I’ve been wanting to make cupcakes for a while now, mostly so that I can eat them but also so that I don’t resort to claymation in my funemployed state:
I’ve been eyeing these earl grey cupcakes for some time, but the suggestion was met by my parents with great gnashing of teeth.
“That’s foodie nonsense.”
“Why can’t you just make something normal, Sarah?”
“WHERE’S THE BEEF?!?!?”
I tried to explain to them that something isn’t “foodie nonsense” just because it wasn’t the dish of choice in Minnesota in 1965 but alas, uphill battle.
Anyways, I settled on chocolate almond as a middle ground, mostly so I could huff almond extract until I slipped into a Swedish fika hallucination. Marzipan, so much marzipan. They say in heaven, marzipan comes first. We’ll make heaven a place on Earth.
First step: the almond cake!
I’m not a great baker, mostly due to an excruciating inattention to detail (I worked in a chemistry lab for one semester and every hour was amateur hour), but the cupcakes turned out really well. Like, shockingly well? There was some weirdness going on around the edges, probably due to excess nonstick spray, but they still ended up moist and fluffy and hey where’d those cupcakes go, definitely not in my belly I mean what who said that.
(All super high-quality pictures taken with a 2011 iPhone 4. Not a sponsored post!)
With regards to the filling, confession: I ran out of butter, and didn’t make my own chocolate buttercream. In my defense, we had bought a tub of it from a local bakery and had been saving it for a rainy day, so at least a human living within 10 miles of me made it (is it local?!?!?). Also, I’m lazy. Also, sorry I’m not sorry, if you don’t like it you don’t have to eat it. I didn’t pipette (and by pipette I mean Ziploc bag FINE YOU GOT ME) nearly enough into the cupcakes, but what was there was delicious. Thanks, Ukrop’s!
With a serious dearth of butter, I had to improvise and go with an almond vanilla whipped cream topping instead of the planned chocolate almond buttercream. I had a grand vision of some elaborate pattern of swirls and roses and intricate little dollops for the icing on top, but no dice. Perhaps you’ll be more successful. I also decided to make an almond brittle to go on top, because I realized the other day that I’ve never made a caramel or brittle before, and how hard could it be? I was able to improvise thanks to the unspeakable number of Chopped episodes I’ve watched (I’ve successfully braised a chicken, despite never having cooked meat before, based solely on watching others do so on Chopped, it’s actually kind of pathetic), and I now feel confident in my ability to elevate/transform/celebrate almonds. Also, there was a kid on an episode of Figure It Out who could bite pieces of cheese into the shape of U.S. states, and I feel like I accomplished that with the brittle. Oh just hey, Backwards Georgia and New York!
I plated them all up on a fancy-pants cake platter before remembering that whipped cream has to be refrigerated, derp, so now I have to get past an entire tray of cupcakes to get to the white wine and handle of Costco pre-made margarita. Whoever let me get my master’s degree in food and health studies should be jailed.
Also, it bears noting that recipes are here more for reference than anything. I would rate my culinary abilities as “not Chopped the first round of the amateur cook episode,” but most of this is me learning as I go and goofing around and entertaining myself and hopefully you too in the process. I mean, technically I’m a “professional chef,” but I cooked for preschoolers, and their favorite snack/meal of an elaborately and painstakingly planned month of recipes was Wheat Thins and string cheese. I’d catch them trying to sneak some from the kitchen and I’d be like yo, 24601, have you even seen Les Misérables?
Almond Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream, Almond Vanilla Whipped Cream, and Almond Brittle
(makes 10 cupcakes, I guess)
3/8 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups flour
5/8 cup milk
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter at medium speed until smooth, then add sugar and continue to beat. Add egg and beat until smooth. In separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Add extracts, milk, and dry ingredients to wet mixture, beating until well mixed. Spoon into greased cupcake tins, and bake for about 20 minutes.
I woke up like this, flawless.
Almond Vanilla Whipped Cream:
1 cup-ish heavy whipping cream
Some vanilla and almond extract? Like I said, details aren’t really my cup of tea
Whip heavy cream* at medium-high speed until soft peaks form (I used a Kitchen Aid but you can hand whisk it if you’re feeling ambitious/you lost your Shake Weight). Add sugar and extracts, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.
*For best results, chill the bowl and the cream for 30 minutes beforehand. It lets the fat globules work their magic. Same goes for adding sugar after the soft peaks have already formed.
Almonds, sliced/hacked at
Coat nonstick pan with layer of sugar over medium-high heat, stirring often, until melted and caramelized. Remove from heat and stir in almonds. Spread on wax paper, and place on tray. Refrigerate until cool.
Chill cupcakes. Pipette with chocolate buttercream. Top with whipped cream however your little heart desires. Garnish with brittle. Mansplain cupcakes. Feed them to your cat.