Black Forest Cupcakes

My friend Belinda had a pretty special birthday on Sunday, so I wanted to make her a birthday dessert. I know a couple things about my friend, she likes cherries and she likes chocolate…so I thought I would try Black Forest Cupcakes. As I began searching for a great black forest cake or cupcake recipe, I couldn’t really find exactly what I had in mind. What I did find was lots (not all) of recipes using cherry pie filling. That is a travesty. So I set out to make a delightful black forest cupcake with real cherries.

Chocolate Cupcakes
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup oil
1 1/2 cups hot water
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 24 muffin cups with liners (or 12 jumbo muffin cups). Mix ingredients with an electric mixer in a bowl until you get a thin batter. Pour batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
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Cherry Filling
2 cups bing cherries, pitted and cut in half
1/2 cup sugar
Combine pitted cherries and sugar in a medium saucepan and heat over low heat (10 – 15 minutes). Stirring occasionally. Once cherries have softened and created juice, remove from heat and cool. Remove center of cupcakes with a spoon. Spoon cherry filling into cupcake centers. Reserve 2 tablespoons of cherry juice and keep in sauce pan for ganache.
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Chocolate Cherry Ganache 
Reserved cherry juice
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 Tablespoon whipping cream
Add 8 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate to reserved cherry juice in sauce pan. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly until chocolate is melted. Once chocolate is melted, remove from heat and add 1 tablespoon whipping cream. Stir until smooth. Once ganache has cooled, pour over tops of cupcakes and let cool.
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Whipped Cream
2¼ cups heavy cream, chilled
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
After ganache has set on cupcake tops, chill bowl and whisk attachment of an electric mixer in the freezer for 10 minutes.  Place the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip on medium-low speed at first, gradually increasing to high speed.  Blend in the confectioners’ sugar gradually.  Whip until stiff peaks form, being careful not to over-beat.  Use a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip to frost the cooled cupcakes.
Top with a cherry and chocolate shavings.
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