These black forest cupcakes are homemade chocolate cakes filled with cherries, then topped with a cherry buttercream frosting. An impressive and elegant dessert offering!

When I’m celebrating a special occasion, I love to offer beautiful and delicious dessert recipes such as a Nutella cake, heart cake, berry chantilly cake, red velvet brownies and these decadent chocolate cherry cupcakes.

Black forest cupcakes on a serving plate topped with fresh cherries.

I love the flavors of black forest cake, but I don’t always have the time to put together a fancy layer cake. That’s where these black forest cupcakes come in – they have the same great flavor combination of chocolate and cherry, but they’re also easy to make!

Black Forest Cupcakes Ingredients

Bowls of ingredients including butter, flour, sugar, cocoa and cherry jam.

To make this recipe, you will need boiling water, instant coffee, vegetable oil, buttermilk, Dutch process cocoa powder, all purpose flour, eggs, vanilla extract, baking powder, baking soda, salt, granulated sugar, butter, cherry pie filling, powdered sugar, cherry jam or preserves, cream and fresh cherries.

How Do You Make Black Forest Cupcakes?

Start by preheating the oven and placing paper cupcake liners into a muffin pan. For the cupcake batter, whisk together the boiling water, coffee and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, vegetable oil, eggs, granulated sugar and vanilla extract. Add the chocolate mixture to the bowl of wet ingredients, then place a sieve over the bowl. Sift in the dry ingredients of flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix the batter until everything is just combined, then divide the batter into the cups of the muffin tin. Be sure not to over stir the batter or the cupcakes could come out tough! Bake until the cupcakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the cupcake pan and let them cool.

Chocolate cake batter being made and poured into muffin tins.

While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the frosting. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat until fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating until you have a smooth mixture. Next, mix in the cherry jam. Add the cream and almond extract, and beat until you have a fluffy frosting. Place the frosting in a piping bag fitted with a large open star tip.

Cherry buttercream frosting being prepared and piped onto cupcakes.

Press the larger side of a piping tip into the center of each cupcake to cut a hole in the middle. Fill the hole with cherry filling. Cut a slice off of each cupcake core that you removed, and use the slice to plug the hole in the top of the cupcake. Pipe the frosting onto each cake. Add a drizzle of cherry syrup from your pie filling. Garnish each cupcake with a fresh cherry, then serve.

Tips For The Perfect Cupcakes

  • Black forest cupcakes will stay fresh in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Let them stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving if they’re cold from the fridge.
  • Most varieties of cherry jam and cherry preserves contain pieces of fruit, which means your frosting will not be completely smooth. If you prefer an ultra smooth frosting, you can strain the pieces of fruit out of the jam before you add it to the sugar and butter.
  • If fresh cherries are not in season near you, feel free to garnish the cupcakes with a cherry from the cherry pie filling can, a maraschino cherry, a jarred Italian amarena cherry or a luxardo cherry.
  • You can use homemade cherry pie filling, or a can of store bought filling.
  • I find it easiest to cut a core out of the center of each cake with the large round end of a piping tip. You can also purchase a cupcake corer kitchen tool, or simply use a paring knife.

Quick Tip

This recipe calls for Dutch process cocoa powder. Dutch process cocoa is available in most grocery stores and has a smoother, richer flavor than regular cocoa powder.

Two black forest cupcakes, one cut open with cherry filling coming from the middle.

Recipe FAQs

What is a black forest cake made of?

Black forest cake is chocolate cake layered with a cherry filling and whipped cream or buttercream frosting. It may also contain cherry liqueur, and it typically decorated with cherries or chocolate shavings.

What is the difference between chocolate cake and black forest cake?

Chocolate cake and black forest cake typically both contain the same basic ingredients such as flour, sugar, oil or butter, eggs and cocoa powder. Chocolate cake is typically finished with chocolate frosting, where black forest cake uses a vanilla frosting or whipped cream, as well as cherries.

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A chocolate cherry cupcake on a pedestal.

Flavor Variations

These cupcakes are delicious as written, but you can easily customize the recipe to suit your tastes.

