Black Bottom Cupcakes

blackbottomcupcakesYears ago, before I began a serious baker, I marveled at the Starbucks black bottom cupcake. I had no idea what was in it – I simply knew it was delicious, and that it was the only cupcake in existence that didn’t need frosting. How could one achieve such a thing? What was that spongy, chocolate chip-studded white layer? This remained a mystery, until today.

The black bottom cupcake is surprisingly simple to make, requiring basics that you likely have in your pantry. The batter could certainly hold its own without the cream cheese/sugar/egg/chocolate chip filling, but that would defeat the entire black bottom purpose. Although it’s Lent and I’m refraining from sweets at present, this will be on the top of my list to make once Easter arrives. Next time, I might increase my filling quantity, perhaps even doubling it, so that I can add more filling to each cupcake.



  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)


  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; my recipe yielded 33 cupcakes, just shy of three dozen.

In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and sugar; beat until well combined. Add egg and salt and beat until very well combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

In a large bowl, sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add water, vegetable oil, vinegar, and vanilla extract and mix very well.

Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop batter into cupcake wells, filling just over half full. Drop a heaping teaspoon of the cream cheese filling mixture into the middle of each.

Bake for 20 minutes; remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.


Black Bottom Mini Brownies (Version One)







People often ask me what I miss about living in DC, and I tell them many things; our dear friends, our cool apartment on the Hill from which, in the winter when there were no leaves on the magnolia tree, you could see the top of the Capitol Dome, the Metro, the ample assortment of activities, the fact that we could walk to almost everything and only needed one car.  Oh, and of course, easy access to Starbucks.

From our apartment, there were three Starbucks shops in short walking distance; from my office on G Street, there were at least five.  While working at Catholic Charities Foundation, my friend Kelly and I literally went to Starbucks every day.  Sometimes more than once.

Among the treats behind the curved-glass dessert case was the infamous black bottom cupcake, a marvelous confection of cream cheese batter and dark chocolate batter that was at once spongy and dense.  I’m sure it had about a million calories, but it was totally worth it.

This recipe reminded me of the black bottom cupcake, though I have to wonder if the author actually tested it before it was published.  The original baking time needed to be nearly doubled, and when I popped each brownie out of its muffin cup after they cooled, they basically fell apart.  I’d suggest many changes, including baking in full-size muffin cups or a rectangular pan, reducing the quantity of mini chocolate chips in the cream cheese layer, or spooning significantly less batter into each mini muffin cup.  Let’s call this recipe Version One and keep trying, eh?


Cream Cheese Layer

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, slightly softened and cut into chunks
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Chocolate Layer

  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
  • 2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Coat a 24-cup mini muffin tin with nonstick spray.

In a food processor, process the cream cheese, sugar, butter, egg yolk, and vanilla until well blended and completely smooth.

Pour into a bowl and add the mini chocolate chips, stirring to combine; set aside while preparing chocolate layer.

In a small bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda; set aside.

In a medium, microwave-safe bowl, combine butter and baking chocolate.  Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until chocolate almost melts; remove from microwave and stir until the remaining chocolate melts completely.

Add sugar and stir until well combined.

Add flour mixture and stir until very well combined.

Spoon about 1/2 tablespoon of the chocolate mixture into each mini muffin cup.

Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the cream cheese mixture over the chocolate layer, distributing batter evenly.

Spoon remaining chocolate batter evenly over the cream cheese layer.

Place muffin tin on a baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out almost clean; if the bottom is a bit moist, that is okay.

Cool completely in pans on a wire rack, then remove gently using the tip of a table knife.