First Kiss Cupcakes

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Jan Gautro

As sweet as love's first kiss, our chocolate and cherry cupcake is special. One bite and you'll fall in love, all with a cherry on top!

Yield: 24 cupcakes
Recipe from Southern Living Big Book of Cupcakes

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Ingredients

  • Chocolate Cake:
  • 1 cup Dutch process cocoa
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups superfine sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose soft-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chocolate extract
  • Paper baking cups
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 24 milk chocolate kisses
  • Cherry Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons cherry jam or maraschino cherry juice
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar
  • Toppings:
  • 24 red maraschino cherries (with stems)
  • Chocolate Ganache:
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cocoa and 2 cups boiling water in a large heatproof bowl, stirring until blended and smooth; cool completely. Beat butter with a mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; add to butter mixture alternately with cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in chocolate extract.
  2. Place paper baking cups in 2 (12-cup) muffin pans, and coat with cooking spray; spoon batter into cups, filling two-thirds full. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Do not cool.
  3. While cupcakes are still warm, press 1 chocolate kiss into the center of each. Let cool completely.
  4. To prepare cherry frosting, beat first 5 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended. Beat at high speed 2 minutes or until creamy. Makes 3 cups.
  5. Frost each cupcake with Cherry Frosting using metal tip no. 2D.
  6. To prepare ganache, cook cream in a heavy nonaluminum saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, just until it begins to steam (do not boil); remove from heat. Place chocolate in a glass bowl. Slowly add hot cream to chocolate, beating with a whisk until chocolate melts and mixture is well blended. The mixture will thicken as it cools. Makes about 2 cups.
  7. Dip cherries in Chocolate Ganache, and place 1 on top of each cupcake.
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