pot-bellies-black-bottoms Recipes

black-bottom cupcakes

I’ve always thought one of the best lines in Pulp Fiction is wedged almost unnoticeably early on. Fabienne tells Butch that she wants a pot belly because she thinks they’re sexy on women (though, kind of hilarious, she thinks they make men look oafish). Butch disagrees, tells her she should be happy she doesn’t have one because guys don’t find it attractive. She snips back that she doesn’t give a damn what men like, before musing somewhat sadly that “It’s unfortunate what we find pleasing to the touch and pleasing to the eye is seldom the same.”

And I have to admit, if you swapped “touch” with “taste,” you’d have exactly what was going through my head this weekend as I made a quickie batch of David Lebovitz’s famed Black-Bottom Cupcakes from his Great Book of Chocolate. A spin on the classic devil’s food cake, each cupcake gets a dollop of cheesecake filling which is decked out with chopped bits of bittersweet chocolate before it’s baked into something almost too delicious for words. Since they lack frosting, they’re superbly easy to schlep from one place to another, and should you have time to zap them in the fridge, I think they’re a rare cupcake that actually tastes better cold. And seriously, chocolate and cheesecake? It is beyond my comprehension how everyone does not dream about this flavor contrast. I know we here in the SmitKitch certainly do.


But, and I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, my inner perfectionist hated them as I was completely unable to get them to look like the peanut butter cup-reminiscent photo. My dollops, they wouldn’t center. My cupcakes, they kept overflowing in the oven. In my attempt to make them into miniature cakes, my first eight had too much filling, and my last eight had none. My baking karma was stunningly off on Friday night, it seemed and I had a asterisked storm cloud over my head all the way until the opening credits of Knocked Up, which if you seriously don’t die laughing from the chairs-in-Vegas scene alone, I just don’t know if we can be friends anymore.

When we got home, my sides hurting from aforementioned cracking up, the ridiculousness of being in a funk because my cupcakes didn’t come out the way I’d hoped had been squarely put in its place. Silly Deb, don’t you know that it only matters that it tastes good? Of course, of course, I muttered, because they were crazy delicious. And I almost sold myself on it, I did. But next time, I still might try a piping bag to get that damned dollop centered.

cupcakes runneth over

Black-Bottom Cupcakes
The Great Book of Chocolate, David Lebovitz

Yield: 12 full-size or approximately 30 mini cupcakes

For the filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, regular or reduced fat, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup unflavored vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white or cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the filling: Beat together the cream cheese, granulated sugar, and egg until smooth. Stir in the chopped chocolate pieces. Set aside.

Make the cupcakes:
1. Adjust the rack to the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F (175°C). Butter a 12-cup muffin tin, or line the tin with paper muffin cups.
2. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla.
3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients, stirring until just smooth. Stir any longer and you will over mix the batter and end up with less-than-tender cupcakes.
4. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Spoon a few tablespoons* of the filling into the center of each cupcake, dividing the filling evenly. This will fill the cups almost completely,** which is fine.
5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown and the cupcakes feel springy when gently pressed. These moist treats will keep well unrefrigerated for 2 to 3 days if stored in an airtight container.

Two notes:
* If you choose to go mini for these, keep the filling at a tablespoon or less, lest you run out, as, ahem, someone else may have.
** Though I’ve only made this recipe one, and therefore don’t think you should take my input as absolute authority, I’ve got to advise against actually letting these guys fill up. Not an issue if you’re going full-size, but if you go mini, aim for 90 percent full.

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175 comments on black-bottom cupcakes

  1. Babelfish

    I just wanted to let you know I’ve been lurking for months, cooking much of what you post, and finding a new hobby in the meantime. This last weekend, I cooked the brussels sprouts in caper butter and a risotto loosely based on one of yours for my new in-laws, and now they all think I’m a rock star in the kitchen. Thanks.

  2. I think they look great – so great I might just have to make some the next time I’m supposed to take dessert somewhere. (I suspect I would eat them all if they didn’t have someplace to go!) – Cheers!

  3. I had exactly that problem with the black-bottom brownie bites from Nancy Baggett’s book — I overfilled them drastically, which resulted in an unpleasant sunken look. Delicious, but not at all impressive. Will try this recipe this week and report back. Thanks.

  4. I make a non-fat version of these (I know, I know…silly concept but a necessity with my baking addiction). I do use a piping bag to get the filling in the center and I add a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips to the top of the filling that get all lovely gooey once baked. Highly addictive. :)

  5. I grew up next to this bakery that always had black-bottoms, they never looked perfect but had crooked overflows of white on black, much like yours. I liked it this way best, so I could pick out the ones that had the most cheesecake, of course. Try a piping bag for the boring old perfect look :-)

  6. Blackbottoms are a family tradition for me. My mom has been making dozens for holidays and special occasions since the early 1980s! I like them in the mini size, the regular size is a bit much. I also like to to use mini chips instead of broken up chocolate for more even distribution or else we’d all be picking the ones with the most chips!

  7. When I was a kid, the deli near my school made these, and actually called them “Ugly Muffins”. They’re not supposed to look perfect! But they sure do taste good.

  8. Kim

    I just made these the other day for a friend’s bday! I had the opposite problem though…my cheesecake filling kept sinking to the bottom and I was left with little to no indication of the yumminess that was within. Mine were the full-sized though. I wonder what the trick is? David’s look so perfect, of course! I suppose I need to make another batch…you know, in the name of practice’s sake

  9. Those look scrumptious! If you are really THAT much of a perfectionist that it bothers you to have non-perfect cupcakes around, feel free to send them to me!

  10. Karen

    Much like Rachel above, I have been making black bottoms for many, many years. Having made both regular and mini cupcakes, I have to put my two cents in….mini always seem to come out better. Deb, I have been lurking for a few months and I really enjoy your recipes!

  11. I just love Blackbottom cupcakes…..I could eat ’em until I burst. Who cares if the cream cheese is centered? Overflow?? Sheesh. Too small? Meh.

    Enjoyment is the key word; take yourself too seriously and you forget why you cook in the first place. It’s to enjoy. Perfection on earth is impossible.

