Almond Raspberry Cupcakes

Baking requires instincts, and I should know by now not to ignore mine. Usually when I fill cupcakes with a custard or fruit filling, I scoop out the centers with a melon baller and pipe the filling into the divot, yielding a nice filling-to-cupcake ratio. For cream fillings, I place the filling in a piping bag and injecting it into the cupcake, because cream fillings are heavy enough to push the cake out a bit and yield the same nice filling-to-cupcake ratio.

Because I wanted to save a bit of time, I decided to use the injection method with my raspberry filling in these cupcakes. After I’d frosted them and tried one (because what kind of baker doesn’t engage in quality control?) I realized that the injection method had failed me: my cupcake had a sad little tunnel of filling, not nearly enough for a good flavor or texture balance. I wondered for a moment if I should drizzle the tops with raspberry jam to ramp up the flavor, then decided to use the leftover raspberry filling for drizzling. Another mistake. It looked ridiculous, far too thick and amateurish.

Eager to maintain my baking cred at the office, I carefully scraped the filling off the tops and replaced it with some raspberry jam to cover the gashes in the frosting. My colleagues enjoyed them very much, but I’ve learned my lesson: my instincts are important, and the next time I get the idea not to follow them, I’ll remember these cupcakes.

Ingredients

For the almond cupcakes

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk

For the raspberry filling

  • 6 ounces fresh raspberries, mashed
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon water

For the almond frosting and raspberry jam drizzle

  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract
  • Red food coloring
  • About 1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-count cupcake tin with paper liners.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until very well-blended. Add eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract and beat until combined; scrape down the sides of your bowl a few times during this step.

Add flour and milk alternatively in two batches, beginning and ending with the flour and beating until completely combined.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, scoop batter into cupcake wells, dividing evenly and filling about 2/3 to 3/4 full.

Bake for 18-22 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and remove cupcakes from the tin; cool completely on a wire rack before filling and frosting.

While the cupcakes bake, make your filling. Stir together raspberries, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and water in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the mixture boils, then allow it to boil for 1-2 minutes, stirring well, until the mixture thickens.

Remove from heat and press through a fine sieve to filter out the seeds. Allow to cool before using; makes about 1/2 cup.

Once both the filling and cupcakes are cool, use a melon baller to scoop out a small amount of cake from the center and pipe or spoon filling into each.

For the frosting, place butter in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1-2 minutes.

Scrape down the bowl and add powdered sugar all at once, beating on low speed until the sugar is completely incorporated into the butter; this will take a few minutes. Continue beating on medium-high speed for 2 minutes.

Add vanilla extract and almond extract, then beat on medium-high for another 2-3 minutes. Add a few drops of red food coloring to tint a light pink.

Fit a large piping bag with a Wilton 1M tip and pipe frosting in swirls on the tops of each cupcake.

Stir raspberry jam to make it smooth, then fit a small piping bag with a small plain tip and twist the bottom of the bag near the tip so the jam won’t run out when you pour it in. Untwist the bag and pipe jam over the tops of the cupcakes.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator but bring to room temperature before serving.

Toasted Almond Cupcakes

toasted-almond-cupcakesIn the spirit of Pittsburgh’s famous burnt almond torte, I give you these toasted almond cupcakes. I have to admit: I like toasted, not burnt, almonds better, but you can certainly cook yours for longer if you prefer the burnt kind.

The next time I make these cupcakes, I’ll fill them with some almond pastry cream, but they’re absolutely delicious no matter what. While they may look fancy, they’re actually very easy to prepare; just put a simple white almond cupcake together with some almond buttercream, then add your toasted almonds on top. I recommend making your cupcakes first, then toasting your almonds, then making your frosting so the cupcakes and almonds are both cool enough to use.

Makes 16 cupcakes.

White Almond Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 cup milk

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two cupcake tins with paper liners.

In a small bowl, combine flour and baking powder; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together sugar, shortening, and salt until fluffy.

Add egg, vanilla, and almond; beat until combined.

Add flour mixture and milk in alternating batches, starting and ending with the flour and beating until just combined.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of batter into each cupcake well, filling about half full.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and immediately place cupcakes on wire racks to cool before frosting.

Toasted Almonds

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water

Preparation

In a medium bowl, combine almonds, sugar, and water; stir to combine.

Place mixture in a saute pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring regularly, for about 5-7 minutes until almonds turn a light golden brown. Almonds will start out looking wet and will appear dry when they are almost done.

Remove from heat and pour onto a platter to cool completely before using.

Fluffy Almond Buttercream

Ingredients

  • 10 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Preparation

In a mixing bowl, beat butter for about 1 minute.

Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until all of the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter; this will take a few minutes.

Add vanilla extract and almond extract, beating well to combine.

Add heavy cream and beat for about 2 minutes until fluffy.

To frost and decorate the cupcakes: fit a 14-inch pastry bag with a Wilton 1M tip and pipe generous swirls of frosting onto each cupcake. Sprinkle toasted almonds onto each cupcake, gently pressing them into the frosting so they stick.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.

