Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cherry Chip Cupcakes with Cherry Vanilla Buttercream

I've been craving cherry chip cake for almost nine years.

The first (and only) time I had cherry chip cake before this week was on Valentine's Day in 2003. I was in ninth grade.

One of the most popular classes available for ninth graders to take is Leadership. Its popularity can probably be attributed to the fact that it's the only class in which you get to practice valuable leadership skills do everything that's fun about school and very little actual work. Students in leadership get to do things like read the morning announcements, plan assemblies, and sell Otis Spunkmeyer cookies and one-button "espresso" drinks at the student store.

You know, real leader-y things.

My friend Sarah and I were in Leadership. But we didn't get to do everything that's fun about school. Ohhh no. Instead, we were chosen to work on a project called

The Digital Portfolio.

Those three words were a black cloud over our entire ninth grade year. Instead of making posters and coming up with ways to humiliate people in front of the entire school (which is apparently the purpose of most junior high assemblies), Sarah and I got to do a whole bunch of actual work. Things like typing and uploading pictures and talking to teachers during lunch.

By January, The Digital Portfolio had all but taken away our will to live. We needed to work on something else.

That something else turned out to be Valentine Grams.

Valentine Grams were a lot more fun than The Digital Portfolio. We got to spend fourth period calling flower shops and party stores. We got to sit in the lunchroom and take orders during the week leading up to Valentine's Day. We got to match up the construction paper hearts our classmates had filled out with the roses, carnations, balloons, and boxes of Sweethearts they had ordered.

It was a lot of work, but we didn't mind. We were finally getting to do everything that's fun about school.

Until Valentine's Day actually arrived.

And we realized that we hadn't asked anyone to help us pass out the hundreds of Valentine Grams, all of which had to be delivered during first period.

And we had to deal with seventh graders chasing us down, demanding to know why their secret crush didn't receive the carnation/balloon/disgusting chalk candy they ordered.

And we had balloons popping in our faces and thorny roses pricking us. All. day. long.

And we certainly weren't the recipients of any romantic Valentine's Day gestures we might have been hoping for, which is heartbreaking enough when you're fifteen. Even when you aren't spending your whole day delivering other people's valentines.

After that ridiculous day was finally over, Sarah came to my house. We ordered pizza and made cherry chip cake out of a box, topped with cherry chip frosting out of a can.

I can't speak for Sarah, but at that point it was just about the best cake I'd ever eaten.

Cherry Chip Cupcakes with Cherry Vanilla Buttercream
Adapted from Sprinkle Bakes

2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup maraschino cherry juice
2 teaspoons almond extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 & 1/4 cups granulated sugar
10 ounce jar maraschino cherries, finely chopped
4 egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks


1. Preheat oven to 340°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, salt, and baking powder. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the milk, cherry juice, and almond extract.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter for about one minute at medium speed. Add the sugar and mix about one minute more. Add the flour mixture and the liquid mixture alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix just until all ingredients are thoroughly combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.

4. In a small bowl, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of flour over the chopped cherries. Stir until the cherries are coated and have absorbed most of the flour. Stir the cherries into the batter.

5. Fold the beaten egg whites into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups; each cup should be about 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center cupcake comes out clean and the tops spring back when pressed gently. Cool completely before frosting.

Cherry Vanilla Buttercream

3/4 cup unsalted butter
3 & 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 & 1/2 tablespoons whole milk
1-2 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice, to taste


In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter for about one minute at medium speed. Add the powdered sugar and salt, and mix at low speed until the sugar is completely incorporated. Add the milk and cherry juice. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 1-2 minutes, or until light and fluffy.

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  1. The Valentines deliveries may have made for a rough day, but I am sure that you made a lot of people's day a little brighter with the delivery to them!
    Anyhow, I am glad to see just a plain cherry cupcake. We are always so busy mixing flavors and all. The singular flavor of cherries does sound delicious.

    PS-I made the marble cookies for the Wounded Warriors at Ft Hood Army base and they loved them. Keep your delicious posts coming!

    1. Thanks, Tina :) I'm so glad the cookies were a success!

  2. I have never drooled over any of your posts as much as this one. Those look amazing. Cherry chip and party chip are my favorite cake mixes in a box.

    Katie Glowicki

    1. Thanks, Katie! I think drooling is probably the highest compliment when it comes to food :)

  3. This recipe is so awesome! Thanks for the recipe.
    I can't wait to try it!

  4. I made these cupcakes just because. They are now on my go to list. My family loved them! I am making them for a wedding in July for certain!

  5. Well, I have to say that day started off pretty bad. I'm glad you and your friend tried to make it better by baking these cupcakes. My friend directed me here when I asked for birthday cake suggestions. I had no idea what a cherry chip cake was but they said it was amazing so now I am using this recipe for my own birthday cake. :)

  6. I hope I can make this look and taste 1/2 as good as these look!
    Thank you!

  7. I Want to Make this on this Valentine's Day.
    Cherry Chip Cupcakes with Cherry Vanilla Buttercream Sounds Stunning.
    Thanks for Sharing.