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Hi-Hat Cupcakes

These silly sweets take their name seriously; from the book, Cupcakes!.

  • Yield: Makes 12 cupcakes
Hi-Hat Cupcakes

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, May 2006


For the Batter

  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

For the Chocolate Coating

  • 2 cups chopped (about 12 ounces) semisweet chocolate
  • 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

For the Frosting

  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in center. Prepare the batter: Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl, and set it over a medium saucepan of barely simmering water; stir chocolate until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from heat, and set aside to cool slightly.

  2. Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed, scraping sides of bowl as needed, until light and fluffy. On low speed, mix in melted chocolate. Increase speed to medium, and add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla, and beat until mixture is creamy and color has lightened slightly, about 1 minute. Mix in sour cream. On low speed, add half of reserved flour mixture, beating until just incorporated. Mix in 1/2 cup water. Add remaining flour mixture, and mix until just incorporated.

  4. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners. Fill each liner with enough batter to come 1/8 inch from top, about 1/3 cup. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until tops are firm and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool in pan for 10 minutes.

  5. Use a small knife to loosen any tops stuck to the pan. Carefully invert cupcakes onto the wire rack. Turn cupcakes right side up, and let cool completely.

  6. Prepare the frosting: In a large heatproof bowl, combine sugar, 1/4 cup water, egg whites, and cream of tartar. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat on high speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Set bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Beat on high speed until frosting forms stiff peaks, about 12 minutes; frosting should register 160 degrees.on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla and almond extracts, and beat for 2 minutes more until frosting thickens.

  7. Transfer frosting to a large pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain pastry tip. Leaving a 1/8-inch border on each cupcake, pipe a spiral of frosting into a 2-inch-high cone shape, using about 1/2 cup of frosting per cupcake. Transfer cupcakes to a baking sheet, and refrigerate while preparing the chocolate coating.

  8. Prepare the chocolate coating: Combine chocolate and oil in a medium heat-proof bowl set over a medium saucepan of barely simmering water; stir until melted and smooth. Transfer to a small bowl, and let cool about 15 minutes.

  9. Holding each cupcake by its bottom, dip cupcake in the chocolate to coat frosting, allowing excess to drip off. Transfer to a baking sheet fitted with a wire rack. Spoon more coating around edge of cupcake and any exposed frosting; none of the frosting should show. Let cupcakes stand at room temperature 15 minutes.

  10. Carefully remove paper liners from cupcakes, and discard. Place cupcakes on a serving platter, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to let coating set. Cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours more. Serve cold. Cupcakes can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Reviews (64)

  • musettesgirl 12 Aug, 2015

    the cake and icing turned out great but the chocolate no i melted the chocolate with 3 tablespoons canola oil in a metal bowl over pan of boiling water let it melt then poured the chocolate into a small bowl let it sit 15 mins. i dipped the first cupcake. the icing fell off the the cupcake in the chocolate. i tried again same thing the chocolate was too thick or cooled down too fast. i spent a lot of time and money making these was dissapointed. i had to plop the chocolate over icing in glops.

  • keiff222 19 May, 2015

    I was wondering if u can make the icing a different flavor like peanut butter n how would it be done. i'm not big on almond flavoring but would like to make these. I seen someone had said they made peanut butter icing n sprinkled I think peanuts on them before the chocolate set but I don't remember where i seen it. also can I just make my simple buttercream icing? its not Italian buttercream just buttercream using powered sugar. would that be too heavy of an icing?

  • Charley Chris 14 Apr, 2015

    I love this recipe so much. I'm gonna prepare it with the food processor I got.

    I have been getting a lot of compliments for this food processor and the amazing way it chops food. I'm so looking forward to trying out this recipe with precision. I've been eating too many old, over-eaten meals lately and would like some changes effected in my diet.

  • lindsay amundson 8 Apr, 2014

    These are delicious, BUT THE RECIPE WRONG. Do not fill the cupcakes within 1/8 inch of the top - they overflow. Not surprising, but totally annoying since the recipe says to fill them that full specifically and says it makes 12 which is a joke. I used a standard size muffin pan - maybe the used a jumbo size? You think they would test their recipes... Anyway, the cake portion of the recipe makes more like 18-20 cupcakes filled about 3/4 full so adjust your frosting and coating recipes by +50%.

