These are very easy, very good—somehow light and dense at the same time—and I love their dark, glossy elegance. When I made them for the cake sale at my daughter’s school fair, they sold, even at more than a dollar a piece, quicker than anything else. Still, if the cost considerations include time, then this probably counts as a cheap undertaking.
The jam I use for these is a morello cherry preserve; if you’re using a less elegant, and probably sweeter confection, reduce the sugar in the cakes a little. And if you have any Kirsch about the place, then add a splash to the batter and icing.
Yield: Makes 12
for the cupcakes:
½ cup soft unsalted butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1 1/3 cups morello cherry jam
½ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup self-rising cake flour
12-cup muffin pan and paper baking cups
for the icing:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
12 natural-colored glacé cherries
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Put the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan on the heat to melt. When nearly completely melted, stir in the chocolate. Leave for a moment to begin softening, then take the pan off the heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the butter and chocolate are smooth and melted. Now add the cherry jam, sugar, salt, and eggs. Stir with a wooden spoon and when all is pretty well amalgamated stir in the flour.
Scrape and pour into the muffin baking cups in their pan and bake for 25 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out.
When the cupcakes are cool, break the chocolate for the icing into little pieces and add them to the cream in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, remove from the heat, and then whisk—by hand or electrically—till thick and smooth. Ice the cupcakes, smoothing the tops with the back of a spoon, and stand a cherry in the center of each.