I’ve been rather lax with baking anything lately. I got a little burned out over the holidays, and I’ve been busy at work. And I just haven’t felt that inspired lately. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it any more–I do. I dunno…It’s hard for me to articulate without sounding like a brat or a complete jerk. That being said, since this is a long weekend for me, Jay asked if there were any projects I had in mind, since I’ll have the time and he and the bambino like having baked goods around.
I did tell him that I had a couple ideas in the back of my head…One of them being these:
Almond Cupcakes with Amaretto Buttercream.
I’ve been wanting to do an almond cupcake for awhile now. I have a bag of almond meal in the freezer that’s barely been used. I don’t think I’ve made cupcakes since before Christmas, and that was only because a coworker hired me to make a dozen.
I had also thought about topping them with chocolate frosting, but I wanted something to reinforce the almond flavor, and I have a dusty bottle of amaretto sitting on top of the fridge I haven’t used in ages (it’s a good thing alcohol doesn’t exactly go bad, since I keep meaning to buy Sour Mix and just make myself the occasional Amaretto Sour!).
They’re good. Moist, very heavy on the almond flavor without being too overpowering…And the frosting is heavenly!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix the sugar, oil, eggs and almond extract until smooth. Add in the flour mixture and the milk alternately, with three additions of the flour mixture and two of the milk. Add in the simple syrup and almond extract, being careful not to over-mix.
Fill the paper liners 2/3 full with the batter, and bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.
While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. Cut the butter into small cubes and set aside. Wipe down a hand whisk, whisk attachment, and the inside of a stand mixer bowl with vinegar or with lemon juice.
Combine the egg whites and sugar in the mixing bowl, and cook over a double-boiler or a pan of simmering water. Whisk the mixture while cooking, until the sugar has dissolved and the egg whites are hot (you can check by rubbing a small bit of the mixture between your fingers--If it feels smooth, it's done; if it feels gritty, keep cooking).
Place the bowl on the mixer and begin whipping the egg whites, starting on low speed, then gradually increasing to medium-high. Whip until the bowl feels cool to the touch and stiff peaks form--This can take up to 10 minutes.
Reduce the speed to medium low, and begin adding the butter, a couple tablespoons at a time. Mix well after each addition. Once all the butter has been added, whisk in the amaretto.
Switch to the paddle attachment, and beat on low speed for 2 minutes to eliminate any air bubbles. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat until completely smooth.
If using the same day, keep the frosting at room temperature until ready to use.
Recipe Type: Dessert
To make simple syrup, combine equal parts of sugar and water, heat until the sugar is dissolved, then cool.
I did have some issues…The buttercream didn’t really want to come together, and was a little curdled. The nice thing about SMBs is that you can pretty much beat the heck out of them and they’ll come together eventually. Which is what I had to do…Along with nuking a bit of the frosting to mix back in. I think the problem was that my butter was too cold; my kitchen is drafty and it’s frigid today. But it came together, and I got some pretty cupcakes out of it.
I almost don’t want to share these! And I don’t think I will. I keep forgetting–There’s still time to enter my Progresso giveaway!