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Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Frosting

A cinnamon-spiced chocolate cake is topped with a dulce de leche cream cheese frosting to make these decadent Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes.

Mexican chocolate cupcakes with plate of cupcakes on cloth napkin in background

Easy Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes

These Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes are an ode to that signature Mexican chocolate flavor—deep, dark chocolate with cinnamon. Unfortunately, authentic Mexican chocolate can be a bit tough to find in your average grocery store, so this recipe makes a rough approximation by combining cocoa powder and ground cinnamon.

I couldn’t just top these with a basic buttercream, so to keep with our Mexican-inspired theme, I whipped up a cream cheese frosting sweetened with dulce de leche instead of confectioners’ sugar. It comes together in minutes and needless to say, it’s fantastic with these moist, fluffy Mexican chocolate cupcakes.

overhead view of Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Frosting on a white plate

What Flavor Is Mexican Chocolate?

At its most basic, Mexican chocolate is a combination of chocolate, sugar, and cinnamon. It’s also common for Mexican chocolate to have chiles for bit of a kick, nuts, and additional spices like allspice and nutmeg. If you love the flavor of Mexican chocolate as much as I do, make sure you try my Buttermilk Mexican Chocolate Pound Cake too!

overhead view of ingredients for Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Frosting

What You’ll Need

Other than the dulce de leche (more on that below!), this recipe calls for fairly standard baking ingredients.

For the cupcakes:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Unsalted butter – The butter should be softened before you get started.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Light brown sugar
  • Eggs – Let the eggs come to room temperature, too. This yields a lighter, fluffier cupcake!
  • Vanilla extract
  • Milk – The milk should also be room temperature.

For the frosting:

  • Cream cheese – The cream cheese should be room temperature, too, which makes it easier to whip it up into a smooth, creamy frosting.
  • Dulce de leche
  • Vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

What Is Dulce de Leche?

Caramel-like dulce de leche is one of my favorite flavors for baking. It’s basically caramelized milk—it’s sometimes called “milk jam” in English. You can make it yourself or buy it in many grocery stores. Look for it alongside the condensed milk, with the international foods, or with the ice cream toppings.

Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Frosting on a light-colored surface

How to Make Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes With Dulce de Leche Frosting

As with most cupcake recipes, you can bake the cupcakes one day and make the frosting the next if you don’t have a block of time to do both at once.

To make the cupcakes:

Prepare. Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease or line 24 cups of standard-sized muffin tins.

Mix the dry ingredients. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl.

overhead view of creamed butter and brown sugar in a mixing bowl

Mix the wet ingredients. Use an electric mixer on medium speed to cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until they’re fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla.

mixed batter for Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes in a stand mixer bowl

Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture in three portions, alternating with two portions of the milk.

overhead view of Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Frosting batter portioned into a muffin pan

Portion out the batter. Divide the cupcake batter into the prepared pans, filling each cup 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full.

overhead view of baked Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes in a muffin pan

Bake. Place the pans in the oven and bake for 22 to 26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool. Let the cupcakes cool for about 10 minutes in pans on wire racks. Carefully remove the cupcakes and let them finish cooling on the racks. (Learn more: Why Every Baker Needs Wire Cooling Racks)

To finish:

Make the frosting. Use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat the cream cheese and dulce de leche together until smooth, then beat in the vanilla and salt.

Mexican chocolate cupcakes on plate with additional cupcakes on tabletop

Frost. Use a piping bag or icing spatula to frost the cupcakes once they’re completely cool.

Tips for Success

Here are some hints and tips for perfect Mexican chocolate cupcakes.

  • Measure accurately. Use a kitchen scale to measure by weight if you can. Otherwise, spoon and sweep so you don’t over-measure. Learn more: How to Measure Flour
  • Use a good quality cocoa powder. It doesn’t have to be expensive to be good quality. If you have a preferred brand of unsweetened cocoa powder, go with that. I most often use Ghirardelli.
  • Use a scoop to portion the cupcakes. You’ll need about 3 tablespoons of batter per cup. Making sure the portions are evenly distributed will help ensure even baking and consistent sizing.
Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes on a white plate and a light-colored surface

How to Store

Because these cupcakes have a cream cheese frosting, they’ll need to be stored in the refrigerator; they’ll keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Set the cupcakes out at room temperature for about an hour before serving.

Can This Recipe Be Frozen?

Yes, these cupcakes can be wrapped or stored in an airtight container and frozen for up to 3 months. Let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Frosting

Yield 24 standard-size cupcakes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 26 minutes
Total Time 46 minutes

Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Frosting combine the great flavors of chocolate, cinnamon, and dulce de leche for a fantastically delicious dessert!

Overhead view of Mexican chocolate cupcakes on plate and tabletop

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

  • 2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (42g) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 & 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (236ml) milk

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces (227g) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 & 1/4 cups (about 13 ounces/368g) dulce de leche
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

To make the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease or line 24 cups of standard muffin tins.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.
  4. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture in three portions, alternating with two portions of the milk.
  5. Transfer the batter to the prepared pans, filling the muffin cups about 2/3 to 3/4 full. (A 3-tablespoon scoop works well for portioning.)
  6. Bake 22-26 minutes, or until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool for about 10 minutes in pans on wire racks. Then, remove the cupcakes from the pans to cool completely on wire racks.

To make the frosting:

  1. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese and dulce de leche until well-blended. Mix in the vanilla and salt, beating until combined.
  2. Frost the cooled cupcakes.

Notes

Store the frosted cupcakes in the refrigerator. Set out the cupcakes for about an hour before serving to bring to room temperature.

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    16 Comments on “Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Frosting”

  1. The caramel frosting looks delcious. Wonder if I can make these in time for my Cinco de Mayo party tonight.

  2. Those look delicious!!! Have to make them 🙂

  3. These look amazing! But I have visited your site multiple times, and I thought you were teasing people by only posting pictures! I only just found the recipes! I can be so stupid sometimes- but now i am happy, as i can actually make the things now.

  4. Chocolate and dulce de leche go great together, but I never added cinnamon. Will try it very soon since I believe almost anything sweet can be paired with ddl!

  5. Really Yummy! Looks delicious and sweet. I love to prepare these on mini edge plate and sprinkle some cinnamon on the sides. These cupcakes already on my list.

  6. Did you mean to not have any powdered sugar in the frosting? Seems a little odd. I just made these (with a different frosting recipe) and they are awesome.

  7. have printed and cannot wait til i have a free evening to try these! will be perfect on a cold winter’s night.

  8. Hmm, just finished baking them and eating the first one. Ridiculously good! I skipped the frosting on mine (don’t like it) but my mum and my sister are raving about it!

    This will absolutely be my go-to chocolate cake recipe from now on, actually.

  9. This must be heaven! Thanks for sharing!

  10. I loved these!! I did add a lot more cinnamon – but I also love cinnamon more than any other spice. 🙂 I also added a dash of cayenne pepper which gave it a really nice, subtle kick. Thank you very much for this recipe! It will be a staple in my baking.

  11. These look fantastic! What happens if I can’t find prepared dulce de leche? Do you have a recipe for this?

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