This recipe came about because a good friend, who’s a die-hard chocolate lover, needed some celebration cupcakes, and also because black cherries are in season.
The dark chocolate cherry cupcakes, though a little time-intensive, are well-worth the effort for the gasps of “oh my god” that accompanies them. Between the moist chocolate cake, the surprise cherry mousse filling, and the silky ganache frosting, these red and (almost) black cupcakes are truly sinful.
But before you go thinking that they could be too rich, remember this: dark chocolate is good for you 😉
* Makes 24 cupcakes
- Small brush (optional; for gold leaves)
- Tweezers (optional; for gold leaves)
- Pastry bag (optional; for frosting); large star tip (optional; for frosting)
- Stand-alone cupcake cups (optional) (I found mine at the Containter Store of all places)
- Food processor or blender
- Stand mixer or hand mixer
- Fine mesh strainer
For the chocolate cake recipe, please see this post. (This is the recipe you use to make the 24 cupcakes) If using stand-alone cupcake cups, simply pour the batter into the cups, place on a baking sheet, and bake according to the time listed in the post.
Chocolate Chambord Ganache Frosting:
- 1.5 lbs. (or 24 oz.) bittersweet chocolate (61% cacao)
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup Chambord (raspberry liqueur), or your favorite fruit liqueur
- 1 (15 oz.) can cherries, drained-reserve juice!
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 to 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate finely chopped + another 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate finely chopped
- 48 (or one large bag) black cherries, or regular sweet cherries
- 30 (not 24 b/c some might break) food-safe leaves, such as radish leaves (this is what I used) or watercress leaves
- Edible gold glaze and edible gold dust (both can be found at Global Sugar Art)
First, make the gold leaves: Take your food-safe leaves and pat as much moisture as possible out of the leaves. Line a baking sheet with waxed or parchment paper, and place your leaves on the paper. Next, melt your 8 oz. chopped chocolate in the microwave–about 1 min. on high, then keep stirring and microwaving in increments of 15-30 seconds on high until just melted. You want to paint the chocolate on the parts of the leaves where the veins are the most prominent, so that your leaves are well-defined. Using a small paint brush, brush the melted chocolate onto the leaves. I usually do one coat and then heavily douse the leaves in another coat of chocolate (you want there to be a lot of chocolate on your leaves to keep it sturdy). Make sure not to get any chocolate on the underside of the leaf, otherwise it will be hard to pull off. Also, make sure to leave a small bottom section of the leaf chocolate-free so you can easily pull the leaf from the chocolate. Dry leaves overnight. The next day, pull the leaves off the chocolate (might need tweezers for this). If there was moisture on your leaf, it will look wet in parts and dry the chocolate in different shades of brown. Don’t worry–you’ll cover it in gold glaze anyway. Once the chocolate has completely dried, paint the leaves in gold glaze. Let dry. Then brush gold dust on the leaves. Blow off any excess.
Next, make your chocolate cherries: Try to keep cherry stems connected, so that two cherries are connected by their stems (looks pretty! If not, don’t worry about it). Line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper. Melt your 8 oz. chocolate in the microwave, using the same method as noted above. Dip the bottoms of the cherries in the chocolate, coating thoroughly. Place on the baking sheet and let dry overnight.
Next, bake the cupcakes (instructions linked to above)
Then, make the ganache: If you have a large food processor, simply take the chocolate and process until fine (can do this in a large blender, or by hand by chopping until fine). In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring cream to a soft boil (look for small bubbles to form at the edge of the saucepan). With the motor on in the food processor, pour the cream through the feed tube (if you don’t have a processor, put the chopped chocolate in a stand mixer and then pour the hot cream in the mixer while the whisk attachment beats on medium-high speed. If you don’t have either, put the chocolate in a large bowl, and while beating with a hand mixer, pour the hot cream in the bowl). Beat for 10 seconds or until smooth (do not overbeat!). With the motor/whisk/beaters still running, add the butter (if not using the food processor, the butter will need to be chopped into 1-inch cubes first). With everything still running, add the liqueur. Then, turn off beaters and pour the ganache through the fine mesh strainer. Let stand for 1 hour. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool in the fridge for 1-2 hours until it reaches frosting consistency (stir every 10-15 min. to make the cooling process go faster). * Note DO NOT put ganache in the freezer, as it will condensate and produce too much moisture for the ganache.
Next, make the cherry mousse: Puree the canned cherries in a food processor or blender until smooth. Place 2 Tbl. of reserved cherry juice into a small pot and heat up until it starts to boil. Pour the cherry juice into a medium mixing bowl. Add the gelatin and stir until it dissolves. Add the cherry puree into the gelatin and place the bowl over a larger bowl full of ice and water. Stir occassionaly until the puree starts to thicken a little–15 min. Place the cream in a large bowl. With the whisk attachment in the stand mixer, or the whisk attachment with the hand beater, beat cream until soft peaks begin to form (don’t overbeat!). Gently fold in the cherry puree with a spatula. Sift 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar on top of the mousse and fold it in. Taste and decide if you want to add more sugar–do this by 1/4 cup increments, up to 3/4 cup sugar total. Place the mousse in the fridge for about an hour.
Core out the center of the cupcakes, making sure there’s enough of the bottom still left. Discard (or eat!) centers. Spoon in the cooled and set cherry mousse into the centers.
To decorate: Place ganache in a large pastry bag fitted with the large star tip (optional-can also just frost tops of cupackes with ganache). Frost cupcakes with ganache. Next, take cherries and place two towards the front of the cupcake. Finally, add the gold leaves (if the ganache is too solid, your leaves might break as you try to press them in, so simply take a knife and make a slit in the frosting so your leaves can fit).
* Serve at room temperature (better for ganache). Don’t keep cupcakes out for more than 6-8 hours otherwise mousse might go bad. Keeps about a week in the fridge.