Before you start screaming that I'm a month late and it's not cherry season anymore, just hear me out. Rather than juicy summer berries, these cupcakes get their tart cherry flavor from freeze-dried cherries folded into the frosting - available all year round! I picked up this freeze-dried berry frosting trick from my friend Maryanne (The Little Epicurean) - it's her smart way of infusing intense berry flavor into frosting without ending up with drippy soft icing that won't hold its shape.
So there you go - now you can have these Cherry Garcia cupcakes in the middle of September. Which is a good thing because there's absolutely no way I could hold onto this recipe until next July. That'd just be cruel. If you rush out now, you might even find a few end-of-the-season black cherries to plop on top for decoration.
Okay, now that we've moved past that hurdle, let's talk about the cupcake I want to eat for the rest of my life. The cupcake I want served at my funeral (someone please take note - there better be chocolate chip cupcakes at my funeral). This chocolate chip cupcake is the real deal - the star of the show, with the cherry cream cheese frosting as its trusty sidekick.
Imagine a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie in the form of a moist fluffy cupcake. A vanilla cupcake with a light crumb filled with pockets of melty chocolate chunks - all topped with a dollop of cherry cream cheese frosting to give it a refined tart flair.
On this episode of kids say the darndest things:
As most neighbors of food bloggers will probably confirm, they get a constant stream of homemade desserts to sample. More like: I pawn off sweets on my next-door neighbors to keep myself from hiding one cupcake after another in my bottomless dessert belly. There's a house for sale on our corner - they really should list "free desserts" as a selling point.
When the three-year old answers the door, my plate of dessert is always met with wide eyes and bright smiles as she quietly asks what I've brought and why, pretending she's oh-so shy. Don't let that coy smile fool you though - she once uttered the words, "Mom, I'm shy" before fearlessly insisting I join her for a dance party in her room.
While Lucas and his coworkers went ga-ga for the chocolate chip & tart cherry union, this pint-sized "shy" budding food critic stopped by a week after I'd brought over a half-dozen of these Cherry Garcia cupcakes to very matter-of-factly announce "usually I like the frosting best, but I did NOT like this frosting." Noted.
This is a cupcake for grown-up taste buds - it will probably go over about as well as coconut-covered carrot cake at a child's birthday party.
GOOD NEWS: MORE CUPCAKES FOR ME!
Chocolate chip cupcakes
- ⅓ cup white rice flour
- ⅓ cup oat flour
- ⅓ cup millet flour
- ¼ cup sweet rice flour
- ¼ cup tapioca starch
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1-½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- ½ cup whole milk
- 6 tablespoons dark chocolate chips, chopped
Cherry cream cheese frosting
- 4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 6 tablespoons ground freeze-dried cherries, sifted
- 1-½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the rice flour, oat flour, millet flour, sweet rice flour, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar over medium speed.
- With the mixer on low-speed, add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each one.
- Add the vanilla extract, mixing until just combined.
- Keeping the speed on low, slowly add the dry ingredients in two batches, adding the milk in between, mixing until just combined.
- Fold in the chopped chocolate chips until evenly distributed throughout.
- Divide the batter among 12 lined cupcake cups, until about ¾ full.
- Bake for about 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs.
- While the cupcakes bake, prepare the frosting.
- Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool.
- Once the cupcakes are cool, pipe cherry frosting on top and serve.
Cherry cream cheese frosting
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter over medium speed.
- Add the cream cheese and whip until combined.
- Add the powdered sugar, in thirds, mixing on slow speed until combined.
- Add the vanilla and ground freeze-dried cherries, and beat on medium speed until smooth.
- Transfer to a pastry bag to pipe onto cupcakes, or spread directly on cupcakes with a knife.