Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes

Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes - These rich chocolate cupcakes are topped with a light meringue-based cherry buttercream. Get the recipe from SavorySimple.net.

Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes - These rich chocolate cupcakes are topped with a light meringue-based cherry buttercream. Get the recipe from SavorySimple.net.

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Does this old saying count if I’m fooled by two separate people at the same time? I learned some hard lessons about myself and about other people late last year and I’m still struggling to make sense of it all.

The internet is creating this detached universe where we nurture artificial long distance friendships instead of focusing on the ones right next door to us. It’s so easy for us to follow along with what’s happening in our social media feeds, aimlessly wishing virtual strangers “Happy Birthday!” instead of picking up the phone and calling our neighbors. I hate the phone and this new world has made my life much easier or at least I thought it had. It has allowed me to fall into this pathetic trap of false friendships. The internet allows people to paint whatever picture of themselves they want us to believe and why should we doubt them?

Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes - These rich chocolate cupcakes are topped with a light meringue-based cherry buttercream. Get the recipe from SavorySimple.net.

There are wonderful people all around me. I’ve made so many great friends in Baltimore and DC over the past several years. But because of my computer and my hermit tendencies, it really doesn’t matter whether someone is just down the road from me or across the country or even in Europe. I can spend the same amount of time online nurturing a relationship with them as I can with my friends just down the road. Instead of driving 10 minutes for coffee with an actual, real friend. Why do I do this? Why do so many of us do this? What are we gaining from these detached, fake relationships? I know they feel very real. And you know, I don’t mean to totally discredit every online friendship. I have met some truly wonderful people through modern technology who I probably would not have had the pleasure of knowing if I was living in a different era.

Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes - These rich chocolate cupcakes are topped with a light meringue-based cherry buttercream. Get the recipe from SavorySimple.net.

I’m still trying to figure it all out. All I know right now is that I’m tired of falling into the same traps and wasting my energy. It’s time for me to get offline and spend time in person with the people who really matter in my life. I will not be fooled again.

 

Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes - These rich chocolate cupcakes are topped with a light meringue-based cherry buttercream. Get the recipe from SavorySimple.net.

Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 24 cupcakes
Ingredients
for the cupcakes
  • 7 ounces (1½ cups) all purpose flour
  • 2 ounces (1/2 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1¼ cup buttermilk or half and half (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 9 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 16 ounces (2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
for the buttercream
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 6 egg whites
  • 16 ounces unsalted butter, cut into cubes & room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice, room temperature
  • 2 cups frozen pitted cherries, thawed (fresh pitted cherries work great as well)
Instructions
prepare the cupcakes:
  1. Line 2 large muffin tins with cupcake liners. Preheat the oven to 350°F and place oven racks in the upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Lightly spray each liner with baking spray (this is optional, but it will help prevent the cupcakes from sticking to the liners).
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup combine the buttermilk and vanilla extract.
  3. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed for several minutes. Scrape down the sides and the paddle. Add the eggs on low speed, one at a time, scraping down the sides all the way to the bottom of the bowl, until they’re completely incorporated.
  4. On medium-low speed, alternate between adding the dry and wet ingredients over the course of a minute, until the ingredients are just mixed evenly. Give the bowl one more scrape, all the way to the bottom, to make sure there are no patches of flour or butter. This step is very important. Turn the mixer back on medium speed for another 30 seconds to bring some structure to the batter.
  5. Evenly distribute the batter between the cupcake liners. They should each be around ¾ of the way full. Bake for 22 minutes, or until the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean with a toothpick. Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan.
prepare the buttercream:
  1. Add sugar and water to a medium sized sauce pot. Cover and turn the heat to high. Once the liquid begins to simmer and steam has developed, remove the cover (this helps prevent crystallization). Using a candy thermometer, cook the sugar to the soft boil stage, 235-240 degrees F.
  2. While the sugar is cooking, whisk the egg whites on high speed in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until a soft peak has formed.
  3. Turn the mixer speed down to medium low and very slowly pour the syrup down the side of the bowl into the egg whites. This will make the whites safe to consume. Don’t pour the hot syrup directly into the meringue or you’ll get scrambled eggs.
  4. Once the syrup is completely incorporated, turn the speed to high and allow the meringue to continue to form a stiff peak while cooling down. Mix on high until the meringue has reached room temperature. To speed up this 15-20 minute process, ice packs can be placed around the bowl.
  5. While the meringue is cooling, puree the cherries in a blender or food processor. If the cherries are still cold, microwave them briefly until they’re room temperature or lukewarm. Buttercream has a tendency to break when cold ingredients are added.
  6. When the meringue reaches room temperature, it’s time to add the butter. VERY SLOWLY, with the mixer on medium low speed, begin to add the pieces of chopped butter, allowing each piece of butter to incorporate before adding the next. It’s natural for the meringue to deflate slightly during this process. See notes on how to deal with a broken buttercream if you run into issues during this step.
  7. Once the butter is incorporated, add the orange juice. Next, begin adding the cherry puree, 2 tablespoons at a time, until it is all incorporated.
  8. To pipe the cupcakes, place the buttercream in a pastry bag with a decorative tip of choice. Pipe the buttercream evenly onto each cupcake and serve.
Notes
I've tested variations of these cupcakes with heavy cream, half & half and buttermilk. Each way will work so I recommend using what you have as opposed to making a special trip to the store.

