Monday, June 27, 2016

Almond Cupcakes with Fresh Cherry Buttercream

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 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?

Almond Cupcakes with Fresh Cherry Buttercream
adapted from
Serves: 18 cupcakes
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup coconut milk - full fat
Fresh Cherry Frosting:
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 3½ cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and finely chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line 18- muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt and mix to combine.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl in between additions. Beat in the almond extract. Add one-third of the flour mixture, beat to combine, then half of the coconut milk. Add another one-third of the flour, the remaining coconut milk, then the remaining flour. Beat just until combined.
  4. Fill the cupcake liners about ⅔ full of the batter. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool completely.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add in the powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time, mixing until completely combined. Beat in the salt and the extracts, then turn the mixer to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in the cherries and any juices that may have accumulated. Beat on low until combined, then turn to medium-high and beat an additional 2-3 minutes. The frosting should be light and creamy and smooth.
  6. Pipe the frosting on the cupcakes. Top with an additional cherry, if desired. (Toasted Coconut is really nice too)

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