Hi, I’m Hannah. And as of 9:30am yesterday, I’m pneumonia-free!
I’m debating whether or not to call my doctor and ask for a copy of my x-ray from yesterday. (Do they make copies of x-rays? I have a lot to learn in medical school.) I want to carry it around and show people my clear (!!!) lungs like mommies-to-be show off their sonograms. I’m just so dang proud.
You see, in the last 6 weeks, there have been sore throats and ear infections. There has been lots and lots of pneumonia. There have been inhalers, antibiotics, and vitamins galore. But today? No more sick, no sir. Today I confidently toss my inhaler aside, and today, there are cupcakes!
These cupcakes are glorious. But for you to understand just how glorious they are to me, you have to know one little thing.
Maraschino cherries – and especially maraschino cherries that are bathed in tooth-achingly sweet fondant and encased in chocolate – are my guilty pleasure.
YES. I know they’re so incredibly far from tasting or looking or smelling like real cherries that it’s not even funny. I know it’s pretty much like eating sugared formaldehyde. I eat waaaaay too much broccoli and spinach for this to seriously bother me though. And if it makes you feel any better (it definitely makes me feel better), I like real cherries more than maraschino cherries.
So, that’s off my chest. And since I’ve been daydreaming about these cupcakes by Kristan over at Confessions of a Cookbook Queen for approximately 4 months, here is what I did to celebrate being better:
I made some Dorie Greenspan chocolate cupcakes. I froze some chocolate covered cherries and shoved them into the cupcakes before I baked them. I whipped up some pretty, fluffy, pink cherry frosting and pretended I was as creative and talented as Kristan. I ate a lot of frosting while I was “waiting” for the cupcakes to “cool.” Then I ate a cupcake.
I’ll admit, they’re a little messy. Gooey. Sticky. In some of the cupcakes, the chocolate-covered cherry got all melty at the bottom. Which, you know, still tastes like amazing, so I’m not actually complaining. Just warning you that you should probs have a napkin nearby when you unwrap one.
So what did I learn? Chocolate-covered cherries may be good, but chocolate-covered-cherry-stuffed-cupcakes are even better. Trust me on this.
Chocolate-covered Cherry Stuffed Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (= 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled (I had Ghiradelli dark chocolate on hand, so I used that)
12 chocolate-covered cherries (like Queen Anne or Cella’s), frozen for at least 30 minutes
For frosting (This makes enough frosting to generously frost 12 cupcakes)
1 cup (= 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
pinch of salt
4 to 5 TBS maraschino cherry juice
about half the cherries in a 10 oz. jar of maraschino cherries, coarsely chopped (there’s enough juice in there too)
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract (optional, I added it because I like almond and cherry together)
1. For cupcakes – Preheat oven to 350ºF with a rack in the middle position. Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups or grease and flour the tin.
2. Put the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
3. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat for another 2 minutes, until it’s completely combined and a little fluffy. Add the egg and the yolk, beating after each addition on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Beat in the vanilla, then scrape down the sides of the bowl.
4. Add half the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Add the buttermilk and beat again on low until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the rest of the dry ingredients, beating again just until combined. Add the melted and cooled chocolate; fold it in with a rubber spatula. The batter should be thick and smooth at this point.
5. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Press a frozen chocolate-covered cherry into the center of each cupcake, but you don’t have to cover the top of the cherry with batter. The batter will rise over it as it bakes. Place the muffin tin on a baking sheet, and bake the cupcakes until dry on top, about 22-25 minutes. Let cupcakes cool for about 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting.
6. For frosting – In a clean large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, salt, and 4 TBS of cherry juice (you can add more to taste later if you want) on medium-high speed until smooth and combined, about 2 minutes. (Don’t worry if you can’t get it all completely smooth, adding the sugar will help.) Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and beat on low speed until it’s just incorporated. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and beat on low speed at first to avoid flying sugar, then gradually increase the speed, beating at medium high until completely blended, about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla and, if using, almond extract. Beat on high speed until lighter and fluffier, about 2 minutes. Add the chopped cherries and beat just until they’re evenly distributed.
7. Pipe or spread frosting on cooled cupcakes. Cupcakes will keep, covered and chilled, for a day. I would let them come sit at room temp for a few minutes before eating though…I don’t really like cold cupcakes, but maybe you do.