  12. Celeste

    I have an idea; I think chilled filling would stay put better. Chill the filling, scoop it out with a melon baller and just drop it into the well. Or, pipe it warm into long ropes on cookie sheet, chill, and cut off the amount you need. Maybe it if is a tubular piece that will help.

    They look absolutely delicious! Cheesecake bites, how divine. mmmmmmmmm

  13. They look lovely, those little cakelets! And Knocked Up? Absolutely made my Sunday night, especially the chairs-in-Vegas scene, though, really, there were too many funny moments to count. Nice to see you on Saturday!

  14. Nicole

    Deb – did you know Fitness magazine gave you a shout out? Maybe you’ve already mentioned it here, and I didn’t see it. But anyhoo, I was reading it Sunday morning and came across a little blurb about how much your blog rocks the universe.

  15. Oh, my, Deb! What’s not to like about these? As far as the aesthetics, you have to look on the bright side. If no one eats them because they’re not “pretty,” that just means more for you! (Although, they look fine to me.)

  16. Jen

    They look delicious, but what screamed out at me the most in this post is your love of the chair scene in Knocked Up. “There are five chairs in this room. Five chairs!” “I’m high. I’m so high on this chair. I need to sit in this other one.” Paul Rudd at his most hilarious. That movie was fabulous.

  17. courtney

    Whenever my grandfather would go to a potluck he would always pick the ugliest desert. When I asked him why he said it was because you knew that one had to be homemade, and would be better than the pretty ones because they were most likely purchased.

    That is what your story reminds me of. So I probably would have picked these if you brought them to a pot luck. YUM!

  18. I grew up on a recipe very similar to this. They were always the family favorite. And I agree, they are better cold. Thanks for the reminder of these wonderful treats!!

  19. Jocelyn, you should share! Deb, how did you get Alex to go to “Knocked Up” with you???? B refuses and says that I’m more than welcome to watch it in North Carolina. (I’m not commenting on the cupcakes because I REALLY want one!)

  20. I made black bottom cupcakes a couple of years ago and they looked exactly like yours. I just pretended this is how they’re SUPPOSED to look.

  21. Stephanie

    I went to a bakery recently and these cupcakes were on sale there under the name ‘Stephanie’. I searched all over the internet for the Stephanies recipe but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Since it’s my name, I thought it was really cute.

  22. Jessica

    I have been promised by a certain man in my life that if I make these tonight, I will definitely be getting lucky. Also, loved the movie – however, I think my favorite scene was them running through the drug store, buying every single pregnancy test they could and then going home and peeing on every one of them. :-)

  23. deb

    Jessica– From JoyofBaking.com: “Dutch-Processed or Alkalized Unsweetened Cocoa Powder is treated with an alkali to neutralize its acids. Because it is neutral and does not react with baking soda, it must be used in recipes calling for baking powder, unless there are other acidic ingredients in sufficient quantities used… Its delicate flavor makes it ideal in baked goods like European cakes and pastries where its subtle flavor complements other ingredients. Droste, Lindt, Valrhona, Poulain and Pernigotti are some popular brands.”

    Basically, because Dutch-process will nullify baking soda, you’ve got to use the other stuff here. However, if you only have Dutch-process (and really, I think the quality is far superior), there is an exchange for baking powder/baking soda that escapes me right now, but should be Google-able. I’ve used it before with success.

  24. Christine—

    Dutch process cocoa has been treated with alkaline which makes it both more acidic and thus darker. Dutch process cocoa reacts in conjunction with chemical leaveners like baking powder and baking soda, making things rise. Natural cocoa, like Scharffen Berger brand (& I think Hershey’s??) has not been treated and so your baked goods will need a lot more push and finesse to rise within the same recipe/called for amounts.

    Although a product like Valrhona cocoa is a big investment, when cocoa powder is this good you can get away with less of it.

    I’m not so savvy that I can figure out how to get a link into my comment here, but I wrote a lot about cocoa when I explained how Devil’s Food Cake works– look for the recipe on my site, eggbeater, if you wish to know more.

  25. I thank you so much- I had forgotten about this recipe- my best friend gave it to me 35 years ago- the only difference is that it called for German Sweet chocolate and was printed on the wrapper for awhile. I am headed in to make a batch so I can eat them before anyone gets home!

  26. Jessica

    So, my second pan just came out of the oven. Yum. I agree – I think that these are better cold (and since it is about 90 outside my door, this is perfect). Also, I used the piping bag to put on the cream cheese and it worked much better. In fact, if you make your filling a half hour or hour in advance and refrigerate it, then pipe it out, it works wonderfully! No ugly cupcakes here…

  27. hey, Deb, they are cute as they are, just enjoy them in all their imperfection, or send them my way, whichever suits you the best.
    By the way, I sent you an email a couple of days ago, and so did Lis, I´m not sure if you are getting them at all. Please let me know.

  28. I love black bottom cupcakes, and since I’m awful at making food look good, they’re perfect for me. : ) I, too, love a potbelly on a woman – just a little one. My best friend in high school had one and it drove her crazy since she was otherwise skinny, but I thought it looked so cute and was secretly a little jealous.

  29. Cherish

    Oh Deb, we must have been separated at birth. I made a Carmel cheesecake this weekend for a party. Even though the group finished it off in record time, some even bowing to my culinary genius all I could think about it how it looked. The slices sunk a little at the ends. You think maybe I should see Knocked Up, could that be the cure?

  30. I. LOVE. THESE. My grandmother used to always have these in the freezer for when we came to visit. To this day, I love them icy cold. Good memories.

  31. Another thing. When I made my grandmother’s recipe the first time, I had the same problem with the cheese spreading across the top. As I recall, the next time I stuck the filling in the fridge for a while to stiffen it up, then really pushed the hardened filling down deep into the batter. That seemed to help.

  32. You’re totally right about the looks versus taste thing. I once made drop biscuits for somebody’s kid I was taking care of for the evening. He was totally suspicious of these ugly looking lumps. Until he reluctantly consented to taste one. I was lucky to get even one for myself.

  33. Thank you so much for this recipe! You couldn’t have had better timing, seriously. I’ve been wanting to make cupcakes like this for my graduation party this weekend but wasn’t finding the “right” recipe. Now, here it is. Thanks again.

