A fluffy and moist chocolate cupcake, a thick and luscious cherry filling, and the smoothest chocolate mascarpone frosting is what makes up these perfect black forest cupcakes.
Why you will love these black forest cupcakes
- The cake. The chocolate cake is *mwah* chef's kiss. It is so soft, fluffy, and basically melts in your mouth. The chocolate flavor is enhanced from the coffee and the sweetness level is perfection.
- The cherry filling. I could eat the cherry filling with a spoon. This filling was taken directly from my Cherry Pie recipe - and it is just as good in these cupcakes.
- The chocolate mascarpone frosting. This frosting, if whipped properly, is the smoothest and most luscious thing you could ever eat. The slight tang from the mascarpone cheese, paired with the dark coca powder and sweetened with powdered sugar is simply magnificent.
- All purpose flour: all purpose flour is the flour of choice for this recipe. It yields the perfect soft and tender crumb for the cupcakes.
- Dark cocoa powder: dark (aka dutch processed) cocoa powder is the preferred choice of cocoa powder in this recipe. It has a much richer chocolate flavor than regular unsweetened cocoa powder. We also use it in the frosting.
- Leavener: baking powder is used in these cupcakes to help them rise.
- Butter: we use unsalted butter in this recipe to control exactly how much salt goes in. We use unsalted butter in both the cupcake batter and the mascarpone frosting.
- Fats: the other key fats in this recipe are the vegetable oil, eggs, milk, and yogurt. All of these ingredients add moisture so the cupcakes don't dry out.
- Sugar: granulated sugar is used to add sweetness, flavor, and moisture. It is also used in the cherry mixture. We also use powdered sugar in the frosting.
- Instant coffee: instant coffee granules mixed with a little bit of water is added to the cupcake batter - the coffee really deepens the chocolate flavor.
- Cherries: fresh or frozen sweet cherries work in this recipe! I prefer fresh, but either work.
- Mascarpone cheese: mascarpone cheese is a soft Italian cheese that is similar to cream cheese in taste and texture, although I find it to be a bit milder than regular cream cheese. It makes for the perfect frosting!
- Make the cherry filling. Combine the pitted cherries, granulated sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, and lemon juice over the stove on medium heat. Cover and mix every 1-2 minutes for 10 minutes - the filling will thicken in this time.
- Mix the instant coffee. Mix the instant coffee granules with water and stir until dissolved. Set aside.
- Whisk the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
- Beat the wet ingredients. Beat together the butter and oil until combined. Add the granulated sugar and beat until combined. Add the eggs and mix. Add the vanilla extract and coffee mixture and mix.
- Combine. Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until almost combined, then add half of the milk and half of the yogurt and mix until almost combined. Repeat with the other halves of the dry ingredients, milk, and yogurt.
- Bake. Separate the cupcake batter evenly into the cupcake pan. Bake for 18-21 minutes at 325F until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Make the mascarpone frosting. Beat together the mascarpone cheese and butter until combined and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract, dark cocoa powder, and one cup of the powdered sugar and beat until combined. Continue to add one cup of powdered sugar at a time and mix until combined. Add the milk if necessary and mix.
- Frost. Once the cupcakes are completely cool, fill them with the cherry filling, frost with the icing, and drizzle the remaining cherry mixture on top and enjoy!
What type of cherries should I use?
I like to use sweet cherries, but feel free to use a mix of sweet/tart cherries if you desire. If you are using fresh cherries, a cherry pitter really comes in handy. We need 2 ½ cups of cherries in this recipe, and it will definitely save time if you have this useful tool.
Can I make the cupcakes ahead of time?
Yes! Bake the cupcakes and, once cool, wrap them each tightly in plastic wrap. You can freeze them for up to three months. Thaw the cupcakes at room temperature.
You can also make the frosting ahead of time. Place the frosting on a piece of plastic wrap and tightly close it. Place it in a ziplock bag and into the freezer. Let it thaw in the fridge and once thawed, beat on medium speed to fluff it up.
I don't suggest making the cherry filling ahead of time or filling the cupcakes then freezing them. Once the cupcakes have thawed, make the cherry filling and fill them.
Why are my cupcakes dry?
Cupcakes can be dry from over measuring the flour. The best way to measure flour is with a kitchen scale - it is the most accurate. If you don't have a kitchen scale, spoon the flour into a measuring cup, then level it off with a knife.
Why did my cupcakes sink?
Cupcakes can sink from over mixing the batter. Make sure to only mix your batter until the dry ingredients are JUST incorporated, not any longer. Second, underbaked cupcakes can sink, so make sure to bake the cupcakes all the way through.
Why are my cupcakes dense?
Dense cupcakes are likely from too much liquid. I highly suggest using a kitchen scale to measure out your ingredients - it is the most accurate and will serve better results. Using volume measurements is not ideal because my 1 cup measuring cup can be different from your 1 cup measuring cup.
How do I store the cupcakes?
