A quick and easy homemade blackberry sauce is the key to giving these cupcakes an extra strong blackberry flavor! There are blackberries in the cupcakes and in the frosting, but for even more blackberry flavor, you can spoon some sauce into the centers.
Even though we're not in the height of blackberry season just yet, it's blackberry season in my heart. So we're kicking things off with blackberry cupcakes and blackberry buttercream frosting!
I really wanted this recipe to be a blackberry flavor EXPLOSION. So after tons of error and error - I mean "trial" - I've found that the best way to get a TON of flavor into the cupcakes without diluting the batter is blackberry sauce!
Don't worry! It's super easy to make at home, but the only downside is it adds some extra work to the recipe. But trust me, the payout you get in terms of flavor is so SO worth it!
Plus, I'm a firm believer that the harder you work on a recipe, the more portions you deserve to have. It's just basic science.
P.S. before we get into the post, my mind keeps wanting to say "blueberry" instead of "blackberry"... So if at any point you see me type blueberry, please translate that to blackberry 😂
Blackberry cupcakes ingredients:
Like I mentioned above, this recipe features 3 components: a blackberry sauce, the blackberry cupcakes, and blackberry buttercream frosting. There's a lot of blackberry going on.
So first off, here are the ingredients for the blackberry sauce:
• blackberries: could you guess?
• sugar: blackberries can be pretty bitter, so the sugar helps mellow them out
• lemon juice: to add freshness, help with preservation, and to amplify the blackberry flavor!
• cornstarch: to thicken the sauce
• water: to dissolve the cornstarch. Adding dry cornstarch to a hot liquid is a one way ticket to clumps-ville
Next up, we have the blackberry cupcakes! For the cakes, you'll need:
• blackberry sauce: the secret to extra flavorful cupcakes! It's important to let it cool completely before using it in the cupcake batter or the frosting
• flour: cake & pastry flour yields an extra soft cake!
• baking powder + soda: for added airiness and softness
• butter + oil: I love using a combination for flavor (thank you, butter) and moisture (thank you, oil)
• lemon zest + juice: this is optional but highly, HIGHLY recommended! The lemon doesn't flavor a whole lot, but it adds a pop of freshness and it helps bring out more of the blackberry flavor. It also eliminates the need for vanilla extract
• egg whites: these cupcakes are a play on my white cake recipe. Using an egg white cupcake base gives a more neutral flavor so the blackberries can really shine! Plus egg yolks can make the cake heavier, and in the spring/summer, I like the lightness that egg whites add
• buttermilk: here's how to make your own buttermilk substitute
Annnnnd finally, to make the blackberry buttercream frosting, you'll need:
• blackberry sauce: because the blackberry sauce adds a bit of bitterness, I don't find this buttercream frosting needs salt. But if you find it's too sweet for your liking, feel free to add a pinch of salt to taste
• powdered sugar
How to make blackberry cupcakes:
Make the blackberry sauce:
1. Cook blackberries and sugar. Heat until the blackberries have burst and softened. The sauce should be quite liquid at this point.
2. Combine cornstarch and water. Mix together until the cornstarch is dissolved.
3. Add lemon juice and cornstarch mixture to the cooked blackberries. Cook until the mixture boils and thickens. It's important to mix constantly to avoid clumps. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
4. Cool completely to room temperature before using!
Make the blackberry cupcakes:
1. Combine dry ingredients.
2. Cream together sugar, butter, oil, and lemon zest. Adding the lemon zest at this stage helps draw out more flavor!
3. Add egg whites and lemon juice. Whisk into the butter mixture until combined.
4. Mix in blackberry sauce.
5. Alternate adding dry ingredients and buttermilk. Add about half of the dry ingredients, followed by all of the buttermilk, and the remaining dry ingredients.
* The batter will start to look a tad bit gray after you add in the dry ingredients and milk, but that's totally normal! It'll bake up to a much nicer color.
6. Portion batter and bake!
7. Cool cupcakes completely before frosting.
Make the blackberry frosting:
1. Cream together butter and sugar. Mix until the sugar is dissolved into the butter and the mixtures lightens in color and fluffs up.
2. Beat in blackberry sauce. Mix until light and fluffy!
1. (Optional): For added blackberry flavor, you can hollow out the centers and fill the cupcakes with any remaining blackberry sauce!
2. Frost and decorate with fresh blackberries!
Check out these other recipes!
Blackberry Cupcakes Recipe
For the blackberry sauce:
- 4 cups fresh blackberries, washed and drained well
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons cool water
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the blackberry cupcakes:
- 1 & ½ cups (195g) cake & pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons (75g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- ¼ cup (60mL) vegetable oil
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest, about 1 medium lemon's worth
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ⅓ cup blackberry sauce
- ¼ cup (60mL) buttermilk
For the blackberry buttercream frosting:
- 1 cup (2 sticks / 225g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 4 cups (520g) powdered sugar, sifted
- ¼ to ½ cup blackberry sauce
- fresh blackberries (optional - for decorating)
- Make the blackberry sauce: In a medium sized saucepot, combine blackberries and sugar. Place the pot onto a stove-burner set to medium heat. Cook, while stirring and mashing the blackberries with a wooden spoon, until the mixture boils and liquefies and the blackberries soften (about 5 to 10 minutes). Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and water. Mix together until the cornstarch is fully dissolved into the water.
- Pour the cornstarch mixture and lemon juice into the pot. Return the pot to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils again and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 1 minute). The blackberry sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
- Transfer the cooked sauce to a heat-safe bowl, and set aside to cool completely to room temperature before using. *(see notes)
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a 12 count cupcake tin with paper liners, and set aside. * Note: this recipe yields about 14 to 16 cupcakes. The batter can sit out at room temperature for up to 30 minutes, so you can bake the cupcakes in 2 separate batches.
- Make the blackberry cupcakes: In a medium sized bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine butter, oil, sugar, and lemon zest. Using an electric mixer fitted with the beater attachment or a whisk by hand, cream together until the sugar is fully dissolved and the mixture is relatively smooth and fluffy (about 2 minutes on medium speed or 5 minutes by hand). A few small lumps are totally fine.
- Add your egg whites and lemon juice into the butter mix. Whisk together until well combined. Add in your blackberry sauce and whisk again to combine.
- Alternate adding dry ingredients and buttermilk to the butter/egg mixture. Start by whisking in about half of the dry ingredients, followed by all of the buttermilk. Finish off by folding in the remaining half of the dry ingredients. Take care not to over mix.* The batter will start to look a bit gray at this point, but it'll bake up into a golden color with a slight purple hue!
- Portion the batter into your cupcake tin, filling each cup no more than about ⅔ full. Bake the cupcakes 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 the cupcakes for about 10 minutes in the tin, then transfer onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely to room temperature before frosting.
- Make the blackberry frosting: In a large bowl, combine butter and sugar. Using an electric mixer fitted with the beater attachment or a wooden spoon by hand, cream together your butter and sugar until the sugar is fully dissolved and the mixture fluffs up (about 2 minutes on medium speed or 5 minutes by hand).
- Add ¼ cup of blackberry sauce to the butter/sugar mix, and beat together until it reaches a fluffy and pipe-able consistency. Gradually add more blackberry sauce as needed until you reach your desired consistency.
- (optional) Use a pairing knife or the large end of a piping tip to core the centers of the cooled cupcakes with a cutout that's about ¾ of an inch large. Be careful not to cut through to the bottom of the cupcake, otherwise the filling may spill out. Spoon in a bit of blackberry sauce and reseal the hole with a piece of the hollowed out center.
- Frost your cooled cupcakes and decorate with fresh blackberries!