Stacia Humby’s Chocolate Cherry Almond Cupcakes

This cupcake meets your mouth with a rich chocolate cherry cake on the bottom, silky almond frosting on the top, and a gooey chocolate almond filling in the middle. Finely diced maraschino cherries are heartily dotted throughout the chocolate cake, which is flavored with almond extract and maraschino cherry juice.

There was much trial and error involved in getting the cherry to come through and brighten the flavor profile, a necessary element against a filling made of almond paste and chocolate. I wanted more of a lava cake effect than a slug of fudge with the filling, which resulted in the first few batches treating the filling as more of an infusion, soaking completely into the cake. Thanks a lot, osmosis. 

The desired consistency was eventually achieved, although the infusion versions were also lovely and fudgey and no one was sad about them.  For the frosting, I used a whipped buttercream, my recipe for which created out of necessity on Hobbit Day (Frodo & Bilbo’s birthday) when I wanted to make a smooth, glossy frosting yet found my house bereft of the ever crucial confectioner’s sugar.

I found myself poring over baking blogs and recipe cards and then unexpectedly at the stove making a thick paste of flour and milk to fluff up my creamed butter and granulated sugar. The result is a smooth, poofy frosting that isn’t cloyingly sweet nor grainy and can still hold a shape.

And although it would have been easier and faster to just go to the store and buy confectioner’s sugar, this benefited me greatly in that:  1) I learned something; 2) I created my new favorite frosting and; 3) I didn’t have to put on pants. A win-win-win.

 So my new favorite frosting adorns my new favorite cupcake, a moist, fruity, nutty, fudgey cylinder of somehow-not-too-sweet heaven that fits in the palm of your hand. Unable to eat any more myself, however, I delivered mini batches to a dozen or so friends and family members for notes and votes (against another flavor which shall not be named nor discussed), after which I made this final batch, which I present for judgment.  I truly wish you could taste them!

—By Stacia Humby