Chocolate Football Cupcakes — Decadent chocolate cupcake filled with a rich chocolate ganache and topped with creamy chocolate buttercream frosting for a trifecta of chocolate! The cupcakes will be game day winners with all your hungry fans!

Chocolate Football Cupcakes - Decadent chocolate cupcakes, filled with smooth rich chocolate ganache, and topped with creamy chocolate buttercream frosting for a trifecta of chocolate! The cupcakes will be game day winners with all your hungry fans!

Chocolate Football Cupcakes Recipe

Calling all football fans, these game day cupcakes are for you! Actually, I’m not a football fan and these game day cupcakes are definitely right up my alley.

So let’s just say the game day chocolate cupcakes are going to be a winners for everyone. After all, it’s extremely hard to resist homemade chocolate cupcakes!

Especially when the cupcakes themselves are moist and tender, but then they’re filled with chocolate ganache to keep them even more moist. Finally, they’re frosted with scrumptious chocolate buttercream frosting and then white buttercream comprises the stitches on the footballs.

Chocolate Football Cupcakes - Decadent chocolate cupcakes, filled with smooth rich chocolate ganache, and topped with creamy chocolate buttercream frosting for a trifecta of chocolate! The cupcakes will be game day winners with all your hungry fans!

If the ingredients list looks a little long, it is. That’s because every aspect of these cupcakes is from scratch and homemade.

However, as you read through the post I offer suggestions how to make the recipe a bit faster and easier via using chocolate cake mix and omitting the ganache filling aspect.

Finally, this is a lengthy post because of the three stages to the cupcakes but if you’re a Super Bowl cupcake pro, just scroll down to the recipe and skip my discussion of the halftime event so to speak.

Chocolate Football Cupcakes - Decadent chocolate cupcakes, filled with smooth rich chocolate ganache, and topped with creamy chocolate buttercream frosting for a trifecta of chocolate! The cupcakes will be game day winners with all your hungry fans!

Ingredients in Game Day Chocolate Cupcakes

There are three components to these festive and fun football-themed cupcakes — batter, ganache filling, and frosting.

Cupcake Batter

  • Granulated sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Oil
  • Butter
  • Eggs + yolk
  • Buttermilk
  • Sour cream
  • All-purpose flour
  • Cocoa powder
  • Baking powder
  • Salt 
  • Baking soda
  • Brewed coffee

Chocolate Football Cupcakes - Decadent chocolate cupcakes, filled with smooth rich chocolate ganache, and topped with creamy chocolate buttercream frosting for a trifecta of chocolate! The cupcakes will be game day winners with all your hungry fans!

Ganache Filling

  • Heavy cream
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips

Frosting

  • Butter
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Milk or half-and-half
  • Vanilla
  • Salt
  • Cocoa powder

Chocolate Football Cupcakes - Decadent chocolate cupcakes, filled with smooth rich chocolate ganache, and topped with creamy chocolate buttercream frosting for a trifecta of chocolate! The cupcakes will be game day winners with all your hungry fans!

How to Make Football Cupcakes

To make the cupcake batter, follow these quick and easy steps. (You are basically just whisking together wet ingredients, then adding in dry.)

Step 1: Whisk together the sugars, oil, melted butter before adding the eggs, buttermilk, and sour cream. 

Chocolate Football Cupcakes - Decadent chocolate cupcakes, filled with smooth rich chocolate ganache, and topped with creamy chocolate buttercream frosting for a trifecta of chocolate! The cupcakes will be game day winners with all your hungry fans!

Step 2: Gently mix in the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.

Chocolate Football Cupcakes - Decadent chocolate cupcakes, filled with smooth rich chocolate ganache, and topped with creamy chocolate buttercream frosting for a trifecta of chocolate! The cupcakes will be game day winners with all your hungry fans!

Step 3: Add the coffee and mix.

Step 4: Bake in lined cupcake pans for about 20 minutes.

Chocolate Football Cupcakes - Decadent chocolate cupcakes, filled with smooth rich chocolate ganache, and topped with creamy chocolate buttercream frosting for a trifecta of chocolate! The cupcakes will be game day winners with all your hungry fans!

And allow for them to cool completely. 

Chocolate Football Cupcakes - Decadent chocolate cupcakes, filled with smooth rich chocolate ganache, and topped with creamy chocolate buttercream frosting for a trifecta of chocolate! The cupcakes will be game day winners with all your hungry fans!