 

 

Team Spirit Cupcakes

team spirit cupcakesThe Pittsburgh Penguins are playing in the Stanley Cup finals, and being a huge (and highly superstitious) hockey fan, I’m taking the series one game at a time. I actually baked these on Thursday night before game five, which we lost…but Mike’s coworkers still enjoyed them at the office the next day. We’re playing again tonight, and I’ll be in front of my television, hoping for victory.

These cupcakes are incredibly easy to make, and the recipe could be easily doubled (or tripled, even) to accommodate your sports-related celebrations (or hopes, for that matter). Just pick the frosting  color and embellishments of your choice. Next time, I’ll add some black sprinkles.

Crazy Almond Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup cupcake tin with paper liners; this recipe makes 12 cupcakes.

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt; make three wells for wet ingredients.

Add vinegar to the first well, vanilla to the second well, and vegetable oil to the third well. Add water and mix until smooth.

Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop batter into prepared cupcake wells.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and remove cupcakes from pan immediately, cooling completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Gold Vanilla Almond Buttercream

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 3/4 to 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tablespoon almond extract
  • Golden yellow food coloring

Preparation

In a mixing bowl, beat butter for about 1 minute.

Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until all of the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter; this will take a few minutes.

Add vanilla extract and almond extract, beating well to combine. Taste; add more extract if desired.

Add golden yellow food coloring in small amounts, tinting to desired shade.

Frost cake or cupcakes and store at room temperature for up to three days.

AVC (Almond Vanilla Caramel) Cupcakes

vanilla caramel cupcakes

 

 

 

 

 

Tonight, my mom is having “the kids” over for dinner. The kids” used to mean my brother Andy and me, then morphed into either one of us and our spouses, or all four of us. Add my nephew Roman in and “the kids” range in age from five to 39.

Because there will be a small group of us at dinner and I’m not eating sweets for the next four months (let’s just say my scale and I aren’t friends at the moment and leave it at that for now), I wanted a recipe that would make just one dozen, so I adapted a basic one-dozen recipe to include both almond and vanilla flavors, then added caramel icing because my mom is a caramel fan. Midway through the caramel, I decided to whip up some chocolate drizzle icing to embellish half of the cupcakes for those who are chocolate fans. The end result is a cupcake from my wildest dreams. Too bad I won’t be eating them!

Almond Vanilla Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup milk

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line a cupcake pan with paper liners; set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time; scrape down bowl, and beat in vanilla.

Add flour mixture and milk alternatively, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Divide batter evenly among liners, about three-quarters full each.

Bake until golden and tops spring back to touch, 20-22 minutes.

Transfer pans to wire rack; cool completely before frosting.

Caramel Frosting

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • About 1.5 ounces milk (you need half of 1/3 of a cup of milk)
  • 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • About 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preparation

Combine butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan and slowly bring to a boil.

Boil for one minute, remove from heat, and stir in milk.

Return to heat and bring to a boil once again.

Pour mixture into mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

Beat caramel mixture on medium speed for a few minutes to disperse heat; the mixing bowl should not be too hot for you to touch, but if it remains warm that is fine.

Add one cup powdered sugar and one teaspoon vanilla, beating until smooth.

Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar and vanilla, beating until smooth.

Transfer frosting to a 12-inch piping bag fitted with a large plain tip. Working quickly, pipe frosting onto cupcakes.

Chocolate Drizzle

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • About 1 cup powdered sugar

Preparation

In a small saucepan, melt butter.

Add cocoa powder and stir to combine, then remove from heat.

Add milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar, stirring until smooth. It may be necessary to add additional powdered sugar to ensure that your drizzle isn’t too thin.

Transfer drizzle to an 8-inch piping bag fitted with a medium plain tip. Pipe drizzle over caramel frosting. Alternatively, you could just use a spoon and literally drizzle the drizzle.

Almond Cupcakes with Fudge Frosting

I love opposite flavors in baking; if I have a chocolate cupcake, I want vanilla frosting, and if I have a vanilla, yellow, or almond cupcake, I want chocolate frosting.  This cupcake has a very rich almond flavor, but if you prefer something milder, omit the bitter almond oil and just use ½ teaspoon of almond and vanilla extracts each.  The fudge frosting has been adapted in measurement to frost 24 cupcakes; look for the full recipe in another post!

Almond Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • ¼ teaspoon bitter almond oil
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 1/3 cups sour milk (see how to make this below!)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line two muffin tins with paper liners.

Make sour milk; place1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice in a glass measuring cup and add enough milk to equal 1 1/3 cups of liquid total.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.

Beat shortening in a mixing bowl for 30 seconds.

Add sugar and flavorings, beating until combined.

Add flour and sour milk, alternatively, until just combined.

Fill liners halfway and bake for 21-23 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool completely before frosting

Fudge Frosting

Ingredients

  • 2 1/3 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 1/6 cup boiling water (just under 2 oz. in a glass measuring cup)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Preparation

Combine powdered sugar and cocoa powder.

Add butter, boiling water, and vanilla.

Beat on low speed until ingredients are just combined, then increase speed to medium and beat for 1 minute.