Black Forest Cupcakes

I got to play cupcake fairy again last month with a couple of coworker birthdays.  One requested peppermint mocha cupcakes, and the other wanted these black forest cupcakes.  I am having so much fun with the birthday cupcake requests, because everyone wants something different and I have lots of fun coming up with just the right treat for each person.  I was really excited to try these because I’ve never made black forest anything before, though I have always loved the cherry-chocolate combination.  Add whipped cream to the mix and you know it’s going to be delicious!

Overall, I really liked these cupcakes.  The chocolate cake itself was fantastic – definitely one of the better recipes I have tried.  I will probably be coming back to it whenever I want a basic chocolate cupcake.  The whipped cream and cherry on top were gorgeous and tasty.  My only issue was with the cherry filling.  I was really, really not happy with how it turned out but because I made it the night before I needed to bring them to work, there wasn’t time to try again.  The filling ended up being cherries floating in a ton of overly sweetened water that never thickened despite a long time cooking, and I don’t feel that the cherry flavor was as pronounced as it could have been.  Once the cupcakes were assembled I think the overall result was great, but this filling was just not a good recipe.  It tasted fine but was just off in texture.

I plan to try a few recipes for cherry sauces (such as an ice cream topping from The Perfect Scoop) because I think that would yield much better results – David never fails me.  In the meantime, I would recommend gently mashing some fresh pitted cherries, putting a couple in the center of each cupcake and drizzling with juice from maraschino cherries or with a cherry liqueur. I think it would taste just as good and waste less time and ingredients than this filling did.  I’ll update this post when I have a reliable filling that works.  Don’t let this minor issue dissuade you from making these in the meantime though.  Fresh cherries in the middle will be delicious!

Black Forest Cupcakes
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For the cake:
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. espresso powder
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1½ cups buttermilk

For the filling:
1 lb. fresh cherries, washed, pitted and destemmed
2 tbsp. sugar
Maraschino cherry juice or cherry liqueur

For the frosting:
1¼ cups heavy cream
6-7 tbsp. sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For garnish:
Fresh (or maraschino) cherries, with stems
2 tbsp. sugar
Chocolate shavings

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line 16 wells of two cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder together; whisk to blend, and set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the eggs one at a time until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients in three additions alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix each addition just until incorporated.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about ¾ of the way full.  Bake 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the filling, add the fresh pitted cherries to a bowl.  Mash with a wooden spoon or potato masher until the cherries are no longer completely intact.  Mix in the sugar and toss to coat the fruit.

To fill the cupcakes, use the cone method to remove a portion from the center of each cupcake.  Spoon in about 2-3 cherries.  Drizzle some maraschino cherry juice (or cherry liqueur) over the fruit.  (Additionally, this can be brushed over the edges of the cupcake to further deepen the cherry flavor.)

To make the whipped cream frosting, add the heavy cream to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Start beating on medium-low speed, slowly increasing as the cream begins to thicken up to medium-high speed.  While the cream is being whipped, gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar a spoonful at a time.  Whip the cream until stiff peaks form.  (Be careful not to overbeat!)  Fold in the vanilla extract.

Frost the filled cupcakes with the whipped cream.  Garnish as desired with a cherry and chocolate shavings.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Source: adapted from Cupcake Project

58 Responses

  1. These look absolutely delish! I wish I was one of your co-workers too!

  2. Girl, you gotta stop with these cupcake variations. I’m dying over here – they look great!

  3. Those cupcakes look absolutely delicious! If you ever decide to give up medicine you should open up your own bakery. I’d buy one of everything 🙂

  4. I have wanted to try a black forest recipe for a while. The look beautiful and I am sure your co-workers just love you!

  5. I’ve made a variation of this cupcake, but I wasn’t fancy and just used cherry pie filling (blasphemy, I know). It actually worked pretty well……. the cupcake had the perfect texture, and it definitely had that cherry taste.

  6. If they were any prettier we wouldn’t want to eat them!

  7. You’re probably too harsh on yourself…then again I might eat just about anything if the topping looked like that! Gorgeous

  8. Chocolate and cherries- two of my favorite things! I want to try the Guiness and Bailey’s cupcakes first {beer+alcohol+cake=Irish love!} but these run a close second. They are so cute!

