The secret to the success of these cupcakes is to wear dark glasses, bang your hands around on the kitchen counter piano-fashion and sway wildly back and forth while singing the Stevie Wonder song. Okay that’s a lie, but it sounds like fun, right? Do it anyway.
The inspiration for these divinely yummy Chocolate Cherry Red-Wine Cupcakes (what’s not to love??) is a mysterious can of pitted black cherries which have been lurking around in the deepest darkest recesses of my grocery cupboard for months – does anyone know what they’re actually for? I hate to throw food away so I was very happy to come across a cupcake recipe calling for them. The result is a hybrid cupcake, somewhere between Ming’s Cupcake 26 and a recipe from The Artful Cupcake, with a few of my own tweaks added for good measure. (An observation: Canned cherries are a disappointment – they look like olives and taste like grapes. I might try the fancier kind in glass jars next time, not that it really matters with all the wine in these cupcakes).
This is a very sophisticated, grown-up cupcake so the best part is that it’s incredibly rich and sticky and squishy, and tends to stick all over your hands and face making one look very unsophisticated and not-grown-up. It’s not overwhelmingly wine-y until you bite into a boozy cherry… yum!
Truth be told I should have done a better job of decorating these; they don’t deserve to be ugly. They were supposed to have been topped with a pillowy blob of whipped cream, then the glace cherry… but I was feeling a little “delicate” after a night out and so incapable of cracking my eyes open wide enough to locate the cream. They tasted amazing anyway, and the plus side of an ugly cupcake is that people tend to avoid them – leaving more for you.
For 24 small (5cm diameter?) or 12 regular-sized Chocolate Cherry Red Wine Cupcakes:
1 cup Red Wine (I used Beyerskloof Pinotage)
3/4 cup drained canned cherries, roughly chopped into halves and quarters
1/4 cup butter
2 Tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup dark chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate bits)
1/4 cup cocoa
1 cup flour
1 rounded teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plain yoghurt
Fire up the cupcake-inator, or preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Use cupcake liners, as they are quite squishy and a challenge to dislodge when they’re done.
Simmer the cherries in the wine for 10 minutes, then remove 1/4 cup of the liquid to use later. Your kitchen will smell amazing. Try very hard not to pour the liquid into a glass and scrap the cupcake idea.
Add the butter, 3 tablespoons of sugar, chocolate and cocoa to the pot (off the heat) and stir until its all melted together. No creaming of butter and sugar, yay!
In a bowl, mix the flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking soda and salt together. In yet another bowl (all the dishes are worth it, promise) mix the egg and yoghurt together briefly – if it looks a little curdle-y, don’t worry. If you keep worrying, have a glass of Beyerskloof Pinotage. Add the cooled wine-y mixture and beat briefly. Add the flour mixture and stir it in briefly – hmmmm. Yum. Don’t eat it all just yet.
Using an ice-cream scoop, spoon the batter into the cupcake liners in the Cupcake-inator or muffin pan (up until 1/2cm below the top – they don’t rise much and will fall a bit too) and bake for 6 minutes or 25 minutes respectively. It will be impossible to evenly distribute the cherries – it’s a bit of pot-luck when handing them out. Obviously, don’t just scoop batter from the top of the bowl or only the last few cupcakes will have any cherries.
Put them on a cooling rack and continue to exercise restraint – don’t eat them yet, there’s one last yummy step that you must not forget. This takes them from being just cupcakes to being Capital C Cupcakes. Using a teaspoon, spoon the reserved cherry-steeping-wine mixture over each cupcake and watch it being absorbed into the rich chocolate yumminess. I haven’t bothered to photograph this part since they look exactly the same before and after (you have to eat a non-soaked one then a soaked one, as a form of sensory profiling) (purely for research purposes of course, and nothing to do with sheer gluttony).
When they’ve cooled completely, decorate them – preferably with a dollop of whipped cream, or possibly (on the kind of day when your eyeballs are stuck to the inside of your eyelids and the smell of water makes you feel close to expiry) just melt about 50g of dark chocolate until just, just melted, let it cool slightly, then whip in a blob of softened butter (is it rude to say that I think that this is the food-equivalent of Taye Diggs? Well I won’t say it out loud, just in case). Swirl it over the top of each cupcake and embed a halved glace cherry on top.
Now, sing it with me:
My Cherry Amour, lovely as a summer’s day
My Cherry Amour, distant as the Milky Way
My Cherry Amour, pretty little one that I adore
You’re the only cupcake my heart beats for
How I wish that you were mine
La la la la la la
La la la la la la
PS: When you are quite done singing with your sunglasses on and you have finished googling images of Taye Diggs, check out this interesting article about wet cherries – it makes me almost want to take back the nasty comment about canned cherries, considering how much effort goes into them. If you thought blow-drying hair is an effort, try an entire cherry farm…