Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cherry Cupcakes Topped with Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

*I'm gonna apologize in advance for the picture quality. My DSLR battery had died, so I had to pull out the old point and shoot for these.

My girls are little "foodies-in-training" if you will, and enjoy watching the occasional Food Network show with me. Their favorites, Chopped and Cupcake Wars, have a similar premise: cook/bake your hearts out with mystery ingredients, get judged on flavor and appearance, and one person gets eliminated, or "chopped".

Lately, they've gone a step further and have actually pretended they are my panel of judges and have given their commentary on dinner. It was pretty cute until I got chopped. ;) Something about how the flavor of the ketchup overpowered their hamburger.. Sheesh.

Another unexpected byproduct of watching these shows is that they have come up with flavors and cooking ideas that they want to try. My oldest is all about trying a kiwi muffin/cupcake (still working on this one), while my youngest decided she wanted a cherry cupcake. We talked through the concept and she had some very strong ideas about what she wanted: Vanilla cupcake with cherry filling? No. It had to be a vanilla cupcake with pieces of cherry in it. Cherries in the buttercream? No, it had to have a cherry on top with a vanilla frosting.

We set to work. I found a recipe that said it worked for both fresh, frozen, or jarred cherries. We used a jar of Morello cherries we picked up from Trader Joe's, but I would love to try this with fresh cherries... My youngest set to work chopping them.

My peekie-peekerton. She was so excited to find her reflection on the side on the mixing bowl.

We made the batter and stirred in the chopped cherries. 

After scooping them into cupcake liners, they were baked at 350° for about 18 minutes.

They didn't rise too much (probably courtesy of the buttermilk in the batter and the extra weight of the cherries), so next time I may add more batter to each cup and just have fewer cupcakes. We ended up with 18 cupcakes.

I decided to try the Swiss Meringue Buttercream because I thought with such a sweet cupcake, a velvety smooth, rich, subtly sweet frosting would be a nice counter balance. Couple that with the shortage of powdered sugar in our house (this recipe uses granulated sugar), and this was an obvious choice. It was definitely the smoothest, creamiest homemade frosting I have ever had, and one I will make again.

I can't wait to see where our next Cupcake War adventure takes us. ;)

Fresh Cherry Cupcakes
Yield: 16 - 18 cupcakes
Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh pitted cherries
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 16 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Blend in the egg, vanilla extract and almond extract until smooth. Working in two or three additions, gradually mix in the dry ingredients, alternating with additions of buttermilk and ending with an addition of the last of the flour mixture. Stir in chopped cherries.

Bake for 16-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cupcakes on a wire rack completely before frosting.

Source: Baking Bites

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Yield: 5 cups
Ingredients:
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 lb. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
To make the frosting, combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.

Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated.  If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (don’t worry, it will come together!)  Stir in the vanilla extract and mix just until incorporated.  Tint with gel icing color as desired.

Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

Source: Annie's Eats, originally adapted from Martha Stewart

2 comments:

  1. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT!!!!! (Too funny about them chopping you!) The picture of her looking in the mixing bowl is just precious. By the way, you're an awesome mom!!

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  2. I get to kiss the cook all the time. Love it!

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