A simpler spin on a classic dessert: black forest cake! Learn how to make black forest cupcakes. Featuring all of the components we know and love about black forest cake: a moist and tender chocolate cupcake, a tart and sweet cherry filling, and a smooth and fluffy whipped cream topping.
I've been on a bit of a cupcake/muffin craze lately. I'm not upset about it ... just letting you know! xP
There's just something much funner about eating a miniature version of a larger dessert. Exhibit A: mini cheesecakes. And I especially love the idea of taking a dessert that's on the intimidating side of things, and making it more manageable by putting it in mini form!
Black forest cake can be a bit on the scary side of recipes, just because it does have a quite a few components and steps involved. And on top of all of that, you then need to layer and stack it. So if you're not comfortable making a full fledged cake, that's where cupcakes make the perfect alternative!
These cupcakes feature all of the same loveable components of black forest cake: a soft and moist chocolate cupcake, a tart and sweet cherry filling, and a perfectly fluffy whipped cream! So no flavor lost. The only differences are (1) these are much easier to assemble (2) they're ready in less than half the time, and (3) they're already portioned!
Plus it somehow makes me feel better to say "I only ate 5 cupcakes" vs "I ate 5 slices of cake." Or is that just me...?
Black forest cupcakes ingredients:
• cherries: for the filling and (optional) you can also top each cupcake with a fresh cherry
• sugar: granulated sugar for the cherry filling and the chocolate cupcake, and powdered sugar for the whipped cream topping
• lemon juice: this helps add a hint of freshness to the filling and really brings out the natural tartness of the cherries
• cornstarch + cold water: to thicken the cherry filling. It's important to make the filling on the thicker side so they don't make the chocolate cupcake soggy!
• cocoa powder
• baking powder + baking soda: a combination of baking powder and soda helps yield and extra soft and tender chocolate cupcake!
• vanilla extract: optional, but a nice flavor booster!
• boiling water: now this is the key to the best chocolate cupcake! The boiling water helps bloom the cocoa powder and bring out an intensely chocolaty flavor!
• espresso powder: also optional, but the hint of coffee also helps bring out extra chocolate flavor!
• buttermilk: I like using buttermilk here instead of regular milk because the extra acidity also helps with getting an extra tender cupcake! If you don't have any on hand, you can make a quick buttermilk substitute with some milk and acid
• heavy whipping cream: make sure your cream is cold so it whips up quicker and easier!
How to make black forest cupcakes:
Start by making the cherry filling so it has time to cool! To make the cherry filling:
1. Cook cherries, sugar, and lemon juice. Cook until the cherries are softened.
2. Make a cornstarch slurry. Whisk together cornstarch and water until you have a thick and smooth liquid.
3. Combine slurry with cherry mixture. Gradually pour the slurry into the cherry mix, mixing well as you pour, until fully combined.
4. Heat until thickened. Cook the mixture until it boils and thickens substantially. Cool completely before using.
The cupcake batter base for this recipe is a spin on the same base as our chocolate espresso cupcakes! Although I love the chocolate batter used in our moist chocolate cupcakes recipe, this cupcake batter is more similar to what you get from store bought black forest cake. So to make the chocolate cupcake:
1. Whisk together dry ingredients.
2. Cream butter and sugar. It doesn't have to be fluffy. Just incorporated.
3. Add egg and vanilla to butter/sugar mix. Whisk until combined. The batter will have moments where it looks
horrible separated and curdled, but the final product will look fine!
4. Combine espresso powder and water. Whisk until the espresso is dissolved, and set aside.
5.. Alternate adding wet and dry ingredients to butter mixture. Mix in ⅓ of the dry ingredients until incorporated. Mix in all of your buttermilk. Mix in an additional ⅓ of the dry ingredients. Mix in all of your espresso/water. Then whisk in the final bit of dry ingredients.
6. Portion and bake. Fill you cupcake cups and bake until fully cooked through. Cool completely before filling and frosting.
