Black Forest Cupcakes

CupcakeBlackForest

These light-textured chocolate cupcakes, served with whipped cream and cherries, are really fun for guests. An added bonus is that you can make the cupcakes ahead of time and freeze them until you have company. Just thaw, top with whipped cream, garnish and serve! Ready to start thinking about Valentine’s Day?

Black Forest Cake Cupcakes

Makes about 24

Ingredients:

2 c. all-purpose flour

2/3 c. Dutch-process cocoa powder*

1 1/2 t. baking soda

1 t. salt

1 c. whole milk (or sour cream for a denser cupcake)

3 lg. eggs

2 t. cherry liqueur

1 c. unsalted butter, softened

1 c. granulated white sugar

1/2 c. light brown sugar, packed

1/2 c. dried cherries, finely chopped

2 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, plus extra for garnish

Sweetened whipped cream for topping

24 fresh dark sweet cherries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 12-muffin pans with muffin papers.**
  2. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into medium size bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, lightly beat together milk, eggs and cherry liqueur. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides of bowl.
  5. On low speed, beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture. Scrape sides. On medium speed, beat in 1/2 of wet ingredients. Scrape sides. Repeat, beating in 1/3 of  flour mixture, remaining 1/2 of wet ingredients, and then remaining 1/3 of flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl in between.
  6. Mix together chopped cherries and chocolate and then fold them into the cupcake batter.
  7. Divide batter equally between muffin cups. Cups should be about 3/4 full.
  8. Bake for 20 –  25 minutes or until no wet spots appear on muffin tops and muffins are firm to the touch. Do not overbake.
  9. Place muffin pans on baking racks for 15 minutes, then remove muffins, and place them on racks to finish cooling.
  10. To serve, top with whipped cream, grated chocolate and a fresh cherry.

Enjoy!

* If you need to, you can substitute natural cocoa, but Dutch-process has better flavor in this recipe.

** I use plain white papers for baking, then slip the muffins into decorative papers or foils for serving.

Chocolate Bourbon Pots de Creme With Orange Bourbon Cherries

I always need to get an early start on my Thanksgiving planning and preparations. In thinking about what desserts I might want to serve – a month from now – this is one that came to mind. Not only is it completely decadent, but it is also very easy to prepare … which is incredibly nice given all of the work that goes into the holidays. This dish requires only about 15 minutes of work, plus chilling time. The key to its success is the use of fine quality chocolate and bourbon.

ChocolateBourbonCoupe

Chocolate Bourbon Pots de Creme

makes 8 servings

Ingredients

• 14 oz. best quality bittersweet chocolate (finely chopped)

I used Ghirardelli Twilight Delight Intense Dark 72% Cacao bars.

• 2 lg. eggs (beaten)

• 3 T. really good bourbon

I used Woodford Reserve Bourbon.

• 1 1/3 c. half-and-half

• Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for garnish

• Orange Bourbon Cherries, for garnish (recipe below)

• Gold-colored decorator’s sugar, for garnish (optional)

Directions

1.Place chocolate, eggs and bourbon in the bowl of a large food processor.

2. Scald half-and-half.

3. While running the food processor, pour hot half-and-half through the feed tube. Process until perfectly smooth. (If you don’t have a food processor, beat ingredients in a large mixing bowl.)

4. Ladle into serving cups. Chill for at least three hours before serving. Cover with plastic wrap if making Pots de Creme more than a few hours in advance.

5. Meanwhile, prepare cherries.

6. Just before serving, whip cream. Garnish Pots de Creme with whipped cream, 3 cherries each, and decorator’s sugar.  (The sugar adds a little sparkle and also a little crunch.)

ChocolateBourbonPotsdeCreme1

Orange Bourbon Cherries

Ingredients

• 1 1/4 c. frozen dark sweet cherries (at least 24 cherries)

• 1/4 maple syrup

• zest from one mandarin orange (or a fragrant-skinned orange), about 1 T.

• 1/4 c. really good bourbon

I used Woodford Reserve Bourbon.

Directions

Place all of the ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan. Gently stir. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a clean glass jar. Refrigerate uncovered until cool, then tightly seal jar. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

ChocolateBourbonPotsdeCremeCherry

Enjoy! Happy Dining!

Old-Fashioned Cocktail and Brandied Cherries

Recently, several people have asked me to post another cocktail recipe. So, friends, if anyone is planning to host a cocktail party, here is a classic …

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Old-Fashioned Cocktail

• 1 cube of sugar

• 3 – 4 drops Angostura bitters (traditional in this cocktail) or Fee Brothers West Indian Orange Bitters (also very good)

• 1 – 2 brandied cherries

• 1 orange slice or lemon slice

• ice

• 2 oz. good bourbon (such as Woodford Reserve)

• 1 oz. cold water, optional

Place sugar cube in the bottom of an old-fashioned glass and then splash with bitters. Add 1 cherry and orange or lemon slice. Muddle ingredients together in bottom of glass.  Fill glass halfway with ice.  Add bourbon and, if a  lighter drink is desired, water.  Stir before serving to mix and chill drink and to make sure that sugar is dissolved. If desired, plop another cherry in the cocktail. Cheers!

Brandied Cherries

• 1 1/4 c. fresh cherries that have been washed and pitted (or frozen dark sweet cherries if fresh aren’t available)

• 1/4 c. granulated white sugar

• 1/4 c. water

• 1/2 t. fresh lemon or lime zest

• dash of ground cinnamon

• pinch of ground nutmeg

• pinch of ground cardamom

1/4 c. good brandy

Place all of the ingredients, except the brandy,  in a medium-sized saucepan. Gently stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 7 minutes or until liquid is thick and syrupy. Remove from heat. Stir in brandy. Transfer to a clean glass jar. Refrigerate uncovered until cool, then tightly seal jar. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Sweet Cherry Muffins

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Sweet Cherry Muffins

2 c. all purpose flour

1 c. granulated white sugar

1 T. baking powder

1/2 c. melted butter

1 c. buttermilk

2 lg. eggs

2 t. vanilla extract

2 c. dark sweet cherries, pitted and coarsely chopped (frozen ok)

cinnamon sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Prepare 10 1/2-cup ceramic ramekins with butter and flour or with baking spray;  or line 12 standard muffin cups with muffin papers, with butter and flour, or with baking spray.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and baking powder. Set aside.

3. Stir together butter, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla extract until well combined. Stir mixture into dry ingredients until dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Fold in cherries.

4. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups. Using the back of a spoon, shape tops of muffins into a slight mound. Sprinkle tops of muffins with cinnamon sugar.

5. If using ramekins, place ramekins on 2 baking sheets. Bake for about 15 – 20 min for 12 muffins or about 22 – 27 minutes for 10 muffins. Muffins should be firm to the touch when done.