Brandied Cherry Cupcakes

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Brandied Cherry Cupcakes

By Stefani Pollack

While most people on your holiday list would love the gift of cupcakes, they’re hard to gift-wrap.  Cupcakes baked in mason jars don’t need wrapping!  Simply decorate the jar with ribbon and a spoon and you’ve got an inexpensive present that is sure to please.  But, even if you don’t have mason jars on hand, these brandied cherry cupcakes with chocolate chip buttercream frosting are worth a try.  Be ready for requests to make them a yearly holiday tradition.

Yield: 18 cupcakes

Brandied Cherry Syrup Ingredients:
2 15-ounce cans of cherries in heavy syrup
½ cup brandy

Combine ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan.
Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low.
Simmer for fifteen minutes.

Use a sieve to strain out the cherries.  Reserve both the syrup and cherries.

Cupcake Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
Brandied cherry syrup from above
Brandied cherries from above
18 half pint mason jars

Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
In another medium-sized bowl, beat butter, sugar, and honey until well combined.
Beat eggs and milk into the butter mixture.
Alternately fold the flour mixture and 2/3 cup of the cherry syrup into the wet ingredients.
Fold in all of the brandied cherries.

Scoop ¼ cup of batter into each mason jar.


Carefully place the jars in a roasting pan and pour enough hot water up the sides of the pan to 1/2”.
Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry.

Remove from oven and pour 1 tablespoon of cherry syrup into each jar.  The cupcake will absorb the syrup.

Frosting Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
2 tablespoons milk
¾ cup mini chocolate chips

Mix butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy.
Mix in vanilla bean paste and milk until fully combined.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

Seal the jars.

Cupcakes should be eaten within two days of baking. We do not promote eating them after two days. Great for a party!

Stefani Pollack is the author of the popular cupcake blog, Cupcake Project. While she loves simple chocolate cupcakes, Stefani prefers creative cupcakes inspired by her favorite flavor combinations. She encourages her readers to branch out and experiment in the kitchen. Why cupcakes? They bring out the kid in us! Visit Stefani at

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Reader Comments:


I had same problems as Amy and Anonymous. Mine came out gray also, and despite cooking as directed, I had to leave them in another 15 mins. and still doughy on the bottom. :( They tasted pancake-y to me. I really wanted to like them, so I will try baking in tins and assembling in jars for party.

By janine on April 19, 2011


i love paula so much she talt meall that i know abouut baking it just want me to follow mydreams more thank you agin god bless you

By lakhaira on January 04, 2011


i love paula you have inspired me a lot and i want to thank you for being my role model i wis i could see you in person thank you god bless you

By Anonymous on January 04, 2011


Amy - Not sure why they would be gray. Sorry about that. Hope you like how they taste! Anon - Sorry that it took so long to make! Glad it worked out in the end. Great tip on the ribbon, btw! To everyone asking about using different types of recipes - Go for it! Use any of your favorite cupcake recipes! Vikki - Use can use vanilla extract. Use the same amount as the paste. Anni - I don't butter the jars. It's not necessary, because you will be eating directly from the jar - not trying to pop the cupcake out. To everyone concerned about food safety - One tip that I have is to freeze the jars until you are ready to eat them. They freeze really well. Once they are defrosted, be sure to eat them within a couple of days.

By Stef on December 24, 2010


I am making these RIGHT now, but mine turned out GREY!?!?!?!?!? they look like blueberry! any reason why........have not tasted them yet! What a fun idea, though!!

By amy scifres on December 19, 2010


Ok, I made this last night as teacher Christmas gifts. I thought they would be perfect for that! Normally, when I make Paula's recipes, they turn out perfect every time. However, things didn't turn out quite as nice as I'd hoped this time. I baked mine in the jars (sitting in the pan of water just like the recipe said), and they would NOT get done. I mean, I baked them for a good 15 minutes longer than the recipe said. Finally, my toothpick came out clean. But when I tried one after it had cooled, it was still very doughy. Not good. tongue laugh I finally ended up baking some in a muffin pan. (They baked up perfectly this way!). Then after they were done and cooled, I transferred them into the cute little jars and iced them. I guess I kinda cheated, but it was out of desperation. wink Also, it's a little tricky to get the ribbon to stay on as nicely as the picture shows. You may way to put a dab or two of glue under the ribbon so it won't slip off. All in all they turned out very cute and yummy, but it was a lot more work than I thought it would be! smile

By Anonymous on December 16, 2010


Can these be made with any type of cupcake?

