*Yield: 12 full-size or approximately 30 mini cupcakes (I got about 45 mini cupcakes; yes!)
For the filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, regular or reduced fat, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I just used semisweet chocolate chips and gave them a rough chop)
For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup unflavored vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white or cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the filling: Beat together the cream cheese, granulated sugar, and egg until smooth. Stir in the chopped chocolate pieces. Set aside.
Make the cupcakes: Adjust the rack to the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F (175°C). Butter a 12-cup muffin tin, or line the tin with paper muffin cups.
In a medium bowl sift together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients, stirring until just smooth. Stir any longer and you will over mix the batter and end up with less-than-tender cupcakes.
Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Spoon a few tablespoons* of the filling into the center of each cupcake, dividing the filling evenly. This will fill the cups almost completely,** which is fine.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown and the cupcakes feel springy when gently pressed. These moist treats will keep well unrefrigerated for 2 to 3 days if stored in an airtight container.
*I followed Deb’s tips and kept the filling for the mini-cupcakes at about a tablespoon (and I actually ran out with three little chocolate cupcakes to go…but I heard from someone that they were still delicious without the cream cheese).
**For the mini-cupcakes, when I filled them almost all the way full, they mushroomed over the top of the tin, so the second batch, I kept them about 3/4 full and it worked beautifully.