Buttercream Frosting for Game Day Chocolate Cupcakes

To make this scrumptious buttercream frosting for this cute tailgate dessert, follow these instructions:

Chocolate Football Cupcakes - Decadent chocolate cupcakes, filled with smooth rich chocolate ganache, and topped with creamy chocolate buttercream frosting for a trifecta of chocolate! The cupcakes will be game day winners with all your hungry fans!

Step 1: Beat together all of the ingredients except the cocoa powder with an electric mixer.

Step 2: Remove a small amount of frosting and place it in a piping bag.

Chocolate Football Cupcakes - Decadent chocolate cupcakes, filled with smooth rich chocolate ganache, and topped with creamy chocolate buttercream frosting for a trifecta of chocolate! The cupcakes will be game day winners with all your hungry fans!

Step 3: Add the cocoa powder, mix, and add it to a separate piping bag.

Chocolate Football Cupcakes - Decadent chocolate cupcakes, filled with smooth rich chocolate ganache, and topped with creamy chocolate buttercream frosting for a trifecta of chocolate! The cupcakes will be game day winners with all your hungry fans!

Chocolate Ganache Filling for Game Day Cupcakes

After you make the frosting, you need to work on the ganache filling and filling the cupcakes.

Step 1: Heat heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl or mug.

Step 2: Add the chocolate chips and allow the mixture to sit until you can stir it smooth.

Chocolate Football Cupcakes - Decadent chocolate cupcakes, filled with smooth rich chocolate ganache, and topped with creamy chocolate buttercream frosting for a trifecta of chocolate! The cupcakes will be game day winners with all your hungry fans!

Step 3: Remove small chunks of the top part of each cupcake using the large end of piping tip. Dislodge them with a toothpick and repeat.

Tip: Save these chunks because you will need them later.

Step 4: Spoon in a bit of ganache filling to each cupcake and add back on the chunks of cupcake.

Chocolate Football Cupcakes - Decadent chocolate cupcakes, filled with smooth rich chocolate ganache, and topped with creamy chocolate buttercream frosting for a trifecta of chocolate! The cupcakes will be game day winners with all your hungry fans!

How to Frost and Decorate Football Cupcakes

Step 1: Pipe on chocolate frosting footballs on top of each cupcake using the chocolate frosting in the piping bag.

To do this, fill the football shape in with frosting; this will take about 2 more lines of frosting to fill. Use a spoon or knife to smooth the frosting lines out. You may want to go back in and gently clean up the outside edges of the football shape. 

Step 2: Pipe small horizontal lines using the white frosting for the stitches or laces of the football.

Chocolate Football Cupcakes - Decadent chocolate cupcakes, filled with smooth rich chocolate ganache, and topped with creamy chocolate buttercream frosting for a trifecta of chocolate! The cupcakes will be game day winners with all your hungry fans!

Can I Use Chocolate Cake Mix as a Shortcut?

Although this scratch cupcake batter is very easy to make and you don’t even need to use a mixer, some people get intimidated by scratch baking and want to use something they’re more comfortable.

So for anyone who’s in that boat or loves a good baking shortcut like I do, feel free to use chocolate cake mix such as Devil’s Food Cake and follow the packaging directions for how to make cupcakes from cake mix.

I also have a doctored up chocolate cake mix cupcake recipe in my Kitchen Sink Cupcakes recipe which is super easy if you’re going the cake mix route, but want to jazz it up a bit.

Chocolate Football Cupcakes - Decadent chocolate cupcakes, filled with smooth rich chocolate ganache, and topped with creamy chocolate buttercream frosting for a trifecta of chocolate! The cupcakes will be game day winners with all your hungry fans!

Do I Have to Use Buttermilk in the Batter?

Yes, buttermilk is necessary in the cupcake batter and real buttermilk is always the gold standard in my opinion. If you have a Trader Joe’s in your area, theirs is the best value I have found.

If you don’t have real buttermilk on hand, here are some ideas for substitutes you can use: 

  • Make a DIY buttermilk by adding 1 tablespoon white vinegar to 2% or whole milk and waiting 5 minutes before adding it to the batter.
  • Powdered buttermilk is available and I’ve used it successfully in many dessert recipes. 
  • I haven’t tried to substitute yogurt for the buttermilk in this recipe so am not sure how it would work.

Regular milk won’t allow the cupcakes to rise and lift like buttermilk will so don’t use it.

Tip: Check out all my recipes using buttermilk if you need ideas for how to use the rest of the carton.

Chocolate Football Cupcakes - Decadent chocolate cupcakes, filled with smooth rich chocolate ganache, and topped with creamy chocolate buttercream frosting for a trifecta of chocolate! The cupcakes will be game day winners with all your hungry fans!