  34. TiKi

    I’ve dabbled my hands in making these black bottom cupcakes for so many times and for so many occasions now and using many recipes variation, and no matter what I still find that it’s easy and quick to make, and pleases almost everybody. My first couple of attempts didnt turned out as presentable as I had wanted them to be, but I’d like to think I’ve quite mastered the consistency and the amount required already to make a nice cute cupcake. What I’d normally do to make it look more ‘nicer’ is to place a teaspoon dollop of cream cheese in the middle and top it off with another teaspoon dollop of cupcake mixture on top. So far, it had never failed me. :D

  35. Nia

    I make these often and let me warn you, if you happen to run out of flour in the middle of the recipe, DO NOT SUBSTITUTE WHOLE WHEAT no matter how tempted you are. They will only end up in the garbage.

    chilling the cheesecake part helps, or just start with cold cream cheese. i use one of those tiny ice cream scoops to plop it in the batter.

    My grandmother makes them all the time and one day was feeling lazy and made them in a 9×9 pan and it was the best cake EVER. she also sprinkles them with a mixture of chopped walnuts and a bit of sugar, adds a nice crunch.

  36. Felt pulled back here this morning, and I’m so glad I did, I straight away made the cupcakes, and am delighted with them, as is the family, they may be blobby and irregular, but we are too, and they taste heavenly anyway. I have blogged the event.
    Thank you once again.

  37. I made these tonight and they looked just like yours, which I think is fine! They were tasty. I ate one warm and found it a bit cheesy but I think they will be awesome at room temp. or chilled. Also, I used regular old cocoa powder [ie, with added alkaline] and they still turned out swell.

  38. becky b

    amazing. did the minis. did the piping bag. all the notes and tips really helped. they’re great. and I don’t even like cake usually or cup cakes. so good. it’s a keeper. and, just want to note….relatively easy recipe. –long time lurker, first post

  39. Dear Deb,

    I drop by here from time to time, but must admit that I’m not a cooking/baking enthusiast (despite naming my blog after a twist on my favorite treat) – I come here for the little stories and the pictures. HOWEVER….when I saw this recipe I was indeed ‘smitten’ – with the need to bake these. My mom used to make them when I was little and they were so delectable! Here in Santa Barbara, there is an upscale deli/bakery/cafe called Pierre Lafond that sells larger versions of them called “farm cakes” and they sell out every day.

    So it is with a pretty proud smile that I say I got my Aktins/diet/spinning crazed assistant and her little girl and made a big bunch of these, plus classic chocolate chip cookies and a simple chocolate cake today. Despite our lack of many ‘proper’ utensils, they turned out great – we made mini and regular and they were both beautiful. And more important, DELICIOUS.

    From a non-baker and a mom who had never, in 8 years, made her kids homemade baked goods, two estatic kids, five of their friends, and half a neighborhood – (we even passed the recipe on to one of their moms who could not believe they were home made)

    A big, chocolatey, cream-cheesy, tender THANK YOU.

  40. Jess


    I’ve made three of your recipes, three nights in a row :D I finally got my hands on an oven again after about 6 months of dying to cook and bake again.

    First recipe I made was one based on the blondie recipe – it was good, I added banana, instant coffee and walnuts, and they weren’t too sweet, and almost cakelike due to the banana. The coffee was nowhere to be tasted (and I put a good 1.5 tablespoons in at least!) but they were good anyway and they disappeared in less than a day.

    Those classic brownies from CI were up last night. I substituted and substituted, and ended up making something that had the faintest likeness to the CI recipe. I ended making these two layered things, where the top half was crunchy and almost cookie-like, and the bottom layer, no matter how long I cooked it, refused to set. I stuck it in the freezer overnight hoping it would turn into some caramel-fudgey layer and it did! :D Everyone loves them (maybe due to the contrasting nature of the two layers) and they’re well and truly disappearing. More slowly than the banana nut blondies, but that’s because they’re a lot sweeter, and more than a couple of bites sure makes you feel a tad sick.

    This recipe here was the one I baked tonight. I mostly stuck to the recipe, though I ran out of brown sugar and substituted some white instead… and I turned it from cupcakes into a slice cake (9×13 pan). A nice layer of chocolate, then a layer of cream cheese, then another thin layer of chocolate. They’re soft and spongey (and I don’t usually bake cakes because I don’t like them at all and find that slices disappear more rapidly), and they’ve got a great taste. They don’t seem to be sweet at all, and the vinegar gives it almost a sharpness of which the cream cheese nicely takes the edge off. A good third of it is gone and I took it out of the oven not an hour ago.

    All in all, a great three nights baking. I’m off to search for more recipes, after spending way too much time on food blogs. I may as well make use of the kitchen facilities while I have them (only two more weeks :( ) Many many thanks for the hours of salivating and cooking craving, and while I’m sure my baked goods were nowhere what they were supposed to be, they were good =) A little bit of improv can work wonders sometimes (I’ve been baking solo since I was 9, I’m 18 now).

    Time to wrap this long post up. All I can say is a great big thank you, and keep the cooking up!

  41. The chocolate part of the recipe is almost identical to the Moosewood Six-Minute Chocolate Cake recipe. The Moosewood recipe uses cold coffee instead of water, which adds a great flavor. I agree that the cupcake tastes better chilled–it’s fudgier.

  42. thought of your stamps yesterday while watching martha….”…I’m the beech stamp because I’m the beech of the company [because the beech is the mother tree]. Not the bitch, the BEECH….” it was quite cute. I martha.

  43. this was on my delicious bookmarks for ages and i finally have an excuse to make em next week! one question – do i have to use natural cocoa? (cause i only have varlhona here right now) or is it something to do with the vinegar’s acidity and blah so i have to use natural? thanks in advance :)

  44. sasha

    I made these and they came out really great. I found that if i beat the eggs 1st and then took out a small amount of the egg, i got better results and the filling sunk perfectly. I also olny used a spoon full of the filing per cupcake, It said to use all of it but i only made 1/2 the recomended amount of filling to each full amount of cupcak mix and even with that i had extra.

