Confession: I don't like Coca-Cola. I don't like Diet Coke. I didn't care for Coke Zero, Coke with Lime (though it's been the most enjoyable one), Coke with Lemon, and I really didn't like Coke with Vanilla. On top of all that, I don't like Cherry Coke, either.
There's a happy ending, though: I loved these Coca-Cola-containing cupcakes.
I can't really pinpoint why I dislike Coca-Cola. Perhaps I've always just been a loyal Dr. Pepper drinker, though it's had its own failures too.
Regardless of my seemingly random and irrational preferences, there's no way to dislike these cupcakes. Chocolate cake with a very subtle hint of something different (hint: it's the so-dee pop!) is stuffed with boozed-up cherry pie filling (if that's the way you want to go with it, of course--liqueur is always optional) and topped with a lightly cherry-flavored buttercream frosting.
I imagine that using cherry jam or jelly or preserves would be great to flavor that frosting, but since I didn't have any of that at my disposal, I used a little bit of the goo from the can of pie filling. It gave the frosting color and flavor and didn't muck up the consistency at all--win!
Although I've never actually had a float made with Cherry Coke, if it's as tasty as these cupcakes, maybe there's a reason to keep producing Coca-Cola after all.
Cherry Coke Float Cupcakes
3 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups Coca-Cola (no diet allowed!)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 (15 ounce) can cherry pie filling
1 tablespoon cherry liqueur (optional, obviously, and substitute-able)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cherries preserves, or something similar, such as goo from the can of pie filling
24 cherries, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pans with cupcake liners.
Mix together flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa in a bowl and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine sugar and butter and beat on medium-high until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each and scraping down the sides if needed. In a small bowl, combine buttermilk, Coke, and vanilla extract, making sure to let the foam calm down after you mix it in.
Beginning with the your flour mixture, add to the butter mixture, alternating with the Coke mixture in 4 parts. Beat each addition just until incorporated.
Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 18-20 minutes until the tops spring back when touched lightly and a toothpick inserted in the center cupcake comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in the pan and then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
Once cooled, use a paring knife to cut out a cone shape in the middle of each cupcake. Add a spoonful of cherry pie filling to each cupcake.
To make the frosting, with an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add vanilla and cherry goo, and beat until frosting is smooth. Pipe decoratively onto cupcakes and finish each with a cherry (and a straw, if you're so inclined).