The copy of this post was originally published on August 5, 2012, but the photos are recipe have been updated!
Wait, that’s a bad way to start this. Let’s try again.
When I left law school, I came home aching to renew my creativity, in the creation-sense of the word. I missed baking, most of all–the mixture of art and science–feeding people and making them love me, not hate me for “lawyering” them (“Sorry, I’m sorry! I was just practicing. It was encouraged.”) It had been so long since I’d used my hands for work at all, other than the heavy typing of exams, and I missed it. I was struck by a particular quote in a film about cooking and Buddhism,
“You might care about yourself enough to, you know, cook. That brings your hands nourishment because your hands get to be hands. They get to actually do something rather than sitting around all day while you’re entertaining yourself with your iPod and your Internet, surfing the Internet, all the other things that we do that, you know, our hands don’t get to do much anymore.”
‘Yes!’ I thought. ‘The nail on the head! There’s nothing left for me now except, well, to bake.’ So I did. Quite a lot. To the point where I actually started a catering and custom order cupcake bakery, called Bite of Bliss Bakery. It wasn’t until I was knee-deep in a huge order for a gala. Frosting the 326th cupcake, I thought, ‘I need balance. This isn’t working. Let’s try again.’
Career uncertainties aside, I learned something remarkable during that time. I learned how to make people love you, without really trying. I created a recipe so perfectly sweet, fruity, and creamy, with the perfect moist cake and added texture, that people who don’t like sweets like this. People who don’t like fruit desserts like this. People who don’t like me like me once I make this.
This is a world premier recipe, guys. I’ve never shared this, for fear of intellectual theft and capitalizing on my confectionary genius. But now, ages away from any desire to ever run a bakery, I simply don’t mind spreading the love so you can, truly, spread the love.
Cherry Almond Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 cup soy milk or regular milk, no higher than 2%
- 1 tsp . apple cider vinegar ideally with "the mother", but regular ole ACV will do, too
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp . cornstarch
- 3/4 tsp . baking powder
- 1/2 tsp . baking soda
- 1/2 tsp . salt
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 3/4 cup sugar see note about sugar when using fresh cherries
- 1 tsp . vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 tsp . almond extract
- 8 oz . canned dark cherries drained, and torn in halves
- 8 oz . fresh sweet cherries see note on additional sugar if using fresh cherries, pitted and quartered
- 1 stick butter room temperature
- 1 package cream cheese room temperature
- 1 tsp . vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp . almond extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar To be totally honest, I just start with about a cup and keep adding until I’m pleased with the texture and taste.
- Skin-on slivered almonds I get mine at the bulk section at Whole Foods, optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners (I’m a big fan of dark brown liners in this case, but any will do).
- Whisk the soy milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside for a few minutes to get good and curdled.
- Beat together the soy milk mixture, oil, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract in a large bowl. Sift in the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix until no large lumps remain.
- Fold in cherries
- Fill cupcake liners about half of the way and bake for 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack, and let cool completely before frosting.
- Using a handheld mixer or standing mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese. Add the vanilla and beat again.
- Add the powdered sugar, a little at a time, and beat until well-incorporated and to your liking.
- Frost completely cooled cupcakes with a substantial layer of cream cheese frosting, then dip into a bowl of the almonds to give a light covering. Fill in by hand any bald frosting spots with additional slices, until you get the look you want.
I used fresh cherries here, partly because I was trying to be fancy and partly because they’re in season. If you use fresh cherries, add about two tablespoons of sugar, to mimic the extra sweetness that you get from canned cherries. If your cherries are particularly sweet, you can probably get away with no additional sugar. If they’re particularly sour, you could probably up it to 1/4 cup.
You can also do a traditional piped-swirl of frosting, but I am particularly fond of the sliced almonds on top. Make sure you get sliced almonds with skins on, so you get color and contrast.
This recipe makes enough frosting for 12 cupcakes piped high, or 24 cupcakes frosted and topped with almonds. However, did you know you can freeze frosting? You can! I froze the other half, so that the next time I need to make someone love me a little more (particularly the person that may or may not live with me and share my bed), I’m already halfway there.
Make sure you don’t fill these liners quite as full as you would another cupcake that you want to have a nice dome. These should be a bit flatter if you plan to sprinkle the frosting with almond slivers.
- This recipe is based on the golden vanilla recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Am I vegan? No. Why do I use this base recipe still, then? Because it’s that good. You can do almost anything with it; it’s a perfect base.