I always make a variation on my go-to chocolate cupcakes for the MAWA “Over the Top” cupcake party and art auction; but this year, I wanted to do something a little bit different. And, what could be more different than a delicate pink, almond-scented, cherry-studded cake under a cloud of the creamiest vanilla buttercream ever?
These were a hit with the mascot, who wasn’t a big fan of cherries or almonds going in. I sometimes find almond extract to be a little overwhelming, so I tinkered with the original recipe, reducing the almond by half and adding vanilla. I also passed on the suggestion of adding extra food colour…these are pink, but not PINK!!…and I don’t think it was missed. It was novel enough for us healthy-eaters to see all of that cherry juice go in.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour (plus 1 tbsp for cherries)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 cup maraschino cherry juice
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup maraschino cherries, finely chopped and well-drained (plus extra for garnish)
4 egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks
Preheat oven to 340 degrees and place cupcake liners in pans. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. Combine almond milk, cherry juice and extracts. Alternating between wet and dry, add flour mixture and pink milk to the butter and sugar, stirring well after each addition. Stir 1 tbsp of flour into cherries and add to batter. Stir 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter to lighten, then carefully fold in remaining whites. Fill cupcake liners approx 2/3 full. Bake for 16 – 18 mins, or until a wooden skewer or toothpick tests clean. Cool completely on wire racks before icing with vanilla buttercream. Garnish each cupcake with a cherry half, if desired. Makes 24.