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Posted on Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 10:25 a.m.

Sour Cream Chocolate Cupcakes for National Cupcake Day

By Jessica Webster


It's National Cupcake Day on Thursday, so I am celebrating with these moist, not-too-sweet sour cream chocolate cupcakes.

Jessica Webster |

Cupcakes are so 2010. Both Rachael Ray and NPR have declared that the cupcake trend is over and announced that pie was the next big thing.

But are there 24-hour pie ATMs? I don't think so. There's some life in cupcakes yet.

I've always had mixed feelings about cupcakes. Delicious little individual cakes served in a paper muffin cup? Bring them on! But so many of the cupcake craze era cupcakes were all about the crazy ideas and gorgeous decorations... and not about the flavor.

I'd order some beautiful looking, exotic cupcake with great anticipation, only to bite into a dry cake topped with sickly sweet, chemically-tasting frosting. No thank you.

I welcome a new era of cupcakes, a simple era, where the cakes are moist and the frosting rich and not too sweet. I'll call it the era of the Throwback Cupcake.

Am I declaring a new cupcake era simply because I seem to lack the ability (or patience or interest) to imagine and execute intricate cupcake design ideas? Yeah, maybe a little bit. But I also have no interest in investing in the calories of a cupcake without reaping great flavor rewards.

So this week, when I baked a batch of cupcakes to bring to share with my WEMU colleagues and volunteers for our fall pledge drive, I reached into the depths of my old-school cookbooks and found a trusty Sour Cream Chocolate Cake recipe: moist, simple, not too sweet, and super delicious.

This recipe comes from the Colden Country Cookbook, a spiral-bound cookbook compiled and printed by the Women's Committee of the Colden United Methodist Church in western New York. I've been making this recipe as a special event cake for well over 20 years.

You can fancy it up with other flavors — raspberries, for instance, taste great with the sour cream chocolate frosting. Or you could replace some of the water in the cake with cold coffee and add a teaspoon of instant espresso powder to the frosting for a mocha chocolate cake.

Sour Cream Chocolate Cupcakes - adapted from the Colden Country Cookbook

  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 4 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large mixing bowl, cream sugar, shortening, eggs, vanilla and sour cream. Alternate flour mixture with water and blend into the creamed sugar and egg mixture, Add melted chocolate and mix together.

Fill 18-24 prepared muffin cups 1/2 to 2/3 full with batter and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Sour cream chocolate frosting

  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and beat well. Mix in sour cream and beat until fluffy. Slowly add melted chocolate and vanilla and beat unti it becomes a spreadable consistency.

Make sure the cupcakes are completely cooled before attempting to frost them.

Jessica Webster leads the Food & Grocery section for Reach her at You also can follow her on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Sun, Oct 21, 2012 : 9:40 p.m.

OMG, to die for! (Probably literally and don't tell my doctor.) Through my kids' schooldays, they had an incomprehensible passion for rainbow chip cupcakes. Ugh. But I made them. And I had forgotten how messy, complicated and perfectly wonderful making homemade cupcakes can be. The sour cream adds the perfect tang. And I will use the sour cream frosting for other things. It's just like chocolate mousse.


Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 4:49 p.m.

Yep, just like my mom used to make in a cake. So much better than the store-bought cupcakes!

music to my ear

Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 4:10 p.m.

a cupcake a day keep the sweet tooth away, but once past the lips forever on your hips.I ll take two.


Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 4:06 p.m.

Pie > Cupcakes. Cupcakes are for little girls, pie is for adults.

Kyle Mattson

Thu, Oct 18, 2012 : 6:09 p.m.

As a fellow pie lover I tend to rank it above all other desserts as well , particularly this time of year when pie season it at its peak, but I guess every dessert deserves its 5 minutes fame. Here's a good recipe we ran last year on how to bake a pumpkin pie from scratch.