  45. Deb
    As you know by now, I made these little devils and they were phenomenal. I’m so glad I remembered seeing your hilarious post here previously. Not only did you provide the recipe, but your entertained as well. And for the record, my cupcakes shared the same genetically predisposed disposition and could pass as members of your family…………LOL


  46. Although these are truly delicious as they are (messy liquidy filling, white tops and all) i can safely say i found a great tweak to make them look even better:

    i only use half a package of creamcheese and an eggyolk instead of a whole egg. i also add a tablespoon of flour. i mix it well with a fork until all the lumps are gone and stick it in the fridge while i make the cake batter.

    i add an additional half cup of boiling water to the batter to make it a little lighter. it helps when you put those creamcheese dollops in the center and they just sink in perfectly!

  47. MYeung

    I just made my first attempt at these cupcakes. And I have to say that everything turned out great except that I burned them! I guess my oven temp is a bit high…so the cupcake tops were burned already at about 20 mins. I am now trying my second batch where I have lowered the oven temp. by about 25 degrees and am checking on them at about 15 mins and it looks like they are done. They only issue I think I might have still is the cream cheese filling. I think I might have over mixed it a bit since it turned out kind of fluffy in the center. Not all creamy and moist like a cheese cake. =( Oh well….like they say practice makes perfect.

  48. Dwilah

    I really liked the taste of the chocolate batter, but my boyfriend and I both are not converted fans (sadly). They sounded awesome, but something just isn’t hitting right with my taste buds. Admittedly, that may have something to do with the cold and stuffed up nose I’m sporting this weekend.

    I had decided to try these with jumbo size muffin tins, and made six of them. Interestingly enough, the white innards sunk to the bottoms of these cupcakes and made vaguely star-shaped forms inside. So they’re more like white-bottomed cupcakes! They do look really cool.

    I’m glad I tried this recipe, overall!

  49. another Deb

    I know you published this recipe well over a year ago, and may not troll around here for new comments, but wondering it the cooking time is the same for the full-sized and mini cupcakes? Thanks. Sorry if you’ve already answered this somewhere earlier.

  50. Margo

    I started making these years ago, and in a moment of laziness, I decided to turn the recipe into a full cake, baked in a 24 cm springform pan, with the whole cheese mixture spread on top – I drop it on with a spoon so it doesn’t sink. I bake it for about 45 minutes, or until the cheesy part starts browning. It’s fabulous and saves the time required to make cupcakes.

  51. JENI

    I made these last night cause my co-worker is finally off his diet (i’m evil, i know).

    The cup “cake” part is very delicate and just the type of cake i’m looking for; moist, soft and strong chocolate flavor. I wonder what the vinegar does to a batter though, is it for flavor or is it for the baking soda? I made the chocolate peanut butter cake from your site and it calls for the vinegar as well. these are the only times i’ve used vinegar in cake. yummy, nonetheless!

    The topping didn’t sink for me. i think i was trying to breakup the cream cheese too much that i took a whisk to it. it is very fluffy when they came out. next time, i’ll encase the cheese with a blob of batter and/or take out a bit of the egg.

  52. Ehrin

    Deb, Deb…Deb. I made these cupcakes a few days ago. OH! The joy! It was worth every extra ounce of potential hip flab just to spend time with them in the quiet of my home away from everything. Though, I did share them with coworkers. Well, I sort of shared them. I shared 6. The 6 I ate. Alone. It was awesome!

    *LOVE* your blog!

  53. Lisa

    I have been staring at this recipe for DAYS!!! I have such a big craving for these right now…My grandma used to make these when I was younger whenever she came to visit. And yes, they are FAR better cold. I also think it’s better when the cupcakes don’t look perfect… it’s what makes them taste better! Looks like I’m going to have to wait until I get home this summer to bake these! Can’t wait! :)

  54. rose

    I finally got the chance to make these. I made mini’s and had a hard time with the filling – it did not sink into the cake! I made one batch and the filling just sat on top and looked…blah. So for the next batch I filled the batter up half-way, layered in some filling and then drizzled batter over the filling so that there was white and chocolate at the top. It worked – they looked nice enough to share with people. haha. oh, my pans made almost 40 minis and the cakes are definitely better chilled. Thank for the recipe!

  55. Masha

    williams and sonoma has a recipe thats VERY similar! they suggest ‘injecting’ the cream cheese filling into the cupcake with a pastry bag. i made them – and they were such a hit! good luck :o)

  56. Sandra S.

    I ended up decreasing the amount of cream cheese a little and using one extra large egg, then filling regular size muffin tins with 1 tbsp dollop and topping with chocolate chips. Came out great!!

  57. Kristen

    I used a ziploc bag to inject the cream cheese and then i topped with chocolate sprinkles. SO cute and delicious.

  58. tory

    I’m not very good at baking, so I figured I’d screw up something as fancy as a black-bottom cupcake for sure. I was feeling adventurous this weekend, though, so I gave this recipe a try. PERFECT! I made the full-size cupcakes, and just dolloped the filling in with a rubber spatula. I think these are even better than the local coffee shop, and I’ve gotten rave reviews from the (few) people I’ve shared them with. The most surprising thing is that they weren’t actually that much work! (I’m pretty lazy, one of the reasons I’m not a good baker.)

    I may have used the wrong kind of cocoa powder (the recipe says “not dutch process” and mine said it was alkalized, and i think that means the same thing.) It didn’t seem to matter though – google tells me it matters more the other way around (you do NOT want to use “natural” when the recipe calls for dutch process.) Something to do with acid/base reactions, which I assume is why there is vinegar in the recipe for this one.

  59. MBT

    I know this is over two years late, but if you still check… what was the cooking time for the mini cupcakes – I don’t know how to adjust times AT ALL.

    The bf just got me a kitchen aid (it’s bright green – I’m in love) for my birthday and I think I might need to break it in immediately.

  60. MBT

    just in case others have the same question as me… mini cupcakes in my oven at 350 F took somewhere between 12 and 14 minutes

    Deb, they are delicious – although so far I have at least 48 minis with more batter and filling waiting for the tray to be ready

    I’m having a very smittenkitchen birthday tomorrow: made these and the cheese straws, tomorrow I’m making the roasted red pepper white bean dip (I’m going to try it with roasted garlic), and the black bean confetti salsa. thank you!

