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Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes, Two Ways

Let me begin with a warning:  These cherry chocolate cupcakes are cupcakes to eat not after a meal but as a meal.  Many of my cupcakes are dense, but these cherry chocolate cupcakes are chocolate boulders.  The batter is so chocolate-laden that eating one of these cupcakes equates to consuming a solid chocolate bar and a cupcake simultaneously.  Stop reading now if you want a dainty, frilly cupcake for a bridal or baby shower.

I made two different kinds of frosting for these chocolate cherry cupcakes: maraschino cherry buttercream and chocolate black cherry cream cheese.  Both were huge hits with my tasters (they said the frostings were their favorite part of the cupcakes).  My personal preference, however, was to eat the cupcakes sans frosting with a tall glass of milk.

Chocolate Cherry Cupcake Recipe

Yield: 14 cupcakes

  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 C cocoa powder
  • 3/4 C unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 C brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 C sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 C liquid from a jar of maraschino cherries (I used a jar from Whole Foods with no high-fructose corn syrup)
  • 8 oz dark chocolate chips
  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cocoa powder.
  2. In another medium-sized bowl, beat butter and sugar until well combined.
  3. Mix eggs, sour cream, vanilla extract, and cherry liquid into the wet ingredients.
  4. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until just combined.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Divide evenly between 14 cupcake liners.
  7. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.

Your Frosting Choices

As I mentioned above, I made two different frostings for these cupcakes: maraschino cherry buttercream (the one that looks white in the photos) and chocolate black cherry cream cheese (the one that looks pink in the photos).  While I’m not a fan of buttercream or maraschino cherries, I thought Bride 4.0 would enjoy that option.  It turns out that she, like me, preferred the cream cheese frosting.  However, since some tasters raved about the buttercream, I am sharing both options.

Maraschino Cherry Buttercream Frosting

Note: Double this recipe if you prefer lots of frosting.

  • 1/2 C unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 C powdered sugar (If you prefer a thicker frosting, add more powdered sugar.)
  • 5 tbsp liquid from a jar of maraschino cherries
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste (you can use vanilla extract instead, but vanilla bean paste is so much better – read my post on vanilla bean paste for more details)
  • 2 tbsp milk
  1. Mix butter and powdered sugar until the mixture looks like frosting.
  2. Mix in the cherry liquid, vanilla bean paste, and milk.
  3. Pipe or spread on cupcakes.

Black Cherry Cream Cheese Frosting

Note: Double this recipe if you prefer lots of frosting.

  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 C powdered sugar
  • 6 tbsp black cherry jam
  • 2 tsp chocolate extract (You can use vanilla extract if you don’t want to buy something special, but the chocolate extract adds a subtle chocolate flavor while allowing the frosting to remain pink.)
  1. Mix cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Slowly mix in powdered sugar until the mixture looks like frosting.
  3. Mix in jam and chocolate extract until combined.
  4. Spread or pipe on cupcakes.

Wedding 4.0 Update

Bride 4.0 didn’t choose the Shirley Temple cupcakes or these cupcakes as her wedding cupcakes. However, I did come up with a type of cherry cupcake that both she and Groom 4.0 loved and are excited to serve at their wedding.  That recipe is coming soon!  The wedding is in 2 weeks!!

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25 comments on “Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes, Two Ways”

  1. Lousays:

    that looks great, thanks! :)

  2. tootiesays:

    Yum! I will have to try these.

    By the way, I tried your Shirley Temple cupcakes and loved them! My husband and I gobbled up a more-than-acceptable amount of them for dessert :)

  3. Oh my, these sound sinful. I’m a chocoholic so too much chocolate isn’t in my vocabulary. Both the cupcake and icings sound amazing. I will definitely try these.

  4. Oh Man these look amazing!!!

  5. I think I can handle a cupcake as a meal :) These look fantastic!

  6. Love these. I’ve begun using ‘natural’ maraschino cherries I found at the Fancy Food Show. Probably the ones you’re using, since I know they’re available at Whole Foods. Chocolate & Cherries. You can’t go wrong.

  7. Pennysays:

    I was listening to NPR yesterday and they talked about how cupcakes heaven is in the Northwest like Seattle. I am in Michigan and we love our cupcakes too!

    My weakness is chocolate, so add some cherries and I am sunk! Look out hips!

  8. Jaimesays:

    I made Chocolate Covered Cherry Cupcakes last month for my sister’s birthday and I wish I had that Black Cherry Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe! It looks divine!

  9. Lilysays:

    These cupcakes look absolutely wonderful.

  10. Marinasays:

    i made these they where soooooo good

  11. Anonymoussays:

    I must have done something wrong. They were terribly dry and I couldn’t mix them. I did add more cherry juice and they tasted great, but were dry.

  12. My favorite cupcake so far. The only thing that I changed was I added a half cup of apple sauce to make it more moist. Everything else is perfect!

  13. Barbsays:

    I cannot wait until they come out of the oven! I had frozen cherries so added some milk and chopped white and semi-sweet chocolate instead. They smell and look great!

  14. Koresays:

    I didn’t like these cupcakes. They came out dry, even with the addition of applesauce in the batter. Most of the chocolate flavor came from the chocolate chips. The black cherry frosting was also disappointing. I had to add so much powdered sugar to compensate for the jam that the flavor was pretty much all sugar.

    • Anonymoussays:

      Yeah I also had a bad experience with the icing, way too many wet ingredients it overpowered the butter and sugar completely.

  15. Keilasays:

    I had exactly the same problems tha Kore mentioned. I wish I had read the post before I made the recipe… :o(

  16. Susan Esays:

    I wish I had read the comments too. I also had a problem with the black cherry icing. I had to add way too much powdered sugar that you couldn’t taste the black cherry as much as I would have liked. I only baked the cupcakes for 24 minutes, so they weren’t dry, but they weren’t as moist as I would have liked either. My co-workers loved them but agreed they weren’t the best that I had ever brought in. I won’t make these again. Could you may be revamp it because I love the cherry & the chocolate together

    • Stefsays:

      So sorry about this! I’m hard at work on the Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake. Once I get that recipe mastered (I’m on version 56 now), I will go back and revamp a lot of my old chocolate cupcakes using that base to make them better.

  17. Susan Esays:

    We knew we could count on you Steph! I can’t wait to try the ultimate chocolate cupcake since the ultimate vanilla is my go to when I need a vanilla cupcake!

  18. Susan Esays:

    Sorry I meant Stef, I have a friend who uses the other spelling!

  19. Maria Ruthsays:

    Hey! I tried this recipe today and the results were excellent! Regards from Guatemala.


  20. soleiasays:

    Am currently making these cupcakes the batter tasted great and they were perfect when they cam out of the oven. I made the black cherry frosting and it tastes great even though it has black cherries in it and some lumps. Waiting for them to cool before I can frost them they smell great. I followed the recipe and it made 17 cupcakes, I used a little less than the called for amount of cherry liquid but I could still taste it in the batter, and I used vanilla extract instead of chocolate in the frosting. These so far have turned out great and where a perfect recipe for me to make for my friends birthday who loves chocolate cherry. Can’t wait to try some of your other cupcakes

  21. Amy Msays:

    The frosting was too thin with 2 cups of powdered sugar…tried adding more and it was way too sweet and not much thicker. Your picture looks like it has maraschino cherry bits in it bit there is no mention of it in the recipe. Is the recipe posted accurate?

    • Stefsays:

      I assume you are talking about the first frosting? It is a very sweet frosting. There shouldn’t be any bits in it though. The second frosting has some bits because of the jam.

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