By Carmen on December 14, 2010


As stated at the end of the recipe: Cupcakes should be eaten within two days of baking. We do not promote eating them after two days.

By Becky E on December 14, 2010


Hello Ms Paula I wanted to ask if I could make regular cupcakes in the jar. This is such a great gift idea. I personally dont like the cherry receipe so I wanted to try something a little plain. Let me know, I'm snowed in today so I have time to bake. Love Rhonda

By Rhonda Franklin on December 13, 2010


I could not find vanilla bean paste at my local grocery store, what else could I use in place of it. Thanks, Vikki Dugger

By Vikki Dugger on December 13, 2010


Can these cupcakes be made with regular cake mix?

By Rhonda Crane on December 11, 2010

As far as health and safety- wives have been sending cake in jars to our deployed husbands since deployments began. None of them get sick- although yes, it is important to let them cool completely before putting lids on them.

This recipe looks great and I can’t wait to send some to my husband and his deployed bretheren.

By Elizabeth on December 09, 2010

i cannot wait to make these for our school staff!  there are sooooo many wonderful people at my kids’ school….i can’t wait to share this little bit with a note of thanks for their dedication and work every day.  thanks, Paula!  another great one for the family recipe book!!

By april on December 08, 2010

How adorable and festive!  I am going to make these for my office Secret Santa party. I read that article link below and think I will be fine.  I don’t expect these puppies to hang around that long! =)

By Jessica on December 08, 2010

It’s not just about storing the cakes it’s about BAKING in them. Canning compies dont endorse this either.. I’m sorry I wish I too could bake in jars and give them away as gifts, but the risk is to high to get someone sick…:(

By Amanda Bowyer on December 08, 2010

can you make other recipes of cupcakes in the jar

By patricia robinson on December 08, 2010

I am thinking this would be great for giving a little gift to each of our church family. I love this idea Paula. Thanks I needed one.

By Mary C. McFarland on December 08, 2010

Can these be made with something besides brandied cherries?

By Sandra on December 07, 2010

The articles refer to storing these at room temperature for an extended period of time. What is the harm with making them to be consumed the same day?

By LIly on December 07, 2010

Love all your recipes but this one I can’t wait to try! Keep Cookin! LOVE U PAULA!

By Lisa Foster on December 07, 2010

I went to the suggested website about food safety.  There is no problem with Paula’s recipe the problem is when the jars are sealed while the cake is still hot-bacteria can grow.  Paula cools her cakes before icing.  They can safely be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks this way according to the extension service website.

By Pat on December 07, 2010

Great idea! I am going to make these for the staff at school.

By Renea on December 07, 2010

Great cupcakes. Made as directed for family and friends. Loved them…...Making for Sunday School class will substitute espresso coffee for brandy…LOL

By Helen on December 07, 2010

How long do these cupcakes keep?  Long enough to ship?

By Mathew on December 07, 2010

love the cupcakes in the jar, keep the ideals coming.

By toni brown on December 07, 2010

Sorry but this isn’t a safe practice!!! Please do not do this… Here is a website backing me up..

By Amanda Bowyer on December 07, 2010

they look good going to try them

By Jean Pennington on December 07, 2010

Can these be made with a cake mix and perhaps canned pie filling?  Im thinking chocolate cake with cherry pie filling..(black forest cake) then frosted the same way.

By Kathy Hancock on December 07, 2010

What a creative idea !  I may just try this !?

By Amy Cooper on December 07, 2010

DO you grease or butter the jars?

By AnnieOkie on December 07, 2010

This might be a good use for that ton of blue fruit jars we’ve got lurking around.

By gertie on December 07, 2010

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