Black Forest Cupcakes

Black forest cakes are made up of a rich and delectable combination of flavours, but there are so many ways to take the traditional elements and make fresh new desserts and treats. This year, I decided to turn this Christmas favourite into my own creation: Black Forest Cupcakes!

My version is made with a standard chocolate base, a little (more if you like) kirsch, fresh and tinned cherries and thick, dark chocolate ganache. The recipe doesn't call for any whipped cream, instead using a cherry-flavoured buttercream that can be made in advance. In fact, all of the elements can be made ahead of time, and either frozen for up to a month or stored in the refrigerator for a few days.

As usual, this recipe is vegan but will be loved by everyone, and is ideal for Christmas parties, picnics and celebrations.

Ingredients for the cupcakes

  • 200g morello cherries
  • 290g caster sugar
  • 40ml kirsch
  • 20ml water
  • 400ml soy milk, or dairy-free milk of choice (soy is best!)
  • 40ml vinegar
  • 400g self-raising flour
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 1 tbs coffee powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 160ml vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients for the buttercream

  • 250g vegan butter
  • 300-400g icing sugar (add more as needed, to taste)
  • 1 tbs soy milk
  • 100g cherry jam (I used a locally-made sour cherry jam)
  • Kirsch, to taste (optional)

Ingredients for the ganache

  • 100ml soy milk, or dairy-free milk of choice
  • 70g vegan dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Ingredients for the topping

  • 20 fresh cherries
  • Coconut flakes, to taste

Instructions for the cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to approximately 190 degrees Celsius and set aside 2 cupcake tins and 20 cupcake liners.
  • Combine cherries, 50g of the sugar, kirsch and water in a saucepan and cook for 10 minutes over a medium-high heat. Set aside.
  • Combine milk and vinegar in a jug and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, sift together flour, remaining sugar, cocoa powder, coffee, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt until there are no lumps.  
  • Combine oil and vanilla, then slowly start adding milk and oil mixture into the dry mixture, mixing until just combined.    
  • Finally, carefully incorporate cherries into mixture until just combined.
  • Pour into prepared tins and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until they spring back when touched. 
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.

Instructions for the buttercream

  • Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment ready, or in a bowl with a handheld mixer at the ready.
  • Whip until mixture is smooth, scraping down the edges of the bowl as needed.
  • Spoon into a piping bag fitted with the nozzle of your choice. I chose a large round one because the jam I used had nice chunks of cherries throughout!
  • Pipe onto cupcakes and place in the refrigerator to set for 1 hour.

Instructions for the ganache

  • Heat milk until hot but not boiling.
  • Pour over chocolate and leave for 1 minute, then start mixing until smooth.
  • Remove the cupcakes from the refrigerators and drizzle ganache over the buttercream.

Instructions for the toppings

  • Top with coconut and cherries and store in an airtight container. If it's hot, keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve, otherwise they can be kept at room temperature.

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