  61. Lauren (UK)

    I had a vat or so of cream cheese to use up (follow some panic-buying for a frosting recipe last week) and made these last night in my new and adorably tiny miniature sillicone muffin cases. They were absolutely delicious, and utterly worth it, despite the faffing around with a piping bag required. I sprinkled a few white chocolate chips on top too, just for extra sugar and calories, and they went down a storm (i.e. my boyfriend had three for breakfast).

  62. Mindy

    To put it simply, I <3 these… so much that I’m posting my first comment after trying out several of your recipes. My mom used to make them when I was little using cake mix and chocolate chips, but your recipe is so easy and delicious it’s become my new favorite dessert to share with folks (and makes enough to leave a few at home for not sharing). The only thing I’ve added is a fresh raspberry (or 2) to the top for decoration (and of course more tastiness).

  63. Julie

    These are sooooo good! I just made them last night and we ate about half of them straight out of the oven (I only had one, I swear! There were 3 teenage boys in the house!) They were infinitely better after we chilled them. They’re gone now but I’m already getting requests to have these again.

    The only change I made to the recipe was to cut the vinegar back to 1/3 tablespoon. I hate vinegar and was afraid of having too much of the taste but I didn’t taste it at all and I think it added something to the chocolate cake. I wouldn’t put more in, but I wouldn’t leave it out completely either. (IMHO)

    Thanks for the recipe!

  64. Sarah

    I brought these cupcakes as my birthday treat in school when I was little. Wonderful memories!

    I just made these (full sized) and, while they turned out pretty well, I didn’t keep them in the oven long enough. I baked for 27 minutes, and was nervous of overcooking so I took them out. But they weren’t quiiiite done, still a little runny on the inside even after cooled. So make sure the center really springs back when poked to determine doneness!

  65. Naj

    I just made black bottom cupcakes from another recipe today and they turned out terribly. I will give this recipe a try since I don’t want to give up. I just need a confirmation though: these do have a strong chocolate flavor and you can actually taste the cream cheese right? Also, would it be smart to substitute coffee for water? Please do help me with this… I am supposed to bring these somewhere next week and my first recipe trial turned out to be a failure so I really hope your recipe saves the day.

  66. Jessie

    Hi Deb
    I made these today to bring to the in laws this afternoon and hubby and I tried one beforehand and they are WONDERFUL.
    Thank you for such a special recipe

  67. Annie S.

    These look great–I’m making them as a “welcome home” gift to a dear friend who’s arriving back tonight from a year in France. When we were in fourth grade her family moved from Berkeley to New Mexico, and my sister and I flew to visit them, carrying, per their request, a box of black bottom cupcakes from our local bakery.

  68. Liz

    I just made these last night and my cream cheese filling sort of spread out all over the top like yours Deb. I brought in a few of them into work this morning and used my coworkers as guinea pigs. They were all quickly DEVOURED. All aesthetics aside, these were delicious!! Thank you! I can’t wait to make these again.

    I did notice as I was making the filling, that the consistency of the cream cheese was somewhat “grainy”? I mixed the cream cheese, sugar, and egg all at once and am wondering if I should have beat the cheese and sugar first and then added the egg afterwards as one normally would when making a cheesecake?

  69. Rebecca

    I made these yesterday and took them into work today. Everyone one RAVED about them! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe. You are a genius! xxx

  70. Lindsey

    My mom and I have been making cupcakes like this for years, but we use chocolate cake mix and call them filled cupcakes. The cake mix we use must be a lot less dense than the batter you made here, because our cheesecake filling ends up down in the middle of the cupcake with chocolate cake on top. We usually end up making them for every cupcake-worthy celebration because everyone always asks for them. You can even make them into a cake if you pour the chocolate batter in a cake pan and swirl the cheesecake over top. I’ll have to see how they turn out with the homemade batter!

  71. Jenny

    I made these just as suggested with the following alterations to the cream cheese filling, as suggested by reader Maya above:

    – Used 1 yolk, not the whole egg
    – Added a T or so of flour (I used cake flour so the final product wouldn’t be grainy/tough)
    – Added a splash of vanilla
    – Did not add chocolate chunks yet
    – Chilled the filling overnight

    I filled my cups about 3/4 full with batter, plopped a tablespoonish-sized gob of cream cheese filling into the center, and then used the action of pushing the chocolate chunks into the cream cheese to kind of force the filling further down into the batter. The cream cheese was still exposed when I put the cuppies in, and the cups were quite full (almost to the top) but they turned out beautifully: a proper dome-shape with sunken swirls of cream cheese filling decorating the top.

    I haven’t eaten one yet, but they smell divine.

  72. Laura

    Deb, your blog is a veritable treasure trove of recipes. This is the second recipe I have tried and my mini muffins turned out pretty, and more importantly, delicious. And, yes, they are even better cold. Since I live in Guatemala, “land of eternal spring” = warm all the time, I am always on the lookout for excellent cold desserts. Chocolate + cold couldn’t be better combo.

  73. Laura

    Maybe someone else can weigh in here on a question. I have two bags of raw cacao powder that I am using instead of using traditional cocoa. Has anyone else tried substituting this for regular cocoa? Do you make any adjustments to the recipes? Thanks!

  74. Joey

    My mom used to make these when I was a kid — one of the only homecooked things she ever made — and I loved them! When I ran across them on Leite’s Culinaria site a couple of weeks ago, I did a gleeful jig and ran to the grocery store for cream cheese. I made them twice in the last two weeks to bring to various places. I find that normal sized cupcakes bake up gorgeous and perfect, but have been unable to make minis that worked — either I screwed up the right ratio of chocolate to filling or I cooked them the wrong time. Anyway, I usually like minis better, but these taste so good I’m back to making them big sized and eating them anyway. Delicious! (PS I like them better the way my mom used to make them, without the chocolate bits stirred into the cream cheese filling.)

  75. Becky

    Deb, I couldn’t agree with you more on the “pot belly” quote. In fact, as I did a quick scan of my memory for notable quotes/scenes from Pulp Fiction before I read further, it was at the top of my list. It’s one of those quotes that will pop up in my psyche from time to time – though mostly after a good meal that includes food and drink and pot belly holding.

    First time commenting here, and look, it’s not even about food at all, which is ultimately why I come, but I gotta tell you the little bits of back-story that you included is why I stay. So thanks. ;)

    P.S. I share your feelings about chicken, though your description of it being like “pressed sawdust” was way better than my “it’s just gross or bleh or icky or a physical expression of all of those things including a face and shoulder shudder – my personal favorite”.

