Oh, Sweetness!

Between Valentine's Day and chilly weather that often has me wrapping myself in a blanket, February has me craving chocolate more than most other months (and I crave it then, too). In an effort to avoid grabbing all of the specialty chocolate candies from the discount bin, I often self-impose the following limit: I need to make those treats I indulge in. Simple enough, right? Just make giant pans of brownies and all's good. But what if there's a particular craving? What if you are a fan of brandy-kissed cherry cordials? Well, then it's time to think cupcakes:

After all, in the end, a cupcake can hold all the elements of a good cherry cordial — brandy-infused cherries, rich cherry syrup, and a rich swirl of dark chocolate — while adding a delightful wrapping of moist chocolate cake. Now, these amazing cupcakes do take a bit more time than a pan of brownies (at least, more hands-on time), but I'd argue that is time definitely well-spent when this is what's looking back at you at the end of your meal:

Now I opted to use brandy in the syrup, cherries, and ganache because I've got a sentimental spot for brandied cherries. However, if you're more a fan of a different liqueur, feel free to use that instead (or leave it out entirely). Living in Wisconsin, brandy is embraced in a way rarely seen in other parts of the United States. I'm sure there are other fruit options available as well, but I've got such a sweet spot for the combination of chocolate and cherries that I haven't spent a lick of time investigating those. If you happen to come across a good combination, please share your experiences in the comments below!

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cupcakes

For the Cupcakes:
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans cherries in heavy syrup
  • ½ cup brandy
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk
For the Chocolate Ganache:
  • 12 ounces dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons brandy

Combine the cherries in heavy syrup and brandy in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 15 minutes. Use a sieve to strain out the cherries. Reserve both the syrup and cherries for the cupcakes. This step can be completed up to 48 hours in advance.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

In another medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, and honey until well combined. Beat the eggs and milk into the butter mixture. Alternately fold the flour mixture and 2/3 cup of the cherry syrup into the wet ingredients. Fold in all of the brandied cherries.

Fill 24-28 cupcake liners approximately 2/3 full and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry. Cool the cupcakes completely on wire racks before frosting with the chocolate ganache.

To make the chocolate ganache, place the chocolate chips in a large bowl. Heat the heavy cream on medium high in the microwave or on the stove until it comes to a boil. Remove the cream from the heat and immediately pour it over the chocolate chips, add the brandy, and stir the mixture until it is completely mixed and glossy. Allow the ganache to completely cool and set up. When you are able to spoon the ganache without it slipping off the spoon, it is ready for piping onto the cupcakes.

  • Yields: 24-28 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes

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