  • Frosting: Traditional black forest cakes typically contain whipped cream frosting. I love the extra richness that the buttercream adds to these cupcakes, but you can pipe on sweetened whipped cream if you prefer. Place 2 cups of heavy whipping cream, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip until stiff peaks form. At this point you can use the whipped cream as-is, or fold in the cherry jam before you pipe the cupcakes.
  • Garnishes: You can add extra garnishes to the top of your cupcakes. Some great options include chocolate shavings or mini chocolate chips. You can also swap out the cherry syrup for a drizzle of fudge sauce or chocolate ganache.
  • Filling: You can mix 1 tablespoon of cherry liqueur such as kirsch into the cherry pie filling.

This black forest cupcake recipe is one of my all time favorite desserts. The combination of cherry and chocolate flavors is a classic for good reason!

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5 from 37 votes

Black Forest Cupcakes

AuthorSara Welch
Black forest cupcakes on a serving plate topped with fresh cherries.
These black forest cupcakes feature homemade chocolate cupcakes filled with cherries, then topped with cherry buttercream and a fresh cherry. An easy and elegant dessert option!
Time
Prep Time35 minutes
Cook Time18 minutes
Total Time53 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Serves 12

Ingredients 

For the cake

  • ½ cup boiling water
  • ½ cup Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For the filling

  • ¾ cup cherry pie filling

For the frosting

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter softened
  • cups powdered sugar sifted
  • cup cherry jam or preserves
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract

For garnish

  • ¼ cup cherry syrup from can of cherry pie filling
  • 12 fresh cherries

Instructions 

For the cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with 12 paper liners.
  • Place the boiling water, cocoa powder and instant coffee in a small bowl. Whisk thoroughly to combine until smooth, then set aside to cool.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add the vegetable oil, eggs, buttermilk, granulated sugar and vanilla extract. Whisk for 2-3 minutes until the mixture is well combined.
  • Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the large bowl, and whisk again until fully incorporated.
  • Set a sieve over the mixing bowl, and sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Use a spatula to gently fold the ingredients together, being careful not to overmix. The batter will be runny with a few lumps.
  • Divide the cake batter between the 12 muffin cups, each cup should be about ¾ full.
  • Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • The cupcakes will have risen slightly over the edges of the liners and should feel springy to the touch. Set aside to completely cool.

For the frosting

  • Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer that has a paddle attachment on it. Beat the butter for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Gradually add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until you have a smooth, thick mixture.
  • Add the cherry jam, then mix on low speed to combine.
  • Slowly add the cream and almond extract. Turn the mixer to high speed and beat for 2-3 minutes or until the buttercream is light and fluffy.
  • Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with an open star tip.

For the filling

  • Use the large side of a piping tip to cut a core out of the center of each cupcake.
  • Fill each cupcake hole with cherry pie filling. You should be able to fit 2-3 cherries in each along with some syrup.
  • Slice a ½ inch off the top of each piece of cake core, and use the cut cores to plug the opening of each cupcake.
  • Pipe swirls of cherry buttercream on top of each cupcake and drizzle over some leftover syrup from the can of cherry pie filling. For a final garnish, top each cupcake with a fresh cherry.

Notes

  1. Black forest cupcakes will stay fresh in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  2. Most varieties of cherry jam and cherry preserves contain pieces of fruit, which means your frosting will not be completely smooth. If you prefer an ultra smooth frosting, you can strain the pieces of fruit out of the jam before you add it to the sugar and butter.
  3. If fresh cherries are not in season near you, feel free to garnish the cupcakes with a cherry from the cherry pie filling can, a maraschino cherry, a jarred Italian amarena cherry or a luxardo cherry.
  4. I find it easiest to cut a core out of the center of each cake with the large round end of a piping tip. You can also purchase a cupcake corer kitchen tool, or simply use a paring knife.

Nutrition

Calories: 429kcal | Carbohydrates: 75g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 67mg | Sodium: 172mg | Potassium: 137mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 60g | Vitamin A: 502IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 1mg

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  1. 5 stars
    Black forest might be one of my favorite flavors ever, so you know that I am going to be all over these cupcakes! Thank you so much for sharing!!

  2. I love your “tip” to use the piping tip to cut a little core out of the cupcakes, that’s brilliant. This looks like an amazing dessert!