Harry Potter Cupcakes

Intensive Cake Unit
by Intensive Cake Unit
24 cupcakes
40 min

Not too horribly long ago activated charcoal seemed to be *all* the rage everywhere in Portland - activated charcoal is a dark black powder that's food-safe and tasteless in small amounts. It has good uses; it's given in larger doses in the Emergency Department for overdose cases because it binds to and inactivates many medications. (If you take daily scheduled medications, its worth checking into which ones can be inactivated by charcoal before including it in recipes!)

However, in small amounts it's completely safe - and with a little gel food coloring can make some pretty wicked-looking black frosting! ;)

The characters in the Harry Potter series occasionally travel chimney-to-chimney via flue powder….which didn’t seem that far off from charcoal powder 😉 I bought some in capsule form because that was how it was stocked at the store where I found it…opening the capsules was a bit laborious and time-consuming, so I recommend a loose-powder form if you can find it, otherwise capsules will work if you need them to. 😉

Recipe details
  • 24  cupcakes
  • Prep time: 20 Minutes Cook time: 20 Minutes Total time: 40 min
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  •  350g all purpose flour (roughly 2 c) 
  • 450g caster sugar (roughly 2 ¼ c) 
  • 100g cocoa powder (roughly 1 ¼ c) |
  • 1 tsp baking soda 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 1 c /250g /16 T unsalted butter, softened 
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature 
  • 350ml milk (about 1 ½ ; I used a 2c pyrex liquid measuring cup with mL marks on the back) 
  • 2 t vanilla extract
Frosting / Decorations
  • Black & White Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:
  • 8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
  • 16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
  • 6-7 c powdered sugar
  • 4-8 Tablespoons milk, divided
  • 1 T clear vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • Save and add later -
  • 1 c cocoa powder – add later!
  • 2-3 T or 20-25 capsules of activated charcoal powder
  • 2-3 drops Americolor black gel food coloring 
  • Harry Potter cupcake toppers - these are inexpensive and easy to find in craft stores or on Amazon!
 Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (180C) or 320 FC (160C) for a fan forced oven. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, soda, and salt. Turn mixer on low speed and allow it to mix for a couple minutes to help everything combine well (or sift the ingredients together). Add in the softened butter until no lumps of butter are visible and it’s well incorporated into the dry ingredients.
Next, add milk, eggs, and vanilla together and whisk until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients in a slow and steady stream until no dry ingredients are visible. Scrape down the bowl and mix for another 20 seconds.
Fill each paper 3/4 of the way (using an ice cream scoop to transfer the batter into the cupcake liners makes this a quick and easy process otherwise you can use two tablespoons). I don’t recommend over-filling your tins or they may overflow. I’ve used the extra to make some mini-cupcakes before!
Bake for 20-25 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow them to cool completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting. If you insert a skewer and it comes out with wet batter, bake for another few minutes at a time until a skewer or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs. Cool completely. 
(I filled the cupcakes in the photos with chocolate ganache - if you'd like to as well, melt together 2 cups/12oz chocolate chips with 1 1/2 cups/12oz of heavy cream & cool until thick enough to pipe. Transfer to a piping bag, core your cupcakes with a knife or cupcake corer, and fill with ganache! Skip this step for a time-saver and slightly less messy cupcake. :) )
Frosting / Decorations
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with 2-4 tablespoons of milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt and beat until well combined.
I divided the frosting in half at this point, and added cocoa powder and activated charcoal to make a black chocolate frosting – and then added milk and gel food coloring until the color and consistency reached what I wanted. 😉 If you add charcoal and a bit of gel color and it's not as dark as you'd like, letting the frosting sit for several hours or overnight will deepen the black color.
Pipe frosting in large swirls onto your cupcakes (or spread it if you'd rather. ;) Decorate the top of each cupcake with a Harry Potter-themed cupcake topper. Done and done! Enjoy! :)
  •  Make this recipe? Let me know how it went - or find me on Pinterest or Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo! :) 
Intensive Cake Unit
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