Go Back
Chocolate Vanilla Treasure Chest Cupcakes
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
17 mins
These rich chocolate cupcakes are topped with creamy vanilla buttercream, and are decorated with chocolates, toffee, and crushed graham crackers to look like hidden treasure! Perfect for a pirate themed party.
Servings: 12 -14 Cupcakes
Chocolate Cupcakes
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup hot coffee chocolate, espresso, or plain is best
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp espresso powder optional--it brings out the chocolate flavor without tasting like coffee
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
Vanilla Buttercream
  • 1 c butter softened to room temp
  • 3-4 c powdered sugar
  • 1/4 c heavy cream half-and-half, or whole milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt to offset sweetness
  • 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup toffee bits
  • 12 chocolate nuggets
Chocolate Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-tin cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  2. Combine cocoa and hot coffee together, stirring until smooth; add in oil and stir; set aside.
  3. Beat butter with a standing mixer or hand mixer until creamy and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Gradually add in white and brown sugar, beating 2-3 minutes until it is light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until the yellow disappears.
  5. Add in chocolate/coffee mixture, and beat until just combined.
  6. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder.
  7. Stir together buttermilk, vanilla extract, and sour cream (or Greek yogurt).
  8. Alternately mix the buttermilk mixture and flour mixture with the butter batter, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Do not overmix.
  9. Divide batter evenly between muffin cups (the batter makes 14-16).
  10. Bake for 17-18 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Be careful not to over-bake, as chocolate cupcakes can get very dry if over-baked.
  11. Allow to cool.
Vanilla Buttercream
  1. For the frosting, beat butter until light and fluffy. Add in powdered sugar, a cup at a time starting with only 3 cups. Add in heavy cream, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Beat until light and fluffy, about a minute.
  2. If the frosting is too thin, add in the other cup of powdered sugar, 1/2 a cup at a time. If it's too thick, add in more heavy cream, a Tbsp at a time.
  3. Once the cupcakes have cooled, pipe the frosting on.
  1. Place a chocolate nugget in the middle of the frosting. Press a mixture of graham cracker crumbs and toffee around the chocolate (the "treasure chest") to make it look like beach sand.