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Chocolate cupcakes with buttercream rose icing

Although they look a little more technical, these iced cupcakes are a really easy throw-it-all-in-one-bowl recipe. I've broken everything down into a step-by-step guide complete with photos and I hope the tips I've picked up along the way and shared below will help you create the perfect-piping consistency, every time

Total time to make : 1 hour including chill time (for you, and the cupcakes) Time to prep : Base (10 minutes) Buttercream (10 minutes)

Time to bake : 18 - 20 minutes

Servings : 12



105g plain flour

20g cocoa powder

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

75g brown sugar

75g white sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla essence or paste

60ml light olive oil (can use other baking oils)

90ml buttermilk

1 egg

90ml boiling water

1 tsp instant coffee


250g unsalted butter, at room temperature

500g icing sugar

1 tbsp any milk

* this is my go-to base recipe, for red roses you'll need a good quality food gel (and ideally a few days notice for the colour to develop)

* or you can add 1 tsp essence/paste for a creamy white vanilla buttercream

* ...or click here for my favourite Nutella Buttercream


For piped roses, I use a 'Wilton 1M' nozzle, it's a very popular and widely available nozzle, along with a piping bag



Chocolate cupcake base

  1. Preheat oven to 165C and line a cupcake pan with 12 paper liners

  2. Put the kettle on to boil and mix 1tsp instant coffee in with 90ml freshly boiled water, stir and leave aside

  3. In a large mixing bowl, sieve the flour, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda together

  4. Add in the brown and white sugars and salt, mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until well combined

  5. Add in the oil, buttermilk, egg and vanilla, mixing well into a thick batter

  6. Pour in the coffee to the batter and mix again, your batter will be quite thin and runny but this is what we are looking for!

  7. Pour the mixture into the cake liners, filling them up about 1/2 way full, I pour my batter into a use a measuring jug with a lip so it gives me a little more control over pouring them

  8. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes or until a clean metal skewer or toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the bake, if it still has wet batter on - they're not ready just yet

  9. Remove from the oven and allow to completely cool before icing

* the photo shows 2 eggs because I had doubled up the recipe to make 24


  1. Using a standing mixer or electric hand whisker, whip the room temperature butter in a large clean bowl on a low speed for a minute until it's pale and fluffy

  2. Keeping the speed on low, add in the icing sugar a few tbsp's at a time - to avoid being covered in a huge cloud of icing smoke. Continue doing this until all the icing sugar has been added, then mix on a high speed for another minute before gradually adding the milk 1/2 tsp at a time - I find 1 tbsp is perfect, beating on high between each addition

  3. The consistency we're looking for with buttercream is thick but spreadable, like toothpaste

  4. For vanilla icing, use vanilla paste (if you like to see the black vanilla specks, like me) or vanilla essence

  5. For red icing, use a good quality food gel. I actually use a hot pink and a red to create a deeper red. I refrigerate the icing and the colour deepens and develops over time (see photos, below), mix again with a spoon before using to remove any air bubbles that may have developed

  6. You can use the back of a spoon or spatula to smooth the buttercream onto the cupcakes or, follow the steps and tips here to create the perfect consistency for piping


  1. To prepare the piping bag, measure your nozzle alongside the piping bag and use scissors to snip off the end and insert your piping nozzle

  2. I like to use food-bag clips (or clothes pegs if I'm running low...😂 ) to clip just above the nozzle (see photos below). This stops any buttercream running out whilst I'm filling the bag up

  3. I use an empty NutriBullet or large pint glass to fill my piping bag up (see photos, below). Fill the bag with the buttercream about 1/2 full and secure with another clip if you're not using it immediately. Avoid over-filling the bag

  4. Once filled, I like to chill the bags in the fridge for about 15 minutes if I'm in a hot kitchen (like in Sydney) as I find chilled buttercream easier to pipe with

  5. When you're ready to use the buttercream, remove the safety clips and use your hands to move and squidgy the buttercream down the bag. Wrap the end of the bag tightly and like a large pencil, you'll use one hand to guide the nozzle and the other to apply pressure and squeeze the buttercream out

  6. You can practice piping on greaseproof paper, scraping the icing back into the bowl/piping bag so nothing is wasted

  7. On cooled cupcakes, start at the centre and pipe in a clockwise direction around the centre until the cupcake is covered. Don't worry too much about making them perfect! (See video below)

  8. The buttercream in the piping bag will warm to your hands, so use this to warm up too-chilled buttercream or pop back in the fridge if you need a stiffer consistency

  9. Once cupcakes are iced, store in the fridge. Best eaten on the same day but will last up to 3 days (not in my fridge, but general)


Nutritional Information

(per un-iced cupcake)

135 calories

2g protein, 20g carbs, 5g fat

(per fully-iced cupcake, with about 3-4 tbsp buttercream per cake)

450 calories

2g protein, 61g carbs, 22g fat

Good to know:

  • Coffee adds a real depth to chocolate bakes, you can't taste it at all but if for whatever reason you don't want to add it you can just use the boiling water

  • Only fill the cupcakes liners 1/2 way full before baking, we want a flat surface and more room to decorate with icing

  • Store un-iced cupcakes at room temperature for up to 5 days

  • Cupcakes freeze incredibly well, make in advance, bring to room temperature then wrap tightly with cling-film and store in an airtight container for up to 3 months

  • The key to good buttercream is consistency, and my best tip is to make sure the butter is at room temperature, completely soft and spreadable before using it in the recipe. Removing the butter from the fridge and cutting the butter into cubes can help speed up the process

  • Use gel not liquid food colouring as it will throw off consistency. For a deep colour such as bright red, they intensify over time - I kept mine in the fridge for 4 days before using

  • You may find that you have icing left over depending on the piping decoration, but leftovers can easily be stored and re-used to reduce waste

  • Once mixed to your desired consistency, icing can be stored in an airtight container (see picture, below) for up to 1 week in the fridge or 2 months in a freezer, defrost fully before using

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