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Toasted Almond Cupcakes (Cocktail Cupcake No. 2)

Each of these rich, subtly nutty cupcakes gets a dollop of coffee frosting, which stands in for kahlua. It's difficult to not enjoy these delicious treats!

For one dozen cupcakes, you'll need:

+ shortening, 1/4 cup
+ butter, softened, 1/4 cup
+ sugar, 1/2 cup
+ brown sugar, 1/4 cup
+ baking powder, 2 teaspoons
+ cake flour, 1 1/2 cups
+ salt, 1 pinch
+ 1 egg
+ heavy cream, 3/8 cup
+ amaretto, 2 tablespoons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place cupcake liners in a muffin tin.
Cream shortening, butter, sugar, brown sugar, and salt. Sift together cake flour and baking powder; set aside. In another bowl, whisk together egg, cream, and amaretto. Gradually incorporate flour mixture and egg mixture into creamed butter.

Distribute batter evenly between 12 tins. Bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Cool completely.

For the frosting and garnish, you'll need:

+ hot water, 1/4 cup*
+ instant espresso powder, 1 tablespoon*
+ butter, softened, 3 tablespoons
+ powdered sugar, ≈ 4 cups
+ slivered almonds, 1/4 cup, lightly toasted

Stir espresso powder and hot water until combined; cool. Whip butter, and slowly incorporate espresso. Gradually add powdered sugar, until frosting is stiff and pale brown. Using a pastry bag with a large star tip, gently pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Sprinkle with toasted almonds; enjoy!

* You may also substitute a shot of brewed espresso - or 1/4 cup of strong, black coffee.

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