Chocolate Cherry Swirl Cupcakes with Cherry Italian Meringue Buttercream

Chocolate Cherry Swirl Cupcakes with Cherry Buttercream
These cupcakes involve making a quick jam, but feel free to use purchased jam or preserves in lieu of making it yourself.

Quick Cherry Jam
2 c whole, pitted sweet cherries
1/2 c water
2 Tbls cornstarch
2 Tbls sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat. As the cherries cook, mash them with a fork and stir often with a rubber spatula. Cook until slightly reduced and thickened, about 10-15 minutes. Strain into another bowl, cover, and allow to cool to room temperature.


Chocolate Cherry Swirl Cupcakes
This makes 1 dozen cupcakes.

1/4 + 1/8 c (33 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 c (95 g) flour
3/4 c (150 g) sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 + 1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 + 1/8 tsp salt
1 eggs
1/4 + 1/8 c (90 ml) warm water
1/4 + 1/8 c (90 ml) buttermilk
2 Tbls safflower oil (I used canola)
1/2 tsp vanilla
Quick Cherry Jam

Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Line 1 cupcake tin with liners and set aside.

Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add egg, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to ensure batter is well mixed.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Drop 1/2 tsp Quick Cherry Jam into each cupcake and swirl with a toothpick. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

Makes 1 dozen.

Cherry Italian Meringue Buttercream For step-by-step directions for making Italian Meringue Buttercream, please click here!

1/8 c (35 ml) water
1/2 c (105 g) sugar
3 egg whites
1/8 c (25 g) sugar
1/2 c (120 g) butter, softened, cut into small pieces
1 tsp vanilla, more if desired
8-10 tsps juice from a jar of maraschino cherries

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer.

Heat the 1/2 c sugar and water on the stove to 245F stirring occasionally only after the sugar has been dissolved. When it is within the range of 230F to 235F, begin whipping the egg whites. When they get to soft peaks, begin adding the remaining 1/8 c sugar and continue whipping to medium peaks, being careful not to overbeat. When the syrup is the correct temperature, slowly pour it into the eggs with the mixer on high. After fully incorporated, beat the frosting 7-10 minutes until the outside of the bowl is room temp (I usually go a little longer than this; often times the bowl is not room temp when I begin adding butter. If the mix seems to soupy, put it in the fridge for a few moments or try briefly chilling some of the butter in the freezer before adding). Begin adding the butter, tablespoon by tablespoon, beating until fully incorporated. The frosting will deflate a little, but it's ok. Keep whipping until the frosting comes together and add the vanilla. Begin adding the juice from the jar of maraschino cherries in 2 tsp increments, whipping to combine. Stop when the frosting has achieved a nice pink hue and the flavor is noticeable. Be careful not to add too much or the frosting will break.

Assembly

Fill cooled cupcakes with remaining (cooled) jam. This can be done in two ways: The first method requires no special tools and is done by slicing a cone out of the top of each cupcake. Drop in some of the jam and replace the cap. The second method uses a pastry bag filled with the jam and a piping tip (you can use one for specifically for filling or even a plain round one, such as a #3). Simply poke the tip into the cupcake and squeeze in filling.

After the cupcakes are filled, frost generously with buttercream.

If desired, use a potato peeler to shave curls off a block of chocolate onto the tops of the cupcakes. Top with a fresh cherry.
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