These chocolate cupcakes with strawberry filling are so delicious and are made with fresh strawberries. They are the perfect Valentine's Day dessert recipe! But we enjoy them throughout the year.
Strawberries are one of our favorite berries here and they always go so well with chocolate! I mean it's like they were made for each other, seriously I think they just might have been.
The first time we made these cupcakes was for a Valentine's Day party for younger kids. They loved them and called them a small cake with strawberries. Yeah they were correct, they are small individual cakes.
We now make these a few times a year and they are always a favorite. As in they don't last here very long with us! Like our peppermint mocha cupcakes and St. Patrick's Day cupcakes, these are made with a delicious whipped icing.
It is easy to make them from scratch and you will love them.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here we will break it down by sections to keep it easier.
The chocolate cupcakes
- Flour - We used all purpose flour spooned and leveled.
- Cocoa powder - Use your favorite, we have even used store brand before. The quality of your cocoa powder will give you a richer taste, but they are delicious even with store brand. This too is spooned and leveled.
- Baking soda - We have only tested this with baking soda.
- Salt - Used to enhance the flavors of the ingredients.
- Sugar - Regular granulated sugar or minimally processed pure cane sugar - as long as the granules are similar to granulated sugar. The package should say 1-1 substitute for sugar.
- Yogurt - Whole milk Greek yogurt is better then a low fat yogurt for best flavor. You can substitute with sour cream in place of whole milk yogurt. This replaces the need for any oil or butter so it does need to be full fat to turn out the best.
- Eggs - No substitutions recommended.
- Vanilla extract - No substitutions recommended.
- Espresso powder and water - We always have espresso powder on hand for chocolate baked goods, but you can substitute with strong brewed coffee. Alternately if you want to keep the extra caffeine out, you can use plain hot water.
The strawberry filling
We love to make the filling homemade but you can even use your favorite strawberry jam if you rather!
- Strawberries - We used fresh strawberries for best flavor.
- Sugar - Regular granulated sugar or minimally processed cane sugar is ok as long as the granules are the same size as granulated sugar.
- Water - No substitutions.
- Lemon juice - We use the bottled here. A fresh lemon gives you more then what you need.
- Corn starch - Recommended for thickness but see below in making the filling for substituting it out if you prefer.
The Strawberry Icing
- Strawberries - We use fresh strawberries for best flavor.
- Cream cheese - No substitutions recommended. It needs to be softened to room temperature.
- Heavy cream - No substitutions recommended. Light cream will not work, it doesn't have enough fat to thicken in the frosting.
- Sugar - Powdered sugar is best for the best texture.
- Vanilla extract - No substitutions recommended.
Making the chocolate cupcakes
They are really easy to make and this recipe makes between 12-14 cupcakes. We have stretched it out to make 16 cupcakes before when making them for younger kids. We cannot cut down on certain ingredients like eggs so it often makes a couple extra cupcakes.
The batter for these chocolate cupcakes with strawberry filling is made in just a couple simple steps. We use a whisk and a medium-large mixing bowl for the batter. You do not need to use a mixer here.
Mix the espresso and water or heat the coffee -
Heat up your water in a small pan or even in the microwave. Once hot (almost boiling) add in the espresso powder and set aside. If using coffee that is still on and hot, you can use this. If your coffee is cold, heat it up so it's hot but not boiling.
The dry ingredients -
First mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Use a whisk and mix well to be sure that you remove any lumps from the cocoa or flour.
The wet ingredients -
Add sugar, yogurt, eggs and vanilla extract to a medium to large mixing bowl. Using your whisk, mix well until the ingredients are completely combined and the liquid appears smooth.
Combining them both -
Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Using your whisk, mix until they are incorporated with no big lumps. Small lumps are ok. Batter will be thick.
Adding the espresso or coffee -
Add in your hot coffee or espresso mixture and stir with a whisk until it is all mixed in and smooth. Do not overmix, just mix until it is incorporated.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line each cup of a 12 muffin baking sheet with cupcake baking liners - we use paper ones here. And we also like to use holiday themed liners here, but that is optional. When making these chocolate cupcakes with strawberry filling for Valentine's Day, we use paper liners that are Valentine's Day themed.
Spoon the batter into the cups with the liners. Fill to between one half to 2 thirds full. Do not go over 2 thirds full or you will have them overflowing their cups. They are still delicious, but they will have more of a muffin top going over the edges.
Bake for 16-18 minutes in the center of the oven. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.
Allow to cool in the pan on a wire cooling rack to room temperature - about half hour to an hour.
