I almost don't have words for these little gems of cupcake glory. It all started with some beautiful local cherries. I ate a bunch of them and then forgot were in the fridge. I was going to make some sort of pie but then I got to thinking about how pretty they would be in buttercream. After a little creative inter-webbing (trying to get that to be a thing like "Fetch," thanks Gretchen Wiener) I saw a recipe for Almond Cupcakes with Cherry Buttercream from tasteandtellblog.com and knew exactly how the cherries would spend their last moments.
The cupcakes are light and moist with just a hint of almond. The original recipe uses quite a bit (in my opinion) of almond extract. I equate almond extract with lighter fluid - use a little you can barely taste it, use too much and it is basically an inedible mess up in flames. I use equal parts almond extract and pure vanilla. They balance each other really nicely without the overpowering almond flavor. I kind of think they are the perfect birthday cupcake. I also used coconut milk instead of buttermilk. Mostly, because I didn't have buttermilk and I thought if you got a little taste of coconut, it could be lovely. I couldn't taste it and it was lovely anyway.
Now for the buttercream. While the cupcakes are cooling, pit the cherries. What a pain! Oh wait, I have a Tovolo Cherry Pitter! That was a slightly shameless product plug but seriously, without it I probably wouldn't bake anything with cherries.
The Tovolo Cherry Pitter is really simple to use and you can pit up to 7 cherries at a time. It pits cherries really cleanly without losing too much of the fruit. As a bonus, you don't get juice everywhere or stain your fingers.
Let's move onto the important subject - buttercream. Now that your cherries are beautifully pitted, chop them pretty finely. You want to end up with about 1 cup of chopped cherries. I started out kind of rough cutting them but then I realized that if the pieces are too large it would be abrupt interruption to a mouthful of this smooth and subtle cherry buttercream. I love the way the buttercream came together and then when you add the cherries, it was one of the most beautiful colors I have ever seen. A perfectly cherry studded shade of pink. Cherry perfection!
Who needs food coloring?