Recipe: Black Forest Cupcakes

updated Jan 21, 2020
Black Forest Cupcakes
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(Image credit: Christine Han)

Modeled after the classic German Black Forest layer cake, these chocolate cupcakes deliver a spongy cake stuffed with a sweet cherry filling, a light and fluffy whipped cream topping, and the requisite shower of shaved chocolate. If you were looking for a new take on chocolate cupcakes, this is it.

Make This a Two-Step Affair

Like layer cakes, these filled cupcakes are best made over the course of two days. While not terribly labor-intensive, this dessert requires time, although most of it is hands-off time while you wait for the cupcakes bake and cool. I recommend reserving the first day for baking and thoroughly cooling the chocolate cupcakes, then saving the filling, frosting, and assembly for a second day.

We can’t think of a better baking project for this Oktoberfest.

Black Forest Cupcakes

Makes 12

Nutritional Info


For the cupcakes:

  • Cooking spray or paper liners

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 3/4 cup

    plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup

    unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    fine salt

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1/2 cup

    whole milk

  • 1/4 cup

    vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup

    boiling water

For the frosting:

  • 2 cups

    heavy cream

  • 1/2 cup

    powdered sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1 tablespoon

    kirsch (optional)

  • 1 cup

    canned cherry pie filling

  • 12

    fresh cherries, pitted

  • 2 ounces

    good-quality dark chocolate, shaved


  1. Make the cupcakes: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Coat the wells of a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper liners.

  2. Whisk the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl. Add the egg, milk, oil and vanilla, then beat with the stand or hand mixer on medium speed until well-combined, about 2 minutes. Beat in the boiling water. The batter will be quite thin. Divide the batter evenly between the wells in the pan, filling each no more than 3/4 full.

  3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool the cupcakes in the tin for about 5 minutes, then transfer the cupcakes to a cooling rack to cool completely.

  4. Make the frosting: Meanwhile, place the cream in a clean, large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the cream with the stand or a hand mixer on high speed until soft peaks develop, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar, vanilla, and kirsch if using and continue beating until stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes more. Place the whipped cream in the refrigerator until you're ready to assemble the cupcakes.

  5. Assemble the cupcakes: Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, use a paring knife to slice into the top of each cupcake, cutting a cone about 1 1/2 inches in diameter out of the center, without cutting through the bottom of the cupcake. Spoon the cherry pie filling into the center of each cupcake.

  6. Transfer the whipped cream to a pastry bag fitted with a round tip and pipe onto the cupcakes. Top each cupcake with a fresh cherry and chocolate shavings.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The cupcakes can be baked 1 day in advance before assembly. Store on a plate wrapped with plastic wrap or aluminum foil at room temperature.

Storage: Store the assembled cupcakes uncovered on a plate in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.