Hummingbird Bakery Black Bottom Cupcakes Recipe (Adapted for High-Altitude)

April 24, 2012

"The black bottom cupcake looks innocent, but packs a punch! A dark chocolate cake with a dollop of cheesecake baked into it, we top ours with Cream Cheese Frosting for extra impact. The chocolate base is different from our normal chocolate cupcakes -- it's darker, slightly less sweet, and marries well with the cheesecake center. Omit the cream cheese frosting for a more moderate treat."
- The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook




For the Chocolate Cake Base:
(enough for 12 - 14 cupcakes)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus extra to decorate
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup water, at room temperature (decrease to 1/2 cup of water at sea-level)

For the Cheesecake Filling:
(enough for 14 - 16 cupcakes)
  • 4 1/2 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, cold
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips 

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
(enough for 12 - 14 cupcakes)
  • 2 1/3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, cold


The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook's Black Bottom Cupcakes Recipe
(Adapted for a high-altitude environment of approximately 5,000 ft)
  1. Preheat the oven to 365 (F) -- this is a 40 degree (F) increase from the original sea-level recipe temperature of 325 (F).

  2. Put 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/3 cup cocoa powder, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in a large bowl and mix with a handheld electric whisk on slow speed until all the dry ingredients are well incorporated.

  3. Put 1/4 cup sunflower oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 cup water in a glass and whisk to combine.

  4. While the electric whisk is running in the flour bowl, slowly add the oil mixture, increasing the speed of the blender as the mixture thickens. Continue to beat until all the ingredients are incorporated, scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

  5. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the chocolate batter into paper cases and set aside.

  6. Combine 4 1/2 oz. cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt in the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer. Beat together with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until smooth and fluffy.

  7. When the cream cheese batter is fluffy and thick, stir in 2/3 cup chocolate chips with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon until evenly dispersed. Do not overmix, or the cream cheese will start to split.

  8. Scoop about 1 tablespoon of the cheesecake filing on top of the cupcake batter in the cases and bake in the preheated oven for 22-24 minutes, or until the chocolate part of the cupcakes are smooth and firm to the touch and the cheesecake filing has an even golden color/brown edges. Do not overbake as the cheesecake will become very dry and crumbly.

  9. Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

  10. When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below) on top. Decorate with a light sprinkling of cocoa powder.


The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook's Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
(For All Altitudes)
  1. Beat 2 1/3 cups confectioners' sugar and 3 tablespoons unsalted butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.

  2. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until it is completely incorporated.

  3. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy (approximately 5 minutes). Be careful not to overbeat, as the frosting can quickly become too runny. 


Tips & Addendums

  • Do not substitute the unsweetened cocoa powder with sweetened cocoa powder; doing so will make the cupcake's chocolate flavor less intense.

  • All spoon measurements are level and unsifted, unless otherwise specified. To level the ingredients, take the back of a knife and run it across the top of the measuring cup until the excess ingredients are scraped off.

  • Liquid and dry measuring cups are different; please make sure you use the appropriate measuring cup for each ingredient.

  • The amount of water in your chocolate batter could very well vary depending on how long your flour has been sitting around. If you want to be as accurate as possible, I suggest starting out with just adding 1/2 cup of water to the batter, and adding 1/4 cups of water as necessary.

  • After adding your oil/water mixture to the flour/cocoa powder mixture, don't overbeat as this will overwork the flour and make the cake dense -- simply beat until the liquids have just been incorporated. In my opinion, making sure you don't overbeat the batter is one of the hardest parts about baking.

  • Don't worry if your cream cheese mixture is lumpy -- the lumps are normal and will not affect the final product. Stirring in the chocolate chips by hand will help break down the lumps in the batter, but the overall mixture will still be pretty lumpy.

  • I like to use a 1 tablespoon-sized cookie scoop to divide the cupcake batter evenly between cases. For this recipe, I put 2 tablespoons of chocolate batter and 1 tablespoon of cream cheese batter in each case. If you want to get that Hummingbird Bakery black bottom cupcake effect where the cream cheese topping is on one side of the cupcake, simply scoop the cream cheese batter on one side of the chocolate batter. The batter's consistency will prevent it from spreading during the baking process.

  • Do not open your oven until at least the minimum time recommended has passed. Too much cold air coming from a frequently opened oven door causes irregular oven temperatures, which then affect the baking process.

  • If you are pressed for time, you can bake the cupcakes at 375 (F) for 20 minutes.

  • At higher altitudes, the Hummingbird Bakery's recipe for cream cheese frosting can be too stiff (especially when it's cold outside). I like to use an extra tablespoon of butter to soften the frosting. I also throw in a couple drops of vanilla extract to give the frosting a hint of vanilla flavor.

  • I like to use a 1 tablespoon-sized cookie scoop to measure out 1 tablespoon of frosting for each cupcake.

  • Frost your cupcakes immediately after you have made the frosting. If you let the frosting sit out too long, it will start to crust and you will have a hard time frosting your cupcakes. However, make sure your cupcakes are completely cooled before frosting, otherwise they will get soggy.

  • These cupcakes are especially perishable. I recommend eating these within 1-2 days at most. 



  1. will the recipe itself work for all altitudes? seems like a stupid question i know....

    1. Hi there,

      It should! The only thing that's different between the high altitude and sea level version of the recipe is the ingredient quantities. If you look at the ingredients list, you'll notice that I put sea-level quantities in brackets. Let me know if you're still confused.



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