Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing | photo by Zoë François

This is the best chocolate cake recipe I have ever tried and believe me, over the past 20+ years, I’ve tried them all. The dark chocolate cake has a texture that is smooth and rich. The flavor is not overly sweet, because of the intensity of the coffee (you don’t actually taste the coffee, it just cuts the sweet) and the rum (the Devil in “Devil’s Food cupcakes” perhaps?), which make it a great match for cream cheese frosting sweetened with Lyle’s Golden Syrup.

If you haven’t tried Lyle’s you are in for a huge treat and a new addiction. I first had it when a friend of mine from South Africa gave it to me on a peanut butter sandwich. It is a decidedly British snack and like nothing you’ve ever had before. Lyle’s is a syrup made of sugar cane that looks and feels like honey, but the taste is not nearly as cloying. It can be found in some grocery stores and even on Amazon, gotta’ love the internet!

Devil’s Food Cupcakes Recipe

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder (It doesn’t seem to make a difference if you use natural or Dutch-processed), sift if lumpy

1 tablespoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

3/4 cups buttermilk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup hot coffee*

1/4 cup rum or brandy (if you opt out of the booze then use equal parts coffee)*

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare 1 dozen large muffin tins with Paper Baking Cups (or two 9-inch rounds).

Combine all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and whisk until combined, set aside.

Whisk together, eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla until well combined. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Slowly add the coffee and rum to the batter and whisk until totally blended and smooth, about 2 minutes. The batter will be quite runny.

Fill a measuring cup or pitcher with the batter and then fill the muffin cups about 3/4 full. (Warning: some people have reported back that their cupcakes overflow when they fill them this full. You may want to try the first batch 2/3 full!)

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing | photo by Zoë François

Bake the devil’s food cupcakes for about 18-20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing | photo by Zoë François

Allow to cool on a cake rack and then frost with cream cheese icing. Recipe follows:

Cream Cheese Icing with Lyle’s Golden Syrup*

1 (8 ounce) package of Philly’s Cream Cheese (I am really brand loyal, having tried lots!), softened

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 Tablespoon Lyle’s Golden Syrup (use honey if you are in a pinch)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl and cream together until smooth. I used a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip to decorate these devil’s food cupcakes. You may want to double the icing recipe just in case you find yourself dipping into the bowl with a spoon!

For those of you who want to learn to decorate your cupcakes with a little more flare, here is a post on piping icing roses.

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing | photo by Zoë François

pottery by Kevin Caufield


Irish Whiskey Devil’s Food – use 1/2 cup whiskey and 1/4 cup coffee in place of the coffee/rum called for in the recipe.

Stout Devil’s Food – replace all of the coffee/rum with stout beer