  76. i made some black bottom cupcakes the other day and my cheesecake filling also spread across the cupcake instead of being centered lol i was really annoyed, just like you did but they do taste very good so i soon forgive myself :)

  77. Nida


    I made these a few days ago and they didn’t turn out as expected. So I have a question about the recipe:

    Does the temperature at which the cream cheese filling is kept at matter? It’s pretty hot here, and I had a runny liquidy thing on my hand. The filling tasted fine once baked, but some of it burnt on the tops.

    I’ve never had black bottom cupcakes before and this was my first time, so understandably I didn’t know what the expect. Mine didn’t look so pretty on the tops either. I think the cream cheese mixture kinda seeped to the middle and settled there and the tops were just brown with some burnt white patches.

    Will try these again. Keep the filling cool and maybe fill them less and see how it goes.

  78. Katie

    Just wanted to say that I made these last night but sort of let the concept of “filling” go and they came out great! Basically, instead of trying to “fill” the cupcakes I filled the bottoms with roughly 2.5 tablespoons of the batter and then just threw 2 tablespoons of the “filling” on top. So I ended up with a chocolate bottom half and a lovely, nicely risen cheesecake top half. With the chocolate shavings they looked sort of like blueberry muffins and several people told me they were “beautiful.” I wouldn’t go that far but I did think they had their appeal. Just my version! Thanks for the really delicious recipe!!!

  79. Susan

    I found an old fashioned chocolate cake from a recipe that I recognised immediately is basically the same as this one. It (and I) used white sugar and used hot coffee instead of the plain water. I made it into 2 8 inch layers. I had no idea that a really decent and easy chocolate layer cake could be made without any dairy or eggs or even a mixer! I knew it would work for cupcakes, but a layer cake? It was a revelation! What a boon for people with egg or dairy allergies! The recipe included the most amazing, glossy, EASY, dark chocolate frosting. It made up for the missing dairy however, but was so outstanding that I will never make another choc frosting. Email or post it here?

  80. Katie

    I just made these gluten free for a bake sale and i honestly could not tell the difference between the original recipe and the gf one. I used Bob’s Red Mill GF all purpose flour as an even replacement for the ap flour and 1/2 tsp xantham gum. just in case you know someone who doesnt/cant do gluten.

  81. Emma

    I made these last night on the spur of the moment. How many ways are tehre to say YUM?! So good. I think that I may be making these alot. They were so easy too. I’m very glad to have found this recipe. Thanks Debs.

  82. Rachel

    I’ve made these twice, now. A great “go to” recipe. I doubled the cupcake recipe, and kept the cream cheese filling the same b/c I just had too much filling the first go-round. This gets me 32 deelish cupcakes. And I use my cookie dough scoop (about a tblsp size) to center the filling on top. The 2nd time around, I sprinkled just a few mini-choco chips on top of the cream cheese dollops. Very nice touch, if I do say so me-self. Tks for sharing, as always. You are incredible, Deb!

  83. Gabby

    this is CRAZY!!!! i just had one of these for THE FIRST TIME EVER today and all i could think was OMGod this is SOOOOOO GOOOOODDD!!!! but i didnt know where to get the recipe… and then I just happened to hit the suprise button and they popped up!!! it is meant to be.. these are going to be in my stomach VERY sooooon(:

  84. Paulina

    Dear Deb,
    I am desperately looking for a recipe for black cupcakes that look pretty much like these (cupcake color itself, not frosting)

    I tried skipping the cheescake part of your recipe and make the chocolate part only, but they turned out brown, not black, should I just replace water with coffee? Or was my cocoa powder or sugar too light brown?
    I live in Poland where 90% of the people don’t know what a cupcake is so please HELP I really have noone to ask!!!!I tried around 15 devil food (cup)cake recipes and none of them really worked…
    If Deb doesn’t see this post – maybe one of you guys have a tip?
    A cupcake lover & a former NYC part-time inhabitant from Krakow, Poland,

    1. deb

      There are a few ways to get truly black cupcakes: black cocoa powder, a specialty item. You should not use too much of it as it can be bitter. Black food dye, again, from a baking supply shop. After that, you can fiddle with one of these chocolate cake recipes. The darker your cocoa, the darker the color. Dutched cocoas tend to run darker.

  85. I think you’ve snuck into my family and swiped their recipe ;-) My great aunt (somewhere way back when) used to sell these at a store in Bethelehem PA. My mom has been making them for me instead of a birthday cake for as long as I can remember. The minis are way better, (hullo…BiteSized!) I agree. I will defintitely pay attention to my cocoa powder next time I make them though…I’ve always felt something was a bit off with mine ever since I tasted the ones sold in a store nearby. Maybe thats it!
    some people think chocolate chip cookies are comfort food, I think these are!

  86. Luce

    I have been reading your blog zealously for years, and the recipes always make me look like a rock star to my friends. But, last week I tried to make this recipes, and discovered an essential rule of cooking: there are no guarantees of sucess when cooking in another language. My beloved cream cheese was actually cream cheese with chives, so of course the filling got nixed. But, I backed up the chocolate batter into bouchons and wow!. I am not a lover of chocolate cake, but it was amazingly good. Chocolately, but not bitter, sweet without the sugar-shock. I cannot wait to try this with the cream cheese next time.

  87. deb,

    when i first discovered you, you were my newest blog crush for at least 6 months. now i feel as if we are old friends. i just google searched david lebovitz’ black bottom cupcakes and of course you popped up! i love pulp fiction and how Fabienne wants a “pot.” she can have mine! and i can’t watch the las vegas chair scene without tears streaming down my face. thanks for the recipe!

  88. Fanya

    hm, didn’t turn out as amazing as I thought. You were right, the sugar in the cupcake needs to be firmly packed. I did 1 loosely filled cup of sugar and the cupcake wasn’t sweet enough. The texture of the cake is a bit…well taste like it had a tiny bit too much water (might be due to less sugar) and didn’t have much of a taste (may be due to the fact (just realized, grr) that my cocoa powder is marked as cocoa baking powder, a good quality one would be better?). Or else I just like chocolate cake better than devil food cake.

