Chocolate Cream Cheese Surprise Cupcakes

Chocolate Surprise Cupcakes

No “pinspiration” today – this is a recipe straight from my childhood.

Growing up, these chocolate cream cheese surprise cupcakes were one of my favorite treats. Forget any Tastykake or Hostess cupcake out there. These are like, ten times better than anything you can buy.

Plus, there’s a secret surprise in the middle. Who doesn’t like a surprise?

Because there’s a cream cheese filling, these cupcakes have an extra step beyond just making a regular batter. However, they’re so sweet that they don’t really need any kind of frosting. Instead, we just sprinkle powdered sugar on top to make them extra-pretty (and I have a secret for that too!).

I made these a few weekends ago along with this crab dip and these sugared pecans for a tailgating weekend with my best friends. They were definitely a hit!

This recipe starts with making the batter. The recipe I use includes flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, water, vegetable oil, vinegar, and vanilla.

surprise cupcake batter ingredients

Stir the dry ingredients together and then slowly add the wet ingredients. Beat for about three minutes. The batter doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth. Here’s what it will look like:

surprise cupcake batter

Set this aside and make the filling.

You’ll need cream cheese, sugar, egg, salt, and – here’s the surprise – chocolate chips.

surprise cupcake filling ingredients

Semi-sweet chocolate works best because you need to take the edge off all the sugary chocolatey goodness in these cupcakes. We always had then with mini chocolate chips or regular chocolate chips growing up, but I found these really nifty Nestle semi-sweet chocolate “chunks” and they work really well for this recipe.

Mix the sugar, cream cheese, egg, and salt, beating until the mixture is creamy. Then, stir in the chocolate chips (or chunks).

surprise filling

Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full with the chocolate batter (left-hand picture below), then carefully add a spoonful of the cream cheese mixture to the middle (middle picture below). Make sure each cupcake gets some chocolate chips/chunks! Bake at 350 degrees for 22 minutes. When they’re done, they’ll look like the right-hand picture below.

cupcakes in three steps

Let the cupcakes cool for about five minutes in the pan, then remove for them to cool completely. Once, they’re cool, keep them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve them. Because of the cream cheese center, these cupcakes are definitely better chilled instead of straight our of the oven. They even freeze really well.

Before you’re ready to serve, sprinkle on some powdered sugar. Here’s my trick – I fill up a mesh tea infuser like this one and just tap lightly to perfectly coat the cupcakes with powdered sugar.

powdered sugar trick


Chocolate Cream Cheese Surprise Cupcakes

Ready to eat! Here’s the printable recipe for ya:

Chocolate Cream Cheese Surprise Cupcakes
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups + ⅓ cup sugar
  • ⅔ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp + ⅛ tsp salt
  • 2 cups water
  • ⅔ cups vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  1. Mix together the flour, 2 cups sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and 1 tsp. salt.
  2. Add water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Mix for about three minutes. Set the batter aside.
  3. Cream together the cream cheese, ⅓ cup sugar, and ½ tsp. salt. Stir in chocolate chips/chunks.
  4. Fill cupcake liners about ⅔ full with chocolate batter.
  5. Add a spoonful of filling to the middle of each cupcake, making sure each gets some chocolate chips/chunks.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 22 minutes.
  7. Cool in cupcake tins for 5 minutes, then remove to cool completely.
  8. Refrigerate. When ready to serve, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
These cupcakes freeze extremely well.


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Allison is one of the co-founders here at The PinterTest Kitchen. She also works as a content marketing consultant and freelance writer - find out more at

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