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Cherry-Vanilla Cheese Danish Cupcakes

Fresh cherries have flooded the markets and of course I wasted no time buying my share, which basically means that every time I’m out and about I pick up another bag (or two). 

Cherry-Vanilla Cheese Danish Cupcakes 2

(I’ve even been looking for errands to run just to have an excuse to go out and pick up some more…definitely a windfall for Mike, who not only loves cherries, but now views standing in lines at the post office and bank a thing of the past…at least until the end of cherry season. ;) )

So what do I do with all my loot?, you might be wondering.

In addition to eating fresh cherries by the fistful, I like to toss them into salads, roasted vegetables, or marinades, and also use them as a topping for ice cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, or oatmeal. They are also delicious added to a smoothie or even a bowl of cereal…and of course they’re a beautiful addition to baked goods.

Cherry-Vanilla Cheese Danish Cupcakes 3

My inspiration for these little lovelies was a combination of cheese Danish pastries and my strawberry shortcake cupcakes. For these cupcakes, I decided to add sour cream to the cake batter (which was a slight adaptation of my recipe for classic yellow cake), and I filled the cupcakes with cream cheese and homemade cherry filling. I used fresh cherries to make the filling, but any kind of berries you like would be delicious; in a time crunch, store-bought preserves would also work well.

If you haven’t tried sour cream cake I definitely recommend it…it’s gloriously rich and moist with a very tender crumb. You could even make this cake on its own and glaze it with a simple vanilla glaze (recipe below), or serve it topped with fresh berries and whipped cream.

Cherry-Vanilla Cheese Danish Cupcakes 4

Cherry-Vanilla Cheese Danish Cupcakes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: About 18 cupcakes
Cherry Filling (Makes about 1⅓ cups total):
  • 1 lb (about 3 cups) fresh or frozen sweet black cherries, pitted and halved
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with ¼ cup cold water to form a slurry
Sour Cream Cake:
  • 1½ cups white sugar
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup light sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 oz cream cheese (low-fat is fine), cut into 18 pieces
Vanilla Glaze:
  • ½ cup (2 oz) powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. For the cherry filling, in a small saucepan over medium heat, cook the cherries, water, and sugar (uncovered) until the cherries are softened, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cornstarch slurry and cook another 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly (the mixture will thicken). Cool to room temperature, then chill in the fridge while you make the cupcakes (it will thicken more as it cools).
  2. For the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350F and line a muffin tray with paper liners. With a handheld electric beater, beat together the sugar and oil, and then cream in eggs until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the sour cream and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually the stir dry ingredients into wet until just combined, making sure not to over-mix.
  3. Fill each cupcake liner with about ¼ cup of batter (they should be about ¾ full). Add a scant tablespoon of cherry filling to each, and then add one piece of cream cheese, pushing it down slightly.
  4. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until golden around the edges and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean or with just a couple crumbs.
  5. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes in the tray and then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling completely before glazing.
  6. For the glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients, then drizzle over the cooled cupcakes.
  7. Let the glaze set before serving.

Cherry-Vanilla Cheese Danish Cupcakes 5

Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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  1. i’m so glad I just found your blog.. i have a bag of tart cherries in the freezer i’m looking to use up! should i make any changes to the recipe if using tart cherries instead?

    1. Sarah, I haven’t made these with tart cherries so I can’t say for sure…I would just taste the filling and add a touch more sugar if you feel like it isn’t sweet enough (but not too much, there is a sweet glaze that goes on top). Hope you enjoy them! :)

  2. Oh my, these look so moist and delicious, Faith! I love that you get a cream cheese surprise when you bit into a cupcake. I’d love one of these right about now.

  3. these sure do look fantastic. the little dip in the middle is just calling for a dollop of a)more filling, or b)whipped cream. :)

    1. Grace, I agree…or c) a fresh cherry! :)

  4. Oh heavens! I do love cherry season and these look fantastic with that filling spilling out…I want!

  5. I’ve been the same way with the cherries in my local market. They’ve been on sale this week, and I’ve been back three times for them! These little cupcakes look like a beautiful and delicious way to use some of my hoarded gems! :)

  6. Those pictures are amazing. So homey and beautiful. I can’t get enough cherries either. These look insane. My husband loves cheese Danish so this is a treat I will be making.

  7. I’m glad this recipe has a ton of ingredients or i would memorize it and make it way too often. Cheese danish are the only pastries i love. I’ve never found a simple recipe, which is probably part of what makes them so good, but keeps me from making them constantly and gaining who knows at least 40lbs to start =) Thanks for this recipe. After this baby girl comes I’ll be buckled down the winter with RSV and i will need some fun and for me challenging recipes to keep me busy. Thanks!

  8. Honey, please, pretty please with a cherry on top send me a bunch of these, they look gorgeous. Oh how I wish it were cherry season here. Hope u had a wonderful weekend sweet girl. :)

  9. What a lovely summer dessert. Aren’t cherries just tasting wonderful right now? Thank you for sharing another beautiful recipe. I hope you had a lovely weekend, and I hope you have an even lovelier week. Many blessings and much love…

  10. Oooooh, this takes filled cupcakes to a whole other level! It sounded really tasty, and then I saw the cross-section of your cupcake and was just floored. I love danishes, and am thrilled that you used them as your inspiration for this dessert. Perfect for summer :) Serious happiness, haha.