    The filling is very runny. It might be better with 1/2 egg instead of 1 egg (double the batch and everything except the egg? or just use part of the egg). I think semisweet goes better here than bittersweet. Not sure if it’s my chips, but the sweet cream cheese made the bittersweet chocolate chips taste a bit sour and bitterer.

    The concept is good. Will be attempting this later with a chocolate cake/cupcake recipe instead. =)

  89. Andrea

    My mom has been making these since I was a kid (although with a box mix devil’s food cake). To this day this is what my brother still requests as a birthday “cake”!! I’ve got these in the oven for him right now. One thing my mom’s recipe says is to hold back som of the chocolate cake batter the add on top of the cream cheese mixture so that the tops “hide” the surprise inside (helps them to look pretter). And I totally agree these taste even better cold (the next day…if they make it that long)!

  90. Anna

    I just made a double batch of minis and they turned out fantastic! I had to try 5 just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. I am normally a terrible baker. I baked them for 15 minutes, which seemed to be the right time for the mini cupcakes. Happy to serve these at a birthday party tomorrow and add it to my repertoire!

  91. Zigzag10

    What a delightful discovery these cupcakes were! Upon biting into one you realize they’re the kind of cake that make you nod approvingly at the goodness of cake, chocolate and cream cheese pairings, and life in general. I personally appreciated how the cream cheese filling spread out as it cooked – the lacking standardization made each cake an original artistic creation! This recipe is a KEEPER!!

  92. Karna

    I’m making cupcakes for my friend’s wedding, and she wants 9 dozen of “Black Bottom Cupcakes”. Is there a frosting that you suggest to use with this recipe? Just a cream cheese frosting? Also, do you know how well they freeze? Thanks! Can’t wait to try them!

  93. Xena

    Lush cupcakes, my friends loved them! For some reason, my cheesecake mixture was really liquid. I poured it on top of the chocolate mixture and it resulted in a nice marbled effect. Oh, and I pushed 3-4 raspberries into each muffin before adding the cheesecake mixture, which was a nice, fruity addition. A friends has just asked me to bake for a baby shower – these will be on the list to do.

  94. Shammah

    I made these in the morning and took a bite when it came out of the oven – and I was so disappointed that I had decided to use my cream cheese on it. I devoured 3 of them out of depression, then stashed the rest in the fridge. I came back in the evening and took a bite, wow they get so much better with age/a low temperature it’s crazy. I’d highly suggest popping them into the fridge before consuming :)

  95. Hannah

    I’ve been making black bottom cupcakes since middle school and now they’re a favorite among my friends in college. I love this recipe, the cake has such a moist consistency, unlike so many chocolate cake recipes I’ve tried. It always helps to chill the cream cheese a bit, and they are best when they’ve cooled to room temperature! Thanks for the recipe.

  96. Ena

    I always said I don’t really like cupcakes, but these were absolutely fantastic!!! I only got to eat one, though, as I made these for a friend going away for a while.

  97. Pugsly

    These are so good! Thanks for the recipe! I’ve made them several times but can’t seem to ever make enough – they simply disappear! Anyway, I do agree that they are in the “but-(h)er-face” category, however, because they are so delicious I’m going to make pretty little chocolate leaves to go on top for Thanksgiving…No icing for these bad boys but a crunchy chocolate leaf will be prefect I think.

  98. Katrina

    I’ve been making these cupcakes since 1989 and my friends & family still love them and request them whenever we have pot-lucks. I got my recipe (reads the same as above) from a book titled John Hadamuscin SPECIAL OCCASIONS, Holiday Entertaining All Year Round. It’s my favorite go-to cook-book since it’s easy to read, easy to follow instructions and gives background and where the recipe came from. I’ve shared the BB cupcakes recipe but people always think that I’m holding out on an ingredient because mine seem to taste better to them. My secret? I bless my cupcakes (LOL) before I bake them and I always use real vanilla. ;D

  99. Amber

    Hi Deb, do you think this will work with your Red Velvet cake recipe? I want to make these for my nephew this weekend.His favorite is red velvet and cheese cake. If so what type of frosting would you suggest to blend the flavors together? More cream cheese? Or a variation? Thank you!

  100. allie

    Just made these this morning… AWESOME. I made them in full size but I did make a couple substitutions, though. Filling: I made in advance and chilled in the fridge until I was ready to use it. I used one yolk instead of whole egg, added 1 tsp vanilla. I didn’t add the chocolate pieces this time, but might try in the next batch. I added a little cinnamon to the dry mix & I replaced the water with coffee. I was out of white vinegar but did have balsamic – I tasted the batter after adding and it wasn’t noticeable. For assembly, I put some batter in first, then some filling, then more batter on top to cover the filling. I added a chocolate chip centered on top of each cupcake just to make it a little pretty :) They are delicious and can’t wait to try one cold.

  101. Kat

    I made these last night, mine look almost exactly like yours! I was disappointed and annoyed, but when I bit into it, all that petty foolishness about appearances disappeared. They are delicious!

    I’m already making them again two days from now. Apart from the fact that they’re delicious, I want to get them perfect looking. I’m stubborn like that. Apart from chilling the filling as some of the commenters have done, do you have any other tips, Deb? Thanks!

  102. Katie S

    i know its been years since this was posted.. but dont mix the filling until smooth.. and let it chill for a bit before making the batter for the cupcakes.. works much better this way

  103. Shirl C

    Black bottomed Cupcakes I have only just read your post on Black Bottomed Cupcakes and I have made the Black bottomed Cupcakes under another name from my English Grandmothers similar recipe called Chocolate Farm Cakes. She would freeze the cheesecak mixture for 10-12 hours in a rectangular tin and then slice about an 1″ block to drop into the chocolate cake mixture the next day. It always centred. On a funny note there are two reasons for the name Chocolate Farm Cakes..(my grandmotherse recipe called for them to be served with hot chocolate fudge) One is that they look like “cow pats” or meadow muffins or otherwise Farm Cakes. The other reason is that they were handed out to the farm hands in England to eat and an individual cake was easier than slicingup a large cake.

  104. susan

    Well done! Just made these and they are very good, and this is coming from a frosting junkie! Perfect to transport. Thanks again for another winner!