  • debrasantorini 25 Nov, 2013

    mmm cupcakes...yummy!

  • lauren ferguson 22 Sep, 2013

    Most bakers / cooks would realize that you need *NEED* an electric mixer for this recipe, not me. We mixed it by hand, and while it was a great workout (20 mins or so of hand beating), I wouldn't recommend it! Also I ruined the first batch of egg whites by overheating while mixing by cooking the egg too much (yuck). Half a dozen eggs later and with biceps of steel we finally achieved peaks, and it felt like we had scaled an actual mountain. I can't wait for them to cool!

  • Stlc 7 Jul, 2013

    I'm planning to make this today. What is frustrating me quite a bit is that the ingredient list is just that, a long list with no distinction in which amounts of sugar, chocolate and eggs belong to which part (batter, frosting, glaze) of the recipe.
    Someone please update the recipe to be more clear. Cooking is a Science, specifics are needed.

  • too_hats 23 Jun, 2013

    You need to have enough room in your fridge, so plan ahead. The amoretto flavored frosting with the dark chocolate coating and cake is a flavor combination that makes life worthwhile - it is that good! I recommend serving them in a small dish with a fork, as they are quite messy to eat with your hands and you want to get a little cake, frosting and coating in each bite.

    It does take time to make these with the steps, waiting periods, etc., but worth it for a special occasion or friend.

  • ichigocandy16 25 Feb, 2013

    Okay so I made these and they turned out pretty nasty.
    So I went back and saw that I missed a step where you warm up the frosting to mix in the sugar. So what I did instead was I got the cupcake and glazed it with the melted chocolate and put it in the freezer till the chocolate set. Rave views all around. (:

  • SuzyCupcake 30 Jan, 2012

    Made these for a special birthday. Doubled the recipe to make sure I had plenty they turned out perfect and were SO good! Rave reviews all around. Well worth the extra time and effort!

  • wendynp 29 Jan, 2012

    I couldn't figure out why the cupcakes kept sinking in the middle, until I adjusted them for high altitude and now they turn out perfect. I use 1/16th teaspoon less baking powder, 1 tablespoon less sugar and 1 tablespoon more water. I bake at 375 degrees instead of 350 degrees for 15 minutes instead of 20. I also fill the liners slightly less than called for.

  • rslinn 10 Jan, 2012

    Which version - 2006 or 2011 - is the successful one?

  • MyrinaAmazonPrincess 28 Oct, 2011

    I made the cupcakes, I have yet to make the hi hat topping. I will probably make new cupcakes because I followed the directions to fill them up to 1/8 inch below the cup and they overflowed and sunk in the middle. I did use the 1/2 cup water included in the instructions but omitted from the ingredients list. Perhaps I should have ignored the instruction to add 1/2 cup water. It seemed odd.

  • pamsschneider 23 Oct, 2011

    My guest liked these cupcakes but I thought they were lousy and would note make them again. Firstly, the frosting did not come out like it was suppose to; never became stiff peaks. The chocolate cake was not chocolatey enough. There are plenty of other recipes out there that are much better.

  • mariasweets 8 Oct, 2011

    If you're thinking about trying this recipe - the 'May 2006 version'- , please check my comments on the other recipe and method for these cupcakes - the 'March 2011 version'.

  • eashton 7 Nov, 2010

    1) The water is missing from both the cake ingredients and the frosting ingredients even though they are both mentioned in the directions. I suspect some of the problems a few of the commenters mentioned may be due to not adding the water (I almost missed it myself). I had to go hunt down the original book/recipe to make sure the water was correct.

    2) The cakes should be refrigerated for 30 mins-1 hour after being frosted since the frosting will slide off the cake unless it is set.

  • Hawaii1979 1 Nov, 2010

    Ok!!!!!!! We did it................and really, 160 degrees was never attained. Just kept heat at med and made sure the water was touching the glass bowl

  • Natallie 28 Oct, 2010

    Phew, so I am not alone in the gritty ~ sugary ~ mound topping disaster.............although, I am hopeful that it is because I did NOT have a candy thermometer!!! Please Please. I really want to perfect these beauties :D Trying again this weekend [wish me luck]

    Keep you updated! PS I cut a corner and used regular chocolate cake mix.

