This past weekend, I went to an Oktoberfest party at my friends Jen & Jason's house. While I don't particularly enjoy beer, I do love anything involving Germany or German culture (as I've said in the past), so I was excited to attend. The party did not disappoint, with authentic Oktoberfest fare of homemade pretzels, Würstl, roast pork, and sauerkraut, of course. We were all asked to bring either beer or dessert, so the obvious choice for me was dessert. Figuring that there would be a bounty of apple desserts, I decided to go with Scwarzwälder Kirschtorte, or Black Forest Cake, which isn't really associated with Oktoberfest at all, but is traditionally German. I'm absolutely horrific at making cakes. Plus, I don't have a cake carrier, so it would have been a great to-do to transport the cake. I decided to make Black Forest Cupcakes, which I will admit was a creation I thought up all on my own, without consulting any internet recipes, as per my usual course of action.
The traditional Scwarzwälder Kirschtorte is a chocolate layer cake with cherries and cherry liquor in between the layers and whipped cream as the frosting. I decided to use Trappist cherry preserves as a filling and omitted the cherry liquor completely, since I didn't feel like buying a bottle of cherry brandy that I would never use again. I used store-bought cake mix, because cake making is seriously something that I fail miserably at every time I attempt it. I used Duncan Hines Butter Recipe Fudge cake mix, which I ended up liking a lot. The cake was soft and dense and very moist.
I made a divet in each cupcake with a melon-baller, then filled them with the preserves. The preserves were a bit tart, which played in nicely with the sweetness of the cake and whipped cream.
For the whipped cream, I added sugar, 1/4 tsp almond extract, a splash of Mexican vanilla, and a couple spoonfuls of the preserves to give it a pinkish tint and added flavor, then whipped it into a frenzy. Whenever I make whipped cream, I always, always whip it until it's very stiff. I find that if you whip it until it's almost butter, it holds up much better.
I ended up using a pastry bag to pipe the whipped cream on the cupcakes, because it was easier than spreading it with a spoon. Plus, it just looks nice. Sometimes, I prefer the rustic look of just spreading with a spoon, but I felt that these needed a special touch. I didn't have any bakers chocolate to shave over the top, so I used semi-sweet cocoa powder that I sifted on the cupcakes as a garnish. I thought they turned out all right, and will probably make them again, because they were so easy. I have to admit, I did feel a bit ashamed of myself, because this is probably something that Sandra Lee would make, and I cannot stand her. I comforted myself with the rationalization that she would have dumped in cherry pie filling instead of delicious preserves, used about a gallon of cherry brandy, and used canned whipped cream, or Pillsbury canned frosting. Knowing that this is one recipe that she would embrace and destroy, I looked it up and found this. Much worse than I had originally suspected. I now feel a lot better about my creation. :o)