Black Bottom Cupcakes

April 4, 2011

Black bottom cupcakes are essentially miniature cheesecakes encased in dark chocolate cake. My mom used to make them (from a different recipe) when I was growing up, and I always considered them one of my favorite special treats! Although I have made this recipe (from the America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book) several times, I can’t seem to figure out a way to keep the filling from sinking and forming a crater as it cools. At first I thought perhaps I was removing them from the oven too early, but the filling always shows definite cracks in its surface, indicating that it is fully cooked. Either way, they still taste excellent! Because of the cream cheese in the filling, these cupcakes should be refrigerated if not served the same day.

Black bottom cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes



  • 8  ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4  cup sugar
  • 1/8  teaspoon salt
  • 1  large egg white
  • 1  tablespoon sour cream
  • 1/4  cup semisweet mini chocolate chips


  • 3/4  cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3  cup sugar
  • 1/4  cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4  teaspoon salt
  • 3/4  cup water, room temperature
  • 6  tablespoons sour cream, room temperature
  • 4  tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2  teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  2. For the filling: Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Beat in egg white and sour cream until combined, about 30 seconds. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  3. For the cupcakes: Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk in the water, sour cream, melted butter, and vanilla until just incorporated.
  4. Using a greased 1/4-cup measure, portion the batter into each muffin cup. Spoon a rounded tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture onto the center of each cupcake.
  5. Bake the cupcakes until the tops just begin to crack, 18 to 22 minutes, rotating the tin halfway through baking. Let the cupcakes cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.


  1. That crater is there to fill with fruit filling!

    • I bet raspberry would be tasty with the chocolate! (Aren’t you glad I have access to the entire internet at work now?? lol)

  2. That looks great. I have a similar recipe and can’t wait to try it in muffin tins. I add fresh mint or orange zest to the cream cheese.

    • Thanks so much! Orange zest or mint sounds like a fabulous idea – definitely unusual flavor combinations (which I love)!

      I just browsed through your blog and I’m going to have to try the apple-cinnamon pancakes you posted. They sound (and look) amazing.

  3. yummy:) these look kinda cool:)

    • Thank you! Glad you think they look cool despite being a bit sunken in the middle, haha

  4. Have you tried putting a pan of water on the lowest rack, as you would with full-size cheesecake? That would keep them from cracking (I don’t know if that would be an issue in knowing if they’re done), but it might stop them from sinking, too.

    What about pre-baking the brownie part a little with a smooth foil ball taking up the cheesecake space?

    Still, they look delicious as-is, and I also like the raspberry idea.

    • Pre-baking would be hard since the batter is quite liquid-y, but I will try the pan of water next time! I don’t have much experience baking full-size cheesecakes, so I didn’t even think of that. (Actually no experience at all that I can remember, other than watching my aunt bake when I was like… 11 years old, lol) Thanks for the suggestion! :)

  5. […] decorated nicely. And finally, this cake’s top layer held a secret cream cheese filling (ala black bottom cupcakes), giving it some variety in texture and flavor. […]

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