Recipe courtesy of Hollis Wilder

"Priceless" Cupcakes

  • Level: Advanced
  • Total: 1 hr 30 min
  • Active: 1 hr 30 min
  • Yield: 24 mini cupcakes
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Nonstick oil spray

1 cup dried cherries

1/3 cup sugar

One 8.8-ounce package shortbread cookies

1/2 stick softened butter 


2 cups granulated sugar

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup extra-brute cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk, shaken

1/2 cup heart healthy olive oil blend, such as Smart Balance

1 teaspoon natural cherry extract

1 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla extract

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 cup espresso (2 teaspoons espresso powder mixed into 1 cup cold water)

One 21-ounce jar Amarena cherries in syrup 

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting:

1 cup milk chocolate

2 sticks salted butter, chilled

1/4 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

Priceless Chocolate Pieces:

1 cup dark chocolate for candy making

Edible ink

1 ounce gold dust

1 cup assorted metallic chocolate pearls


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F degrees. Line two 2 dozen mini-cupcake pans with cupcake metallic or paper liners and spray with oil spray.
  2. For the crust: In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, add the cherries, sugar, cookies and butter. Then pulse until it's a paste that sticks when pinched with your fingers. Press 1 tablespoon of the crust into the prepared pans.
  3. For the cupcakes: Sift the granulated sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil blend, extracts and eggs with a whisk until fully combined. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry until fully combined. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the espresso and stir just to incorporate, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  4. Using small ice cream scoop, fill the prepared pans three-quarters of the way full with batter. Drop 1 cherry drained of its juice into the center of each cupcake. Bake and cool the cupcakes completely; the metallic liners bake for 11 minutes and the paper liners bake for 9 minutes.
  5. For the frosting: To melt the chocolate, place it in a double boiler over simmering water on low heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Stir occasionally until completely smooth and no pieces of chocolate remain. Remove from the heat and let cool until lukewarm, 5 to 15 minutes.
  6. In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy with an electric hand mixer on medium speed, about 3 minutes. Add the sour cream, vanilla and confectioners' sugar, and beat until smooth. Add the melted cooled chocolate and beat until creamy and of a desired consistency. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip and reserve for assembly.
  7. For the chocolate pieces: Melt the chocolate in a double boiler as above. Line mold(s) on a sheet tray. Using a spoon, fill the mold(s) to the brim with chocolate. Place in the freezer and leave for 3 minutes. When you take them out, turn your mold gently over a sheet tray. The chocolates should come out without too much trouble, but if you find them getting stuck, tap the mold firmly against the counter or flex the mold a little, and that should free them. Transfer edible ink that reads "priceless" by pressing the words lightly on the chocolate to adhere. Finish by painting a thin layer of gold dust on the edges of the priceless tag.
  8. To assemble: Generously frost the top of each cupcake with the chocolate sour cream frosting. Adorn with priceless tags and sprinkle with chocolate metallic pearls.

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