Chocolate- Cherry Cupcakes

Cover recipe- Better Homes and Gardens, Chocolate- Cherry Cupcakes: February 2010

I wasn’t really drawn to the cover of this Better Homes and Gardens magazine so much.  Plain little chocolate cupcakes with X’s & O’s on top.  Not very exciting, I thought.  There is, however,  a most gorgeous Chocolate- Cherry Stack Cake within the magazine… layers of chocolate cake divided by layers of cherry frosting and topped with chocolate-covered cherries.  That photograph would have made for a more beautiful, droolworthy cover.

The article title for this section of sweets is, “Sweet Comebacks- Rediscover malted milk, meringue, marschino cherries and other bake-shop favorites in these easy desserts.”  BHG refers to the “cover recipe” as Chocolate Cherry Stack Cake, even though the actual cover displays cupcakes with no cherry in them at all.  As the reader, your job is to figure out that they used the cake recipe but topped it with chocolate frosting.  Choosing to go the festive Valentine’s Day route, I made the chocolate cupcakes with the cherry frosting and dipped cherries.  Plus, I didn’t have any alphabet cookie cutters lying around so that wasn’t an appealing choice for me.  Read my notes below to see what I thought of these Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes.

Print Print Recipe

Chocolate- Cherry Cupcakes

Yield: 16 cupcakes

Prep Time: 40 min

Cook Time: 20 min


3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream

8 ounces sour cream
1 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. maraschino cherry juice

TOPPING (optional):
16 whole maraschino cherries, with stems
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1 tsp shortening


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line sixteen 2 1/2-inch muffin cups with paper baking cups.
2.  In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; set aside.
3.  In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter on medium to high for 30 seconds. Add sugar; beat until smooth and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth. Beat in sour cream and flour mixture. Fill each cup with two slightly rounded Tablespoons of cake batter.
4.  Bake 18 minutes or until top springs back. Cool completely on wire rack.
5.  Prepare cherries (if using): Drain cherries, keeping stems attached; pat dry with paper towels. In small microwave-safe bowl combine chocolate and shortening. Cook on 50% power 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until melted, stirring once. Dip cherries in chocolate; place on waxed paper until set. Store, covered, up to 24 hours.
6.  Prepare frosting: In a large mixing bowl combine alll frosting ingredients. Beat on medium-high until fluffy.
7.  Ice cupcakes- spread onto cupcakes. Top with a chocolate covered cherry. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.


*The recipe makes far too much frosting (because the recipe is actually for a full-sized cherry stack cake and not for cupcakes).
*The dipped cherries are a cute idea.  I wasn't thinking about stems when I purchased my jar of maraschino cherries, and was disappointed to find that my cherries didn't have stems.  I made do without them but clearly they would have been cuter with the stems attached.  Of course, they'd be much better with fresh cherries.

  Better Homes and Gardens, February 2010

The results:

The cupcake recipe is an easy one.  It turned out moist.  The tops were flat, which is good for frosting. I did not like the added cinnamon in the recipe at all.  Normally, chocolate and cinnamon can work quite well together, but I didn’t like the cinnamon competing with the flavor of the cherry frosting.  I’d leave the cinnamon out next time. The frosting is a whipped cream/sour cream sort of creamy frosting.  It’s not good for piping- just a spoonful spread on top.  It was delicious. 

Did this recipe deserve the cover spotlight?

I have mixed feelings because the cupcakes were good, but I preferred the way my cupcakes turned out instead of how they chose to prepare them and photograph them.  To me, the cherry frosting just looks more festive & appropriate for Valentine’s Day.  The print on the cover of the magazine says, “Made With Love,” so perhaps they liked the X’s and the O’s to go with their title.  The Chocolate-Cherry Stack Cake pictured within the magazine would have been a far more enticing photograph than their chosen cupcake cover.

Lori is the founder of She's a professional recipe developer and food writer, and she's the author of The Recipe Girl Cookbook (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: April 2013). Beyond food, Lori enjoys traveling, being outdoors, running, and maybe even singing a little karaoke. The mountains near Lake Tahoe are home for Lori and her husband of 18 years. They have an 12 year-old son who blogs at

12 Responses to “Chocolate- Cherry Cupcakes”

  1. 1

    Michelle — February 11, 2010 @ 7:11 am

    Oh, your cupcakes and photo is so much better than what was on the cover of the magazine! I love the dipped cherries on top. I wish I could reach through my screen and try one. Nice job!

  2. 2

    Laura — February 11, 2010 @ 9:18 am

    I totally like your cupcakes more. I like the look of the pink frosting and the chocolate dipped cherries. I also like the cupcake liners you used better. The white/red one on the outside really pops the other colors. Beautiful! Saving this recipe for next year.

  3. 3

    Scorpio Woman — February 11, 2010 @ 9:54 am

    These cupcakes are beautiful. And I’m sure they’re yummy :)

  4. 4

    Sophie — February 11, 2010 @ 10:59 am

    Waw,…Lori!! These cupcakes look fabulous & so tasty!

    the pictures look truly appetizing!

  5. 5

    Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — February 13, 2010 @ 11:17 pm

    Sounds like a tasty recipe. As much as I enjoy cupcakes, there’s just something about a layered cake that makes me want to dig in. Great review!

  6. 6

    grace — February 14, 2010 @ 3:39 am

    “I’d leave the cinnamon out next time.”

    it always pains me to see that, but i suppose your rationale makes sense. :) the poofs of fluffy pink frosting look so yummy and your dipped maraschinos are perfect perched atop it. great review, lori. :)

  7. 7

    Louise — February 17, 2010 @ 7:16 am

    Don’t they look lovely, Lori. I think I would leave out the cinnamon in this case too. I’d love to “pluck” one of those bites of deliciousness right NOW!!! Thanks for sharing…

  8. 8

    Lynda — July 15, 2012 @ 6:09 pm

    Very disappointing. The frosting never stiffened and was a soupy mess. I added powdered sugar and to no avail. Adding the tip to have bowl and mixer chilled would have been nice.

    • Lori Lange replied: — July 15th, 2012 @ 7:09 pm

      The recipe was re-printed exactly the way it was originally printed in the magazine, which did not include chilled bowl/beaters. Did you use full fat sour cream?

  9. 9

    Lynda — July 15, 2012 @ 6:53 pm

    Also, apparently the ingredient list should specify “heavy” whipping cream, as whipping cream will not stiffen…..THANKS FOR THAT WASTE OF TIME!!

  10. 10

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