  105. Holly

    I’ve been making these since I was a little girl! Love them! We always sprinkle sugar on top right before baking. Makes them even yummier :)

  106. Pat

    These are delicious! These cupcakes have been a tradition in my family for years. We have them at every family get together and they are simply known as “The Cupcakes”. Frosting is overrated anyway!

  107. Carrie

    What a find! My mom used to make these when I was a little girl; I cannot even remember the last time I had them! I was looking to use up cream cheese and crushed oreos (leftover from a sundae social) so I subbed the oreos for the chocolate chips. I was able to get 50 mini cupcakes out of this batch (though I’ve found my mini pan is smaller than some…). They baked beautifully, with little domes, in about 14 minutes…allowing to cool a few minutes before removing. I remember prefering to enjoy these served cold… so we’ll see how they are tomorrow! Thanks Deb!

  108. SamanthaJess

    I want you to know that I completely understand your “funk”. I made your Pink Lady Cake and (in my head apparently) it was a disaster. One layer was much thinner than the other, the big layer was on top and wasn’t all the way cooled and, while in its cake carrier on the way to a party, violently split like an ironic peace sign. Although the brave ones who care not for pretty cakes and only for those that taste delicious claimed that my cake was wonderful, I was so mad that I couldn’t even bring myself to have any. Over a week later, I am still in a funk (read: I don’t even want a cake for my own birthday – which was yesterday).

  109. amy

    I have a mini pan cooling and another in the oven right now. The apt. smells SICK. I used about two teaspoons of chocolate in each muffin and then a nice-sized squirt (from a baggie) of the cheesecake…then I pressed it down. They’re beautiful but the cheesecake definitely spread all the way across the top. Who knows how deeply they baked. But my GOD it smells good in here. I’m so excited!

  110. Annie

    It’s official. My coworkers all hate me. I brought these into work this morning and ruined diets left and right. Needless to say they were bomb. The last couple cupcake recipes of yours I tried (pumpkin and red velvet) came out dry but these were rich and moist. The filling is decadent. I piped most of the filling but chocolate chunks kept clogging my piping bag so I did resort to the tablespoon for the last few. I also decided to top them off with a chocolate ganache which was unnecessary but awesome. Keep em coming, Deb!

  111. Leopard Girl

    Made these last night (half recipe) and they were great! The only tricky part was figuring out how to half my egg, but beating it and using half of it worked great!
    Thanks for the recipe!!!

  112. Amber

    This was my mom’s go-to cupcake recipe when we were kids – maybe the ONLY cupcakes we had as kids. From the back of a ghiradelli choc chips bag.

  113. Lily

    I’ve been making these for years. to keep the cream cheese from spreading across the top simply make the filling first and put in the fridge to firm up while you make and prepare the batter. No need to alter the recipe by using less egg. Also, use mini chocolate chips instead and I sprinkle the top of the cupcakes with sugar and pecans after adding the cream cheese filling -delish!

  114. Katie

    I made these this weekend, and they were DELICIOUS. And, really, so simple. I’ll try refrigerating the filling next time before spooning onto the cupcakes, as the cheesecake didn’t really sink for me. We kept these in the fridge and the two of us ate the entire recipe in 24 hours…none left for my coworkers!

  115. Kris

    These turned out perfectly for me – the cheesecake sunk into the middle and didn’t show at all on the top, kind of completely hidden. I would agree with the commenters who put the filling in the fridge – I didn’t have time to fully let the cream cheese warm up so mine was still pretty cold when I made these – that may be the trick to getting it to sink.

    Thanks for another great recipe!!

  116. Melissa

    BB Cupcakes are THE birthday ‘cake’ my 3 kids request year after year! Given that I love all of your recipes that I have tried, I am going to make this version for my son’s 13th tomorrow. But, really the reason for my comment is that scene happens to be my absloute favorite part of Pulp Fiction. I thought I was the only one.

  117. Me

    You are bent out of shape about nothing, because you obviously didn’t eat these as a kid. The “dollop” will never be “centered.” That’s they way they bake. You should know in your profession that baking is chemistry. I could say “it’s just the way the cookie crumbles,” the way that dollop transforms through heat and proximity to the beautiful batter; the combustion of ingredients that puff up, changing matter. That’s the delicious beauty of the black bottom cupcake, Deb.

    I really don’t know how 8 of yours wound up with no filling ~ that’s never happened to me in 30 years of cooking. But as long as it comes out delicious, stop sweating the center. Perfection is overrated. These weren’t created to be “perfect” or “centered.” They were created to blend textures and tastes that are lifetime-memorable. That’s what you did. You did good.

  118. Grace

    Yum! I was looking to make chocolate cupcakes for my daughters birthday, but unfortunately she is allergic to eggs. Could I make these as regular chocolate cupcakes and just leave out the cheesecake filling? Thanks!!

  119. mandi

    I just made these yesterday, but they didn’t quite turn out for me. The cake was moist and yummy, but the chream cheese filling rose to the top and made almost like an dicing on the cupcakes rather than sinking down inside. Perhaps my cheese filling was too liquidy and not dense enough?

  120. I come back to this recipe every time I get the itch for a black bottom cupcake. I always have just enough batter for exactly 18 cupcakes. I fill the paper cups about 3/4 (I use an old ice cream scoop) full with the cake batter then I plop an overflowing tablespoon of the scrumptious filling. I love how simple the recipe really is, and I am always amazed that a cake with no eggs or milk could be so delicious–but it always is. Thank you! <3 Emili

  121. Stacey

    I did not like this recipe at all. It was flavorless. At first I thought I messed something up, but I made these 3 times on separate occasions and I got the same bland results.

  122. Meghan

    These were delicious. I love the way my unchilled filling dappled the top of the cupcake in unique designs as they baked. The cakes were chocolatey and moist without being oily. I think we have a new favourite in our house.

  123. Peanutbuttercup

    I looked this up because I have a wonderful food memory if my mom’s BBCs. Don’t tell her, but these are better. I have to keep making them because as soon as they come out of the oven-they’re gone! The trick is to barely mix the chocolate batter. It melts in your mouth. I have never had such a tender cupcake. It’s what my kids ask for as soon as they walk in the door (no hello…)
    These rock my family’s world!!🍮🍴