An easy small batch recipe for Black Forest Cupcakes! 5 decadent and moist chocolate cupcakes are topped with fresh cherry filling, fluffy whipped cream, chocolate shavings – and a perfect cherry on top!
Small Batch of Chocolate Cupcakes
What makes a recipe a small batch? I contemplated this question as I was making these Black Forest Cupcakes. Especially when it comes to cupcakes. Do we want to eat all of them in one sitting? Or have at least one leftover to enjoy the next day? And how many leftovers?
Then as quickly as I questioned this, I decided there is no perfect answer. It’s all about the recipe and where that sweet spot is in the flavor. I tested this recipe a half-dozen times to get either 4 or 6 cupcakes – and none turned out as delicious as this recipe for 5 cupcakes.
That’s a lot of searching for meaning for cupcakes. Geesh.
The good news is – if you are making these for two people, there is an extra one to share! Or in my case, for me to eat in private while my husband is on a conference call. Wink.
Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes
I talked a bit about what keeps cakes moist in the Mini Sweet Lemon Cakes post. And the more I bake and research, I am finding that nearly all of the ingredients in these cupcakes play a key role in moist cakes:
- Buttermilk – milk is great for adding moisture. And buttermilk may be the best. Because of its acidic properties, it also tenderizes the cake. Sour cream would also be a great tenderizer.
- Butter or Oil – but we don’t have any butter in this recipe. No fear. The oil makes up for that. And because these are chocolate cakes – the cocoa powder can dry up the cake – so oil is a great option for the texture, and doesn’t compete with the chocolate flavor.
- Sugar – I didn’t talk about this with the Lemon Cakes, but sugar is hygroscopic – meaning it attracts and holds water, thus a moister cake.
Fresh Cherry Black Forest Cupcakes
There is no canned filling here. And that is evident in most jams and fillings I make – the jelly in the Peanut Butter & Jelly Hot Milk Cake, or the fruit filling in the Puff Pastry Cherry Turnovers. Why? Because I prefer to manage the sweetness level of my fruit fillings. Not to mention, fresh fruit has enough natural sweetness and I like to make sure that is highlighted.
One thing you will notice with these Black Forest Cupcakes – I didn’t stuff the cupcakes with the filling. While I love a good filling in a cupcake, I didn’t want the flavor to get lost. Plus, I think you can get more filling when it is slathered on the top of the cupcake. Win. 🙂 Now, you can certainly fill the cupcakes with the filling – I would just make sure you still chop up some fresh cherries to add the to filling.
Why is it called Black Forest Cake (or cupcake)
The original Black Forest Cake recipe comes from Germany. There are different claims on the origination of the name – after the actual Black Forest Mountain range; a German booze; the guy that claims he invented it and his residence proximity to the Black Forest – regardless of where the name comes from, the combination of flavors is magical. Chocolate + Cherries + Whipped Cream = cake deliciousness.
What You Need To Make Black Forest Cupcakes
- Fresh Cherries – I will always recommend fresh fruit when it is in season. Plus, for the cherry on top, it is necessary!
- Cornstarch – To thicken the cherry filling
- Maple Syrup – For the cherry filling. However, any sweetener of choice will work. I like using maple syrup for its buttery flavor.
- All-Purpose Flour
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder – I use a cocoa powder that is a Dutch and Natural blend. However, I think Dutch process would be great because it has a strong cocoa flavor without being too bitter.
- Baking Powder and Baking Soda
- Canola Oil – Or any neutral oil.
- Granulated Sugar
- Brown Sugar – Because this is a chocolate cupcake, light or brown sugar will work.
- Hot Brewed Coffee
- Vanilla Extract
- Whipped Cream – You could try my Whipped Coconut Cream. Otherwise, use your favorite whipped cream!
- Chocolate Shavings – Optional to sprinkle on top, but they make for a pretty presentation.
- Muffin/Cupcake Pan
- Cupcake Liners
- Mixing Bowls
- Small Saucepan
Black Forest Cupcakes – Helpful Tips and FAQ’s
I have only tested the recipe as a small batch. With that, I can’t say for certain what will happen if simply doubling the ingredients. There is a bit of science in baking and the ratios of wet to dry ingredients needs testing to get a desirable result. That said – I would recommend just making two batches.