Any cake-based dessert exposed to air will become dry pretty quickly, so make sure to secure it properly. Wrap each individual cupcake with plastic wrap or enclose in an airtight container. Store at room temperature.
Why is my frosting grainy?
Grainy frosting can be due to the butter being too cold or unsifted powdered sugar. In order to avoid grainy frosting, make sure to use room temperature ingredients and sift your powdered sugar if you notice it is clumpy.
Baking in grams
While I provide volume measurements for the recipes on my blog, I highly suggest baking these recipes using weight. It is the most standardized and accurate way to bake. I carefully recipe test all of my recipes using a kitchen scale, not by using cups, and therefore I cannot guarantee the success of my recipes when using volume measurements.
Other recipes you may like
- Black Forest Chocolate Cherry Brownies
- Salted Caramel Cupcakes
- Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes
- Vanilla Bundt Cake
- Classic Vanilla Cupcakes
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Black Forest Cupcakes
- 2 ½ cups (375 grams) pitted cherries fresh or frozen - see note
- ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons (16 grams) cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ tablespoon instant coffee + ½ tablespoon water optional but recommended. The coffee really brings out the chocolate flavor.
- 1 ¼ cups (157 grams) all purpose flour
- ½ cup (40 grams) dark cocoa powder (dutch processed cocoa powder)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup (57 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
- ¼ cup (50 grams) vegetable oil
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 eggs room temperature
- ½ tablespoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup (120 grams) whole milk room temperature
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams) yogurt room temperature, greek or regular works!
Chocolate Mascarpone Frosting
- 8 oz (226 grams) mascarpone cheese room temperature
- 1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ cup (20 grams) dark cocoa powder (dutch processed cocoa powder)
- 6-7 cups (720-840 grams) powdered sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1-2 tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream
- If you are using fresh cherries: remove the pits. Using a sharp knife, cut the cherries in quarters (in half then in half again).
- If you are using frozen cherries: they are likely already pitted, but carefully cut one in half just to make sure. I like to let my bag of frozen cherries thaw at room temperature for 20-30 minutes, although that is not completely necessary. Using a sharp knife, cut the cherries in quarters (in half then in half again).
- In a large sauce pan, stir together the cherries, granulated sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, and lemon juice until combined.
- Place on the stove over medium heat and cover, stirring every 1-2 minutes or so for 10 minutes. The cherry juices will release and begin to bubble - by the end of the 10 minutes, the filling will have thickened.
- Remove from the heat and transfer the mixture to a bowl to cool until you are ready to fill the cupcakes.
- Preheat oven to 325F and line a cupcake tin with liners.
- If you are using the instant coffee: in a small bowl, mix together the instant coffee granules and water until the granules are dissolved. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, dark cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a medium-sized bowl if using a handheld mixer, beat the butter and oil together until combined and completely homogeneous - this will only happen if the butter is completely at room temperature. About 2-3 minutes on high speed.
- With the mixer on low, stream in the granulated sugar, then turn it up to medium-high speed and beat until light and fluffy. About 1 minute, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
- Then, with the mixer on low, add the eggs in, one at a time, scraping down the sides and mixing well in between each addition. Add the vanilla extract and coffee mixture (if using) and mix on low until combined.
- Add half of the dry ingredients and mix on low until just combined. Add half of the milk and half of the yogurt and mix on low until just combined. Stop and scrape down the bottoms and sides of the bowl. Repeat this with the remaining halves of dry ingredients, milk and yogurt. Do not over mix!
- Fill the cupcake liners with batter so they are about ½ full. Bake the cupcakes for 18-21 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pan to cool completely.
Chocolate Mascarpone Frosting
- Note: this recipe yields A LOT of frosting, so if you don’t want as much frosting as pictured in the blog post, I suggest halving the recipe.
- While the cupcakes are cooling, make the mascarpone frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, beat the mascarpone and butter together on medium-high speed until combined, smooth and fluffy, and no more lumps exist.
- Add the vanilla extract, dark cocoa powder, one cup of the powdered sugar, and salt, and beat until combined - starting at low speed so the sugar doesn’t fly out of the bowl, then bumping it up to high speed. Continue to add one cup of powdered sugar add a time and repeat.
- If needed, add the milk then mix until combined. Once everything is combined, beat on medium speed for 2 minutes until fluffy. You may need to add more powdered sugar (to thicken) or more milk (to thin) depending on desired consistency.
- Once the cupcakes are completely cool, use the bottom of a piping tip (the opposite end of where the frosting would come out if you were piping) and press into the top of the cupcake and twist.
- Gently pull out the piping tip - you should have a perfect little hole where the cherry filling goes. Fill the hole you created with the cherry filling.
- If you do not have a piping tip, you can carefully cut a hole in the top of the cupcake with a sharp knife then follow the same instructions as above.
- Frost the cupcakes with the frosting. Drizzle more cherry filling on top if you have some left over. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Enjoy!
- Make sure to measure/weigh out the cherries AFTER they are pitted.
Tried this recipe? Make sure to rate and review and tag @sturbridgebakery on Instagram!