My mom’s dad died when I was fairly young. We often talked about him as I was growing up…telling stories, and such. One thing that always stuck with me was his cake of choice for birthdays – a cherry nut cake. Very popular in the 50’s and 60’s. I’ve made the pink cake studded with cherries before, and always thought it would translate well to cupcake form. But you guys know me…I never got around to it.
When cleaning out the refrigerator this weekend, I happened upon about four jars or maraschino cherries lurking in the back of the shelves. What to do with them? I had a local event that I was on the hook to donate some baked goods for…so the stars aligned in my kitchen, and I whipped up these delightful cupcakes!
I took my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe, adding almond extract and finely chopped maraschinos (used the food processor and pulsed a few times). I thought about adding some of the cherry syrup, but wanted to really showcase the cherry flecks. Plus, the vanilla cake really makes the pink frosting “pop” all the more…
And, the frosting. Oh my Heavens. Again, I used my basic buttercream recipe – and added the juice from the cherry jar, as well as a little almond extract for that almondy kick.
Topped with a cherry and a few sliced almonds for garnish, they’re positively perfect for spring or Easter celebrations! I think old “Grendad” would approve.
Cherry Almond Cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
3 cups cake flour (or 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
16 Tbsp. salted butter, at room temperature (2 sticks)
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1 cup maraschino cherries, finely chopped
whole cherries, for garnish
sliced almonds, for garnish
For the frosting:
1 cup salted butter, room temperature
4 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
3 Tbsp maraschino juice (from jar)
1 tsp almond extract
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together and set aside. Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes, until light and creamy in color. Add in the sugar, and beat for 2 minutes more. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for one more minute.
Mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Combine the buttermilk, vanilla and almond extract in a liquid measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer. Fold in the chopped cherries with a rubber spatula.
Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each about 2/3 of the way full (you will likely have batter left over after filling 24 wells.) Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Replace paper liners and bake remaining batter if desired.
For the frosting, cream butter on medium-high speed using a mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low, and add the powdered sugar, and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the cherry juice and almond extract, and increase speed on mixer to medium. Beat for 1 minute. Frost cupcakes as desired.