jude, and it tastes better :)

  26. There are so cute!

  27. Hi Vera- I wanted to tell you that I made your devil’s food cupcakes for my friend’s wedding last weekend and they came out perfectly. Everyone absolutely loved them and even though I made a few other flavors as well, the bride’s favorite was your devil’s food with cream cheese frosting. Thank you for sharing your excellent recipe.

  28. Jen, I am so glad! Thanks for letting me know and congratulations to your friend!

  29. Hi Vera

    I attempted to make these cupcakes today and my frosting was very loose. I checked the amounts about 3 times and I don’t know what I did wrong. Please help!

    Thank you,

  30. Andrea, maybe your butter was too warm. You can put the frosting into the fridge for a while to firm it up before piping.

  31. I made these with and without the cocoa, turned out very moist and soft, but VERY sweet. I think this could be done with half the sugar and still be OK. The “vanilla” ones were like caramel-like cupcakes, very good!

  32. Vera, do you think I can use this Devil’s Food doug for baking a cake(in a cake pan)?Thank you in advance! Olessya

  33. Olessya, absolutely. Make sure not to overfill the cake pans with the cake batter, grease and dust with flour the sides of your pans, and line the bottoms with parchment paper. The baking time will be different though. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

  34. Great! Thank you so much for the reply, Vera,can’t wait to try it as a cake, it should be delicious! Olessya

  35. Hello Vera,

    I made these cupcakes yesteday, topped them with chocolate ganache. My kids loved them.
    Thank You

  36. I did take other suggestions and reduced the sugars to 3/4 cup.

  37. These mini cupcakes look absolutely amazing and so tasty! I’m delighted with them! I’ve featured this recipes on my blog! I hope you don’t mind! If you don’t agree with that please contact me and I will remove it. All the best.

  38. Ok I am baking these RIGHT NOW. They smell SO good in the oven!! I followed the directions and ingredients to the dot, so they turned out great!
    One suggestion I would make though is to add 1/4 cup more confectioners sugar for the frosting than asked for.
    But gosh darn they’re so cute! I even added a sift of cocoa powder and a slice of strawberry to the very top and voila, masterpiece!


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