Heat oven to 350°F. Place paper baking cups into muffin pan cups; set aside.
Combine flour, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in large bowl; set aside.
Combine sugar and 3/4 cup butter in large bowl; beat at medium speed, scraping owl occasionally, until creamy. Add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture alternately with milk and 1 tablespoon vanilla, beating well after each addition, just until mixed.
Divide batter evenly among paper baking cups. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes in pans; remove to wire cooling racks. Cool completely.
Meanwhile, beat whipping cream and 1/4 cup powdered sugar in small bowl at high speed, scraping bowl often, until stiff peaks form. Gently stir in 1/4 teaspoon vanilla and food color, if desired.
Remove teaspoonful cake from center of each cupcake; reserve cake piece. Fill hole with about 1 teaspoon frosting/filling; top with reserved cake piece.
Beat 1/2 cup butter in large bowl at medium speed until creamy. Add melted chocolate; beat until well mixed. Gradually add powdered sugar and 1/8 teaspoon salt alternately with 1 teaspoon vanilla and enough half & half for desired frosting consistency until well mixed. Stir in corn syrup. Frost cupcakes. Decorate, if desired. Store refrigerated.