I strongly encourage it, especially with cherries are in season. Fresh fruit always has a more robust flavor. And you will want a cherry on top when serving! However, frozen cherries will also work.
Yes, you can. I like using maple syrup because it isn’t as processes as white sugar. And I like the buttery notes it adds to the filling. But, feel free to swap in any sweetener you like.
I find that using oil in chocolate cupcakes (or cakes), keeps the cupcakes super moist. There is something about the addition of cocoa powder that almost begs for more moisture.
Any neutral, flavorless oil will work. Other oil options would be vegetable oil, grapeseed oil, or even refined coconut oil.
Of course! I put the filling on top because I wanted to get cherry filling in every bite! If you prefer the filling inside of the cupcake, cut out a small hole in the middle of the cupcake – being careful to not go all the way to the bottom.
I have been using Hershey’s Special Dark unsweetened cocoa powder. It is a blend of Dutch process and natural cocoa. However, I do have a preference to Dutch process cocoa powder for chocolate cakes because it has a rich cocoa flavor without being too bitter.
The hot coffee flavor enhances the cocoa flavor and the hot liquid ‘blooms’ the cocoa. You will not taste coffee – there is not enough of it to impart any flavor. And, I would use any kind of coffee you have in your pantry – no need for any special type.
Making homemade buttermilk is easy with milk and vinegar or lemon juice. Fill the measuring cup with 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice, then fill to the 1/3 mark with milk.
More Small Batch Cupcake Recipes
- Small Batch Strawberry Cupcakes
- Patriotic Berry Vanilla Cupcakes
- Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes
- Pumpkin Cupcakes with Whipped Ganache Frosting
Black Forest Cupcakes
- 1 – Muffin/Cupcake Pan
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoons canola oil (or any neutral oil )
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons hot brewed coffee
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- pinch salt
- 8 ounces fresh cherries, pitted and quartered (plus a handful more chopped and whole (5), to top cupcakes)
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (any sweetener will work; sweeten to taste)
- Whipped Coconut Cream (or dairy whipped cream)
- chocolate shavings (from a baker's chocolate bar, or candy bar)
- Make the cherry filling first. In a small bowl, add the water and cornstarch. Mix into a slurry – until no lumps of cornstarch remain.
- In a small saucepan, add the quartered cherries and cornstarch slurry. Cook over medium heat until the cherries start to break down and release their juices. Then add the maple syrup and sweeten to taste. Continue to cook the cherries over medium-low heat until the sauce begins to thicken like jam – about 10 – 15 minutes.
- Transfer to a bowl and set aside, or refrigerate, until ready to assemble the cupcakes.
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position.
- In a small mixing bowl, add the oil and both sugars. Mix with a whisk until well combined. Then add the buttermilk, coffee, and vanilla, and whisk until fully incorporated.
- Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt over the wet ingredients. Gently whisk to incorporate until no dry streaks remain.
- Pour the batter equally into the cupcake liners. I recommend a cookie scoop to get equal portions – and less mess!
- Bake for 12 minutes, or when a toothpick inserted in the middle of one of the cupcakes comes out mostly clean (a few small crumbs is ok, and good).
- Cool the cupcakes in the pan set on a wire rack for at 10 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and cool completely on the wire rack.
- Scoop even portions of the cherry filling on top of each cupcake. Then sprinkle on the reserved chopped cherries. Top with the whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and a fresh cherry – and enjoy!
- Whipped Cream – If you prefer dairy whipped cream – a simple recipe is: 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream + 1 tablespoon powdered sugar + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Whip with a hand held mixer until stiff peaks form.
- Cherry Filling – The cherry filling can also be piped inside of the cupcakes: cut a small hole (going about 2/3 of the way down the cupcake) in the center of each cupcake, and fill.
- Servings – I have tested increasing and decreasing the recipe ingredients to get an even number of cupcakes. Neither came out as perfect as this recipe for 5 cupcakes.