Sunday, August 2, 2009
Cherry Almond Cupcakes
As I was rummaging around in the pantry, I ran across a can of sour cherries. As soon as I saw them, I remembered the sliced almonds in the fridge. So it seemed only natural to create something using this classic pairing of flavors.
These cupcakes have a great texture to go along with wonderful flavor. I especially like using sour cherries rather than sweet, as it adds a tangy accent to the sweetness. But I expect sweet cherries would taste great as well. Here's the recipe:
1 can (14 to 16 oz) sour cherries (not pie filling)
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. + 1 Tbsp. sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 tsp. almond extract
3/4 c. sliced almonds
6 Tbsp. milk and/or cherry juice
Preheat oven to 325F.
Drain the cherries, reserving the juice.
Cream together the softened butter and sugar, until light and fluffy. Stir the eggs in, one at a time, thoroughly mixing each one. When you are done the mixture should be light and fluffy, with the sugar granules almost totally dissolved. Add the almond extract and mix thoroughly.
Fold in the flour alternately with the liquid.
Now fold in the drained cherries and 1/2 cup of almonds.
Spoon the batter into paper-lined cupcake tins. Bake at 325F for about 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
Remove cupcakes from oven, let cool for 5-10 minutes, then remove from the baking tin onto a rack to cool completely.
Makes 24 cupcakes.
While the cupcakes are in the oven, make the glaze:
1/4 c. butter
1-1/4 c. powdered (confectioner's) sugar
1/4 tsp. almond extract
2 Tbsp. cherry juice
Melt butter in a dish in the microwave, 30 to 45 seconds should be sufficient. Stir in 1 c. of powdered sugar, beating until smooth. Add the almond extract and cherry juice, again stirring until smooth. Now add the remaining powdered sugar 1 Tbsp. at a time until the glaze is the right consistency -- not runny, but thinner than regular icing. Cover and set aside in a cool spot.
When the cupcakes are completely cool, spread each one with glaze. Sprinkle the glazed cupcakes with the remaining 1/4 c. or so of sliced almonds.
Tip 1: Save 2 Tbsp. of the cherry juice for the glaze. Then use what is left for the liquid in the cupcake recipe, adding milk to bring it up to 6 Tbsp. altogether. The cherry juice will give pink cupcakes with a more intense cherry flavor, and a slightly coarser texture than if you use just milk.
Tip 2: This can also be baked as a loaf cake. Put the batter in a 9x5" pan, greased and floured or lined with baker's parchment, and bake for about 1 hour. When it is cooled, drizzle it with the glaze and sprinkle almonds on top.