Landscape photo of Chocolate Cherry Amaretto Cupcakes

Chocolate Cherry Amaretto Cupcakes (Vegan Gluten-Free)

Rich and chocolatey cupcakes with a delicious amaretto soak all topped with almond whipped buttercream and delicious European Picota cherries, these Chocolate Cherry Amaretto Cupcakes are easy, vegan and gluten-free.

I love making cupcakes, there is something so satisfying about seeing all the components come together; the fluffy cupcake base, the delicious filling and then the super fluffy buttercream on top. These cupcakes go that extra mile and really have the cherry on top to make them extra special.

You may know that I love cherries, and they are perhaps my Dad’s favourite fruit, so when I had the chance to create a fresh cherry recipe for summer 2022 I asked what he’d like best. After going crazy for tiramisu bakes and some chocolate cherry cups, combining chocolate, cherry and amaretto seemed like the obvious solution.

Drizzling syrup over Chocolate Cherry Amaretto Cupcakes
Chocolate Cherry Amaretto Cupcakes

Why will I love these choco-cherry cupcakes?

These cupcakes are a new favourite, they are:

  • Rich, chocolatey and indulgent
  • Fresh, fruity and packed with sweet cherries
  • Tender and moist cupcakes
  • Filled with a delicious cherry middle
  • Topped with the fluffiest almond buttercream
  • Decorated with fresh and juicy European Picota cherries
  • Easy to make in one bowl
  • Naturally vegan and easily made gluten-free
  • Made with simple, easy-to-find ingredients

What makes European Picota Cherries so special?

If you remember my Chocolate Cherry Almond Butter Cups, you’ll know that I love Picota Cherries, and what’s better is that it’s #pickapicota week right now! Take a look at the Picota Cherry Instagram page for all the cherry goodness. And be quick, the Picota season is fairly short, lasting from mid-June to the end of July, and they are too delicious, vibrant and juicy to miss out on.

Picota cherries are an exclusive product, grown in the Jerte Valley in Spain, 200km west of Madrid, and they are unique in flavour and sweetness. They are even more recognisable as they are stalkless (as the stalk is left on the tree when they are carefully harvested by hand). Thanks to cherry farming, the local community can grow their production yields whilst showing off their expertise, using traditional harvesting methods which have been passed down through the generations. Only once the cherries have reached optimum ripeness are they harvested before being distributed across Europe.

Impressively, Picota is protected by a denomination of original (DO) certificate which means that growers have to meet strict and rigorous quality control procedures all times. This is no mean feat when we are talking about more than one million cherry trees! You can read more about that here.

Half-eaten Chocolate Cherry Amaretto Cupcake
Chocolate Cherry Amaretto Cupcakes

Picotas are good for us and the planet

Picota cherries are celebrated worldwide for their sweet taste and delicious crunch. Choosing Picota is choosing to look after the natural environment, too, as growers undertake sustainable agriculture that keeps the natural cycle of its surroundings. European cherries are a mountain crop, since cherry trees need the cold climate in Winter and the altitude to grow into their sweet fruitiness.

One final comment that sets Picota apart from all the rest is that “behind each cherry there is a family who takes great care of the fruit so it will be simply: excellent.”

In a nutshell, why will I love Picota cherries?

  • They are sweet, juicy and crunchy
  • They are grown in a sustainable way, taking care of the environment and local growers
  • The season is short, meaning they are so good right now
  • They are hand-picked using traditional methods
  • They have a deep red colour meaning the best flavour
  • They are top quality with Protected Designation of Origin
  • They are highly versatile, take a look at their recipe page

If you already know you are going to love these Chocolate Cherry Amaretto Cupcakes made with only the best Picota cherries, skip ahead to the recipe card below. Or, first let’s discuss the recipe in more detail.

Ingredients needed for Chocolate Cherry Amaretto Cupcakes
Chocolate Cherry Amaretto Cupcakes

What ingredients to do I need?

The cupcakes rely on simple ingredients to make something magical:

  • Plant-based milk: use your favourite like oat, almond, soya or coconut (from the carton).
  • Lemon juice or apple cider vinegar: this helps to curdle the milk forming a buttermilk to help bind the batter.
  • Caster sugar: white or golden caster sugar are great here as they are finer but you could also use coconut sugar.
  • Vanilla essence: for flavour.
  • Almond essence: this goes so well with cherry and chocolate flavours and gives across that cherry Bakewell vibe.
  • Self-raising flour: for the fluffiest cupcakes! You can use a recommend self-raising flour for baking with that contains xanthan gum if you need the cupcakes to be gluten-free.
  • Cocoa powder: for the rich chocolate flavour.
  • Coffee: this is optional and adds richness to the cupcakes without making them taste like coffee. This can be decaf if you prefer.
  • Bicarbonate of soda: for rise.
  • Amaretto: this is for brushing on top of the cupcakes once baked and adds a lovely almond flavour and richness. If you want to make these alcohol-free, skip the amaretto here. It is not cooked at all so all the alcohol does remain (albeit a very small amount).

As for the filling, this is so easy and makes the most delicious Picota cherry compote:

  • European Picota cherries: as above, these are my favourite to use. I swear by my cherry pitter for making this step much quicker and easier and you can find these in most homeware shops and online.
  • Maple syrup: to make the compote really sticky. You can also use agave or oat syrup or use vegan honey.
  • Vanilla essence: for flavour.
  • Amaretto: this adds a rich almond flavour to the cherry compote which is delicious. The amaretto here is cooked off, but if you prefer these to be alcohol-free, omit the amaretto in the compote filling.