  9. WOW these look absolutely perfect! Yummm

  10. Here’s what I would do: Use canned cherry pie filling (regular or light) for the middles. The tartness of the cherries might add a little something to the balance of the flavors. I love your blog and visit it nearly every day. You are one amazing woman!

    • Joan,
      Yes, cherry pie filling is of course an option. I was going for something more homemade with less artificial ingredients. I just love fresh cherries!

  11. How beautiful, Annie!! I love black forest. Love this version of cupcake!

  12. Annie,
    Your photography is amazing! I have tried and tried to perfect my photography, but everytime I see yours it makes me envious! Do you have any secrets.

    • Hi DaisyCakes,
      No secrets, just practice, practice, practice! Also, careful observation of other food photos you like. Analyze them and figure out what it is that makes it good, and then try to apply those principles in your own photography.

  13. Annie, these look incredible!! I tried your Royal Icing over Christmas and it turned out pretty good for my first try! I can see why you love it the more you work with it.

    Oh, and who won the Baking Illustrated contest?! I didn’t see a post about it, and was curious.

    Love your blog!!

    • Hi Sophie,
      Glad the royal icing was successful! Believe me, it gets easier every time. I posted the giveaway winner just before Christmas here.

  14. Dang, you know how to make cupcakes! I am positively drooling.

  15. These are so beautiful! I can’t get over how fabulous these look! Great post!

  16. Even if the cherry filling didn’t firm up they look divine. I bet they tasted delicious too 🙂

  17. Annie those are so pretty! Great job!!

  18. Dear Annie,
    You Really Enlighten My day when i see your posts, i open my feeds everyday just to check if you post, despite of having tons of food blogs, but you are really special, thanks for your effort and Great Taste.

  19. They’re gorgeous! Love them!


  20. Looks so yummy! Great photography too!

  21. These look incredible!!! I might have to try them one day; I may just try to whip cream and cherry on top because that’s look yummy all on its own.

  22. Sounds like a lot of work, but I’ll bet it’s worth it. They came out just beautiful!

  23. These look fantastic!!

  24. These look fabulous! What a great picture.

  25. i have made another version of black forest cupcakes but mine had a cream cheese and used the cherry pie filling. nothing from scratch since that was when i was first learning how to bake from scratch. it used a cake mix batter and then actually the cream cheese mixture and cherry pie filling before i top it off with more cake batter and baking it all. everyone loved it though and people still want more of it to this day.

  26. Black forest cake is my fave, so I’m sure I’d love these! Can’t wait to see if you find another filling recipe:)

  27. very very pretty cupcakes. i “supervised” a friend at mine when she wanted to make a blackforest cake for her bf and no amount of insisting on my part would make her change her mind on making cupcakes instead of a whole cake. if i showed her yours then, it might have probably changed her mind! 😛

  28. An edible work of art!!! Beautiful, my favorite cake just happen to be Black forest!!!

  29. black forest is a true classic and so delicious! lovely cupcakes – i’m loving how simply you’ve piped on the frosting. i need to perfect my own cupcake frosting some time. it’s never that neat! 🙂

  30. I love chocolate Cherry anything!! I think I will make these for our beach party tonight!

  31. These look delicious! My mom makes a chocolate cherry cake that I die over every time. I have to try these!

  32. I love this cupcake! Black forrest is one of my favourite cakes.

  33. These are gorgeous! I must try these.

  34. Annie – I have never heard of espresso powder before…can you tell me, is it instant coffee, or something else? Can you tell me what section in the market you normally find it?
    I am going to try to make this today 🙂 My son (3 years) is absolutly ecstatic!!

    • Hi Amanda,
      Espresso powder is not the same thing as instant coffee. It is used to make espresso, which is different than coffee. I can’t find it at my normal grocery store and usually buy it at either The Fresh Market or Williams Sonoma. If you can’t get any, try Google for a substitute. It is a nice thing to have around though. It’s used in a lot of chocolate recipes to help intensify the chocolate flavor.

  35. The cherry filling looks similar to a strawberry filling that I use to make a strawberries & cream cupcake except that my recipe also has cornstarch in it to thicken it. If it needs a little stronger cherry flavor, add some cherry extract. Just a couple ideas. I think I’m going to make these cupcakes for Valentine’s Day. They look absolutely delicious!

