Beat first 3 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until yellow disappears. Stir in vanilla extract and food coloring until blended.
Combine flour, cocoa, and salt. Add to shortening mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until blended. Spoon batter into greased and floured muffin pans, or line with lightly greased cupcake liners, filling two-thirds full.
Bake at 325° for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pans, and cool completely on a wire rack. Spread evenly with Chunky Cherry Icing.