Finally for the frosting, we need a few basic ingredients:

  • Vegan butter: make sure this is softened for an hour or until just soft. This makes sure the buttercream is really light and fluffy.
  • Vanilla and almond essence: for flavour. The almond is subtle but works so well in the buttercream.
  • Icing sugar: essential for all icings.
  • Plant-based milk: to make the frosting light and fluffy. You can use any milk, as above.
  • Picota cherries: these are whole cherries to sit on top of the cupcakes.
  • Shaved chocolate and toasted almonds/coconut: these are optional toppings but take these to the next level.

How do I make these cupcakes?

Despite looking impressive, these Chocolate Cherry Amaretto Cupcakes are simple to make in a few steps:

  • Whisk together the wet ingredients for the cupcakes: until smooth.
  • Sift in the dry ingredients: and whisk again till smooth and no lumps remain.
  • Divide the batter between 10 cases: to about 2/3 full.
  • Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until springy: and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  • Remove from the tins to cool fully: then brush with amaretto.
  • Make the cherry compote: add all the ingredients to a saucepan and bubble away till sticky and glossy then cool fully.
  • Core the cupcakes and fill with the compote: using about half of the mix in total.
  • Make the buttercream: by beating together the ingredients till fluffy.
  • Pipe on the buttercream: and top with more cherry compote, a fresh European Picota cherry, some chocolate and toasted almonds.
  • Drizzle over some cherry juice: for that extra wow factor.

How long will these keep?

These cupcakes will last for 2-3 days in the fridge once frosted but I prefer to eat them at room temperature so allow them to chill for 20 minutes first. You can freeze the unfrosted and unfilled cupcakes for up to 1 month then allow to thaw before decorating. The cherry compote will keep for 1 week in a sealed container in the fridge.

Are these cupcakes gluten-free and nut-free?

Yes these are naturally nut-free if using nut-free milk like oat, soya or coconut. Also check that your vegan butter does not contain nuts. To make these Chocolate Cherry Amaretto Cupcakes gluten-free, use your favourite GF self-raising flour.

I love these cupcakes, what else can I make?

I hope you are going to love making and eating these Chocolate Cherry Amaretto Cupcakes and for more cherry and chocolate ideas, how about my:

Chocolate Cherry Amaretto Cupcakes (Vegan Gluten-Free)

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Rich and chocolatey cupcakes with a delicious amaretto soak all topped with almond whipped buttercream and delicious European Picota cherries, these Chocolate Cherry Amaretto Cupcakes are easy, vegan and gluten-free.

Ingredients

    For the Cupcakes:
  • 240ml plant-based milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 80ml sunflower or olive oil
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • ½ tsp almond essence
  • 170g self-raising flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp coffee, optional
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp amaretto (optional)
  • For the Filling:
  • 200g Picota Cherries (pitted weight)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp amaretto (optional)
  • For the Frosting:
  • 120g vegan butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • ¼ tsp almond essence
  • 350g icing sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp plant-based milk
  • 10 Picota cherries, whole
  • Shaved chocolate

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 160Fan/180*C and line a muffin/cupcake tray with 10 cases.
  2. To a large mixing bowl, add the milk, lemon juice, sugar, sunflower oil, vanilla essence and almond essence. Whisk till smooth.
  3. Now sift in the flour, cocoa powder, coffee and bicarbonate of soda. Whisk to a smooth batter with no specks of flour.
  4. Scoop the batter into the cases, filling 2/3 full. Bake in the centre of the oven for 18-20 minutes, until risen and springy and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  5. Remove immediately from the tray and sit on a wire rack. Brush with the amaretto, if using, and allow to cool fully.
  6. Meanwhile, make the filling: add the Picota Cherries to a saucepan with the rest of the ingredients and bring to a bubble. Allow to bubble away over a high heat for 8 minutes, until sticky and there’s a thick syrup. Pour into a bowl and cool fully (you can place them in the fridge, too).
  7. When ready, prepare the buttercream: add the softened butter to a bowl or freestanding mixer and beat till smooth. Gradually beat in the vanilla essence, almond essence, icing sugar and plant-based milk till fully incorporated then beat for a further 1-2 minutes till really fluffy. Place in a piping bag with a star-shaped nozzle.
  8. Core the centre of the cupcakes and fill with the Picota cherry compote filling. Pipe on the buttercream and top each cupcake with some extra compote and the juice, a whole Picota cherry, some chocolate and toasted almonds/coconut.
  9. Enjoy straight away or keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. Best eaten at room temperature and you can freeze the unfrosted and unfilled cupcakes for 1 month. The compote will keep for 1 week in a sealed container in the fridge.
Landscape photo of Chocolate Cherry Amaretto Cupcakes
Chocolate Cherry Amaretto Cupcakes

I look forward to hearing what you think of these Chocolate Cherry Amaretto Cupcakes and hope you try a Picota cherry soon. If you do make these cupcakes, I’d love to see them so please tag me in your bakes, I am @nourishing.amy on Instagram and use the hashtag #nourishingamy. I’m also on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest  – please say hello!

This post is sponsored by Picota Cherries to celebrate #pickapicota week but all opinions are my own and I just love these cherries!

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