These vegan black forest cupcakes are filled with a homemade kirsch-infused cherry compote and topped with the silkiest homemade vegan Swiss meringue buttercream which isn't overly sweet like some standard buttercream recipes.
Black forest cake has always been a favorite of mine (avid cherry lover here!). So naturally, I'm always thinking of ways to incorporate those flavors into desserts, like vegan black forest ice cream cake and vegan forest fruits chocolate tart.
What to expect from this recipe
- Tender and moist
- Fluffy and light
- Not overly sweet
- Easy to make
- Eggless and dairy-free
- Like black forest mini cakes!
- Great for special occasions (birthdays, Christmas and holidays, Valentine's, etc)
- I used raw cacao powder for this recipe. You can also use natural unsweetened cocoa powder. However, steer away from Dutch-processed cocoa powder for these particular cupcakes as this will interfere with the acidity levels of the recipe, yielding different results.
- I often get asked if different sugars can be used (ie coconut sugar). The thing is, sugars have different acidity and moisture levels which will affect the overall result of your cupcakes. Brown sugar adds moisture to these cupcakes.
- Baking soda is the leavening agent for these black forest cupcakes.
- Soy milk is mixed together with apple cider vinegar which creates a vegan alternative to buttermilk.
- Apple puree or unsweetened apple sauce is a binding agent and egg substitute often used in vegan baking.
- I love using olive oil in all my vegan chocolate cupcakes but you can also use an alternative neutral-tasting oil such as rapeseed or sunflower.
- Vanilla extract enhances the flavors and sweetness of vegan cupcakes.
- Sea salt also enhances the flavors of the other ingredients in the recipe.
- For this recipe, I use frozen as cherries aren't in season in Ireland right now. If using fresh cherries, you may need to slightly reduce the cooking time as they will have a lower moisture content than frozen cherries.
- Pure maple syrup is added to the cherry filling to enhance the sweetness of those cherries.
- Kirsch or Amaretto: You can also use brandy here, the flavor will be subtle as most of the alcohol will be cooked out during cooking.
- Cornflour: Or cornstarch if you're based in the US, is the thickener for the cherry filling.
You'll also need vegan butter, aquafaba, and caster sugar for the vegan Swiss meringue buttercream
How to make this recipe (with step-by-step images)
(Full ingredient quantities and instructions can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post)
Baking the cupcakes
They may look complicated but these cupcakes are actually pretty easy to make and come together in just a few steps. Firstly, you'll want to make your vegan "buttermilk" substitute by allowing the soya milk and apple cider vinegar to set for 10 minutes.
Secondly, add in your other wet ingredients (the apple puree, olive oil, and vanilla extract) mix, and set aside.
Now get all your dry ingredients into one bowl and give them a good stir (the flour, cacao powder, baking soda, soft brown sugar, and salt).
Next, pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and whisk until you have a uniform batter.
Divide the batter between twelve cupcake liners and bake, they'll be ready when you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean. You'll want to let the cupcakes chill completely before attempting to core or fill them.
Next remove the center of the cupcake with a cupcake corer, being cautious not to go all the way to the bottom of the cake. If you don't have a cupcake corer, don't worry! King Arthur Baking and Boston Girl Bakes share tips and tricks on how to core and fill your cupcakes with everyday kitchen tools.
Filling and topping the cupcakes
To make the cherry filling, first make a paste with the maple syrup, Kirsch or Amaretto, and cornflour - this will help prevent lumps of cornflour from forming in the coulis. I recommend cooking the frozen cherries very gently over low heat initially and as a result, speeding up the defrosting process before adding the paste to the saucepan. Then cook for 10 minutes and set the cherry filling aside to cool before filling the cupcakes.
Once you've made the vegan Swiss meringue buttercream, pipe it on top of the cupcakes and top with more cherry filling and chocolate shavings if desired.
These vegan black forest cupcakes are best served at room temperature. Alternatively, if you're keeping them for more than a couple of days, refrigerate them in an airtight container. They will last in the fridge for up to 5 days. I recommend taking your black forest cupcakes out of the fridge for at least 2-3 hours before serving. Bringing them to room temperature will help soften the buttercream, which stiffens when chilled.
