Chocolate Cherry Cola Cupcakes

Chocolate Cherry Cola Cupcakes

February: Washington’s Birthday/Lincoln’s Birthday/Presidents’ Day (third Monday in February)

The first president of the United States of America is often associated with cherries. George Washington chopping down a cherry tree as a child and admitting the truth that he did it is actually a myth. His name is also linked to the state that is the largest supplier of the fruit in the country. The close dates of the birthdays of Washington (February 22, 1732) and another great and reputably honest president, Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809), are observed together annually as Presidents’ Day on the third Monday of February.

Pretty please, with a cherry on top, celebrate this national holiday with chocolate cherry cola cupcakes. We chose to make this dessert for this blog post because it is both National Cherry Month and National Chocolate Month as well. Two fabulous flavors, two presidential birthdays, one delightful dessert! Indulge!

Recipe

(Adapted from Betty Crocker)

For the chocolate cherry cola cupcakes

  • 2 jars of maraschino cherries (with or without stems)
  • 1 box devil’s food cake mix
  • 1 cup cherry cola carbonated beverage
  • ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 eggs

Directions

Drain the cherries, reserving some of the juice for the frosting recipe and also saving around 30 cherries for the topping. Chop the remaining cherries into little pieces and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix and moisten with cherry cola.

Chocolate Cherry Cola Cupcakes

Add the oil, eggs and ¼ cup cherry juice. Mix well. Fold in the chopped cherries.

Chocolate Cherry Cola Cupcakes

Scoop batter no more than 2/3 full into cupcake papers lining a muffin pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 25-35 minutes, testing with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Yield: Approximately 30 cupcakes.

Chocolate Cherry Cola Cupcakes

For the cherry buttercream frosting

  • 1 stick (½ cup) butter, softened
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon cherry flavor/extract
  • 4+ tablespoons maraschino cherry juice (reserved from above)
  • red food coloring (optional)

Directions

Cream the butter with the sugar until smooth. Add the cherry extract and mix well.

Chocolate Cherry Cola Cupcakes

Tint to the desired shade of pink with a few drops of red food coloring (optional). Thin the frosting to spreadable/piping consistency with the cherry juice. Frost the cupcakes (or use tip 1M and a pastry bag to pipe swirls).

Chocolate Cherry Cola Cupcakes

For the cherry topping and chocolate ganache drizzles

  • maraschino cherries, dried
  • 4 ounces chocolate (we used one bar of Baker’s brand chocolate)
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream

Directions

Wash and dry the remaining 30 maraschino cherries, gently squeezing out the excess juice. Dry on paper towels. Melt the chocolate. Stir in the cream until smooth and well blended.

Chocolate Cherry Cola Cupcakes

Allow the ganache to cool and thicken (this may take several minutes, depending on the room temperature; may speed up the process by refrigerating but watch carefully for the consistency). Pour a spoonful of the ganache over the chocolate and allow to drip down the sides. Top with a maraschino cherry.

Chocolate Cherry Cola Cupcakes 

Notes

  • Many boxed cake mixes used to by 18.25 ounces. Nowadays they are 15.25-16.5 ounces. Add six tablespoons of flour to the cake mix to compensate for the difference.
  • Double the recipe for the frosting and ganache if decorating the cupcakes in a full and fancy style.
  • The reserved maraschino cherry juice could be substituted for the cherry cola, kirsch or water.

 

Beer and Sauerkraut Fudge Cupcakes

with Chocolate Beer Frosting

Beer and Sauerkraut Fudge Cupcakes

October: Oktoberfest

Islander was the matron of honor at her friend Lisa L.’s wedding in Germany a few years ago. She appreciated how Lisa observed several cultural customs, such as polterabend (plate smashing), baumstamm sägen (log sawing) and “bride kidnapping”. It was fun and memorable to experience a traditional German wedding!

Oktoberfest was originally a royal wedding celebration in Bavaria, Germany, for Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) who married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in 1810. The citizens partied for several days in their honor and the anniversary has evolved into the world-famous festival, making Munich a popular drinking destination. German immigrants brought their beer and culture to America. Now several communities and groups around the country host Oktoberfests.

For a Deutschland-inspired dessert to share at German ethnic events, we made unusual cupcakes called Schokoladenkleine kuchen mit Bier und Sauerkraut. They are surprisingly sweet, moist and fudgy, with a slightly crisp texture from the sour cabbage. And the chocolate beer frosting is delicious and a creamy complement to the cupcakes.

