Sunday, August 23, 2009
cherry vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting
These cupcakes happened on a whim. I had some sweet summer cherries in my fridge, which I had been snacking on two at a time whenever I cooked dinner. Also, I have never made anything with cherries before because the idea of pitting seemed too tedious. I realize they make such things as this, but I have a Chinese mother so I can't possibly spend ten dollars on something like that.
I actually saw a cool cherry pitting method that used a chopstick to push out the pit on another blog. I thought, this is perfect for me! I tried it. It didn't work. I ended up sitting down with the bowl of cherries and cutting each one in half to remove the pit. But a friend called so it was a relaxing activity while we chatted.
I adapted the recipe from Cupcake Bakeshop, the original can be found here. I added a touch of almond to the cupcakes, because, I am obsessed with almond in everything. I also went with chocolate frosting since chocolate and cherry just go together in my head.
Overall the result was yummy. The cherry filling is sweet! I accidentally made the frosting under-sweet, so it was a good balance. I also cheated and used salted butter instead of unsalted in the frosting, so there was a strange savory element to the whole cupcake. I brought a tray of them to a friend's house, but someone kicked a soccer ball into the tray. The frosting on those poor cupcakes had to be scraped off. Luckily a few were saved!
Vanilla Almond Cupcakes
yields ~24 cupcakes
350 degree oven
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 almond meal
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
2. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beat for 30 seconds between each.
4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Add to mixer bowl. Add the milk and vanilla. Mix to combine.
5. Scoop into cupcake papers about half to two-thirds full (depending on whether you want flat or domed cupcakes).
6. Bake for 22-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pan 5 minutes, then remove to wire rack to finish cooling.
I filled my papers about 2/3s full, and got nice even domes. I baked them for around 24 minutes.
2 cups cherries, pitted, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1. Add cherries, water and sugar to pot. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
2. Mix cornstarch in bowl with two tablespoons of water. Stir vigorously to dissolve all the cornstarch, and pour quickly into pot, stirring the cherry mixture vigorously as well to makes sure all the cornstarch dissolves.
3. Continue cooking over medium heat until thick, about 20 minutes.
Step two with the cornstarch is important! If you dump dry starch into a hot liquid, it will solidify into white solid clumps and do nothing for your filling. Make sure you stir as soon as it touches the hot liquid so that it is evenly distributed.
I wasn't sure how liquidy I could leave the filling, so I cooked it until it was quite thick. However, after assembling the cupcakes, I wish the filling had been a little more gooey, so next time I won't be afraid of some extra liquid.
Dark Chocolate Frosting
This is an easy go-to recipe I use in a lot of things. It has a creamy, wonderful home-made taste. These proportions were enough to moderately frost 24 cupcakes (see photo). If you really like to heap it on, or have a strong tendency to eat from the bowl, this can be easily doubled.
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 cup boiling water
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (except if you're a cheater like me and only have salted!)
1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
3/4 pound semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1. First melt the chocolate. I used semi-sweet chocolate chips. Bring a pot of water to boil, them remove from heat. Set chocolate in a heat proof bowl and place over pot. The heat from the water will slowly melt the chocolate. This takes about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
2. Once the chocolate if completely creamy and melted, remove from pot and let cool to room temperature.
3. Mix cocoa powder with hot water and set aside.
4. Beat butter on high for 1 minute, add powdered sugar and continue beating until pale and fluffy.
5. Add cooled chocolate and beat on low, scraping down sides of bowl to get all the butter. Beat in cocoa mixture.
1. Using a knife (I used a steak knife), cut a circle from the top of the cupcake, inserting the knife at an angle so that you end up removing a cone. (Think cutting the top off a jack-o-lantern.)
2. Dig out the cone and cut off the excess (yummy cake morsels for snacking!).
3. Fill with cherry filling.
4. Replace top and frost.