  11. I’ve been eating cherries by the fist-full too and I’m eating some right now!

    What a delicious idea for cupcakes, Faith!

  12. Any cake with sour cream in it is so moist! Cherries abound right now..I’m loving them. Such a pain to pit, though. :)
    This looks marvelous, Faith. And presented beautifully!

  13. Yum! My husband would go nuts for these (me too), cherries in a sour cream cupcake with cheese filling… are so smart:)

  14. Faith, these are amazing! Brilliant idea to make these into cupcakes!

  15. its 1 AM at night here and my stomach’s growling…and looking at the yummy pics…am like wanting to eat up my screen!!!!

  16. Your pictures are making my mouth water…especially the one that’s cut open and I can see all that ooey gooey yumminess inside. *sigh* If only I could keep myself from eating all the cherries I buy so I can make this! :)

  17. Mmm… That dripping icing looks like it’s just waiting to be licked up! So delicious, and as much as I love making pastries, cupcakes are definitely easier, so this sounds like the best of all worlds.

  18. How delightful and gorgeous these cup cakes look. And the contrast of the muffin liners and the red cherries is marvelous, Faith.

  19. I remember in middle school when I got to go around to the corner store to buy breakfast without my mom’s supervision, I would always spring for a danish. However, I imagine they are much better with such luscious cherries and in cupcake form. Just gorgeous!

  20. hi faith, superb ingredients- strawberries and cheese- love them all.

    your cup cakes look so swweeet and delicious with the blue cups complimenting the cakes..have a nice day dear.

  21. You are a girl after my very own heart! These are divine and luscious little treats Faith! Wish I had one…or two. Have a great weekend!

  22. oh faith! these are amazing. i am drooling over that side view :)

  23. That picture of the inside of the cupcake? My gosh…it looks amazing! Great job Faith!

  24. I really love traditional “American Danish” so I’ve no doubt that I’d eat the entire tray of these cherry cupcakes. Your blog is getting bad for my health ;) Have a super weekend.

  25. I always love fruits in cakes. Your cupcakes look very delicious. I have not tried making cakes with cherries, only with blueberries. I need to try next time. Thank very much for sharing. Hope you had a great day.

  26. Faith your pictures are stunning,I love the blue and white with the cherry filled cupcakes, just drop dead gorgeous. The recipe sounds wonderful, very creative and fun to put together. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful weekend;-)

  27. Oh my. That last picture did me in. These so incredible, I can’t wait to try these out!!

    In your directions, there’s no mention of putting another little helping of the batter over the filling, does the filling just sink and the batter bakes over it or can you still see the filling once they’re done? If that’s not confusing… ;)

    1. Jess, There’s no need to put batter over the filling — for each cupcake, I spooned the cherry filling on top in the center, then pushed the piece of Neufchatel down slightly into the cherry filling. The cherry filling and cheese sink to the center of the cupcake (take a look at the picture where I cut a cupcake in half) and cause a slight indentation on top (which I think makes them look like real cheese Danishes), but the cherries peek out a little bit on top. I added a picture to the bottom of this post so you can see the top of the cupcakes better. Hope that helps! :)

  28. I love how these look like “ordinary” cupcakes, and when you bite inside, you find a delicious sounding filling! Great idea!

  29. Heavenly Housewife says:

    Danish cupcakes??? What a stunning and delicious idea. You always come up with the most clever treats!
    *kisses* HH

  30. These are adorable! And that filling with the cream cheese….my gawwdddd, it looks addicting! Lovely little summery recipe and gorgeous photos too :)

  31. I love this idea – the flavour combination sounds so summery. They look so pretty too!

  32. Faith, your photos…ah! I can taste them with my eyes alone! But, I still think I have to make these…and then take all but 2 or 3 to work. They look amazingly dangerous! ;)

  33. What a clever idea Faith and you can really see how good these are from the slice open photo. BTW love the new redesign! I meant to mention it before! :)

  34. Those cupcakes must be divine! A nice combination of flavors.



  35. Oh these cupcakes look fab. Love the flavor combination!

  36. The best invention ever! Part muffin, part danish — and all delicious to the last bite.

  37. I still need to make your yellow cake! Man, this really grabs me b/c I too love cherries and I love cheese danish and cake just as much. So you pretty much combined three of my favorite things. Woot! And your photography continually astounds me. Can I ask what camera you use? Did you have to take classes to use it so well?

    1. Veronica, You’re so sweet, thanks so much! I use a Nikon D7000 (you can read more about it on my FAQ page). I had no formal training…I’ve read tons of books, got some informal training from friends, and have been practicing my little heart out, lol! :)

  38. I am eating cherries non stop these days .. they taste like candy! This cupcake looks so deliciously perfect.

  39. Oh my goodness, these are BRILLIANT!! Zach loves cheese danishes – I can’t wait to surprise him with these! Thank you for the gorgeous recipe! :-)

  40. I just saw in our circular that cherries were on sale and got super excited! These cupcakes look amazing- the middle looks just ridiculous good! Hooray for summer fruit

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