- Nonalcoholic: To make these black forest cupcakes nonalcoholic, swap the alcohol for apple juice or water.
- Cherry pie filling: If you want to simplify this cupcake recipe even further, fill these vegan black forest cupcakes with cherry pie filling. Using the store-bought version will change the results but is ideal if you're trying to save time (and wash up!).
- Whipped cream frosting: These cupcakes would be just as amazing with some coconut whipped cream to top them off instead of the buttercream.
- Cream cheese frosting: Another option is to top your vegan black forest cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.
Accurately measure your flour
Measuring in grams using a weighing scale will always give you the most accurate results when baking. Most importantly, if you do measure in cups instead of grams, make sure it's by the “spoon and sweep method”. This particular method involves using a spoon to fill your measuring cup and then sweeping it to level it off.
A very common mistake in baking is to use a measuring cup to dive into a bag of flour. This usually results in too much flour as it compacts into the cup. You can read a full blog post on thespruceeats.com on how to measure flour.
More vegan black forest desserts
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star ★★★★★ rating in the recipe card below and consider leaving a comment as well, thanks!
- 1 cup (236 ml) soy milk
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) apple cider vinegar
- ⅓ cup (42 g) apple puree, or unsweetened apple sauce
- ⅓ cup (80 ml) olive oil, or neutral cooking oil
- 2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla extract
- 1 cup (125 g) plain flour
- ½ cup (43 g) cacao powder or natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¾ cup (165 g) soft brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon (4 g) baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon (1.5 g) sea salt
- 3 cups (410 g) frozen cherries, or pitted fresh cherries
- 4 tablespoons (60 ml) pure maple syrup
- 4 tablespoons (60 ml) Kirsch or Amaretto
- 1 tablespoon (8 g) cornflour, (cornstarch)
- Preheat your oven to 180°C (356°F). Line a 12-hole cupcake tin with 12 cupcake liners.
- To make the vegan "buttermilk" add the soy milk and apple cider vinegar to a small bowl, stir and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
- Add the apple puree, olive oil, and vanilla extract to the vegan buttermilk mixture, stir and set aside. Add the flour, cacao powder, soft brown sugar, baking soda, and salt to a separate bowl and whisk to make sure everything is evenly mixed. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk together until combined - do not over-mix.
- Distribute the batter amongst the cupcake liners and bake for 22-25 minutes. Check are done by piercing them with a toothpick or a knife, the knife should come out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool for about 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool further for 30-40 minutes.
- Whisk together the maple syrup, Amaretto/Kirsch, and cornstarch in a small bowl to form a paste.
- Add the frozen cherries to a saucepan and cook on low heat for a couple of minutes to slightly defrost the cherries until the juices start to flow out of them. Add in the cornflour paste and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before transferring to the fridge to chill for an hour.
- Meanwhile prepare the vegan Swiss meringue buttercream.
- Use a cupcake corer (or apple corer) to cut out centers in the cooled cupcakes, reserve the pieces that you remove. Fill each cupcake with cherry filling and place the reserved cuts back on top of each one.
- Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag fitted with an open star nozzle. Pipe the buttercream on top of each cupcake, top with more cherry filling and grated chocolate.
- These cupcakes are best served at room temperature. If you're keeping them for more than a couple of days, refrigerate them in an airtight container for up to 5 days. I recommend taking them out of the fridge for at least 2-3 hours to bring them to room temperature before serving. Especially if you’re topping them with vegan buttercream which stiffens up when chilled.
- Nutritional information is based on filled cupcakes without frosting.
- To make these black forest cupcakes nonalcoholic, swap the alcohol for apple juice or water.
- If you want to simplify this cupcake recipe even further you can fill these vegan black forest cupcakes with cherry pie filling.
- These cupcakes would be just as amazing with some coconut whipped cream to top them off instead of the buttercream.
- Another option is to top your vegan black forest cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.
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