Do I Have to Use Coffee in the Batter? 

While it’s not mandatory, it’s highly recommended. For those who may not know this, coffee doesn’t make the cupcakes taste like coffee. Rather, it helps enhance the chocolate flavor and intensifies it.

In my Best Chocolate Cake recipe I call for coffee. I can’t tell you over the years how many questions I get about it but in the end, readers use the coffee and write to thank me later. Even people who swear they hate coffee!

You could use water if there is some sort of allergy at play for avoiding coffee but that would be about the only reason I would condone water.

Chocolate Football Cupcakes - Decadent chocolate cupcakes, filled with smooth rich chocolate ganache, and topped with creamy chocolate buttercream frosting for a trifecta of chocolate! The cupcakes will be game day winners with all your hungry fans!

Is the Ganache Filling Essential in Football Cupcakes?

I realize not everyone may want to nor enjoy the extra things in this recipe, including the ganache filling.

If you’re not feeling up to it, skip it. Simply bake the cupcakes and then frost them as directed, no big deal.

Chocolate Football Cupcakes - Decadent chocolate cupcakes, filled with smooth rich chocolate ganache, and topped with creamy chocolate buttercream frosting for a trifecta of chocolate! The cupcakes will be game day winners with all your hungry fans!

Can This Recipe Be Made in Advance? 

After filling the cupcakes with ganache and then frosting them, I like to give them a couple hours to rest and set up fully but it’s up to you. 

It’s perfectly fine to make these the day before of your game day party or event so that you’re not stressing on the day of!

How to Store Football Cupcakes

Because baked goods of all kinds tend to dry out in the fridge, and I find that chocolate desserts are even more prone to drying out, I store the cupcakes airtight at room temp for 2 to 3 days.

If you’re planning on storing them longer, they’ll keep airtight in the fridge for for up to 1 week.

Chocolate Football Cupcakes — Decadent chocolate cupcake filled with a rich chocolate ganache and topped with creamy chocolate buttercream frosting for a trifecta of chocolate! The cupcakes will be game day winners with all your hungry fans!

Tips for the Best Super Bowl Cupcakes

When you’re mixing up the cupcake batter, be sure not to overmix the batter because the cupcakes will be more crumbly on account of over-activating the gluten.

Make sure you use buttermilk and not regular milk as discussed in the section above (with alternatives suggested).

There’s a tablespoon of sour cream in the cupcake batter recipe and you can use plain Greek yogurt instead if desired.

For the cocoa powder in both the cupcake batter and frosting, select unsweetened natural cocoa powder. Do not use something with sugar already added and don’t use hot chocolate mix.

I don’t know if Dutch process cocoa will work so use something like Hershey’s which is a guarantee in this Super Bowl cupcake recipe.

When you add the coffee, make sure it’s barely warm to room-temperature, and not piping hot. That would be destructive to the batter so make sure it’s not too hot.

Chocolate Football Cupcakes — Decadent chocolate cupcake filled with a rich chocolate ganache and topped with creamy chocolate buttercream frosting for a trifecta of chocolate! The cupcakes will be game day winners with all your hungry fans!

Chocolate Football Cupcakes - Decadent chocolate cupcakes, filled with smooth rich chocolate ganache, and topped with creamy chocolate buttercream frosting for a trifecta of chocolate! The cupcakes will be game day winners with all your hungry fans!
Yield: 20

Chocolate Football Cupcakes

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 33 minutes

Chocolate Football Cupcakes - Decadent chocolate cupcakes, filled with smooth rich chocolate ganache, and topped with creamy chocolate buttercream frosting for a trifecta of chocolate! The cupcakes will be game day winners with all your hungry fans! Tip - Make sure to read the blog post about using cake mix and omitting the ganache to make these cupcakes even faster and easier!

Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup light brown sugar. packed
  • 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs + 1 yolk
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream (plain Greek yogurt may be substituted)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder* (See Notes)
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup brewed coffee, at room temp or slightly warm but not hot** (See Notes)

Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 ½ cup unsalted butter (3 sticks), softened to room temperature
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon half & half (or milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder

