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~ Miniature Black-Bottom Black-Forest Cupcakes ~

PICT2697I love black-bottom cupcakes and have never eaten one I didn't like, but I do prefer the kind that use finely-chopped chocolate rather than chocolate chips.  When I was a kid, my mom used to make them all the time, and, back in the '60's, my mom's black-bottom cupcake recipe helped me to earn my Girl Scout cooking badge. My mom's black-bottom cupcake recipe is really delicious, but, it is also very similar to other published versions.  What I'm trying to say is:  I've never read a published recipe for a black-bottom cupcake that is different enough from hers or anyones for anyone to claim the title of "original", "best" or "ultimate" black-bottom cupcake!

PICT2706Fast forward to me being a grown up.  There was a period of time when my husband was doing business with a company in Germany.  They visited here, we visited there.  Black Forest cherry torte (referred to as Black Forest cake here in the US), when eaten in Germany, is decadent. It's several layers of chocolate cake, each separated with a layer of whipped cream, maraschino cherries and chocolate shavings. Traditionally, kirschwasser, a clear liquor distilled from tart cherries, is added to the cake.  Here in the United States, the torte is usually prepared without alcohol, but in Germany, statutes require the alcohol for the cake to legally be marketed as Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte!

A few years ago, more like 15-16 years ago (my how time flies) I was asked to bring a dessert to a casual, Friday evening, outdoor gathering. Joan is a wonderful cook, she and I walked 5-miles together every morning back then, and we almost always talked foodie.  She told me to bring anything I wanted, but asked that it be something like cookies or brownies, that didn't have to be portioned and served.  I had just made black-bottom cupcakes for a bake sale at my son's elementary school that week, so the recipe was fresh on my mind, but they seemed a bit too unsophisticated for Joan's patio.  Then it occurred to me: 

PICT2699Black-Bottom Goodness + Black-Forest Flavors = OMG!

PICT2700For the cream cheese filling:

1  pound cream cheese, at room temperature

1/3  cup sugar

1/4  teaspoon salt

2  large egg whites, at room temperature

2  tablespoons sour cream, at room temperature

1/4  cup finely chopped, Lindt bittersweet chocolate, about 1 3/4 ounces

1/4  cup finely chopped maraschino cherries, patted dry, about 16 cherries

PICT2698~ Step 1. In a medium mixing bowl, on medium speed of electric hand-held mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar and salt until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Adjust mixer speed to low and beat in the egg whites and sour cream.  

PICT2703Using a rubber spatula, fold in chocolate and cherries.  Set the filling mixture aside.

PICT2699For the cupcake batter:

1 1/2  cups all-purpose, unbleached flour

1/2  cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened, Dutch-process cocoa powder (Note:  There are two types of cocoa powder, natural and Dutch-process.  Dutch-process is natural cocoa powder that has been alkalized to remove its acidity and make it neutral, which deepens its flavor.  Many chocolate experts will recite:  use natural cocoa powder when using baking soda and Dutch-process when using baking powder.  The reality is, they are mostly interchangeable, and, Dutch-process simply put: tastes better.  I've been using Dutch-process with these baking soda cupcakes for years and am proud to report:  they bake perfectly and taste fabulous!)

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2  teaspoon salt

1 1/4  teaspoons baking soda

3/4  cup sour cream

1  cup water + 1/3 cup liquid from maraschino cherries

2  teaspoons kirschwasser liquor

1/2  cup salted butter (1 stick), melted and slightly cooled

PICT2700~ Step 1.  In a small bowl, melt the butter in the microwave and set aside to cool slightly.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, salt and baking soda.  Add the sour cream. In a 2-cup measuring container, stir together the water, maraschino cherry juice and kirschwasser, and add that to the bowl as well.



~ Step 2.  On lowest speed of hand-held electric mixer, gradually increasing mixer speed to high, beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula frequently.  This process will take about 1 minute.  Reduce mixer speed to low.  In a slow, thin stream, beat in the butter.  The cupcake batter will be shiny and smooth.

PICT2726 PICT2714Note: Transferring the batter to a 1-quart measuring container will make it easier to portion and pour, but a large squeeze-type bottle (as shown here), makes the process REALLY easy and virtually mess free! 

PICT2723~ Step 3.  Insert miniature-sized cupcake papers into miniature-sized pans.  This recipe makes 6 dozen miniature cupcakes.  

Note:  My pans hold 2 dozen each, and I'll be using 3 pans today. Feel free to bake in batches, alternating pans, but make sure the pans are cooled before filling them.

Add the batter first, filling each paper to 1/3 full (no more or cupcakes will bake up over the tops when baked).  Gently place 1/2 teaspoon of cream cheese topping on top of the batter, doing your best to keep it in the center (not touching the cupcake paper).

PICT2702~ Step 4.  Bake cupcakes, one pan at a time, on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven 12-13 minutes, or until a cake tester when inserted into the chocolate portion comes out clean.  Cupcakes will be puffed in the center, but the cream cheese filling will sink slightly as they cool.  Cool in pan for 4-5 minutes prior to transferring to cooling racks to cool completely:

PICT2704Miniature Black-Bottom Black-Forest Cupcakes:  Recipe yields 6-dozen miniature-sized cupcakes.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; hand-held electric mixer; rubber spatula; 2-cup measuring container; 1-quart measuring container or large squeeze-type bottle w/3/8" nozzle; miniature muffin/cupcake pans, enough for 6 dozen cupcakes; 6 dozen miniature-sized cupcake papers; teaspoon; cooling rack(s)

PICT2699Cook's Note:  To make black-bottom cupcakes without the Black-Forest flavor:  eliminate the maraschino cherries, making up the difference with an extra 1/4 cup of chopped chocolate; eliminate the cherry juice, using 1 1/3 cups of plain water, and; substitute pure vanilla extract for the kirchwasser!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012) 


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