If your buttercream breaks (it will look like cottage cheese), don't panic. This has happened to me so many times and it's actually very easy to fix. It just means that the butter is separating from the egg whites and needs to be brought back together. The best way to fix broken buttercream is to scoop 2-3 tablespoons of it into a small ramekin and microwave it for about 7-10 seconds. With the stand mixer running on high speed, add it back into the buttercream. Keep repeating this process until the buttercream comes back together. Works for me every time.
 

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  • I have gotten so bad at the phone too. Like I used to love to speak to people and now I have resorted to texting or avoiding calls when they come in right away. I seriously don’t know why and its with people I adore. But regardless, these cupcakes are everything! I love them so very very much!

    • I’ve always been bad with the phone. It might have been an excuse for not getting together back in the 80s but now there’s no reason I can’t email or text people about getting together for dinner or drinks! Thanks for the kind words :)

  • I agree that it is sometimes so easy to get lost in the internet that we forget about our real life relationships. I have to make a note to remind myself to call people reguarly. I also need to make a note to make these cupcakes. I love the combination of chocolate and cherry!

  • All the technology we have now makes life really complicated. I have to remember not only are these people not really my friends, but also when they say mean things that doesn’t mean anything either. They don’t really know me. I have found more and more that the real people I know are too caught up in technology to really take time for me anymore. So it’s really a lose-lose situation.

    However, these cupcakes are gorgeous. Italian buttercream like that is my favorite and pretty much the only kind of frosting I make anymore. When mine breaks and it always seems to, I put it in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes and then re-beat it. It always comes together.

    • It really is kind of a lose/lose in some ways. I’ll always be sensitive to mean crap (I have especially thin skin). While some of my friends aren’t as open to getting together as they once were, I have found plenty of people who are still open to hanging out. Especially when I suggest dinner. Food is the great equalizer :)

      I’ll have to try that refrigerator trick! That makes a lot of sense, I think it’s all a matter of getting the temperature of the butter and meringue in sync.

  • It’s hard to recognize these things in our lives, but it’s so wonderful you are creating a space to take those real life relationships back and put them on the front burner again. That’s a positive thing we should all strive for.
    And making for these cupcakes, too ;)

  • I so agree with what you’ve written in this post, Jennifer. It’s easy to spend more time on the internet texting and tweeting then meeting with friends in real life… after all, you don’t have to leave your house to use your phone. Spending face time (like, actual face time) with the people around us should always be priority.
    And these photos! These cupcakes! They’re insanely gorgeous.

  • I’ve asked myself so many of the same questions regarding the time I spend online. I owe some of my dearest friendships to blogging, but I never want it to be at the expense of those right beside me. It’s a puzzle I’m still trying to solve and a struggle. Unrelated/related: I love chocolate and cherry together, so I wish these cupcakes were beside me in real life too!

  • I hate the phone too, and it’s so true — it seems so hard to spend time in person with people. This is a good reminder, and I also want to pin these to remind myself to make these cupcakes! They’re absolutely gorgeous and look like they taste even better!

  • Such an important message. It’s a challenge to balance out real life friends with the demands of blogging. As much as I’d love to stay tucked in my cosy house, I always feel rejuvenated when meeting up with my girlfriends. I’m sorry about the betrayal you’ve experienced. I’d have a hard time shaking that off, too. But if someone presented me with a plate of your fabulous cupcakes, my mood would surely be lifted! xo

  • I love these cupcakes, the buttercream is so pretty! I hate the phone too and am totally guilty of hiding behind technology – I blame my introverted temperament but am also trying to be better about coming out of my shell. Easier said than done!