Making the strawberry filling
The filling is similar to a thin jam here, but you can actually use your favorite strawberry jam if you prefer. There are 2 ways to make the filling depending on your preference.
We make it with cornstarch because I prefer the taste of the strawberries when they are not cooked as long. You ever notice that strawberry jam has a different flavor then fresh strawberries? The cooking alters their taste a bit.
Mash or puree the strawberries -
Mash the strawberries in chopper, hand blender or even a smoothie maker. We use a 2 cup chopper for ours. If you do not have either, you can use a potato masher. Small strawberry lumps are ok in the filling.
With the cornstarch -
In a small saucepan, combine the mashed (or pureed) strawberries with sugar, lemon juice and water. Stir well and then whisk in the corn starch. Your ingredients are cool enough that the cornstarch should mix well.
Turn the burner onto medium and bring to a simmer. Cook stirring often for about 2-3 minutes. It should thicken up a bit but will be thicker when cooled. It won't be a really thick jam consistency which is ok for these chocolate cupcakes with strawberry filling.
Allow to cool to room temperature before filling the cupcakes.
Without the cornstarch -
You will need to increase the lemon juice to 1 and a half teaspoons. This will help it set without using the cornstarch.
Add the strawberry puree, lemon juice and sugar into a small saucepan. You do not need water, that is used with the cornstarch but not needed without. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5-7 minutes stirring often. You will see it starting to thicken.
Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Whipped strawberry icing with fresh strawberries
As a note this is a whipped icing that is a soft texture and is made with fresh strawberries. You can pipe it on top of the chocolate cupcakes with strawberry filling, but it is soft and will not be good for creating decorations (like flowers or hearts.)
If you prefer a buttercream frosting, Sally has a great recipe for strawberry buttercream frosting.
You want to mash or puree the strawberries for the icing like we did for the filling. It will blend smoother if it starts as puree instead of relying on your mixer to mash them. You also want to soften the cream cheese to room temperature so it blends smoothly.
Whipping the icing -
Cream the softened cream cheese and powdered sugar with the mixer. Start with the mixer (hand or stand mixer) on low until the powdered sugar is blended enough to not go all over, then increase to high for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. You want it to be a nice and creamy texture like pictured above in the top left.
Next add in the strawberry puree, heavy cream and vanilla extract. With the mixer start on medium until incorporated (to prevent mess.) Turn to high and beat for about 2-3 minutes until it is thick enough to add to the top of the cupcakes. It should hold it's shape when spooned out, but will still be soft whipped icing and not too stiff.
If your fresh strawberry whipped icing will not hold it's shape when spooned out, you can add a little more heavy cream 1-2 tablespoons at a time and/or powdered sugar 1-2 tablespoons at a time. Beat again until it thickens. Use the powdered sugar if you prefer it sweeter (taste it first) or you can use the heavy cream to not add more sugar.
Place the whipped strawberry icing in the fridge until ready to put on the chocolate cupcakes with strawberry filling.
How do I fill cupcakes?
There are a few ways to fill cupcakes, depending on how thick the filling is. Here with our chocolate cupcakes with strawberry filling you can use a squeeze bottle if using the homemade filling. If using jam, it will likely be too thick to squeeze through the bottle.
The squeeze bottle method is my favorite because it is just easier honestly. You can also use a big dropper to squeeze the filling into the middle. Like pictured on the top left, you would put the tip of the bottle into the center of the cupcake. Squeeze the filling out until it starts coming out the top of the cupcake.
What if you don't have either of these or your filling is too thick? No worries! You can cut a small but deep piece out of the top of the cupcake. Add a spoon or 2 (until it reaches the top) of the filling in the hole. Put the piece that was cut out on top (bottom left picture.)
The chocolate cupcakes in the right side picture were all done with the squeeze bottle. The only draw back to this is that if your strawberries have any clumps, they may get stuck in the nozzle. Do not use this method if you mashed the strawberries instead of making them a puree.
Once the icing goes on top, you won't see the strawberry filling coming out of the top of the chocolate cupcakes. You also won't see the holes you cut if you chose that method for filling.
Frequently asked questions
If you use the whipped strawberry icing, you do have to keep them refrigerated. The icing will not hold up and it will go bad if kept out for too long. It is recommended to keep them in the fridge even with a different icing to keep them fresh longer.
If stored in the fridge, they will last about 3-4 days. This took several batches to test because they don't last long enough in our house - I need another fridge to hide things.
Yes, definitely! This is a delicious cupcake with or without filling. You would prepare them the same way just do not fill them.