  36. Sorry, I didn’t read the directions for the filling, just read the ingredients. LOL. My strawberry filling is cooked until it thickens. I’m not sure how fresh cherries would cook, but I still think I’m going to try it just for a thicker filling.

  37. I MUST TRY THESE SOON! My father recently bought boxes and boxes of cherries and I’ve been searching for something a cupcake recipe that was complete and one that used FRESH cherries (not the usual ones that use jams & etc!) and couldn’t find one that I really liked. And without deliberately finding for it in your site (I was merely checking for your updates!), I found this. Excellent!!!!!! Will try these out really soon! 🙂

  38. I’ll prolly try finding a different recipe for the filling because of the comments you said.. but finding a filling for this won’t be hard. So yes, thanks a lot! 😀

  39. These look fabulous! I’ll have to put them on my to-bake list! Great pic. too!

  40. Lindsay’s “ooey gooey sweet” concoction might be the answer to your cherry filling dilemma…

  41. Wow love your blog! Your baking looks totally professional 🙂 This might be a really silly question but how do you get your frosting to look like that? Do you use a tip and if so, which tip and what’s your technique? Thanks heaps!

    • Hi Nessie,
      I use a pastry bag to get my frosting to look nice. It makes a huge difference in the presentation of cupcakes. And if you look above, in the earlier comments, I explained exactly which tip I used for this particular cupcake.

  42. Hey, these cupcakes look really amazing! I love the recipe too!
    Your blog is great 🙂

    Best wishes, Irina

  43. I made these this weekend for my brother’s graduation and what a great recipe! The chocolate cake and whipped cream frosting paired perfectly. I also decided to take your advice and just cut up a few cherries to add to the middle and sprinkle some maraschino juice. The cherry taste was right on. I also made vanilla cupcakes and used your vanilla buttercream. Thank you! I have been searching for a good buttercream frosting and yours is exactly what I have been searching for.

  44. First I would like to thank you for all the wonderful recipes. You have made cooking and baking fun for my wife and me, so I would like to thank you for that wonderful gift. Not to mention your cupcake recipes have made us a huge hit at dinner parties and BBQs. I have one friend who does not care for sweets. He is a big fan of sour or tart deserts. Do you have any recommendations from one of your recipes? These Black Forest cupcakes were amazing everyone loved them. Thank you, Thank you. I tell everyone about your website.

    • Hi Eric,
      First of all, thank you for the sweet comment. I love knowing my blog is enjoyed by others and I’m glad I am helping make cooking and baking fun for you guys! As for the dessert recommendation, it’s a tough question because the phrase “too sweet” has no meaning to me 🙂 Also, most of the desserts I can think of that would be tart would involve lemon, which I am not huge on so I don’t have a ton of suggestions. I do have lemon sorbet as well as a blackberry lime sorbet on the blog which are fairly tart (and the tartness is easily adjusted by adding more or less sugar). I also have several different fruit tarts which certainly wouldn’t be considered overly sweet, though I doubt they could be classified as sour or tart either. Sorry I can’t be more help! I’ll keep my eye out for some sour desserts and post any that sound intriguing!

  45. Hi! I’m so happy that I found this recipe. My boyfriend’s birthday is coming up in 2 weeks and I couldn’t think of what to get him until I found your recipe. I’ve never baked before but I wanted to give him something that he loves (black forest), handmade and personal.

    Just a question, how many cupcakes will this recipe make?


  46. Oh! Nevermind my previous comment. I just read that it makes 16 (since you said to line 16 wells of 2 cupcake pans). 🙂

  47. Made these & they are delish! My husband wanted them tweaked a little so on the next batch instead of cherry filling, I added vanilla pudding & added vanilla to the whipped topping! Yum. Yum.

  48. I haven’t tried anything with a filling yet, but I’m definitely going to steal this dark chocolate cupcake recipe. I love cupcakes and these looks amazing!! I wouldn’t even know where to start with the filling though..


  49. Hi! I just made these yesterday (except I couldn’t get the cream whipped stiff) and they turned out great. My boyfriend loved them so much, especially the burst of cherry from inside the cupcake. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe. 🙂

  50. Hi i was just wondering what you do? Are you in the catering business or something? I had just came across this site one day and absolutly love your website. I just wanted to know how you got started in all this.

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