  • Jen, I’m sorry you were wronged by someone. . I do agree that we are living in a digital, device-driven world and I love the idea of putting my phone down and going to for coffee for conversation and friendship and community. . I do, also, however, cherish friendships I have online, most of which I have actually met in person and have seen once or twice in real life. Bloggers are interesting because, I don’t know about you, but I feel a certain connection with these people, some of whom I have never met. . but because they write and share their lives, like real stuff and struggles, I share in that and feel connected to them. Anyways, bottom line: get up off our butts and develop real relationships with people, people who are local and who we can see face to face. . I am embracing that now with new friends in my neighborhood and have been doing a monthly GNO. which, now being winter in Wisconsin, where you REALLY don’t see your neighbors at all b/c everyone is holed up in their houses, is huge! :)

  • We are one in the same person, I swear! It’s so easy to text or email to communicate, but it does make it hard to really get to know people. But…I DO know you (in real life! Whoohoo!) and know that you’re one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met! Oh…and you bake a pretty damn good cupcake! :)

  • You are so right about focusing on those around us. I will say that I’ve met a lot of people through my blog who are good friends but the ones next door always look out for me. I should make them some chocolate cherry cupcakes!

  • Oh, sorry to hear about those hurtful things. I hope you are on the “mend” now. On a lighter note, these cupcakes are so dreamy. Chocolate and cherry are two of my fave flavours.

  • Jennifer, this post made me sad but it also resonates. I’m so sorry that you’ve been hurt deeply – betrayal is an awful feeling and it’s hard not to lose faith. I do think that it’s worth it to stay open to people though even if it means being hurt multiple times in your life. I’m the worst, btw. I have a few very close friends and that seems to be all that I can handle. Internet relationships are easier because they remain pretty shallow, but shallow = not particularly satisfying. So many times relationships, parties, church services, etc. etc, feel terribly artificial to me and I end up BEING artificial in them. I’m rambling now and obviously don’t have any answers. But I’m empathetic. AND I like you, I think you’re really talented, and I’m glad your here.

    So about those cupcakes. Yum! And I believe we’ve already discussed what to do with any extra frosting. :) Have a great weekend Jennifer!

  • Beautiful cupcakes, Jen! I just adore everything cherry and chocolate. My friend, you are speaking my language. This post really hit home. I detest the phone as well–despite the fact that I am a chatterbox. When returning to blogging after being sick for 8 months, I decided to give myself a break from even social media to get my blog updated, reach out to friends and get some work done in the kitchen. I will be back to Twitter, etc. next week. With spring coming, I hope you will get out and enjoy those close friendships. Meanwhile, I think this whole conundrum has to do with our geeky-nerdy traits as food bloggers. We immerse ourselves in our work, and, by nature, we are driven in the aspects of food blogging that take up so much dang time. Only another food blogger can truly comprehend this. Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend!

  • I swear dealing with social media has become my least favourite thing. People say things they would never say to you in real life. It’s horrible. I’m more of real life gal. I’m always telling my son to spend more time developing real relationships with real people in real life. The internet is such BS, people pretend they are perfect and everything is such an illusion. It’s so sad. I’m all about being 100% myself, all of the time. I just cannot pretend in life, it’s not in me.

    I think about my parent’s generation, and even mine (I’m old, lol) where if you were friends with people you were friends for life. I still see two of my best friends from my childhood all the time. We all grew up on the same block, they ended up married and live two blocks from me. My brother’s best friend lives across the street from me, he bought a house on our childhood street just like I did. I think these days relationships are too disposable. Instead of working things out people treat others like they treat “things”, everything is replaceable. It’s sad. I’m friends with every old boyfriend, every childhood friend and most of my high school friends. I think I’ve had two people ditch my friendship in all my 46 years, both were in the last two years, and sadly both were bloggers. But then I think of the awesome friends I’ve made through the business and it makes me smile. Some of you gals are like family to me.

    I think you’re awesome. Anyone who would play with your heart is a fool.

    Plus you’re a kick ass cook who is going to rule the interwebs so hang in there. When I think of photo inspiration your blog is one that comes to mind repeatedly. When I think of bloggers who will end up with lasting, sustainable careers I think of you. So trust yourself. I heart you. xx

    • Kim, you are the best. I really appreciated our talk the other night, it helped me regain some perspective on everything. I find myself pulling further and further away from social media (and if it wasn’t for my stupid FB page I would just delete my personal account altogether). But I HAVE made some really wonderful friends like you and I guess in the end it has all been worth it. :)