The torched meringue is the cherry on top of this cutie! Er... wait, the cherry's in the middle.
For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup butter, softened at room temperature
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream, room temperature
For the Italian meringue:
2 cups granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup water
4 large egg whites
For the filling:
12 cherries, pitted
2 cups chocolate cherry ice cream
Make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a 6-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa. Using a hand mixer, blend the butter, eggs and vanilla into the dry mix. Fold in the sour cream. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool completely.
Make the meringue: In a small saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups sugar, the cream of tartar and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook without stirring for 4 minutes until the combination reaches 240 degrees.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip egg whites to soft peaks, starting at low speed and gradually upping speed to high, then slowly sprinkle in remaining sugar. Once combined, mix for 30 seconds more, and then slowly pour in sugar syrup. Beat for 5 to 8 minutes at high speed until the bowl of the stand mixer has cooled to the touch.
Assemble the cupcakes: Carve a hole in the middle of each cupcake approximately one inch by one inch. Place 2 pitted cherries in the center of each hole. Place a small scoop of ice cream in the center of each cupcake covering the cherries. Return to freezer for 20 to 25 minutes to set. Remove cupcakes from freezer and using the same tip, pipe a tall meringue swirl on top of each cupcake covering the ice cream. Using a small torch, toast the meringue until golden. Serve immediately.