Yes you can, but it depends on the size of the tip. It is best if you have the round hole tip and not too large. If your tip is too large, you are more likely to make a mess of filling all over then getting a small amount in the cupcake.
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- 12 muffin baking pan - I recommend 2 because this cupcake batter makes between 12-14 cupcakes - tho you can get 16 out of the batter if needed by filling no more then half way.
- Mixing bowls - We love our stainless steel mixing bowls! These are great because they have a coating on the outside to shield your hands from extreme temperatures (not needed for this recipe but there are recipes where that comes in handy.) They also have a non skid bottom so it won't slide all over as you are using your hand mixer.
- Cupcake liners - There are so many to choose from! We like to go with holiday themed ones, but any cupcake liners will work.
- Cupcake storage container - This is a great way to store the cupcakes! It can be used to store 12-24 cupcakes. The levels are detachable so if you only have 12, you only need to use one layer. This can also be used for a cake as well.
Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Filling
- ¾ cup flour spooned and leveled
- ⅔ cup cocoa powder spooned and leveled
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1¼ cups sugar
- 1 cup Greek yogurt see notes
- 2 eggs
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ cup water see notes
- 2 teaspoons espresso powder see notes
Strawberry Filling - see notes
- 1½ cups sliced strawberries about 9-10 berries
- ⅓ cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
Whipped Strawberry Icing
- 1 cup sliced strawberries about 7 berries
- 4 ounces cream cheese softened at room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream very cold
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
The Cupcakes - No Mixer for Batter
- Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
- Heat water to almost boiling and mix it with the espresso powder. If using coffee, be sure it is hot. If using hot water in place of espresso or coffee, heat it until almost boiling. Set aside.¼ cup water, 2 teaspoons espresso powder
- Pour flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a medium sized bowl. Whisk together until all flour and cocoa lumps are out.¾ cup flour, ⅔ cup cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, ¼ teaspoon salt
- Add the sugar, yogurt, eggs and vanilla extract into a mixing bowl. Whisk together until the liquid is smooth - about 30 seconds.1¼ cups sugar, 1 cup Greek yogurt, 2 eggs, 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until it is incorporated with no large lumps, small lumps are ok. Batter will be thick.
- Pour the espresso, coffee or hot water into the batter. Mix in with a whisk until it is just completely mixed in and smooth - do not overmix.
- Pour batter into muffin pan lined with cupcake liners. Pour no more then ½-⅔ full in each liner to prevent spilling over when baking.
- Bake for 16-18 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.Allow to cool in pan on a cooling rack until cooled to room temperature.
- Puree the strawberries in a chopper, smoothie maker, food processor or you can use a potato masher to mash them if needed.1½ cups sliced strawberries
- Pour the puree, sugar, water and lemon juice into a small saucepan. Stir until combined.Using a whisk, stir in the cornstarch.⅓ cup sugar, ¼ cup water, ½ teaspoon lemon juice, 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- Turn the burner onto medium and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 2-3 minutes until it is starting to thicken.Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature before filling cupcakes.
Whipped Strawberry Icing - use a hand or stand mixer
- Puree (preferred) or mash the strawberries.1 cup sliced strawberries
- Cream the softened cream cheese and powdered sugar in mixing bowl. Turn mixer on low until the powdered sugar is mixed enough to not make a mess, turn to medium high and mix until smooth - about 30 seconds to 1 minute.4 ounces cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar
- Add in the puree, heavy cream and vanilla extract. Mix on high for about 2-3 minutes, until it is thick enough to keep it's shape on a spoon. If it doesn't thicken enough, add either powdered sugar or more heavy cream (depends on how sweet you want it) 1-2 tablespoons at a time and continue mixing until it is thickened. It will be very soft but can pipe in a bag.Put in fridge until ready to use.1 cup heavy cream, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- After cupcakes cooled, fill them with the strawberry filling. Be sure filling is cooled to room temperature. There are 2 ways to do it:Either a dropper or squeeze bottle - squeeze filling directly into the center of the cupcakes by placing the tip of the bottle or dropper into the center of the cupcake. Add until it starts to come out up top. Do not use this method if using jam or you have a lot of strawberry chunks in your filling.Cutting a hole - cut deep hole in the center of the cupcake and spoon in filling. Place the cut piece back on top of the center.
- Place icing in a piping bag with the tip of your choice and swirl the icing on top of the cupcakes. Can use a large plastic storage bag if needed with a small hole cut out of a corner to control the amount of icing coming out.