  • Ladiebugh 25 Sep, 2010

    I made these for my daughter's baby shower, they were not hi hats more like round mounds. I think that if I had let them set in the fridge longer before dipping they would have turned out perfect..the icing was great but really rich. no grit though, I did bring the sugar and water to a boil and added to the fluffy foam slowly and it does take @ least 12 mins to get the stiff peaks. Very tasty all the same.

  • GabrielleG 24 Sep, 2010

    This was a horrible, gloppy mess. I am an experienced baker and this was just a disaster. Not to mention, almond extract in frosting with a chocolate cupcake, just does not jive in my book. 2 hours of time wasted. Yuck.

  • Kiwibeeper 16 Aug, 2010

    I had no luck with the cupcakes, but using a different chocolate cupcake recipe, this recipe and technique was my favourite for the marshmallow. And EVERYBODY loved it, even those who say they don't like sweets could not stop!
    But I don't now if my problem with the cake was altitude or what, there was no way it was not going to collapse.

  • maravis2001 17 Jun, 2010


  • carrie1204 23 Apr, 2010

    i have just made the cupcakes 30 mins before. The first badge was like a sunken [filtered word] so I decided to make it again with less beating and standing right in front of the oven to watch out for the baking time. However, they still sunk in the centre. Can anyone please tell me what I should do?

  • casey94 28 Mar, 2010

    these are SO SO good. best chocolate cupcakes. however it makes MORE THAN 12. probably about 15, otherwise it will overflow. everything was yummy, but when i turn the cupcakes over to dip in the chocolate, the whole top came off! i am trying to figure out how to make the top not-so heavy.

  • June_Cleaver 28 May, 2009

    These cupcakes are delicious! I made them three times, and the first and last times, they came out perfect, but the middle time the marshmallow part turned out grainy.

  • fredalee 28 May, 2009

    I would love to try these but I'm not at all fond of almond extract. Has anyone tried making them using different flavored extract? I'd like to try caramel, or mint or orange....whatever?

  • MonicaP 27 Feb, 2009

    I made the frosting twice because the first time it didn't turn out - grainy. The second time, I mixed all the ingredients and placed them over the simmering water and stirred them until they reached the proper temp, then I placed them in my stand up mixer and let the mixer beat them for me. It worked much better, even though they would never get to stiff peaks, even after 20 minutes. They were still very tasty and the family loved them.

  • wf13 26 Sep, 2008

    these always look so nice

  • happytime106 17 Aug, 2008

    After reading the reviews, I made these using a different cake recipe. But followed the frosting recipe (beating did take longer, just wait for stiff peaks) and refrigerated the frosted cupcakes for a few hours. The melted chocolate was just ever so slightly warm. the dipping went flawless. They turned out looking, and tasting great. Everyone at the party loved them.

  • bhollingsworth 6 May, 2008

    I will try to do this with the 500 characters max...I think the problem with sunken cupcakes is due to overbeating and/or undercooking. I think the gritty merginue is caused by not using super fine sugar. Next time I will try Domino Super Fine Sugar. I also let the meringue chill in the fridge overnight and had no problem dipping it into the chocolate in the morning. Overall...I had really good reviews from my coworkers.

  • RachaelG 29 Apr, 2008

    Great recipe for the batter and frosting. I followed the recipe exactly, and while melting the chocolate for dipping I refrigerated the frosted cupcakes. Then I waited 15 mins for the chocolate to cool, but like the other reviewer, lost some of my frosting in the melted chocolate while dipping (which then turned it into gritty brownie batter consistency). And I, too, resorted in drizzles. But great anyhow!

  • firesidefolkart 10 Apr, 2008

    No grit in this recipe just a lot of time (12 minutes) beating those eggs over heat. Patience to let that sugar form some syrupy texture. It does work!

  • angelam 8 Apr, 2008

    I made an Italian meringue instead of the icing listed. It is stiff enough to hold up and because the sugar is melted before adding to the soft peak egg whites, there is no grit.

