We celebrated Mr. Wonderful’s birthday over the weekend, so naturally I wanted to whip up something special to put a candle in. And since that man loves a good chocolate-cherry combo, I knew these cupcakes from One Sweet Mess would be perfect.
Since it’s January, I fully expected to use frozen cherries with this recipe, but lo and behold, our local market had fresh ones right up front. Yes, I realize it’s not cherry season. I didn’t ask questions. Hold your fire.
I like to start by separating wet and dry ingredients because I’m Type A like that. Just go with it. Here’s what you need:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temp
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup sour cream (full fat)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
(I almost left this out because I didn’t have any. Don’t do that! It really makes that cherry flavor pop.)
- 1 and 1/2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (about 16) pitted cherries, chopped
- 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
- 1 and 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp
- 2 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- Paste from 1 vanilla bean
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, line a 12-cup muffin tin with cute, bow tie cupcake liners that your husband won’t notice, but you’ll be pleased with yourself, so do it anyway.
In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and sugar until combined – followed by the eggs one at a time. Add the sour cream, vanilla extract and almond extract. I actually pulled out my hand mixer for this part of the job because my whisk makes life harder than it should be.
Now add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Again, the hand mixer worked beautifully here. About 30 seconds to a minute on low should take care of it. Use a rubber spatula to fold in a heaping, half-cup of chopped cherries followed by an equally generous amount of mini chocolate chips. Mix gently.
Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 of the way full. (An ice cream or cookie scoop makes it easy to transfer the batter.) Then, pop these in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. My gas oven took the full 25, but if you’re not sure, do the toothpick test at 20. Once done, allow the cupcakes to cool in the tin for a couple minutes before transferring elsewhere to cool completely.
Now, for the vanilla buttercream:
If you’ve got a stand mixer, I applaud you. This frosting is perfect for it. I, however, do not, so my hand mixer was happy to oblige once again.
Cream that butter until light and fluffy. This only took me about 30 seconds on low. Gradually add the powdered sugar to the bowl, stopping the mixer if necessary to scrape down the sides of the bowl with your rubber spatula. Once all the sugar has been added, turn the speed up and beat it all together for a full minute.
Now add every bit of the lovely dark paste from that vanilla bean to your mixture. It won’t look like much, but it goes a long way. Drizzle in the heavy cream and whip it good one last time. Again, for about a minute.
Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag – or frost your cupcakes with a butter knife. Whatever creams your cake. Finally, give it a lil swirly and top with a fresh cherry.
Makes about 15 small cupcakes.