An easy small batch recipe for Black Forest Cupcakes! 5 decadent and moist chocolate cupcakes – made without eggs – are topped with fresh cherry filling, fluffy whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and a proud cherry on top!
Small Batch of Chocolate and cherry Cupcakes
Summer’s out, cherries out! Sure, we can enjoy some creamy fresh cherry ice cream or a refreshing cherry cream soda now that it is cherry season. But how about keeping the cherry on a the decadent side by pairing it with rich chocolate!
That is where these black forest cupcakes will take you. Super moist chocolate cupcakes topped with a fresh cherry compote, fluffy whipped cream, and the idyllic cherry on top.
Why You Should Make These Black Forest Cupcakes
- Easy – We’re talking one bowl easy!
- No Eggs – That’s right, no eggs in these cupcakes. We get the incredibly soft cupcake texture from oil and buttermilk.
- They Look Fancy – Nobody has to know how easy it is to make these cupcakes. They will simply be gobsmacked when they see how sophisticated they look!
- Fresh Cherry Compote – The hallmark of black forest desserts is the cherry. And we celebrate the summer fruit by making a compote to go on top of the cupcake.
- Small Batch – Whether you need a pretty dessert for a small celebration, or you just want to satisfy your chocolate craving, these cupcakes fit the bill!
what makes chocolate cupcakes moist
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 black forest cupcakes play a key role in moist cakes:
- Buttermilk – Buttermilk adds moisture and it also tenderizes the cake.
- Oil – Cocoa powder has a tendency to dry out cake. To counteract that, we use a neutral oil to keep the cake incredibly moist without compromising the cocoa flavor.
- Sugar – Sugar is hygroscopic – meaning it attracts and holds water, thus a moister cake.
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. Or, if you are looking for the same flavor combo in a dessert other than cake, try the black forest chia pudding or black forest overnight oats.
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 – To make a gluten free version, use my gluten free chocolate cupcake recipe.
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder – Dutch process would be great because it has a strong cocoa flavor without being too bitter.
- Baking Powder and Baking Soda – To leaven the cupcakes and enhance the texture.
- Salt – Salt balances and enhances flavors.
- Canola Oil – Or any neutral oil.
- Granulated Sugar – You can use white table sugar or organic cane sugar (my favorite).
- Brown Sugar – Because this is a chocolate cupcake, light or brown sugar will work.
- Buttermilk – You can also make your own buttermilk by combining vinegar or lemon juice with milk. Fill a measuring cup with 1 teaspoon of vinegar/lemon juice, then fill to the 1/3 cup mark with milk.
- Hot Brewed Coffee – Use a coffee that you enjoy drinking.
- Vanilla Extract – For flavor!
- 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
Fresh Cherry and chocolate cupcakes
There is no canned cherry filling in these black forest cupcakes. 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.
Another thing you will notice with these 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. 🙂
FAQ’s: small batch Black Forest Cupcakes
I have only tested the recipe as a small batch. But, if you try doubling the recipe, let me know how it turns out!
I strongly recommend 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 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.
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, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons medium brew coffee, very hot
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, Dutch process
- 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.