These Cherry Cola Cupcakes are a true show-stopper when it comes to desserts - they are moist, super chocolatey, filled with a jammy cherry compote, and topped with swirls of cream cheese frosting. Trust me when I say that it's hard to share these.
Here is a video to show you how to make cherry cola cupcakes.
About the recipe
Have you ever had a Coca-Cola Cake? Chances are if you live in AR, TN, MS, AL, GA, SC, LA, or maybe TX, you probably have. Unless you frequent Cracker Barrel or live in any other state, you have missed out on the confectionary experience that is Coca-Cola Cake. I have taken it upon myself to help you get experienced today (you can thank me later).
Coca-Cola Cake is a moist and deliciously fudgy cake made with, well, Coke. And chocolate. It has cola-chocolate-powdered sugar frosting that melts into the cake as it cools. This cake has made its way into many a home and stomach of true Southerners. There is the original recipe from Coca-Cola. Paula Deen has her version. Faith Hill has her version. Cracker Barrel makes their own. All of the recipe variations you will find over the vast amount of real estate that is the internet will vary slightly. But all involve some combination of Coke and chocolate.
The cherry cola cupcake was something I dreamed up back in 2014 - we had just moved to Nebraska and I found myself being inspired by all of the "Big Red" fan hysteria around us. So I wanted to make a sort of "big red" cupcake that Husker fans could serve at tailgates! I've always been a fan of Cherry Coca-Cola, fresh cherries were in season at the time, and I'm always up for a good chocolate cupcake. And thus, the Cherry Cola Cupcake was born on the blog!
- You can use any brand of cherry cola - but I've always used the Coca-Cola brand!
- Fresh or frozen cherries, like my favorite from the Northwest Cherry Growers, can be used in the filling. I prefer frozen, just so I don't have to do any cherry pitting! The key to making the filling work is to cook it down to a thick, jam-like consistency. This will make it easier to fill the center of the cupcakes and prevent them from becoming soggy.
- The cake mixture will more evenly and easily if your eggs and buttermilk are room temperature.
- I do not recommend making the cupcakes ahead and freezing them filled - you can make the cake part ahead, freeze, and then fill/frost the cupcakes once you are ready to thaw and serve them.
- Maraschino cherries can be used as an alternate garnish if fresh cherries aren't available!
If you are in search of more cakey goodness, check out my Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting, this Fresh Berry Flag Cake, or my Back Pocket Chocolate Fudge Cake!
If you get a chance to make these Cherry Cola Cupcakes, I’d love to know how it turns out for you. So leave a comment below! I’d also love to feature your creation in my monthly newsletter, so you can upload a photo to Instagram or Twitter with the tag @sweetcayenne5 to be featured!
Cherry Cola Cupcakes
For the cherry filling:
- 2 cups pitted and diced sweet cherries, or 2 cups frozen dark sweet cherries
- 1/4 cup cherry cola
- 1 tablespoon sugar
For the cupcakes:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 cup cherry cola
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 3 heaping tablespoons natural cocoa powder
- 2 large large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons half and half
- 3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 drops red food coloring gel
For the cherry filling:
- Place cherries, cola and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20-25 minutes or so until the mixture has thickened to a syrupy, jam-like consistency. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. While the cherry sauce simmers, prepare the cupcake batter.
For the cupcakes:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. Set aside.
- In the large bowl, stir together sugar, flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
- In a saucepan, bring cola, oil, butter, Cand cocoa to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, cook for one minute. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes. Pour the butter mixture into the flour mixture and mix with a wooden spoon for about a minute or until combined. Add eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla and stir for about a minute more.
- Scoop batter with a 1/3 cup measuring cup into prepared cupcake pan. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. While the cupcakes cool, prepare your frosting.
For the frosting:
- Place the softened butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer. With the paddle attachment, mix on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides occasionally until mixture is light and fluffy.
- Add the vanilla, half and half, and 3 cups of the sifted powdered sugar and mix on medium-high until all the sugar is incorporated and the frosting is light and fluffy. Add the additional cup of powdered sugar as needed to reach the desired consistency of a peanut-butter thickness.
- Cut a round hole about 1'' deep into the tops of your cupcakes using a pairing knife. Use a small spoon to fill the holes in the cupcakes with about 1 teaspoon of cherry filling. Pipe swirls of frosting onto cooled and filled cupcakes. Garnish cupcakes with a cherry and a red striped paper straw. I cut my straws into thirds to make them just the right length. Serve and enjoy!
Annnnnd just for fun, here is the old photo from 2014 that I took for the original Cherry Cola Cupcakes post!