Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a regular cupcake pan with 12 cupcake liners.
the flour, baking powder and baking soda
into a small bowl. Add the pudding mix, wheat germ
, pepper and salt to the flour mixture and set the bowl aside.
In a bowl of an electric stand mixer
with a paddle attachment, cream
the sugar and shortening together, until the mixture is fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and then slowly add the eggs, one egg at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla extract.
While adding the eggs
, put 2 3/4 cups water in a saucepan
and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat once the water boils. Put the cocoa powder
in a medium bowl and pour the boiling water over, whisking until smooth.
Turn off the mixer and add the liquid cocoa to the batter
. Let the mixture come together then add the dry ingredients to the batter. Remove the bowl from the electric mixer and scrape the bowl to incorporate all the ingredients. Fold in the chopped dark chocolate
Fill the prepared liners three-quarters full with batter and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool completely.
To assemble: Fill the center of the cupcakes with the Cherry Filling and top with the Pistachio Mascarpone Frosting
This recipe was created by a contestant during a cooking competition. The Food Network Kitchens have not tested it for home use, therefore, we cannot make any representation as to the results.