  • MaineStyleCoach 5 Apr, 2008

    Though my icing was not gritty, when I made these, I had a little problem with the white icing falling off into the chocolate coating as I was dipping them. But after losing the first two, I drizzled the chocolate over and though it was not the same effect it was still good. Also, I had baked the batter in ice cream cones to futher the soft serve ice cream effect and took them to a children's school birthday. They loved them!

  • lisamaria 4 Apr, 2008

    Michele, I had no problem with the cupcakes. My problem was with the icing! It was so gritty and ruined the texture and flavor of the icing. Thank you for the tip bigmarcella. I even watched the video of Martha making them. She didn't do anything different than I did, so I wonder if hers were gritty too! I am nervous to make this kind of icing again. It STILL seems like way too much sugar for so few egg whites. Wonder why you can't use confectioners sugar for a smoother icing??

  • micheleh 4 Apr, 2008

    I tried these again and left out the half cup of water, the cupcakes still collaped, Did anyone elses do this? The icing was great but yes messy.

  • micheleh 4 Apr, 2008

    I tried these again and left out the half cup of water, the cupcakes still collaped, Did anyone elses do this? The icing was great but yes messy.

  • micheleh 4 Apr, 2008

    I tried these again and left out the half cup of water, the cupcakes still collaped, Did anyone elses do this? The icing was great but yes messy.

  • micheleh 4 Apr, 2008

    I tried these again and left out the half cup of water, the cupcakes still collaped, Did anyone elses do this? The icing was great but yes messy.

  • micheleh 4 Apr, 2008

    Yikes, my cupcakes fell like a sunken ship,,,mmmm the ingredients did not have water but the directions said to add half cup of wter,maybe that's what happend ugh! oh well i'll try again.

  • bigmarcella 3 Apr, 2008

    when making a this type of frosing you have to be sure that all the sugar dissolves in the warm egg white before you begin whipping it. That way it's not grainy.

  • littlelinger 2 Apr, 2008

    I made these last night, and although they tasted fabulous, it was so messy! I will try these again, but I need to update my piping bag, as that is what caused the majority of the mess :) My tops aren't as pretty as Martha's, but I suspect that will come with practice (and a better piping bag)!

  • dimasweis 2 Apr, 2008

    I made the frosting and piped it on digestive cookies,instead of cupcakes and then coated them with chocolate,They were tempting,the kids loved them.
    I have one concern one can still feel the sugar granuals in the frosting,is this the way it should be ,or may be there was so much sugsr?

  • lisamaria 2 Apr, 2008

    Ok, I need to comment again. I definitely do NOT like the white icing at all. It has WAY TOO MUCH sugar in it. In fact, that is ALL you taste, and to be honest, I don't care for the almond extract flavoring at all. It's dominant, even though you only use 1/2 tsp (it's always so potent). So overall, I would NOT make these cupcakes again. The cupcakes and chocolate are great, but the icing just is TOO sweet and too sugary. I don't think the sugar ever melts cos there's just too much!

  • lisamaria 1 Apr, 2008

    I had pretty good results with this recipe, BUT my icing was could really taste the sugar, and I whipped this for a long time. It looked very fluffy and peaked up nicely, but I was disappointed that I could still taste the sugar. I am an avid baker, so I am not sure what happened. They looked really cute but are VERY sweet. Anyone else have this result with their icing?

  • mjcristinacortina 28 Mar, 2008

    I made it and was so easy and it turn out so elegant and nice

  • bubu_enavic 19 Mar, 2008

    the consistency of the meringue for a hi hat is hard to achieve...when i added the vanilla, it became watery at the bottom...

  • bubu_enavic 19 Mar, 2008

    the first time i did this without an electric mixer, the cupcake itself is perfect for me...When i used my newly-bought electric mixer, the cupcake easily falls apart. They are so smooth that if you peel the paper lining, they would fall off. I guess it has something to do with overmixing and how would one like the texture to come out. The next time i'm doing this, i'll mix it by hand..even great for my biceps and triceps.also, the meringue, i didn't like at all.the mixture looks like it's white and so ice-cream like smooth, but when you eat it, it's like eating a cotton candy, nothing to bite on

  • fob 15 Mar, 2008

    So I made these cupcakes today and they were the sorriest looking cupcakes you will ever see. Instead of Hi-Hats, I had No-Hats. But I am actually glad. I think if I had 2-inches of that yummy frosting I would have gone into sugar shock. The cake itself was excellent. So next time I make them, I will just do a coating of the frosting covered with the topping. They were well worth the effort even if they did look pitiful.