Ganache Filling

  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Cupcake Batter - Preheat oven to 350F and line two 12-count cupcake pans with cupcake liners; set aside.
  2. To a large bowl, add the sugars, oil, melted butter, and whisk to combine.
  3. Add the eggs, buttermilk, sour cream, and whisk to combine. Note - Real buttermilk OR powdered buttermilk OR 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar to 1/2 cup milk (2% or whole) and let stand will all work.
  4. Add the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and stir just until the dry ingredients incorporate. Don't overmix or the cupcakes will be crumbly.
  5. Add the coffee and mix until just combined. Note - The batter will be very runny at this point which is expected.
  6. Fill cupcake liners ¾-full with cupcake batter and place into the preheated oven to bake for 18 to 20 minutes. or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Tip - For optimal results rotate pans halfway through baking.
  7. Once baked, remove from the oven and place pans onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  8. Buttercream Frosting - To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or large mixing bowl and handheld electric mixer) add of the ingredients (except the cocoa) and beat together on high-speed for 2 for 3 minutes or until
    smooth and fluffy frosting has formed. Tip - Adjust how thick or thin the frosting is by adding either an extra tablespoon dairy if too thick or add confectioners' sugar if too thin, until desired consistency is reached.
  9. Spoon ¾ cup of the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a small round piping tip. Set aside.
  10. Add the cocoa powder to the remainder of the frosting in the mixing bowl and beat together for 30 to 45 seconds to fully
    incorporate.
  11. Spoon the chocolate frosting into a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Set aside.
  12. Ganache Filling - Heat the heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl or glass measuring cup for 1 minute on high power.
  13. Add the chocolate chips and let set for 1 minute to allow the chocolate to melt.
  14. Stir the mixture together until a smooth and thick chocolate ganache has formed. Tip - If the ganache is resistant to melting, place the bowl back in the microwave in 10 to 15-second bursts until it came be stirred smooth; set aside.
  15. Incorporating the Ganche - Press the large end of a piping tip into the center of each cupcake about ¾ deep. Tip - Use a cupcake corer to make this job even easier.
  16. Pull the piping tip or corer out of the cupcake and use a toothpick to remove the cupcake piece (or chunk) that is in the piping tip. Save the removed cupcake pieces in a bowl for later. Repeat this process with all 20 cupcakes.
  17. Once the cupcakes are holed out, spoon enough chocolate ganache in each cupcake to fill the holes.
  18. Press the removed cupcake chunks back into the hole on top of the ganache.
  19. Frosting the Cupcakes - To frost the cupcakes, start by piping the chocolate frosting in 2 lines in the shape of a football. This should not cover the entire surface of the cupcake but will reach two opposing ends of the cupcake.
  20. Fill the football shape in with frosting; this will take about 2 more lines of frosting to fill. Use a spoon or knife to smooth the frosting lines out. You may want to go back in and gently clean up the outside edges of the football shape. Repeat with all cupcakes.
  21. Use the white frosting to pipe a line down the center of the football from one pointed end to the other.
  22. Pipe small horizontal lines across the white center line to create the football laces (or stitches or grips whatever you want to call them). Tips - Be sure to leave ½ cm of space between each line for differentiation. You can vary the amount of small lines you pipe onto each football.
  23. Cupcakes will keep airtight at room temp for up to 2 to 3 days or in the fridge for up to 1 week. I resist storing cakes and cupcakes in the fridge because it dries them out.

Notes

*For the cocoa powder in both the cupcake batter and frosting, select unsweetened natural cocoa powder. Do not use something with sugar already added and don’t use hot chocolate mix. I don’t know if Dutch process cocoa will work so use something like Hershey’s which is a guarantee in this Super Bowl cupcake recipe.

**While it’s not mandatory, it’s highly recommended. For those who may not know this, coffee doesn’t make the cupcakes taste like coffee. Rather, it helps enhance the chocolate flavor and intensifies it. You could use water if there is some sort of allergy at play for avoiding coffee but that would be about the only reason I would condone water.

When you add the coffee, make sure it’s barely warm to room-temperature, and not piping hot. That would be destructive to the batter so make sure it’s not too hot.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

20

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 364Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 75mgSodium: 210mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 1gSugar: 34gProtein: 3g

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Kitchen Sink Cupcakes - Rich and decadent chocolate cupcakes topped with everything but the kitchen sink including pretzels, potato chips, toffee bits, and chocolate chips! FAST and EASY cupcakes to make because they use a chocolate cake mix base to save you time!

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Irish Chocolate Cupcakes - A tender chocolate cupcake made from scratch with batter that's spiked with Guinness, along with a hint of Jameson Irish whiskey in the chocolate ganache filling, and frosted with a silky smooth Baileys buttercream frosting!! Not too boozy and not too sweet! Makes a smaller batch of 12 and PERFECT for St. Patrick’s Day!!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins — These chocolate chocolate chip muffins are closer in taste to a rich chocolate cupcake, but have the texture of a muffin. They’re soft, moist, dense, and loaded with chocolate!

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