I mean… I’m not mad at a cupcake. It’s just not my go-to or the first thing I think of when I want a treat. There are two exceptions when I feel the cupcake urge, and weirdly enough they both fall on holidays.
The first is a super chocolatey cupcake that my mother would bake around Halloween. Mom will say it’s a Devil’s Food Cake recipe that she has been making from scratch since “God was a boy”, and that it was handed down in her family from Mrs. William Penn (Yes, that Penn of Pennsylvania fame). I say it was a Duncan-Hines Devil’s Food Cake box mix. Regardless, that wasn’t the standout of the cupcake in my view. The standout was the CRUNCHY peanut-butter icing she would make to ice the cupcakes that I loved. That and the plastic Jack-o-Lantern cake pick decoration she always seemed to find to add to the cupcakes… and maybe one or two Candy Corn for good measure. I’ll make a reminder for myself to wamp these chocolate peanut butter cupcakes for you guys in October, but once again it’s about a certain cupcake during a certain holiday… this Valentine’s Day!
My Cherry Chip Cupcakes only come out around Valentine’s Day. I tried making this light, maraschino cherry studded, cupcake during Christmas one year and they just kind of sat there.
So now that Valentine’s Day is upon us, of course my “Oh that sounds good!” alarm went off and I had to knock these out. Now the pièce de résistance of this cupcake may be found in the icing as well. I top it off with a creamy mascarpone and vanilla bean butter cream icing that is light yet creamy with a subtle hint of vanilla. It truly is wonderful… almost like berries and fresh cream kind of wonderful!
Ingredients: Makes 24 standard size cupcakes
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
3 large eggs, room temp
12 ounce jar Maraschino cherries, drained and 3 tablespoons cherry juice reserved
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cup All Purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon cherry favoring
For the Vanilla Bean Mascarpone Buttercream
1 large whole vanilla bean
1 pound (16 ounces) mascarpone cheese, room temp
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
4 cups sifted Powdered Sugar
Split the vanilla bean down the center, and with the back of your paring knife, scrape out the vanilla bean caviar. Add to the mascarpone and butter. Cream the butter and cheese together until smooth. In small batches gradually add the sifted powdered sugar and mix until light and smooth. Cover and chill until ready to ice the cupcakes.
- Drain the maraschino cherries reserving the cherries and 3 tablespoons of the cherry syrup/juice separately. Lay the cherries out on a paper towel to absorb any excess syrup. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and fill a basic cupcake pan with your favorite cupcake cups/liners.
- Be sure to dry the cherries as well as possible. Reserve at least six of the whole cherries as you will use them for garnishing your cupcakes later. Finely, chop the remaining cherries... these are your “cherry chips”. Again, place them on a paper towel and press with more towels to absorb any excess liquid. Sprinkle the chopped cherries with a heaping 1/4 cup of flour and toss to coat. Measure out your buttermilk in a liquid measuring cup and add to that the 3 tablespoons of cherry syrup/juice, and the 1/2 teaspoon of cherry flavoring. Set aside.
- In your stand mixer with paddle attachment, or hand mixer with beaters, begin creaming the butter and sugar together until smooth and fluffy. One at a time add your eggs and mix in.
- In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients, the flour, soda, and salt. Mix together to combine. 1/4 cup at a time being to add the dry mixture in to the butter/egg mixture. Mix in completely then add a bit of the buttermilk/cherry juice and mix that in completely. Keep adding and mixing in gradually until off your wet and dry ingredient are full incorporated into the batter.
- Sprinkle in the flour coated cherry chips and gently fold in to the batter. Coating the cherries with flour first helps to prevent the cherry chips from sinking to the bottom of each cupcake, keeping them suspended throughout.
- Scoop out the batter with a…scoop…or whatever you have…but seriously go buy a scoop. Fill the cupcake cups to almost 3/4 full. Place in the center of your oven and bake approximately 20 minutes or until your cake tester comes out clean.
- While the cupcakes are out and cooling, remove the mascarpone icing from the fridge and let it “warm up” a bit before icing. Quarter your reserved whole cherries for garnishing. Once the cupcakes are cool enough to ice, simply pipe on with a piping bag and tip of choice, or spread on with a metal spatula. However it works for you… but seriously, you still need to go out and buy a metal scoop. Enjoy!