  • kiltfire 11 Mar, 2008

    These are delightful, they turned out perfectly.

  • SarahDeanne 10 Mar, 2008

    Baked in ice cream cones for my grandson's 8th birthday. It had to be something special, he was born on Leap Day. He was quite pleased to hand them out to his class mates, who eagerly accepted. Next time I bake them, and I no doubt will, I'll inject the cake with pudding, as after finishing the delicious topping the cake, with the cone, seemed a bit dry.

  • bubu_enavic 10 Mar, 2008

    I just had my own oven last week and my friend and I experiment with Martha's recipes, and this one is a hit. Although, i didn't have my hand-held electric mixer, my friend and I switched in whisking the frosting. It's a lot of fun...The last cake I did was the Devil's food cake with chocolate frosting and it turned out a bit compact. Correct me if I'm wrong, the 1/2 water made the difference...

  • my2monkeyz 27 Feb, 2008

    I agree the timing on the frosting was not correct. I should have used the Jamie Oliver technique of squishing some egg whites inbetween my fingers and if it still feels sugary then it is not ready. The cupcakes fell in, which I thought was odd. I also wasn't able to do the beautiful cone line shape, but I tried. On the ones that I did I dipped in chocolate and they turned out really nice. They are very sweet, but the chocolate cupcake is sure one that I will make again. Nice and airy.

  • NeatNickers 26 Feb, 2008

    I made these the other week and they were awesome. I like the meringue topping, but it did not stiffen for me in the time stated in the recipe. I ended up with a melted-marshmallow-like frosting instead and could not pipe it to resemble the ice-cream cone like top. Thus, I did not make the chocolate coating, either. Even without the fancy presentation, these cupcakes were delicious! I would definitely make them again, and allow more time to get the egg whites to stiffen.

  • pickled_herring 26 Feb, 2008

    I tried these a few weeks ago. The cupcakes didn't get the normal "dome" you expect on a cupcake... the tops were flat. The frosting took twice as long as the recipe says. Once the frosting was on the cupcakes, they were so top heavy there was no way to dip them into the chocolate. I tried holding them from the side and spooning the chocolate over but the frosting was so heavy it kept falling into the chocolate. Of the cupcakes that turned out presentable, they were only okay at best.

  • chefbb317 23 Feb, 2008

    Alright I gave these a try. It was diffuicult for me but very tasty. The cupcakes acted like mini souffle for most of them they fell in. But I loved how airy they were. Then the frosting took way longer then said and I didnt get them to fluffy peaks for my geusts were about to arrive so the frostywas beutiful enough that I just covered the cupcake with it and put a heart candy in the middle and they were a big hit.

  • thefozgate 28 Jan, 2008

    First off, these are indeed amazing. However, the timeline here is not quite clear. Brace yourself - these babies took about 8 hours. Once you have frosted the cupcakes with fluffy white peaks, you need to put them in the fridge - and longer than suggested. We did this overnight so they'd be nice and firm for the chocolaty dipping. After dunked they go back in the fridge and the tops harden just like chocolate dipped cones from Dairy Queen. Enjoy! This is FattyChow approved.

  • chagolla08 18 Jan, 2008

    OMG they look so good i think im going ot try it! =]

  • sheilajh28 15 Jan, 2008

    These cupcakes are well worth the time. The presentation they make will get you rave reviews. Be sure to dip quickly so you don't loose the tops. I will definitely make them again. Delicious also

  • gaildownunder 24 Nov, 2007

    these cupcakes looked so lovely dipped in jelly crystals after chocolate. In Australia we call it Jelly you might know it as Jello

  • semivirtual 23 Nov, 2007

    These cupcakes are so impressive and yummy! They take some time, but are so worth it.

  • rebeccatimmons 14 Nov, 2007

    ment to add that ou can also use vinegar but I am not sure of the reation

  • rebeccatimmons 14 Nov, 2007

    This is basicly a seven minute frosting.
    the cream of tartar helps the icing keep its peaks

  • am1 3 Nov, 2007

    cream of tartar?? is that required?

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