To make your whipped cream:
1. Combine cream, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl.
2. Whip until it reaches stiff peaks.
1. Hollow out the centers of your cupcakes. I just used a piping tip to hollow out about halfway down the cupcake. Take care not to hollow through to the bottom of the cupcake or the cherry filling may spill out once you peel off the wrapping.
2. Spoon the cherry filling into the hollowed centers.
3. Cover the cherry filling with the top piece of the hollowed out center. This is optional but it gives your cupcake the illusion that the filling *magically* appeared into the center. Or ... you know ... you just resealed the hollowed out center. But who can tell, right?
4. Pipe whipped cream onto the cupcakes. (Optional) Top each cupcake with a cherry and/or some shaved chocolate.
How to make stabilized whipped cream:
This whipped cream frosting in this recipe is stabilized by simply increasing the amount of sugar we add to the cream.
Other versions of stabilized whipped cream typically feature an additional ingredient (or sometimes, ingredients) to achieve stability. Popular stabilizing ingredients can include gelatin, marshmallow fluff, pudding mix, or milk powder. And while those are all great methods, I find this is much easier.
I find that addition ingredients add too much fuss for an already complex recipe - so I like to stabilize my whipped cream using slightly more powdered sugar. Powdered sugar has a fair amount of cornstarch in it (which is what helps stabilize the whipped cream and keep it from essentially melting)! I've always felt standard whipped creams aren't quite as sweet as I want them to be anyways. So it's a win-win!
It's not going to be sickeningly sweet, so no worries on that front! It's just enough sugar to keep the whipped cream stiffer for longer, without over sweetening the dessert.
Check out these other recipes!
Black Forest Cupcakes Recipe
For the cherry filling:
- 1 cup cherries, washed, stems removed, pitted and sliced in half * see notes
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon cold water
For the chocolate cupcake:
- 1 & ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
- ½ cup boiling water
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
- ½ cup buttermilk
For the whipped cream topping:
- 1 & ½ cups heavy whipping cream
- ¾ cup powdered sugar ** see notes
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
- cherries for topping
- chocolate shavings for topping
- Make the cherry filling: In a medium saucepot, combine pitted cherries, sugar, and lemon juice. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to keep the bottom from scorching. Once it boils, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cherries are softened.
- In a small bowl, whisk together water and cornstarch to get a slurry. Gradually pour the slurry into your cherry mixture, stirring well as you pour it to prevent clumping.
- Bring the mixture back up to a boil, and cook until significantly thickened. The mixture should have the consistency of jam (this is to prevent the cupcake from getting soggy when you fill it with the cherry mixture). Transfer the cherry filling to a plate or bowl, and set aside to cool completely before using.Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a 12 count cupcake tin with paper liners, and set aside.
- Make the black forest chocolate cupcakes: In a medium bowl, whisk together your flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine butter and sugar. Beat together until you no longer see any dry sugar crystals. Add in your egg and vanilla, and whisk to combine.
- In a separate bowl, or measuring cup, dissolve espresso powder (if using) in your boiling water. Set aside.
- Alternate adding dry and wet ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture. Start by adding in about ⅓ of the dry ingredients, and mixing until combined. Add all of your buttermilk, and whisk to combine as well. Mix in another ⅓ of the dry ingredients, followed by your espresso/water. Finish off with your remaining ⅓ dry ingredients, and mix until just combined.
- Portion the cupcake batter into your prepared cupcake tin. Take care not to fill the cups more than ⅔ of the way full because they will rise to the top as they bake. Bake in the center of your preheated 350°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before filling and frosting!
- Make the whipped cream frosting: Combine cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk until the cream reaches stiff peaks.
- Assembly! Hollow out the centers of each cupcake, going no more than halfway down the center of the cupcake with a hole that's about ¾ inch wide. I just used the opposite side of a piping tip (see above for visual reference).
- Fill each cupcake center with some of the cherry filling. (Optional) Reseal the tops of the cupcakes with some of the hollowed out cake pieces to have a more seamless look when you bite into a cupcake!
- Frost the tops of each cupcake with the whipped cream. (Optional) Top each cupcake with a cherry and some chocolate shavings.