Observe Oktoberfest by baking beer and sauerkraut fudge cupcakes with chocolate beer frosting. Prosit!

Recipe

(Adapted from Food Network)

For the cupcakes

  • 10 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup dark beer
  • 2/3 cup sauerkraut
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar. Stir in the vanilla. Beat in the eggs.

Beer and Sauerkraut Fudge Cupcakes

In a separate bowl, combine the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and baking soda. Gradually add this mixture, alternating with the beer, to the butter mixture. Blend until smooth. Drain the liquid from the sauerkraut. Fold the sauerkraut into the chocolate batter. Stir in the raisins.

Beer and Sauerkraut Fudge Cupcakes

Scoop the batter 2/3 full into cupcake paper liners. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Yield: Approximately 2 ½ dozen cupcakes.

Beer and Sauerkraut Fudge Cupcakes

For the frosting

  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar, divided use
  • 1/3 cup dark beer

Directions

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter with the salt. Add one cup of powdered sugar and the cocoa powder and blend until smooth. Pour in a little beer, alternating with the remaining powdered sugar.

Beer and Sauerkraut Fudge Cupcakes

Blend until the frosting is smooth and the desired spreadable consistency is reached. Frost the cupcakes. Decorate with mini Oktoberfest flags (optional).

Beer and Sauerkraut Fudge Cupcakes

Notes

  • Oktoberfest actually starts in late-September and lasts 16 days, ending around the first weekend of October. Learn more about the original Oktoberfest in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, by visiting the official website.
  • For a less “stringy” sauerkraut texture in the cupcakes, finely cut up the cabbage before mixing into the batter.
  • For more German recipes, see our previous posts for apfel strudel, Black Forest cake, German-style potato salad, stollen (fruitcake) and wienerschnitzel. Search our blog for additional dishes from Deutschland.

Chocolate Cupcakes

with Fondant Flowers

Chocolate Cupcakes

October 18: National Chocolate Cupcake Day

As part of the marriage preparation ministry at our church, we attend the weddings of the couples we sponsor. At some of the receptions, we have noticed the cupcake trend, mostly as an alternative to the traditional chocolate groom’s cake.  Depending on the elaborateness of the decorations, cupcakes can cost as much as a store-bought or bakery cake. But with a little time, patience and creativity, one can inexpensively make chocolate cupcakes from semi-scratch with fondant flowers in the couple’s wedding colors. The recipe for the chocolate cupcakes featured in our blog post is adapted from The Cake Mix Doctor’s recipes for “The Perfect Chocolate Cake” and “Chocolate Dream Glaze.” This decadent dessert can be made for special occasions, such as weddings, and National Chocolate Cupcake Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Chocolate from The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn)

For the cupcakes

  • 1 box (18.25 ounces) devil’s food cake mix with pudding
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients until thick and smooth. Scoop into muffin pans lined with cupcake papers.

Chocolate Cupcakes

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes or until done. Remove from the oven and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Chocolate Cupcakes

For the frosting

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate baking squares
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Directions

In a glass bowl,  place the chocolate, butter and corn syrup. Microwave for 1 – 1 ½ minutes. Stir until melted and smooth. Dip the tops of the cupcake into the frosting, swirling around for even coating. Let the frosting set on the cupcakes at room temperature.

Chocolate Cupcakes

For the fondant flowers

  • Fondant tinted red (we used Wilton brand pre-made primary color pack)
  • Small tube of red icing gel (we used Wilton brand)
  • Silver dragées (we used India Tree brand)

Directions

Flatten a two-inch ball of fondant with a rolling pin to a 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out flower shapes.

Chocolate Cupcakes

Place the flowers on a foam bed. Use the small ball tool to press lightly in the center. Refrigerate overnight or until the flowers are firm. Arrange the flowers on top of the cupcake.

Chocolate Cupcakes

Dab a dot of the icing gel on the flower center. Drop a dragée on top of the gel, positioning it with a toothpick if necessary.

Chocolate Cupcakes

Notes

  • Cupcakes are like a blank slate for the culinary artist. Follow the recipe from our blog as a guide and add your own decorations to express your unique personal and creative cooking style.
  • Search our blog for more cupcake recipes and easy decoration ideas.