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Home cooking: Chocolate cherry cupcake

July 16, 2013

Jessica Leiter, 28, grew up in the family business —Leiters Fine Catering in Williamsport.

“I got involved in the catering aspect when I was an early teen — helping out, learning the ropes. The past few years, I did staff scheduling. Then recently I began baking cakes.”

She said she prefers baking cupcakes more than anything. She entered two original recipes in The Herald-Mail’s 2013 Cupcake Contest. This one, for chocolate cherry cupcakes, advanced to the final round.

Leiter said she likes spending time with her family. That’s also the setting in which she learned to cook.

“I learned a lot of cooking technique from my father,” she said. “A lot of home-cooked meals I learned from my mom. And I learned baking from my grandmother.”

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Now living on her own with her boyfriend and two small dogs, Leiter enjoys baking for a hobby, but she also reads, does yoga and rides her bike.

For this recipe, Leiter thought she might start with chocolate and add another flavor. She got an idea from a suggestion of her father’s and a random bottle of flavored syrup she found in a kitchen cabinet. 

“Chocolate seems to be the flavor most people lean toward. I was jotting down ideas and talked to my father, and he suggested cherry,” she said. “Then I found (a bottle of Southern Black Cherry Mix) syrup and I experimented with that.”

— Chris Copley, Lifestyle assistant editor

Chocolate cherry cupcake

For the cake:

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (see cook’s note)

3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled

1/2 cup black cherry syrup (see cook’s note) 

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

6 ounce black cherry-flavored yogurt

For the filling:

1 tablespoon black cherry mix (see cook’s note) 

1 cup  Cool Whip

10 maraschino cherries, halved 

For the frosting (see cook’s note):

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 tablespoon vanilla paste (see cook’s note)

2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons black cherry mix (see cook’s note) 

20 maraschino cherries 

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place 20 cupcake liners in cupcake pans.

Beat butter and brown sugar until crumbly. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir in chocolate and 1/2 cup black cherry mix. In separate bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda. Add to chocolate mixture, alternating with black cherry yogurt. Mix until combined.

Fill cupcake liners with batter, and bake 17 to 20 minutes until done. Let cool. 

Once cool, take a cupcake corer and 1/2-inch-diameter core out the center. Slice off the top of the core, which will be replaced on top once cupcake is filled.

To make filling, stir 1 tablespoon black cherry mix into Cool Whip until blended. Place a teaspoon of filling into center of cupcake. Place a cherry half into filling. Place cake top to cover hole.

To make frosting, cream butter and vanilla until smooth. Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time. Beat until well mixed. Add 2 tablespoons black cherry mix 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Pipe onto cupcakes. Top with a cherry. 

Makes 20 cupcakes.

Cook’s note: Jessica Leiter says vanilla extract can be used instead of vanilla bean paste. Savannah Cinnamon and Cookie Co. makes a Southern Black Cherry Mix; substitute with any cherry-flavored syrup. Leiter said if you like a lot of frosting, double the frosting recipe.

— Jessica Leiter of Greencastle, Pa. Cake adapted from a recipe in “Taste of Home Baking.” Filling and frosting recipes are original.


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