So I know I've been AWOL. I don't have any excuse other than life happens. It's been a rough few months, I've had to say goodbye to many of those dear to my heart, including 2 of my pets. (P.S. - skip to the end of the post for a pic of our new puppy) And since life happens and my physical world will always take precedence over my digital world - I'm making no promises. I will probably post lots of delicious things and then disappear again. I have no lofty goals - I will continue to mostly maintain this site as a recipe database for myself and all of the friends who request the recipe when my treats show up at a barbeque or dinner party or at work. I'd love for you to be part of that circle of friends. So whatdaya say? Will you take me back - please! What if I say pretty please and literally put a cherry on top?
How bout if it's on top of a black forest cupcake?
Ah - I see that got your attention. No one can resist a cupcake. These little beauties are gracing the dessert table at a housewarming/barbeque tomorrow. The chocolate cherry cake is from the original domestic goddess - Nigella herself. Then I douse them in a cherry syrup and swirl on some cherry cream cheese frosting before the final flourish - a ripe, local Bing cherry right on top (pitted of course - right next to the stem so that it's hidden). I used a tripled version of this recipe (and a doubled frosting recipe) to feed lots of hungry folk- but I'm giving you the one that makes a dozen cupcakes (actually maybe two or three more - I got 42 cupcakes when I tripled it). One caution - these will not bake evenly and come out as beautifully if you overfill the cups or try to bake 2 dozen in the oven at once. I learned the hard way!
Black Forest Cupcakes
Chocolate Cherry Cake
1 stick plus one tablespoon unsalted butter
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped - I prefer Scharffen Berger
1 cup good quality cherry preserves - if you can't find a local version at a farmers market Bonne Maman makes a good one
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 large eggs
1 cup (121 g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and paper a 12-cup muffin tin.
Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Once the butter is melted, stir in the chopped chocolate and stir constantly until it's about 1/2 melted, then remove from heat and stir occasionally until it melts entirely. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix in the preserves while it's still hot so that they melt a little. Add the sugar, salt, extracts and eggs and beat until well combined. Sift in the flour, baking powder and baking soda and stir until just combined.
Use a ice cream scoop with a metal "sweeper" or a small ladle to fill the cupcake papers about 3/4 of the way full. Err on the side of too little rather than overfilling - this batter pushes out, not up once it reaches the top of the cup.
Bake for 25-30 minutes. The cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely before proceeding.
3/4 cup cherry wine or 1/4 cup kirsch mixed with 1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp cherry preserves
1/4 cup sugar
Combine cherry wine or kirsch mixture and cherry preserves in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and let it reduce down for about 5 minutes, then add sugar and turn off the heat. Leave the syrup on the burner and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool to room temperature and brush on top of cupcakes.
Cherry Cream Cheese Frosting (makes more than what's needed for a dozen cupcakes)
1 (8oz) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup cherry preserves
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2-3 cups powdered sugar
12 cherries with stems, pitted carefully near the stem (the pitter should leave a small almost invisible x on the top - it will leave a big whole on the bottom but that end's in the frosting)
Beat together cream cheese, butter, preserves and extracts until well combined and it no longer has a lumpy texture with visible bits of butter and cream cheese. Sift in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly in between, until a firm but spreadable texture is reached. Transfer into a gallon zip-top bag, squeeze out the air, seal, and snip off a corner to use as a piping bag. Pipe onto cupcakes, starting at the outside and spiraling in. Top with a pitted cherry.
Here's the new baby: