Devil's Food Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream

I’m already bracing myself for a little bit of pushback on these cupcakes. But I’m just going to ask you to trust me on this one ok? I wouldn’t share these if they hadn’t been eaten and loved by several people, promise ๐Ÿ™‚

So, here’s the thing: there’s no butter or oil in this recipe. Instead, if you scan the list of ingredients, you’re going to see mayonnaise. I know. Personally, I don’t have a problem with mayonnaise but it seems to elicit a strong response from a lot of people (and generally not a positive one). But if you think about it, good mayonnaise is really just made from egg yolks and oil (and yes, I realize small quantities of a few additional ingredients), right? And oil and eggs are very typical ingredients for cupcakes. That was my thinking anyway when I decided to be brave and give this recipe a go. After all, the recipe comes from the Bouchon Bakery cookbook, and if mayo in Devil’s Food Cake is good enough for Thomas Keller’s beloved bakery, who am I to argue?

(And on that note, if you love to bake and haven’t flipped through a copy of Bouchon Bakery, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s a coffee table book for sure – oversized with gorgeous pics and tons of mouth-watering recipes.)

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream

I told Shane I was making this recipe and asked him if he’d be open to trying one of the cupcakes. The response was a pretty emphatic “no thanks” – he was just as skeptical as I suspect you guys are ๐Ÿ™‚ But eventually I convinced him and he gave them a definite thumbs-up. The cupcakes are moist with a light and tender texture, and not a trace of mayonnaise flavor. In fact, I left a few for Shane’s parents and didn’t think to tell them there was mayo in the cupcakes and from what I’ve heard, they never would have guessed. The Nutella buttercream swirled on top is out-of-this-world good. I’ve made it once before to fill whoopie pies, and had forgotten just how much I loved it. If you’re making a special Valentine’s Day dinner at home, I think these cupcakes would be the perfect way to finish it off!

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream

Just a few other notes on the recipe: Weight measurements are preferred for this recipe, and you’ll notice they’re all listed first below. Baking with weight measures is faster and easier, it’s definitely my preference which is another reason I love this book. Volume measures are also given but because they’re converted from the weight measures, they’re not as “neat” as you may be used to. The egg measurement specifically may throw you off so here’s a tip – one large egg usually weighs between 50 and 55 grams. Mine weighed 53 grams, and rather than crack a second egg, I just made up the difference with a little bit of egg white from a carton of them I had in the fridge.

Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream
cupcakes barely adapted from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller, frosting adapted from Handle the Heat

{Note: If you like to top each cupcake with a lot of frosting (like me) you’ll probably want to increase the recipe slightly – I’d make 1 1/2 times the amount below. The full recipe will top all of the cupcakes only if you do a smaller swirl than shown in the pictures.}


101 g (1/2 cup plus 3 1/2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
31 g (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) Dutch-process cocoa powder
2.5 g (1/2 teaspoon) baking soda
0.5 g (1/8 teaspoon) baking powder
1 g (3/8 teaspoon) kosher salt
56 g (3 1/2 tablespoons) egg, at room temperature
126 g (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) sugar
2 g (3/8 teaspoon) vanilla extract
86 g (1/2 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons) mayonnaise, at room temperature
105 g (1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons) water, at room temperature

Nutella Buttercream

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup Nutella
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk (I used 1%)
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder into a medium bowl. Add the salt and whisk to incorporate. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla on medium-low speed for 1 minute, then increase the speed to medium and continue beating for 5 minutes, or until the batter is pale yellow in color and thick. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat for another 5 minutes on medium-high. The batter should be very thick, and when the whisk is lifted, the batter should ribbon from it and slowly dissolve into the batter in the bowl. Beat in the mayonnaise until combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer, and using a rubber spatula, alternately fold in the dry ingredients and water in two additions each (so dry, water, dry, water).

Divide the batter evenly among the liners, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake for about 18 minutes, or until the cupcakes spring back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the pan to a wire rack and let the cupcakes cool for a few minutes, then remove them to the rack to cool completely.

To make the buttercream: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and Nutella on medium speed until well combined. Mix in the vanilla and milk. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat on low speed until incorporated then increase the mixer to medium speed and beat until the frosting is smooth and fluffy. Transfer the frosting to a large pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip. Pipe frosting into a swirl on each cupcake.

Makes about 10 cupcakes

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